The year is 1993 on a beautiful Saturday in Milverton Ontario. My nerves are shot as this is my very first rodeo in the Jr.Bullriding event. My Dad, who at the time was competing in the Steer Wrestling event as well as the bullriding helps me hang my rope on the fence and begins applying rosin to make er nice and sticky. I should be paying attention and listening to his guidance but my eyes wander taking in all the new scenery. Seeing cowboys was nothing new to me as I have already been to countless practices with my rodeo father held at the Scully farm. I recall countless amounts of cowboys and cowgirls, the best in Ontario if you will have all gathered for that one particular rodeo. Smiles from the spectators light up an already very sunny day and the nearby bullriders swap methods and game plans on how to get by a bull named SledgeHammer. I am overwhelmed by the joy and adrenaline rush that rodeo was presenting. As rodeo announcer Bob Baker rides in on his good looking steed entertaining the masses it can only mean one thing, its showtime and my time to shine. I anxiously climb down inside of the Blue and Yellow chutes and begin tieing in my hand, I take my wrap and nod for the gate. Sadly, it did not last long as I hit the ground in 2 jumps and get the wind knocked out of me but got up with a huge smile.
This was my first rodeo but it was also the day I fell in love with the sport of rodeo.
Yep, that’s where it all started for me. I’m sure everyone who rodeos has a familiar story that kick started it all for them. For me it all happened while inside the Blue and Yellow chutes. The rodeo company was Big L Rodeo and back then they were the goto producer for rodeos in Ontario. Nowadays a guy can hit 3 rodeos in one weekend in Ontario if he wanted to. Back then everybody went to that one rodeo, that’s where your friends were going to be all weekend and chances are that barrel racer you’ve been crushing on will be there as well.
Ritchie Welch Accepting An Ontario Gold Buckle
I have fond memories of the rodeos of back then. The bull riding was ruled by a blonde bombshell named SledgeHammer, the bareback and saddle bronc riding was ruled by another blonde bombshell named Tequila. The Jr.Bull riding was the start of Reuben Geleynse’s career who is undoubtedly the best bull rider to ever come out of Ontario. The bareback bronc riding was dominated by cowboys Ritchie Welch and Kennedy Haskell. The talents of a young hotshot with the PlayBoy bunny on his chaps is all the rage amongst the bronc riders. Yes, Ryan Adams, that means you. Along with Andy McCallister and Steve Hallman the saddle bronc riding is ruled by 15 time Ontario champion Brian Doner. The bull riding sees champions like Billy Linders with his picture perfect riding form, Ciaran Hester with his unmatched hustle and a young talented, skinny kid named Brandon Moore. The timed event end sees Joe Alexander, a young John Scully and the unmatched career of young champion Jason Thomson has just begun.
Billy Linders and the notorious SledgeHammer
Rodeo in Ontario sure has changed since then. For starters, the arena is not blue and yellow anymore and nowadays there is tons of room behind the bucking chutes for a guy to warmup and children can get a closer look at the cowboys and livestock. Back then warming up meant sharing the holding pens with the broncs and you better keep a watchful eye because some of those nags bite. Aside from the sheer passion of rodeo cowboys and cowgirls also have a chance to win some prize money and back in the day is no different. Today’s professionals can bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars while rodeoing. Back in the Blue and Yellow days there definitely was not that much money up for grabs. Back then a guy would pay a fee of a mere 50 bucks with 300 bucks added in the overall pot. Not big numbers by any stretch considering nowadays a rodeo in Ontario will cost ya upwards to 100 bucks for fees and have a grand added to each event on top of all the gas you’ll use getting to the rodeo.
John Scully Roping Inside The Blue and Yellow Arena
Another giant change in rodeo since that day in 1993 is the ushering in of social media. Back then we didn’t even have cell phones let alone Twitter and Facebook. Nowadays if I am waiting to hear how well I placed at a rodeo I just fire off a text to a buddy or make a Facebook post about it. Back then the absolute best way to hear how you did was to gather by the radio on a Sunday night after the rodeo and turn on 820 CHAM. Chances are you already knew how you did and what you won for dollars but the chance to hear your name on the radio was truly awesome. Doing the broadcast was not some unknown radio DJ, it was in fact, the rodeo announcer himself Bob Baker. Being just a sprout I never had the chance to hear my name but my fathers name was mentioned quite a bit, and to me, that was awesome.
