It was quite a way to kick off the 50th anniversary of the Daines Ranch Pro Rodeo. The first bareback rider to leave the chutes kicked up his heels on Sweeny Todd, and the judges rewarded the effort of Steven Dent with an 87 mark. Then two-time World Champion Bobby Mote came out on a horse called on My Mistake, and there was no mistaking the caliber of that performance either. 85 points.
Just as you were wondering if the rest of the bareback field should pack up their riggings and go home, another cowboy with a gold world buckle in his collection nods his head. Kelly Timberman puts his spurs to work on Vold’s Centennial, and eight seconds later, the judges had to dig even deeper and hand out 88 points. And the rodeo was barely 15 minutes old!
It was hard to tell whose grin was bigger — Jack Daines, or Timberman.
“I knew I had a Finals horse, and if I really helped him out, and drug it out of him and made a good ride, they would reward me for it,” said the Wyoming cowboy. “That’s one nice thing about Canada is you get the ability to get on good horses. That’s why I’ve been coming up here since my career started, because I didn’t want to just get on horses and win money. My thing was to get on the ranker horses there was out there and make great rides. That’s why I was a rodeo cowboy.”
Timberman was by no means intimidated to have an 87 posted on the scoreboard first ride out.
“If you’re gonna beat me, you’re gonna have to beat me fair and square. I’ve always felt the competition is what makes me ride better. There’s only one person who can push me, and that’s me, but it helps to have those guys out too.
“I don’t care who you are, you might be my best friend, but if we’re having a contest, I wanna beat you. To see Steven out there ride, the only thing I was thinking of was ‘I’m gonna be a 100 points’,” grinned Timberman. “That’s the way you’ve got to look at rodeo. Nobody enters to be second.”
It was fitting that Timberman should rise to the top at the Daines Ranch, a place that was already special to him. When asked about highlights of the last half century of rodeo at the ranch, both Jack and Duane Daines recalled the wet, rainy day a few years back when Calgary Stampede’s Grated Coconut didn’t have a rider, and Timberman was the world champ. Daines did some fast arranging, and set up an exhibition match between the two greats. The result was one of the memorable moments of the sport.
It was on Timberman’s mind, too, as he made the drive to the rodeo, especially since the Stampede announced this week it was time to retire the six-time world and Canadian champion bareback horse.
“The last time I rode here was when I got on the stud. I forgot to enter one year, and then some years they doubled me up (on entries).
“I was 94 on that ride. Being able to get on the stud here was just . . .”
Indescribable, to fill in the blank.
“I’ve got a plaque at my house that says ‘World Champion against World Champion’ 94 points. I’ve got the cash that Jack gave me. He wrote me a cheque and I framed that, and he said ‘you didn’t cash that cheque’ and I said, ‘I told you I didn’t want any money for riding him’, and he gave me $500 cash, so I framed that underneath, too.”
Sad as he was to never draw the powerful stallion at a rodeo for big cash or a title, Timberman still knows he had the thrill of his best on one of the best ever.
“I’m glad they retired him while he was still a champion.”
Meantime, Mote was tickled to be on the leaderboard with his 85, especially since it’s only his third horse back since having neck surgery this winter.
“Today felt the best of all the horses I’ve gotten on so far,” said Mote, who lives in Culver, Oregon.
“I felt less rusty. I went a long time without getting on anything. To compete at this level, you need to be able to be sharp. You can’t just roll out of the truck after a 16-hour drive and expect your body to react when you haven’t been doing it.”
In the saddle bronc riding, another Oregon cowboy, Ben Londo, rode to the top of the list, with an 86-point performance on Vold’s horse Awesome. It was his first trip to Innisfail, and he liked it as much as he figured.
“I’ve seen that horse at the NFR. I knew what he was, and that he wasn’t easy to ride. A lot of the points probably came from him. I was just trying to stay with him. That’s a great horse,” said Londo.
In the barrel racing, Elaina Black was the only cowgirl to go below 16 seconds on the pattern. Her time of 15.96 was thrilling, because she was riding her 20-year-old horse Mido.
There was plenty of speed in the timed events, from the stock. A lot of the fresh calves outran the tie-down ropers. Best of the bunch was Austin Adams of Nevada with 8.5 seconds. In the steer wrestling, the steer ran fast and hard too, and there were only a handful of catches, with the best time nine seconds flat from Chad Beisemeyer of Missouri. The best team roping time was 5.3 seconds, from Justin Davis of California and Jake Stanley of Oregon.
Bull rider Devon Mezei was relieved to break a long cold spell, when he scored 86.5 points on Big Pressure, to take the lead.
Bryce West of Cadogan has the high mark in steer riding with a 75, while Manitoba’s Lane Collins has 70 points on top in the novice bareback riding, with Tyle Wilson of Saskatchewan first so far in novice bronc riding with a 60. There’s slack in the timed events today at the Ranch, with tonight’s performance again starting at 7:00 pm.