Plenty of excitement on day 1 of the Ponoka Stampede

The reputation of the Ponoka Stampede is known far and wide. Even as far away as a little town in the deep south called Heflin, Louisiana; population 234.

The reputation of the Ponoka Stampede is known far and wide. Even as far away as a little town in the deep south called Heflin, Louisiana; population 234.

It just so happens of those 234 residents, two of them are top notch cowboys.

The oldest of the saddle bronc riding DeMoss brothers, Cody, is the current Canadian champion. The youngest, Heath, decided this year he’d better visit the rodeo famous town of Ponoka. He made it a worthwhile eight second stop, when he spurred to an 85 mark, the best ride in the opening performance of the 80th annual Ponoka Stampede.

“I’d never bought my Canadian card before,” explained DeMoss, of why he’d never ridden in Ponoka previously. “It just always seemed so far from home. But I’m sure glad I did it!”

“Up here in Canada, they’re the best bucking horses in the world. This is one of the most prestigious rodeos in the world, and I’d never been to it, so I figured it was about time.”

The seven-time NFR qualifier who just won $8300 last week at Reno, NV, admits it was his wife who urged him to make the trek north.

“This is one of the biggest rodeos in the world, and I figured before I was done riding, I probably needed to come see what it was about,” he grinned.

Given the reputation of the July first event, DeMoss thought he’d be coming to a bigger place, so he was a bit surprised at Ponoka’s size.

“When I looked for it on the map, I had to zoom in real close to find it,” he chuckled.

DeMoss had already heard a jingle in his jeans when he knew he’d be matched up with a Kesler horse called Nickels and Dimes.

“I had him in Calgary one time, and in Austin, Texas, one time, so I was familiar with him, for sure. My brother was just 90 points on him the other day, so I was sure excited to have him drawn.”

“Today, I think he had a bit more of a rider-friendly trip than he has in the past. He was a nice horse, and had good timing, and just allowed a guy to show off on him.”

DeMoss’ mark topped the performance, but Big Valley’s Zeke Thurston wasn’t far behind, when he got a reride and tapped out 84.5 points on Frostline.

That should earn him a spot back in Sunday’s Finals, but he was off Monday night to Greeley, CO for the first of many horses before then.

“I’ve had a really good couple of weeks. In the last three weeks, I’ve won close to $20,000, so it’s been a good, little month there,” smiled the 21-year-old.

“Hopefully it keeps going.”

Ponoka’s Kirsten Gjerde outraced some fast horses from the U.S. on her home turf, and now leads the pack in the barrel racing, after she was the only one to break the 18 second barrier with her 17.969 second run.

Another local favorite had the grandstand cheering in the steer wrestling.

Brock Butterfield was one of only two bulldoggers to catch his steer in the morning run, and he was fastest with a 7.8. He came back in the evening to follow that up with a 7.9 second run, to be the best on two with 15.7 seconds.

That may not be the fastest when the dust settles on the week, but there’s still a good chance it will get him another steer on Sunday.

While Butterfield is no stranger to the Ponoka long run used in the timed events, it was the first time for his horse, a yellow gelding he calls Hat Brim.

“He’s seven years old and he’s one that I started. He’s kind of been my project. I’m pretty proud of him. He’s been handling everything and he handled this rodeo good,” said Butterfield.

The Texas-raised former barrel horse has already helped Brock’s brother Luke get two steer wrestling cheques on his way to qualifying for the All-Around race.

If Brock could get a big cheque from Ponoka, it would be a major breakthrough for his season.

“There’s lots of rodeo left. I really don’t know where it’s going to be. If I do make it back, I suspect it will be in the later part of the pack. There could be some fast runs. It’s tough to say though, because with this rodeo, so much can happen,” noted Butterfield.

“I’m happy with the way my horse worked, and whatever happens, happens. But I’d be really happy to make the Finals. It’s my favorite rodeo, and I think it’s one of the greatest rodeos out there, but I just haven’t had much luck at this rodeo. That’s the way it can go sometimes.”

The best bareback ride of the first performance at Ponoka came from Oregon’s RC Landingham, who chalked up 84.25 points on Copper Cat.

The bulls shut out the cowboys, so no one sits on the leaderboard yet in that event. In the tie-down roping, a former Ponoka Stampede champion, Timber Moore is in front after turning in two runs in 18.4 seconds. In the team roping, it’s the duo of Lee Rombough of Sexsmith and Chad Kurtz of Fort Saskatchewan who set the pace, with 18.9 seconds on their two runs.