Bob Baker Horseback Announcing Yet Another Ontario Rodeo
Sadly the days of the Blue and Yellow arena are far behind us, some of the panels and chutes are still around as they are being used by Cowboys for personal reasons on their farms. Some might say that if you competed inside the Blue and Yellow arena that you are a legend. Seeing where rodeo began and where it has arrived in Ontario I myself am damn proud to say that not only myself but my Father, Mother, Sister, and my Brother have competed inside that memorable arena. Back then I was a young Jr.Bullrider in front of hundreds of people waiting for the day to throw my hat after a great ride just like my Dad, and dreamed of one day hearing my name being announced over 820 CHAM.
Thank you for the memories Big L Rodeo,
Let Er Buck,
So there I am at the ripe age of 10 on the back of the bucking chutes at another awesome Ontario rodeo. I am waiting for Ol Billy Leggette to tell me to start getting ready. As I begin putting on my bright ass red helmet I notice my Dad heading my direction at a brisk walk from the timed event end of the arena after yet another successful Steer Wrestling run, to my brother Josh and I this was a familiar sight. Dad makes his way to a very busy Billy Leggette to find out the order and only a top hand like Billy would know such things because he was the arena director. Dad climbs up onto the bucking chutes and gives Josh and I a few words of encouragement before its our time to shine, and because we were 10 and 9 it was basically hogwash but his speeches were always inspiring so we listened intently!
Well as chute boss Greg Heinz begins adjusting some flank straps its time to buck some steers. The first riders set the pace with 2 qualified rides and it was no wonder that they would get scores because, well, simply put the Smith boys always got scores. Time for myself and my younger brother, both gave some good efforts but could not match the Smith boys. Last but certainly not least is a new kid and one I have never heard of before. Inside the bucking chutes he’s getting the help of his older brother who was at time a bull riding champion. Words of encouragement soar through the hot summer heat
“lift on that bull rope” “Dont quit” “watch your spot”
Such words were second hand nature to young bull riders like ourselves. As I patiently wait for this new kid to nod for the gate I am stopped in my stiff gaze as I hear…CRYING? Not a little bit of complaining like when Leafs start a new hockey season but like full on tears dropping crying , like when Rose left Jack in the Titanic..Like that kind of crying!!
This kid wanted nothing to do with Jr.Steer riding its almost as if he was forced. But tears and all his champion brother was not having that at all he opened the gate on that kid and he was on the ground wiping tears from his face in seconds. Now you would think this was the end of that bull riding career but you’d be dead wrong. This did go on all year but then that crying kid realized he has bull riding in his veins and I don’t think any of us back then saw this cowboys career coming…In fact I’ll bet my farm, all 4 acres and the double wide.
For those of you who have been around rodeo since the Big L Rodeo days you should know exactly who I am talking about. For those of you who have no idea what Big L Rodeo is I am almost positive you’ve heard of this cowboy. The kid mentioned above and the pro bull rider highlighted in this blog is hands down one the best to ever ride bulls in Ontario. The one and only Dusty McMullen.
A natural athlete inside and outside the rodeo arena
The boy who cried some 20 years ago is at the height of his bull riding career right now. Born and raised in the cowboy capital of Ontario though he can be found in the southern states riding professionally he will proudly tell you that his heart will always be in Aylmer. For Dusty being a rodeo cowboy came naturally to the red headed bramer tamer. Born the youngest of a huge rodeo family Dusty didn’t really have a choice but to get involved with rodeo. Following in the footsteps of brothers Brent and Randy he was quick to jump in the truck when it was rodeo time. Even though it took a few forced gates opening by Randy, he developed a natural ability of making the 8 second whistle and after he got over the crying and not wanting to ride the money and gold buckles started pouring in from the junior ranks winning Ontario titles year after year. Though a champion he did experience defeat…Even once by a girl at a Northern Ontario rodeo…(but don’t tell him I told you that ). From his first buckle to his most recent one I can guarantee that if you were to line them all up they would stretch clear across Texas.
