Well there you are sitting on your couch going through yet another rodeo season that has come and gone. You made “some” improvements but it just was not enough. You start blaming it on the liquor and partying, maybe even all the booty chasing you did all summer when you should have been focusing on rodeo, but whichever way you slice it this definitely was not your season. So the obvious choice is to call up your traveling partners and crack into that fresh bottle of whiskey you got for Christmas, but upon dialing you sense a problem when their phones go straight to voicemail….Hmmmm thats strange, so you take it upon yourself to check Facebook and the first status that pops up says “IFR bound, dream living” …..and it belongs to your traveling partners.
You bet!!!! Its time again for Ontario to go for gold at the International Finals Rodeo (IFR). 2017 marks the 47th edition of the IFR held yearly in the State Fair Arena in Oklahoma City Jan 13-15. The top 15 cowboys and cowgirls from all the events in rodeo will stroll into the State Fair Arena but only a handful will leave champions.
Though Ontario is more known for people like Justin Bieber as oppose to World Champion cowboys and cowgirls that hasn’t stopped Ontario’s best from capturing gold in OKC. Returning to the State Fair Arena Ontario is being repped by 2 IPRA World Champions and a handful of IFR average champions.
Lets break it down.
All Around Cowboy
The most prestigious award in all of rodeo is The All Around Champion award. This award highlights the contestants that compete in more than one event. With a very commanding lead one can easily assume that multiple IPRA World Champion Justin Thigpen from Waycross GA is a shew in to capture gold but we cannot skip over Ontario contenders like Tyler Foster from Watford Ontario and the 2015 IFR Steer Wrestling Champion from Alvington Ontario Rodney Weese, as well as multiple IPRA World Champion Cowboy Cody Mousseau traveling from Aylmer Ontario.
Bareback Bronc Riding:
In the bareback bronc riding Quebec rains supreme for Ontario representation. With Carl Bernier kicking things off with a 4th place entry coming from Weedon Quebec with just over 14 grand on the season he will be followed by Philippe Harvey in 5th driving from Terra Bonne Quebec. Plagued with injuries for the past couple of years will again sideline Ontario and Quebec Bareback Riding champion Danian Nutt yet again as he faces Rotator Cuft surgery. Rounding out the Quebec brood is Pascal Isabelle from Ste.Julienne Quebec and a young talent very familiar with the OKC lights from Mirabel Quebec Spur Lacasse.
Pascal Isabelle riding in St.Tite Quebec 2016 (photo credit Emily Gethke Photography)
Heading to the south end of the arena to the big mans event. The steer wrestling is most certainly going to be one to watch as an Ontario cowboy can go home with IPRA World Champion gold. Mentioned earlier in the All Around Champion section Watford Ontarios Tyler Foster is a mere $739 away from first place and a Gold Buckle.Tyler has gathered up nearly 19 thousand on the season. With several visit to the IFR in both Steer Wrestling and Saddle Bronc riding one would be a fool to think Tyler can’t pull this off. I for one will 100% be rooting for him. Go get em champ. Making his return to the State Fair Arena is the 2008 and 2009 IPRA World Champion from Hillsburgh Ontario is Matt Mousseau holding down the 4th position Matt is far from a stranger to the OKC lights. Directly behind Matt is the 2015 IFR Champion from Alvington Ontario Rodney Weese. Rounding out the Ontario contingent in the 15th hole is Tim Kemp from Kincardine Ontario.
Tyler Foster Steer Wrestling in St.Tite Quebec 2016 (Photo Credit Emily Gethke Photography)
Staying in the timed event end of the arena lets shift gears to the Team Roping. With 15 headers and 15 heelers Ontario is sending only one contender. But if it has to be one cowboy I honestly would not choose anyone else other than Cody Mousseau from Aylmer Ontario. The multiple IPRA World Champion comes into IFR47 holding down the 2nd place hole on the header side of things. With a gold buckle in this event back in 2014 “The Moose” can for sure make himself a 2time IPRA Team Roping World Champion.
Cody Mousseau and Australian cowboy Ty Parkinson Team Roping at IFR46 (photo credit Emily Gethke Photography)
Saddle Bronc Riding:
In the classic event of rodeo an Ontario cowboy can once again go home with gold. Shawinigan Quebec’s Louis Hemart trails Shane Hand from Weatherford Oklahoma by a mere 2grand. With all the money available to be won at IFR47 this task is achievable for Louis. Rounding out Ontario in the Bronc Riding are traveling partners Tyler Foster and Rodney Weese, and hopefully you’ve all been paying attention so I don’t have to tell you where they are from. Last but not least is Dave Doyon from St.Victor Quebec.
Rodney Weese riding in St.Tite 2016 (Photo Credit Emily Gethke Photography)
Tie Down Roping:
In the working mans event the gold buckle is already basically won by Justin Thigpen from Waycross Georgia with a commanding lead extending over 8 grand I’d bet the entire farm he’s gonna claim another World title. Yes the entire farm folks, all 5acres and the double wide, heck I’ll even throw in my mother in-law. The world might be out of reach for Ontario’s rodeo superstar Cody Mousseau coming into IFR47 holding down the 12th hole. Cody is followed by Quebecs Thomas Legace. An IFR championship is not out of the question for these two cowboys.
