Pain can come in a variety of forms. Two central Alberta cowboys will be experiencing very different kinds of pain next week during the Canadian Finals Rodeo.
For team roper Matt Fawcett, the pain comes from not being able to compete. But it’s not an injury preventing his appearance, it’s an unfortunate error.
The Stettler cowboy thought he was in the ‘safe’ zone for this fourth CFR appearance late in the season. But just days before the final weekend of the regular season, Fawcett found himself on the outside looking in.
“I guess a guy should read those rule changes more carefully,” Fawcett acknowledged.
But he wasn’t the only one that missed an off-season decision to change the payout structure for team roping in Canadian rodeo. The Canadian Professional Rodeo Association decided to pay prize money down to eight placings, rather than the previous six.
The only problem was the decision didn’t make it to the implementation stage until nearly the end of the season. That meant team roping payouts from seven rodeos had to be recalculated, and adjustments made.
“The top three winners lost money, while fifth through eighth got more,” explained Fawcett.
For most of the ropers, the fluctuations weren’t dramatic. But that wasn’t the case with Fawcett and his heading partner Dale Skocdopole, of Big Valley.
“We placed first or second at four of the seven rodeos recalculated. It cost me and Dale $1,100. I went from being safe to thirteenth. The trouble with the whole deal is we found out about it the day before entries closed for Hanna and McCord.”
That meant only two very small chances for Fawcett to get back inside the top 12 qualifiers. Skocdopole was still in the race, because he’d won some money which qualified for the new season last fall in Saskatoon, and picked up a little extra at two eastern rodeos Fawcett didn’t attend.
There was another ill-fated turn in the sad tale.
Just a few weeks prior to the news, Skocdopole and Fawcett had made a decision to try and help some fellow ropers in their quest to make the CFR, thinking they were OK. During the Armstrong and Okotoks rodeo weekend, they made a trade with Clark McCarroll and Roland McFadden. It meant turning out, or forgoing their opportunity to compete in Okotoks. That would have been one more chance at cash, had they known the need for it.
As it turned out, Fawcett and Skocdopole didn’t place when they needed to at Hanna and McCord, and McCarroll and McFadden didn’t win enough to make it either. And $400 shy, Fawcett’s ropes will sit idle in their rope can next week.
“It’s a crappy deal. It cost me my season. I’m the only team roper to miss the Finals because of the mistake.”
Fawcett did protest to the CPRA board, having heard of a similar situation in the U.S. where an extra competitor was allowed a spot at the Finals. But the only concession he received was not having to refund the overpaid cash.
“I guess lesson learned is you have to be in it for yourself,” sighed the farrier. “And I’m not like that. But I’m a little upset. My brother made it for the first time, and we were excited to be there together. My buddy, Jeff Quam, gets to go instead of me. He feels bad, but I’m happy he gets to go. That’s who Dale will be roping with.
“It just leaves a bad taste, and not a days goes by when I haven’t had to explain the whole story again and again.
“I’m debating my future in the pros next year.”
Meantime, Ponoka’s Luke Butterfield will be nodding his head in Edmonton in the saddle bronc riding, but he’ll be feeling some pain, because he’s just coming back off a broken leg, suffered during a buckoff in mid-September at a rodeo in Iowa. Add to that a surgery delay, and then another surgery to correct an arterial bleed, and the healing process has been slower than hoped.
“I was told not to put weight on it for a month and then after that I went to physio, and she said in order to speed up the healing, you’ve got to get rid of the crutches and get walking on that as soon as possible. Three days later I had no crutches, and by a week later I took my airboot off,” said Butterfield.
“Now it’s feeling fine. I’ve got a little bit of a limp, but it’s nothing because of the bone. It’s because of the ligaments and stuff. I broke it pretty close to the ankle, and it was immobile for so long.”
The big test will be how it will feel in the stirrups when Butterfield gets to work on Wednesday night in Edmonton.
“You know, I’ll probably be able to answer that question better after Wednesday,” he said. “I don’t suspect it’ll be sore on the horse, but I know Wednesday night after the first ride it’s gonna be sore, just because I haven’t been using it.”
Doctors have told him he won’t likely re-injure the bone and have given him clearance to compete, but Butterfield knows he’ll have to dismount wisely.
The 26-year-old says he’s ready to go.
“I’ve always told myself I was going to get on (in Edmonton) but when I first started walking on this thing without a cast, and looking at the calendar, I started getting really worried. The physiotherapist was real positive and told me I’d be ready. She’s the reason I’m going to be getting on, because I couldn’t have been ready without the physio.”
Butterfield will be among the cowboys picking up a bronze at the Alberta Circuit Champions Awards Monday night. The bronzes, buckles and cheques for the Alberta series and both the Duane Daines Saddle Bronc series and the Kenton Randle Bareback Series will be presented at the Capri’s Billy Bob’s at 8 p.m. Monday evening.