With numerous Jr.Steer riding buckles won and a fresh new drivers license in his hand at the age of 16 it was time to move up to bulls. Dusty and I became very good friends so naturally I was right beside him in whatever pile of steel we could afford. Man oh man the vehicles that Dusty has had in his lifetime belong in a museum, and not because they are collectors items but because it was a miracle they even got out of the driveway let alone all over North America. Oh the memories! I tell ya if those wheels could talk………….Actually its probably better they don’t. Anyways, moving on!!
Dusty making it look easy at an early age
In the bull riding Dusty’s talent soared like we knew it always would. Becoming the Ontario Rodeo Association Bull Riding champion at the age of 17 came with ease after riding all 3 bulls at the finals held in Stratford Ontario that year. That winter we went to the Ontario Rodeo Awards Banquet and he collected his first of many championship buckles.
17 years young, getting our bull riding finalists jackets
The buckles did not stop in Stratford Dusty continued his winning ways collecting the Dodge Rodeo finals buckle in 2001 and 2007 along with the ACEC year end title in 2015, ERQ champion in 2015 and 2016 and the Wild Time Bull Riding title in 2015 and 2016 as well. These victories are only the major ones I don’t have time to outline all the championships in between and it’s almost bedtime!!
After proving he was ready for the big leagues Dusty set his sights on becoming one the best to ever do it. After winning the Dodge Rodeo year end title he earned his right to fly out west and compete at the Canadian Cowboys Association Finals held in Saskatchewan. Though no buckles were won in the wild west he came back with a pocket full of cash and the reassurance that he can ride the rank bulls. After his first trip out west he then made the same trip multiple times after. He was also leaving his mark on the International Professional Rodeo Association With the motivation to not only qualify for both finals but to win them.
Dusty had a very very busy schedule and could be found hitting rodeos year round. He found more luck hitting the International Pro Rodeos then he did any other. Qualifying for the International Finals Rodeo on multiple occasions. The International Finals Rodeo or “IFR” is held in Oklahoma every year in January and it highlights the top 15 cowboys and cowgirls of each rodeo event from the International Professional Rodeo Association.
Dusty has found himself at the top of the hill on more than one occasion. The absolute best year I have seen him ride was in 2015. Riding the wave he started in 2014 after winning a Professional Bull Riders event in Lima Ohio and collecting a cool 10grand because of it.
PBR Bull Riding Champion
Dusty had his eyes set on the IFR gold buckle in 2015 and nothing was gonna stop him from collecting that World Championship buckle. Well almost nothing, Dusty was sadly involved in a hit and run accident. While walking across a parking lot he was suddenly struck by the vehicle and left to bleed unable to move. Quickly rushed to a hospital in Oklahoma the doctor gave the world number 1 some painful news. Not only would Dusty miss the finals that year but he would also need surgery.
Dusty sadly watched the IFR that year from the stands. Such an accident would usually forfeit any hopes of ever riding again, but not Dusty. As soon as he got approval from his doctor Dusty quickly began physio and was back riding in a matter of months. Though he missed out on the IFR he was able to ride in the IPRA Canada Finals that spring and came out with some gold becoming the 2015 and 2016 IPRA Canada Bull Riding champ.
These days Dusty can be found in Oklahoma still riding rank bulls and chasing the dream. Along side traveling partner and another great Ontario bull rider AJ Vaal, the two have their sights set on the big time. It’s easy to say that gold buckle dreams helps them sleep at night…well, that and some bad whiskey I’m sure.
From someone who has known this guy literally his entire life I cannot even attempt to sum up his rock star life. From Quebec to Texas from eating crackers to eating lobster from needing loans to buying everyone’s dinner from crying in the bucking chutes to living with World Champion bull rider Shane Proctor.