Cody Mousseau Tie Down Roping in St.Tite Quebec 2016 (Photo credit Emily Gethke Photography)
Cowgirls Barrel Racing:
What rodeo would be complete without its good looking barrel racers? With 15 holes to fill at IFR47 Ontario secured 4 of them. Holding down the 4th hole with almost 20 thousand won on the season St.Victor Quebec brings Caroline Pouline. Directly behind her is Sindy Laliberte who collects her mail in Thedford Mines Quebec. Making yet another IFR appearance is barrel racer Edesse Descoteaux. The Lorrainville Quebec horse trainer is not just a pretty face on a horse, she is also very tough. Few years ago while training a horse she suffered a broken hip after the horse flipped over on her and was sidelined for a good amount of time. The injury obviously did not slow her down as she enters IFR47 with a winners mentality. Rounding out the good looking barrel racers is rookie cowgirl Kim Desilets from Becancour Quebec.
Edesse Descoteaux turning and burning in St.Tite Quebec 2016 (Photo Credit Emily Gethke Photography)
Cowgirls Breakaway Roping:
Unfortunately this event is the only one that Ontario will have zero part in. But do not let that turn you away from enjoying the tight race for the gold buckle. Leading the charge is southern belle Megan Reinhart of Guys Tennessee. With just over 14 grand won on the season Megan needs to stay ahead of the curve as Jenna Lee Hays of Weatherford Oklahoma is hot on her trail with barely 3 grand to catch up to her. With all the money up for grabs at IFR47 this will be a race worth watching.
Megan Rinehart roping at the IPRA All Regional Finals in Lexington Kentucky 2016 (Photo Credit Emily Gethke Photography)
Last but certainly not least is the bull riding and what a couple stories we have here. Let’s start with the top dawg and his story. First we will go back to IFR46, Aylmer Ontario bullrider Dusty McMullen was geared up for yet another IFR appearance. Sitting in the top 2 in the world Dusty was sadly hit by car while in Oklahoma. The driver hit Dusty and drove off into the night. This accident forced Dusty out of IFR46 and put him on bed rest for 6months. Most people would give up on life after that but not Dusty. He went through extensive rehab and hit the gym harder than ever. By March he was back spurring bulls and remained in the hunt for IPRA gold. Coming into IFR47 I have honestly never seen him ride any better with a pile of great sponsors all over his vest the odds seem to be in his favor. With just over 20 thousand on the season and a mere $1500 separating him from the number one seat being held down by Puryear Tennessee’s Corey Bailey the race in the bull riding will be one to watch. Dusty will not be alone in his efforts has he will be joined by AJ Vaal of Arthur Ontario who will be making yet another IFR appearance , also being joined by St.Tite Quebecs Zachary Bourgeois who will be riding in his very first IFR.
Rounding out the Ontario truckload is young gun James Sullivan from Lowbanks Ontario. James or “Sully” as we call him more than just earned his spot at the IFR this year. Spending all summer traveling with veteran bullriders Dusty McMullen and AJ Vaal, Sully clawed all year long with big wins in both Ontario and State side. His biggest win was at the IPRA All Regional Finals held in Lexington Kentucky. Sully fought all year long and slid into IFR47 by $148 and will be entering in the 15th hole. Just a message to everyone out there trying to make the IFR or win gold at any other rodeo, never give up!!!! Ever!
Dusty McMullen doing what he loves in St.Tite Quebec 2016 (Photo Credit Emily Gethke Photography)
James “Sully” Sullivan riding at the PBR Canada event in Ottawa Ontario 2016 (Photo Credit Birtz Photographie)
Well there ya have it folks! Ontario yet again set to impress the rodeo world with our unreal talents. The growth in the sport of rodeo in Ontario since I was a kid is amazing. Ontario has been sending cowboys and cowgirls to the IFR for several years now. None of this would even be remotely possible without the efforts of Rawhide Rodeo and Wild Time Productions. Rawhide Rodeo was already famous for being in the IFR with the efforts from Sam Swearingen state side but with the partnership from Ontario’s BJ Prince it opened the door for Ontario cowboys and cowgirls to capture gold in OKC. Though the majority of contestants are from south of the border I can promise that most off them made their money in Ontario. With travels to Northen and Southern Ontario and trips into Quebec for the Wild Time rodeos.
Not all of our athletes attending IFR47 are cowboys and cowgirls. Ontario is also sending a handful of animal athletes as well. With 12 broncs coming out of Quebec from 2 Wild Ranch and ERQ along with Rawhide Rodeo broncs, its easy to see Ontario’s influence on the IPRA as a whole.
I truly wish every single competitor good luck at IFR47, leave everything in the arena and go for broke.
Let Er Buck.