When two-time world bareback champion Bobby Mote wants to get on a roll during rodeo’s richest season of the year, he knows what to do — enter the Ponoka Stampede for the opening performance.
In what seems to have become an annual tradition, the Culver, Oregon cowboy spurred out an 86 point ride on Kesler’s Alley Trail to set the high mark in his event in Thursday’s first performance of the 73rd Ponoka Stampede.
“She’s an awesome horse,” Mote said. “That’s probably my fifth time on her. I’ve always been in the high 80’s every time I’ve had her. She’s a winner. So when you draw that horse, you’ve got a really good chance to win. So I was tickled to have her.”
“They always have good horses out here, and it works out good where we can come here and start the week out.”
Mote and his travelling partners journeyed a long way to get on their horses at Ponoka, after competing at a rodeo in Pecos, Texas last night.
Mote has been to more than his share of rodeos over a 13- year professional rodeo career. And he has nothing but praise for Ponoka.
“This is a cool rodeo. It’s a cowboy’s rodeo. It’s really the best rodeo on the Fourth of July run that doesn’t get the credit it deserves. I mean $40,000 added, and bringing the best stock in all of Canada. I mean, there isn’t anything we’ve got going on down there that can say that. It’s pretty awesome.
“The other thing is, given the drought and the cow market and the economy, they keep stepping it up here. They could be backing off and no one would say anything. But they keep stepping up and making the rodeo better every year and they really need a thanks for that.
“These guys just keep charging ahead and they need a lot of respect for that.”
The other big story of the Stampede is the courage and tenacity of world champion barrel racer Lindsay Sears. The Nanton cowgirl suffered a broken leg this past Sunday when she collided with a closed gate at the end of her run in High River. But after consulting with doctors and getting a specially constructed plaster protector she tensored on to the broken part of her leg, Sears saddled up her great horse Martha and turned in a spectacular run in Ponoka. The only disappointment was it came in the overflow, or slack, in the morning, along with 70 other barrel racers, so there was no crowd to appreciate the effort. But Sears’ time of 16.93 seconds is the fastest at Ponoka in at least the last three years, and may be hard to beat. She then climbed into a truck with another barrel racer, to head to Williams Lake, B.C. to compete again, while her mom took Martha and headed to Reno. Sears had already registered two fast runs at that rich event, and runs there again on the weekend. She’s a virtual shoe-in to be back at the Ponoka Finals on July 1, broken leg permitting.
Tie-down roper Hunter Herrin, from Oklahoma, roped two calves in seventeen seconds flat, to take the overall lead. The timed events at Ponoka do have a double header, and Herrin was in great shape after making his first tie in 7.5 seconds.
“This is my third year here,” said Herrin. “The first year I came up here I won a round. This is the first year I’ve done good in the average. I’m just looking forward to coming back next week and trying to continue it.”
The steers are providing plenty of power for the bulldoggers to deal with, so best so far on two runs is a time of 20.2 seconds, from Dustin Walker of Vanscoy, Saskatchewan. The team roping is looking good, with Shane Schwenke of Montana and Mike Beers of Oregon the best of the bunch, roping their two steers in 11.6 seconds. Leading the saddle bronc riding, after a performance with only three qualified rides, is Logan Hodson of B.C.. He marked 78.5 on Country Cat. Tyler Thomson of Black Diamond is on top in the bull riding with his 84 mark on a bull called Shake Down.
Today, pro rodeo action gets rolling at 1 p.m., with the first chuckwagon performance going tonight at 6:30 p.m..