I don’t know what the rest of his bull riding career has in store for him but I hope it’s whatever he has his eyes set on. So with all this in mind and to you new parents out there if you find your son or daughter crying in the bucking chutes or at the baseball diamond or in the hockey arena before you pass judgement and think about throwing in the towel take a minute , have a deep breath and consider the story about The Boy Who Cried Bull!!
Let Er Buck
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.
So there I am minding my own rosin trying to go through my ride and figure out why a jump kicker bucked me off when I am approached by some new(er) bull riders. They approach with hands extended and I return the favor with 3 firm handshakes and we all begin small talk. We were not complete strangers as I have seen these young gunslingers behind the chutes before , the topic of discussion was purely bullriding. We went through everything from rowels, rosin, blocks, tail size and how to ride em when they spin out of your hand. This conversation went on for a good 45 minutes, but then it came to screeching halt when I asked if they were going to the other rodeo that was in Ontario that weekend.
I simply asked these future champs if they were going and what section they were all in. They simply answered with “Ya we don’t get on those bulls” I looked at them with surprise on my face because we had just got done a 45 minute conversation about how all they wanna do is ride bulls. So I park my surprise and quick witted comebacks and simply ask “Why”?
They simply reply with “Well those bulls are young and crazy”
I told you that story to bring you to my point and the title of this entry. If you straight up want to ride bulls and be a champion you have got to be willing to get on anything and everything. Whether the bull is that old campaigner or that young hot calf who does back flips in the chutes, you gotta learn to see past the fear and nod your head. Both of those bulls can injure you very seriously.
I was further upset by these young fellas when I asked if they had ever even seen these so called “crazy bulls” buck at all, they quickly answered me with their heads down and looking at the dirt and said “well no we haven’t seen them buck , we were just told that they are crazy”
This seems to be a trend as of late in Ontario in terms of bull riding. Now in the rookies defense the science behind the bucking bull industry as evolved into something amazing. Now I say “evolved” because that is simply what is going on here. You cant really blame a guy/girl for breeding super bulls when top prize for World Champion Bull is a huge amount of Benjamins if you get my drift, and when you have super bull riders like JB Mauney who can be 95 points on any given night you’d be silly not to breed super bulls.
But back to the trend in Ontario lets just clear the air so everyone doesn’t get the wrong idea , I am in no means calling these guys pussies or don’t think they will go anywhere with bullriding. But bottom line you have to be willing to climb on anything they run underneath ya. Of course you can get hurt this is bull riding princess not ping pong a lot can go bad very fast.
I am reminded of a trip that I took to Adrian Michigan with two other very accomplished Ontario bullriders. We were still to young to shave at the time and we were invited to the arena in Adrian to jump on some hot young bull calves. The owner of the arena Doug, had called us because he knew us Canadians were crazy enough to jump on anything. So there we was behind the chutes fixing to jump on some new bulls for free, free practice? Darn shooting it was free so of course we jumped all over the opportunity. After getting on a couple of times each we quickly realized that we were the only ones getting on. Even though there was like 30 bull riders watching us but they weren’t having anything to do with these young bulls. Every single bull tried flipping over in the chutes , tried killing us , tried hooking us with their horns and we hadn’t even left the bucking chutes yet. Once it was time to ride, these bulls had zero rhythm but man oh man did they ever buck. Once we hit the ground they were already on top of us hooking us again and chasing us up panels. Only three of us got on that night and we ripped through a pen of 25 young hot bull calves. We came in doing it for free and because we stuck it out and tried them all we were given 40 bucks from the Stock Contractor for dinner. We left that arena beat up, limping, our bullriding gear was mangled, we could barely move and had to get a friend drive us to the hotel. We did not care about being 90 points or how much we would make the only thing we cared about was getting on. To this day it is still one the more memorable nights I have ever had bull riding, and I am proud to say that one of the bulls we got on went on to buck at The Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
So yes the bulls are much ranker now as oppose to back in the day. But through my years riding bulls I have been seriously injured by both old and young bulls. The bigger issue here regarding the bullriders mentioned earlier is the attitude they have will only further cripple their rodeo careers because they will not want to travel anywhere else to ride bulls. There are great bucking bulls everywhere all over North and South America don’t let a few chute fighters discourage you or hinder your bullriding future.
