LeValley wins showdown with Coconut

More and more professional bull riders are sporting helmets these days. But you don’t see any of them in the bareback riding event.

Sam Trottier of Sundre is dumped during the novice bareback event at the Daines Rodeo Ranch on Sunday.

Sam Trottier of Sundre is dumped during the novice bareback event at the Daines Rodeo Ranch on Sunday.

More and more professional bull riders are sporting helmets these days. But you don’t see any of them in the bareback riding event.

Dusty LaValley seriously thought about putting one on at the Daines Ranch Pro Rodeo Sunday afternoon. That’s because he was matched up with his old friend/foe Grated Coconut.

The Calgary Stampede’s legendary stallion has been named the best in Canada and the world five times. And LaValley is the cowboy who is most acquainted with the mighty power and athletic prowess of the talented horse. So he had mixed reactions when he found out he’d drawn the horse at Innisfail.

“I don’t know what to think about that anymore,” the two-time Canadian bareback champion said. “I’ve been on him four times now. He bucked me off once. He hurt me once, pretty good, on my knee. I know I can have a good chance to win on him, but geez, it’s a lot of hard work, and it’s dangerous.

“The worst thing about that horse is he hits you in the back so hard, and he really slams you, and wants to throw you over the front end. He’s hit me so hard before that he knocked the wind out of me, so it gives you a pretty good idea.

“The other thing is he hits you in the head too, and a couple times, he’s pretty well knocked me out, and I’ve just been along for the ride. Today I put some padding in the back of my cowboy hat, and it seemed like it helped.”

LaValley was ready, and when the 1,600 pound bay dynamo rared out of the chute with a highflying leap, he was determined to give him a match.

“Today I just tried to really focus on keeping a good hold of him with my spurs as best I could, and try to take some of that power away from him, and stay out of his zone back there.”

The horse hooked hard to the left in front of the chutes and was just as strong at the end of the eight seconds.

“He tried to go forward first, and then kind of came back, and bucked right in there. Actually, he hit my head on a pipe there inside the chute. Not very hard, but I felt it, and I thought ‘oh no, here we go. This is not good’. So I didn’t have a real good start on him, and I don’t think it looked very pretty for the first three jumps, but then it felt like I got back into him.”

LaValley is modest about his part, but the spurring was picture perfect. And the judges did something they don’t do often, handing out a 90 mark. That gave LaValley a beautiful Innisfail buckle, his very first from the Daines ranch, and a $3,023 cheque.

“I was pretty happy with it. After today, I guess it kind of gives me a little boost of confidence with that horse,” said LaValley.

So where could the luck of the draw possibly match these two great warriors up again? Is LaValley craving him, or has he had his fill of the Coconut?

“I would take him again. The thing is, at Calgary, he always bucks harder, though. I don’t need him bucking any harder. I’d take him like he was today, for sure.”

It was a sparkling Sunday for the Pharr family of Victoria, Texas. 2007 World Champion Brittany Pharr rounded the barrel pattern in a speedy 16.58 seconds, with her newer horse Duke. That was best of the field by a full tenth of a second, and gave her the daily bouquet of roses, a championship buckle and a $4,874 payday.

Pharr was pleased to see the horse perform so well in his first trip to the Daines ranch.

“It was way better than I thought it was going to be,” commented Pharr on her run. “He was real green going to the first barrel. He couldn’t really find it and he zigzagged, and I thought ‘oh no, go on the right side’, and he did. He jumped on the correct side of the barrel and turned it. He makes up his time because he’s so long strided and he takes one stride around the barrel, so he stays the same speed through the whole run. He can turn it as fast as he can run to it.”

Pharr said this win will give her a big boost in her goal to qualify for the Canadian Finals Rodeo in November.

Then her husband Doug Pharr, who was the last tie-down roper of the rodeo, nodded his head, and snugged up a calf in just 7.2 seconds to win that event, and $3,460, along with a small team roping cheque.

Meantime, six-time All-Around world champion Trevor Brazile of Texas made his first trip to the Daines ranch count, by winning the team roping with his partner Patrick Smith in 4.6 seconds.

“You gotta like it when you come somewhere for your first time and you get a win,” Brazile, of Decatur, Texas, said with a big smile. “The cattle were great, the fans were fun to compete in front of, and we had a blast.

“The Daines’ are great. I see them at rodeos all across the year, and I get a kick out of Jack. I’m just glad to come, to see how hard work from this family has made this thing into a great event.”

The High Point winner at Innisfail this year was Chad Bouchard of Rolling Hills. He won the steer wrestling in 3.5 seconds, worth $3,772, and also competed in the tie-down roping. Red Deer’s Kyle French wound up sharing top spot with Beau Brooks of Cochrane in the bull riding for matching 86.5 scores, giving them $3,526 apiece. The saddle bronc riding buckle did go to Dustin Flundra of Pincher Creek for his 86.5 ride Friday night, giving him $3,869.

Cawl Braithwaite of Bluffton won the boys steer riding, with Manitoba’s Colin Adams taking the novice bareback. The novice saddle bronc event was a tie between brothers Kyreon Geiger and Rylan Geiger of Saskatchewan.