Peebles takes bareback lead at Innisfail

It was a wet day in central Alberta, but Jack Daines must have made some special arrangements.

Jared Smith of Williston

Jared Smith of Williston

It was a wet day in central Alberta, but Jack Daines must have made some special arrangements.

Just before the opening performance of his 51st annual pro rodeo, the skies cleared and not a drop of rain fell during the rodeo.

As often happens at Innisfail, the bareback riders kicked off the rodeo in great style. It was a line-up of NFR contenders, but when the mud settled, Steven Peebles sat on top with the best mark of the night. He nodded his head on a young Calgary Stampede sorrel called September Skies and spurred his way to an 85. It was quite a way to make his debut at the Daines Ranch.

“Everyone says it’s a great rodeo, and Jack invited me last year,” siad the Oregon cowboy. “But it was too late, and I had other rodeos entered. But I made sure and made a spot for it in my schedule this year, and I’m sure glad I came. There’s always great horses when I come to Canada, and that’s what I like.”

The infield footing was fine, but it was definitely muddy on top and lots of cowboys will be washing black ranch muck from their hats, boots, equipment and face for days. But Peebles managed to stay relatively clean, getting off on pickup man Gary Rempel, who then graciously deposited him at the fence.

“I didn’t get my feet too muddy,” he laughed. “I told him before that ‘IF I get off on a pickup man, could I get off on the fence?, and he said ‘yea, we’ll make it work’. And he took me over there.

“No sense in cleaning your chaps if you don’t have to!

“I had seen some of the ‘S’ brands of Calgary’s last year at the Stampede, and I’d seen they were really good. When I saw I’d drawn one of those brands, I didn’t know the horse, but I never even called anybody. I just knew he was going to be good, so I came up here, and sure enough he was.

“He felt outstanding. He just circled around to the right, and just let you have fun on top. Not too strong to whip you down, but enough that you could have a lot of fun. Great horse.”

Peebles is off to a great start in his season, sitting fourth in the world bareback standings.

“This is the best year I’ve had so far by a long ways. I’m really trying to go for the world buckle this year. That’s another thing about coming to Canada. You have so much money and great horses up here, and great rodeos, that it’s the only way I think to try to get to number one.”

Another American cowboy who knows what it’s like to be number one is Taos Muncy, who claimed the world saddle bronc championship in 2007. He, too, rode a Calgary Stampede bronc, one called Shoshone Mountain, marking an 81.5 to lead the way in that event.

Just a few days ago, All-Around Canadian champion Steven Turner had to turn out of the Rocky rodeo, because he’d been stepped on by a bull in his high groin area at the Lea Park event. But the always tough hand cowboyed up to compete at the Daines Ranch in both his events.

“I’m black and blue from my groin to my knees, so I wasn’t too sure how it was going to work out. It’s pretty sore, but it’s not as bad as I’d thought it would be. It’s not the groin pulled, it’s just a bad bruise. So I’m thinking it just looks a lot worse than it is. I had quite a few pain pills today, so maybe it’s a little sorer than I think.”

So why bother getting on?

“Well, for $8,000, you’ve got to try, don’t you? I think it worked out,” he grinned, moments after marking an 87 on Northcott’s Spanish Fork, to take the lead in his event.

He also competed in the steer wrestling, but wound up all the way down at the chutes before he got that one tossed, so he’s got two muddy sets of clothes to wash.

The fast times set in the slack Wednesday evening weren’t moved Thursday night. However, Turner’s neighbour in Cochrane, Baillie Milan had a good night, moving into second place in both the tie-down roping and the steer wrestling. The roping leader is Jake Hannum of Oregon with a rapid 6.8 second run, while California’s Luke Branquinho leads steer wrestling with a 4.7 second run. Trula Churchill of Nebraska is the fast barrel racer with 16.57. A pair of central Alberta cowboys lead the team roping. Dustin Round of Lacombe and Trevor Jones of Ponoka finished up in six seconds flat.

There’s more rodeo tonight at 6:45 p.m. at the Daines Ranch with three performances on the weekend.

Dianne Finstad is a regular contributor of the Red Deer Advocate and is the agriculture/rodeo director for Newcap Radio/CKGY/CIZZ FM in Red Deer

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