Let Er Buck
Well another Ontario Rodeo season has come and gone you traveled Ontario made some good memories broke a few hearts and made a little bit of cash. You look outside on a frosty December day listening to your scruffy horses calling for the morning feed and smile, because you love that sound and don’t mind the snow so much but you can’t help but wonder when the next rodeo is. You quickly run to the Google machine and start looking for events only to discover that nothing is going on and you do not live in Texas. You quickly text your best friend to vent about the lack of events but he does not share the same negativity because for him, he has one more huge event in order to wrap up the 2014 season!
Yes it is that time of the year again it is time for the International Finals Rodeo (IFR) Hundreds of North Americas best Cowboys and cowgirls will all be booking flights and GPS’n the best routes to Oklahoma City for the 45th annual IFR held in OKC January 16-18 in the Big State Arena.
Ontario is no stranger to the IFR as we hold many records as well as 2 World titles in the Steer Wrestling event thanks to Matt Mousseau. As the years roll on more and more Ontario athletes find themselves planning trips to OKC. The rush in of the International Professional Rodeo Association (IPRA) in Ontario is growing in popularity and thanks can be sent to Rawhide Rodeo and Wild Time Rodeo Production , both of which are business tycoons in their own right.
The Cowboys and cowgirls from Ontario know who to thank for their shiny new leather jackets when January rolls around. But they also have one thing on their minds and that’s to win gold buckles! But without any further or do let’s meet your 2014 Ontario IFR qualifiers.
In my mind the most prestigious award in rodeo is for the All Around Cowboy. It’s a milestone to be dawned as Worlds Champ in one event but a completely different milestone to be an All Around champ. In order to win this you must compete in 2 or more events. This award correctly defines the term “Cowboy”. Only one Ontario cowboy has the chance to unseat 18time IPRA World Champion Shawn Minor and that cowboy is Cody Mousseau from Aylmer Ontario. Cody is cowboy head to toe competing in Steer wrestling , tie down roping, and team roping and is fresh off his win at the All Region Finals in Lexington Kentucky wear he walked away with All Around championship! . With roughly $8700.00 separating Cody and the all time great it’s no question that Cody could capture his first IPRA All Around World title!
The most gut wrenching event in rodeo is the bareback bronc riding this event puts your body through more damage than any other but that will not stop 5 Quebec Cowboys from capturing gold. Leading the charge sitting 5th in the world is Pascalle Isabelle from St.Julliene Quebec right behind him is Philippe Harvey of Terre Bonne along with Danian Nutt of St.Tite and rounding out the French arsenal OKC will also be seeing Spur Lacasse of Mirabel and Bruno Roby from Ste-Sophie!
Danian Nutt pictured above.
In the worlds most dangerous event Bull Riding Ontario will be behind 8 bull riders. Several of these bull riders are no stranger to the Big State Arena. Unfortunately the likelihood of an Ontario bull rider winning the world title is slim to none as the leader from Bristow Oklahoma has a gigantic lead. But the average winner of the finals is fair game. Leading to Ontario charge is Quebec bull rider Eric Isabelle sitting 2nd in the world from Ste. Julliene. Sitting 4th in the world is multiple finalists Ian Charman from PontyPool Ontario a few steps down from him in 6th is Luke McCoag. The Quensville Ontario cowboy is no stranger to the IFR and is back on track and riding very well. Arthur Ontario sends Aj Vaal for his second IFR trip along with first time qualifier and this years Ontario Bull riding champion Nick Goncalves. Wynnwood Oklahoma sends Ontario cowboy Dustin McMullen who recently made the sooner state his permanent residence to further his professional career. The Big State Arena is not one that is memorable for Dustin but I have never seen him ride any better than he is right now! I believe it’s time for the tables to be turned. Rounding out the heard is first time qualifier Steve Foster from Newtonville Ontario , Steve is fresh off his finals victory at this years Ontario Finals Rodeo and will be looking to build on the momentum!