Today’s rodeo action begins at 1:00 pm, with the first run for the pony and WPCA chuckwagons at 6:30 pm.

Dianne Finstad is a local freelance writer and covers rodeo for the Advocate.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer Public Schools says that in the absence of additional funds from the provincial government, there was no consideration of using alternate classroom sites in the district. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Red Deer Public Schools launches online engagement process

Red Deer Public schools is seeking community input to help ensure a… Continue reading

Red Deer Rebels defenceman Mason Ward battles with a Medicine Hat Tigers’ forward during the WHL Central Division season opener. (Photo by Rob Wallator/ Red Deer Rebels)
Tigers come back to spoil Red Deer Rebels home opener

It’s been nearly 345 days since the Red Deer Rebels last played… Continue reading

Students walk into Hunting Hills High School, which is one of the Red Deer Public Schools with solar panels on its roof. (Photo by SEAN MCINTOSH/Advocate staff)
Red Deer high school was placed in lockdown following potential threat

Hunting Hills High School was placed in a lockdown Friday after Red… Continue reading

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer says some details of the provincial government’s 2021-22 budget need to be ‘sorted out’ when it comes to the hospital expansion funding. (File photo by Advocate staff)
More detail needed regarding hospital funding, says Red Deer mayor

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer says some information is unclear regarding the… Continue reading

Alberta Health reported two new COVID-19 deaths in Red Deer Friday. (Image courtesy CDC)
Two more deaths linked to Olymel outbreak in Red Deer

Province reported 356 additional COVID-19 cases Friday

An arrest by Red Deer RCMP is facing online scrutiny. No charges have been laid and the incident is still under investigation. (Screenshot of YouTube video)
Red Deer RCMP investigating violent arrest caught on video

Police say officer ‘acted within the scope of his duties’

Thorough sanding of a table top is usually the first step to renewing a finish. Wax contaminants can sometimes still remain on a surface like this after sanding. Cleaning with rubbing alcohol and a rag gets rid of these contaminants without leaving a residue behind. (Photo by Steve Maxwell)
Houseworks: Fixing wood finishes

Q: How can I stop polyurethane from beading up on a mahogany… Continue reading

Need a knife? There are knives of all shapes and sizes at The Kitchen Store.
Hints from Heloise: Finding a good set of kitchen knives

Dear Readers: A good set of knives in the kitchen is a… Continue reading

Runner Melissa Bishop-Nriagu speaks to the media at the opening news conference at the Canadian Track and Field Championships Thursday, July 25, 2019 in Montreal.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canadian athletes struggling to find competition as they try to qualify for Tokyo

Canadian athletes struggling to find competition as they try to qualify for Tokyo

New York Red Bulls midfielder Jared Stroud, right, vies for the ball against Toronto FC midfielder Jonathan Osorio during an MLS soccer match in Harrison, NJ., Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020. Entering his ninth season with Toronto FC, Jonathan Osorio said his off-season regimen was no different than in the past. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Eduardo Munoz Alvarez
Veteran TFC midfielder Jonathan Osorio looks to take it to the next level this season

Veteran TFC midfielder Jonathan Osorio looks to take it to the next level this season

Powell, Lowry help depleted Raptors beat Rockets

Powell, Lowry help depleted Raptors beat Rockets

Edmonton Oilers goalie Mikko Koskinen (19) makes the save on Toronto Maple Leafs' Zach Hyman (11) as Tyson Barrie (22) defends during third period NHL action in Edmonton, Saturday, Jan. 30, 2021. Toronto continues to lead the North Division standings, but hard-charging Edmonton is now just four points back on the all-Canadian circuit heading into a three-game series between the teams in Alberta's capital beginning Saturday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Maple Leafs, Oilers set for key three-game series atop North Division

Maple Leafs, Oilers set for key three-game series atop North Division

Angela James stands on centre ice in front of the Toronto Maple Leafs team after being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame before Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres NHL hockey action in Toronto on Saturday November 6, 2010. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Hall of Famers James, Lowe, Hay named to Order of Hockey in Canada

Hall of Famers James, Lowe, Hay named to Order of Hockey in Canada

Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse talks to center Aron Baynes (46) and guard Norman Powell (24) during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Chris O'Meara
Nurse, five Raptors assistants sidelined to due COVID-19 health and safety protocols

Nurse, five Raptors assistants sidelined to due COVID-19 health and safety protocols

Most Read