The third performance of the Daines Ranch Rodeo went off without a hitch on Friday night. The bucking stock was outstanding and outpowered all the riding event cowboys.
But it was fortunate there was even stock to buck.
This was the performance the renowned Kesler family was providing the power in the bucking chutes. But the Kesler’s home operation is located on the banks of the St. Mary’s river near Magrath in southern Alberta, right in the heart of this week’s deluge of rain. The family has been battling rising water and mud all week.
“They figure where we live we got eight inches of rain in two days, which is a real good shot for southern Alberta,” said Duane Kesler.
The region usually gets eight inches of rain all summer long, in a good year.
“We’re not ones to complain about the rain because where we live when the tap shuts off, you don’t get anymore. So we just grin and bear it.
“They called my Dad yesterday morning and said ‘We’re opening up the (St. Mary’s) dam. Be prepared for maybe the worst you’ve ever seen.
“How do you prepare for something like that in an hour? We’re 12 miles down from the dam. So you just scramble and do what you think you’ve got to do. Our corrals where we keep our bulls and our good horses, it took out the bottom half of those corrals. They’re completely gone.”
Duane and Greg Kesler’s bucking animals are superstars in the business, and regular contenders at both the Canadian and National Finals Rodeo. Just like their owners, they’ve had to slog through mud and muck all over the last few days.
“It’s a tough deal. We hooked on to our liner with a cat today to get it out, because you have to be here. You’re committed to that. We just did what we had to. We started early this morning.”
“We left home at 1 p.m. It took us until then to get out. We knew the rodeo started at seven, so we had to get here. It’s a five hour drive, so we had some time to spare.
“But not much,” grinned Kesler.
“That’s not normally how we like to do things, but when the weather does what it does and where we live, it can be a tough deal sometimes.”
Bucking stock comes from hardy genes and that was evident, as horses and bulls performed to their potential, leaving bareback, bronc and bull riders on the ground, despite the challenges they’ve been living through at their home on the range.
“It think what it shows myself that the horses have a lot of try because if they didn’t, they couldn’t do what they did today. It shows the real strength of the animals.”
The only lead to change in Friday night’s rodeo action was in the barrel racing, where Sierra Stoney of Dewinton rounded the pattern in a sizzling 15.54 seconds.
Duane Daines, his wife Cheryl, and daughter Sidney were ecstatic, because Stoney was riding their horse Flame.
Stoney was thrilled, because it was the six-year-old chestnut’s very first rodeo appearance.
“He’s a really talented horse. He just makes me look good,” smiled Stoney. “I’m really excited. He’s just a phenomenal athlete, he could go into any discipline. He’s strong minded, strong willed. He likes his job, and he’s so much fun. I’m thrilled to be running him.”
Todd Herzog of Penhold stays on top in the saddle bronc riding with his 87.5, while the 88 from Kelly Timberman of Wyoming holds up in first for the bareback riding. Devon Mezei of Scandia remains the bull riding leader with his 86.5. The fast time in tie-down roping still belongs to Logan Hofer of Magrath at 7.9 seconds, while Lucas Parker of Marwayne is the speedy steer wrestler at 4.5 seconds. Justin Davis and Jake Stanley are still in front of the team roping standings with their time of 5.3 seconds. Texan Tuf Cooper and Chad Johnson of Del Bonita came close to that with a 5.4 second run Friday.
There’s a double header of rodeo today at the Daines Ranch, with performances at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m., with the final round Sunday afternoon, when they hand out the trophy buckles.