In the classic event of rodeo Ontario will be spurring necks with some handy cowboys. Capturing a World title seems very unlikely as Shawn Minor of Camden Ohio and Sean Prater of Chandler Oklahoma have a giant lead over the rest of the pack. However, starting things of is a cowboy from St.Lin Laurentide Quebec in Gino Perron who has spent most of his days on the rodeo trail and his GPS is pre-programmed for Oklahoma City. Sitting 7th in the world is Dave Doyon from St-Victor Quebec and immediately behind him is Alvington Ontario cowboy Rodney Weese. Rod recently added 2 shiny gold buckles to his never ending collection after he won both the year end and finals championship at the Ontario Finals Rodeo just a month ago. Another decorated Ontario champion and all around good guy is Peter Hallman by way of Kitchener Ontario sitting comfortably in the 11th position. Last but certainly not least is the Shawinigan Quebec cowboy Louis Hemart.
Rod Weese riding to his Year end, and Finals title at the 2014 Ontario Finals Rodeo
Every cowboy should know how to swing a loop and these working cowboys swing with the best of them(pun unintended) the Tie Down roping is one of the more intense races to the World title as Aylmer cowboy Cody Mousseau attempts to unseat the multiple champion from Waycross Georgia Justin Thigpen. Cody is the lone survivor in the tie down roping but that will stop this future Worlds champ from throwing down and making some serious cash.
Cody roping at St.Tite this past summer
The big mans event features the only Ontario cowboy leading the charge and you probably already guessed who if you were paying attention. Yes, its Cody Mousseau who sits comfortably in the number one position with just under 17grand in winnings. However, this is no time to get comfortable as Brian Barefoot of Dunn North Carolina is very close with a mere $1400 separating the 2 of them. Sitting 5th in the world from New Hamburg Ontario and just winning the Canadian Cowboys Association (CCA) Finals in Regina Saskatchewan Tim Kemp is on fire and he is a competitor the competition should not take lightly. Directly behind him is Sebringville cowboy Jacob Dewetering and if history as shown me anything its that a bull dogger with Dewetering after his first name is no joke. All around cowboy Danian Nutt will be riding in 2 events at this years IFR and with a little cowboy or cowgirl on the horizon he will be looking to take a mitt full of cash back to St.Tite Quebec and hopefully a gold buckle or 2.
Tim Kemp getting down and dirty and winning the CCA Finals in Regina this past weekend.
The good looking ladies and their fast horses will also be in attendance at IFR45. 3 cowgirls from Quebec is all that stands for Ontario heading into IFR45. Sitting 4th in the world is the rookie Sabrina Lemay from Thetford Mines a World title win is possible for Sabrina so long as she keeps up her winning mentality. Behind her in 5th is Jessica Gauthier from Mirabel Quebec and last but certainly not least in the 15th position is Maryse LeBlanc from St-Libiore Quebec.
Jessica Gauthier turning and burning at St.Tite this past summer.
The only team event in rodeo has only one Ontario cowboy in it and if you don’t know the answer you should probably stop reading. Cody Mousseau once again is the lone survivor in the Team Roping event. Sitting 2nd in the world in the heading category he has a very good shot at another world title!
Cody Mousseau getting western at St.Tite this past summer.
Even though no Ontario cowgirls will be competing in the Cowgirls Breakaway event I wish all the ladies the very best of luck.
Well there ya have it Ontario once again makes our prescience known. The amount of talent and hard work in Ontario is unsurpassed. Every year the IFR rolls around more and more local competitors are signing their tickets to OKC and I love seeing it. It shows growth in our sport that once started in the backyards of local farmers with only 10 rodeos a season and has now blossomed into the tycoon it is now. I wish every single competitor at IFR45 good luck! Go for broke and take nothing less than first place!!
