It was a last ‘Chance’ rodeo for one of Ponoka’s favorite sons. And the kid from a famous rodeo family made the most of an opportunity in Monday’s rodeo performance at the Ponoka Stampede.
Chance Butterfield made a solid 5.1 second steer wrestling run in the morning slack, and followed that up with a 7.2 in the afternoon. With the strong steers at Ponoka this year, the 12.3 second total on two runs sees him in third place overall, and puts him in shooting range of a pile of cash at his favorite event.
After receiving the high fives and accolades from his bulldogging buddies, Butterfield was more than happy to talk about his day.
“I’m pretty excited about doing good at the hometown rodeo,” he said.
“I’ve had a lot of bad luck here in the past few years just trying to get out,” admitted the 24-year-old who is making a last ditch effort at making the CFR. “So this morning I spotted my steer out a little bit, and was late on the barrier, but it really came together with Blaine hazing. He gave me the best shot I could, for being as late as I was. Same thing here. I was just off (the barrier) again, and Blaine got me another good go.”
The Blaine he’s referring to is the former world and four-time Canadian champion steer wrestler Blaine Pederson. He comes out of rodeo retirement at his Amisk area ranch to haze every summer at the Ponoka Stampede. And the young cowboy was relieved to have the veteran at his side.
As the son of successful steer wrestler Craig, and a Canadian barrel racing champion, Dee, Chance Butterfield grew up around the rodeo game, learning from his heroes.
“Blaine and I, we’ve known each other for a long time. I actually went to a bulldogging school he had way back, so he was more than happy to give me a hand. He gave me every opportunity. Those guys are very much on your team. They try their heart out for you.”
There was a lot on the line at this year’s Stampede for Butterfield, not the least of which was Ponoka pride.
“I’ve been going to school down in Texas, and there’s only so much time that people back home actually get to see me, and this is one of the places, so I don’t want to make a complete (fool) of myself. The hardest thing was just trying to stay calm on my horse.”
Butterfield has been working on his agricultural economics degree at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, and he’s on the home stretch. But it requires a little summer overtime to finish up, for a December graduation.
“Actually this rodeo is my last kick at the can, trying to make the CFR. I’m leaving to take ‘price theory’ in about a week. Luckily I entered Morris (in late July) just in case this did go well. So I might be flying back up for a couple rodeos, so we’ll see how this pans out.”
Butterfield is sitting inside Canada’s Top 10 steer wrestlers right now, with $6,197 in earnings up to last weekend. There’s the potential to at least double that at Ponoka. Last year, it took around $14,000 to make the Canadian Finals in the steer wrestling event.
The July 1 holiday weekend is one of the rodeo cowboy’s busiest work seasons, but for Butterfield, Ponoka really was his last chance.
“I went to Airdrie and Williams Lake, and they threw rocks at me there,” said Butterfield, shaking his head. “So this was really, really good to get something scraped together at this place. I definitely had a hard time keeping my optimism up about my CFR dreams this year until now.”
A frightening incident in the saddle bronc riding had everyone concerned. South Dakota’s Bryce Miller, who is sitting second in the world standings, was bucked off a horse called Needs Ajax. As he hit the ground, the horse’s hooves came down before he could roll away, and he was struck in the neck and abdomen. He was taken to Ponoka General Hospital for treatment. Fellow bronc riders visited him after the rodeo and reported he was talking, after being stitched up near his ear. They indicated he was still being x-rayed to determine further treatment. Meantime, Jim Berry of Rocky Mountain House marked 82.5 on Knife Money, to move into a second place tie in the saddle bronc riding, behind the leading 83 turned in by B.C.’s Delano Kjos.
There was no change at the top in the bareback riding, so Bobby Mote hangs on to first with his 86. It was the same in bull riding, so Brett Thompson remains in front with an 85. Once again, the 16.93 second run from Lindsay Sears wasn’t touched in the barrel racing. For the tie-down roping, a pair of Texans earned themselves a Finals position. Cade Swor roped in 19.2 seconds, while Todd Willis was 19.6 on two runs, which moved them into third and fourth spot, behind leader Hunter Herrin’s 17.0 seconds. The best team roping came from California’s Justin Davis and Jake Stanley. Their total of 12.2 seconds on the pair of runs gave them second place, behind the 11.6 from Shane Schwenke and Mike Beers.
There’s one more round of rodeo action this afternoon, before the Finals tomorrow afternoon at 1 p.m., featuring the top twelve finishers in each of the major events. From there, four will advance to the evening $10,000 Ponoka Stampede Showdown, starting at 6:30 p.m.
In the pro chuckwagons Leo Tournier, driving the Wolf Creek Golf Resort outfit, posted the best time of the night for the second straight day, this time at 1:14.23.
Obrey Motowylo in his H&E Oilfield service rig is the overall leader through four days at 4:56.26, just 0.53 seconds ahead of Tournier.
The Chuckwagons run again tonight at 6:30 p.m. and then the finals go 6 p.m. on Wednesday.