Plenty of cowboys play with pain, but there comes a time when you also have to play it smart.
That was the crossroads bareback rider Jake Vold found himself in at the Calgary Stampede Sunday afternoon.
The Canadian champion injured his ribs riding last Sunday at the Ponoka Stampede Finals. He wasn’t even able to take his Showdown horse there, but after a four-day rest, he decided he could still ride at Calgary.
Vold, who was raised in Ponoka, placed in the first two rounds at Calgary. Then Sunday he rode to the top of the heap with an 86.5 point performance on the Big Stone horse Whiskey Bent.
“I’d never got to get on her before, but I figured we’d match up pretty good,” said Vold, who lives in Airdrie. “I can’t believe I jumped out and won the round. The way I’ve been feeling, it doesn’t feel like I can ride right now to what I’m capable of doing. But I’m trying to do mind over matter, and I’ll take it, I guess.”
The fact he was even riding at all, let alone winning, is quite something, considering how gingerly the Ponoka-raised cowboy made his way to the stage to get his bronze.
“I’ve got separated ribs, some cartilage damage, and now they think I maybe did some muscle damage in my abdomen.”
“I didn’t want to miss Calgary. I had four days (after Ponoka) and I got better and better. I knew with the (Canadian Pro Rodeo Sports Medicine) Team here, they’d be able to take care of a guy, but it’s just kind of getting to the point where there ain’t nothing they can do for it anymore, so I don’t want to keep hurting it.”
Right after the performance, Vold did meet with doctors, and made the very tough decision that his Stampede was done.
Although he won’t be riding again, Vold’s Pool A earnings sit at $9000, which is second behind bareback leader Caleb Bennett, who now has $15,000, after tying for second place on the day.
“I love rodeoing against Caleb,” grinned Vold. “He’s a good buddy. We definitely feed off each other. We tease each other a lot. He’s really hot right now and he’s kicking our butts. I told him he got beat by a cripple today, so we’ll see how he takes it.”
If you’re going to get greedy as a rodeo contestant, the Calgary Stampede is the place to do it. Seth Brockman knows all about that. The Wyoming steer wrestler has been in Calgary for three days and he’s already scooped up $15,500, for just over twelve seconds of work.
On Sunday Brockman made it back-to-back trips to the stage to collect a bronze after catching his steer in four seconds flat, in a round where all the placings were separated by a mere six-tenths of a second. That means he’s on top of the Pool A race with $15,500, and he’s got a spot in Sunday’s Showdown locked up.
“I’m greedy, and I won’t lie about it either,” Brockman joked with reporters Saturday.
While he proved that again with Sunday’s performance, those words came back to haunt him when his bulldogging buddies took pictures of the quote in the papers and sent it back home to the U.S.
“I’ve caught quite a bit of (heck) about that,” he chuckled Sunday. “But it is what it is.”
“I had one friend say, ‘well, what did you go up there for anyway?’ But I mean, there’s no backing down when you’re going up against these guys who are the best there is.”
“But in the bulldogging, it’s really neat because everybody really tries to help one another.”
Brockman’s steer came with a rap sheet, but that didn’t bother the 33-year-old.
“On paper, they broke the barrier on him a few times. He was slower. Everybody else is getting to take a fast start. I just had to see a little (move).”
But Brockman credits more than technique for his success at Calgary.
“I’d say the main thing is momentum. The end of my fourth (of July run) things got rolling, and I was able to win a second the first day here. I think momentum’s everything, so just keep it up.”
Brockman, at just his second Stampede, describes what riding that wave is like.
“You can’t wait to get to the next one. Tomorrow can’t come fast enough.”
Cort Scheer is the man gathering more than his share of the saddle bronc earnings, but Sunday was his first victory lap around the arena this year, after he marked 84.5 points on the C5 horse Northern Lights. He’s got $14,000 on the top of Pool A.
“Finally,” smiled the Nebraska cowboy. “That’s your whole goal is to win it. Winning second has been awesome and I’m happy. I feel like I’ve been riding good, and I’ve been really blessed with good little pluckers every time.”
In a day when cowboys conquered the bulls, there was a tie for first. Dakota Buttar of Saskatchewan was 87.5 points on a bull called Preacher, but Chandler Bownds of Texas matched that score on Sugar Smack, so they split the pot, collecting $5000 each. But the man on top in the bull riding is Oklahoma’s Ryan Dirteater, who has been to the paywindow every day, and has $11,500 in his Stampede bank account. Buttar has $10,500, while Bownds is tied for third with Nathan Schaper, both with $7000.
Barrel racer Mary Burger continues to build her fan base in Calgary, as she incredibly won the event for the third straight day, with a running time of 18.08 seconds. Her performance even warranted a rare standing ovation from the enthusiastic crowd! She now has the highest total of anyone in Pool A at $16,500.
World champion Caleb Smidt of Texas broke the ice when he switched horses Sunday in the tie-down roping, and got the job done in 7.2 seconds, to be fast man of the round and collect his first cash of the Stampede. He still has to do some winning Monday if he wants a Pool A pass to next Sunday, because he’s outside the top four, where Shane Hanchey is still the leader with $10,000.
Photos by Mike Copeman