Let Er Buck
Well the 2014 rode season for me was rather short. I sustained a broken clavicle at the start of the season and was forced to ride the bench for the summer. I was back in the gym and back to work within 7 weeks, I had plans on returning for a few close rodeos but I got caught up with life. Really all I could do was look forward to the 2015 season. That was until I got an email from the secretary of the Ontario Rodeo Association. I had just finished up at the gym and checked my phone only to see an email that said “hello Mr.Moyer we had to draw names to fill the remaining 3 spots for finals and you were chosen”. I jumped so high in the air and let out a huge yell(likely scaring anyone who was around me). To clarify for anyone who does not understand how this happened allow me to explain. The Ontario Rodeo Association (ORA) takes 7 contestants to its finals in the 7 standard events and when they do not have enough they draw names from all the member in that event. So myself and 2 others were chosen and invited to the finals.
Without hesitation I happily accepted the invite and now it was time to prep myself for bull riding. I shifted everything from what I was eating to what I was doing at the gym. I am a avid weight lifter and health nut so now that I was riding bulls in a mere 3 weeks I had to get arena ready. My weight lifting shifted to from my typical heavy and power lifts to more endurance and cardio. To add more endurance I aimed for higher rep ranges, I also added more cardio like boxing and running. As much as I hate running it was crucial for the finals. My endurance had to be elevated if I was going to get through 3 days of bull riding. My diet was also shifted, I was eating foods that bulk me up since it was “bulking season” . I chose foods that would slim me down and not add so much muscle mass. You would think that in order to ride bulls you need tons of muscle but you would be wrong. But there are exceptions like the Brazilian bull riders who have huge arms but typically the average bull rider is a mere 140-170 pounds.
Aside from the transition in the weight room and the kitchen I also had start some bull riding drills. This began with drills on horseback and practicing proper dismounts. My horseback drills were fairly basic, I just rode bareback to get my legs use to shifting my weight as the horse changes direction anywhere from walking, trotting, and galloping. This drill also helps with keeping your legs moving which is very important to ride bulls. When practicing dismounts I would throw my bull rope on a horse and have someone lunge the horse and I simply jump off. Sounds very basic but I promise you that keeping it basic is the best way to go. On the technical end of bull riding I reached to a good buddy of mine who built his own “drop barrel”. The drop barrel is a key ingredient to learning how to ride bulls properly. This device helps you learn how to post up and get over the front of rank bulls. It was a simple hours drive over and I spent a few hours doing drills.
The actual drop barrel is pictured above with Ontario Bull Riding Champion Bill Thom and the man who designed it Alex Vanevery. It is very useful and helped a great deal.
With all the prep work done it was time for round 1 of the finals. I was more anxious than anything and was ready to ride. My first round draw was a big orange bull named Wow Factor, and he was named appropriately I lasted 3 jumps was hit in the face and thrown in the air like a rag doll. I didn’t have a chance in hell of riding that bull. I walked away sore but was ready for round 2. My next opponent was a black bull called Up Up and Away….and much like his name that is where he sent me after 2 jumps he planted me flat on my back(which still hurts today). I was more than a little upset with myself because both of these bulls I can ride on any day of the week. My bad luck was continuing but so was every other bull riders luck. The bulls had went for an impressive 14-0 as we rolled into round 3. I woke up on Sunday knowing I had to change something and it was so simple has calling my Dad. My Dad was an all around cowboy and a guy who I have always turned to in order to tweak my bull riding. We concluded that I was overthinking everything and should just relax and let it happen. I was overthinking every move and what I should be doing then when I nodded for the gate I just froze and got planted. So that was the game plan just relax. The entire day I was cool as a cucumber, I drew a bull who I have been on before and was in a good state of mind. I was the 2nd rider out and it seemed like the bulls were going to post a shut out against the cowboys….that was until I nodded for the gate my bull circled around to the left and I was the first qualified ride of the finals. I threw my helmet and celebrated in the arena with a posting of 74 points I was on cloud nine. One other rider posted a 79 point ride and won the finals leaving me with a 2nd place finish overall. I was very very happy with how things turned out considering how my season started. I left the ORA finals in Ancaster with a huge smile ,some extra cash and some very sore groins. I leave the 2014 rodeo season looking strongly towards the 2015 season and proved that even though your season starts with a serious injury it truly aint over till that fat lady sings!!
Thanks to everyone who helped me out and gave me advice!!!
Below is footage from the roughstock end of the arena from my buddy Alex Vanevery! My ride is at the 2:27 mark!
Let ER Buck
Well another day of rodeo is in the books and you are currently leading the bull riding and its time to party. So you throw on them freshly starched jeans and newly shined boots round up the boys and head to the local watering hole. The place is rockin you got a cold beer in your hand and you see a group of girls looking your way, what could honestly go wrong now this night is perfect. But then out of nowhere some local idiot in his corona hat stops you and says “So your a Cowboy eh” trying to not lose sight of that group of girls you simply answer with “yes I am, I ride bulls”, the idiot replies with ” a bull rider eh that’s pretty badass” he then tells you about that one time he rode that crazy bull at his friends uncles farm for 30seconds and he was way bigger than anything he has ever seen. Trying your best to be entertained by the idiots conversation you slowly start moving away to end the conversation. But all that fails when he asks you the dumbest question in the rodeo world, “hey how do they tie up the bulls nuts”….
Anyone who knows anything about rodeo knows this is the cream of the crop when it comes to stupid questions and it is one that I and every bull rider out there has dealt with a thousand times! Like honestly how stupid can people be? Mind you if you wear one them corona hats and consider it a cowboy hat I guess there is not much hope you anyways, but lets be serious.
This question can be dealt with a few ways. You can walk away shaking your head or you can stand there and explain the flank strap and proper breeding to him. In hopes of curing all the idiots out there who may read RidingHide I am going throw some knowledge on everyone.
Much like race horses who are bread specifically to race, rodeo bulls are bread to buck. Before a calf is even on the ground his genetic make up is already determined by his owner. I know everyone went through that awkward sex-ed class in school so you all know that with all living things genetics are your general make-up. In order to have a top of the line bucking bull you need proper breeding. For example, the top bucking bull in the world right now is Bushwacker , if you want one his calves or sons you would find a cow to breed him to. Personally I put as much stress on the sire(bull) as I do on the cow. With this genetic make-up you will likely get yourself an impressive animal athlete.
However, breeding isn’t everything. From a very young age bulls start to buck in competitions. While very young they will not have a cowboy on their backs until they are older. Stock Contractors will use a machine to mimic a cowboy on their backs. Older bulls do not use this machine because they are already in rodeos and buck with cowboys every weekend. The one and only item that both young and old bulls use is a bucking flank or flank strap.
The flank strap is the key ingredient used to make bulls buck. This cotton piece of rope sits in front of a bulls hips and is tightened seconds before the bull is released from the chutes. The flank strap in NO WAY HURTS THE BULL! I did capitalize that because animal rights people all over the world seem to think that bulls get injured during this and I can promise you the bull is not hurt whatsoever, to read more on the care and safety of our animal athletes please visit an older post of mine titled Animal Welfare .The main purpose for the flank strap is do insure that bull will kick straight out instead of under his belly. After the bull is done bucking and exits the arena the flank strap is removed and thrown on the next bull.
Below is a video from Hall of Fame bull rider JW Hart explaining the method of the flank strap!
The flank strap is not wrapped around the bulls testicles in any way, and stock contractors take care of their bulls probably better then most people take care of their kids. Aside from the information applied in this entry it is completely moronic to think that anyone would be dumb enough to get near a bulls testicles, and who the hell would volunteer for such a thing. Naturally bulls do not like people anywhere near them let alone allow them to fondle the family jewels. I mean would you enjoy a rope wrapped tightly around your testicles? Probably not!
So the next time you find yourself in a idiotic conversation and this is the topic you have my permission to unleash the wrath of knowledge that I just supplied and if you cannot get them to agree with you feel free to pass on my information because I would love to see a corona hat wearing yuppie attempt to tie a rope around a bulls testicles!!!
Let Er Buck