Summery weather and the prospect of plenty of thrills, chills and spills drew a huge crowd to last week’s Woolwich Ultimate Rodeo.
Breslau’s Calhoun Stables was the scene July 5 of the first stop on the Case IH Ultimate Rodeo Tour. The stands were packed entirely as audience members riders take part in activities such as bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, barrel racing, bull riding and pole bending. Up for grabs was some $20,000 in prize money.
“There really is something for everybody there, depending on what tickles your fancy,” said organizer Ross Millar. “We were thrilled with the crowd.”
Joe Courville of Indiana, riding Sister Sue, topped the bareback division at 78 seconds. For this achievement, he scored $1,485 for his efforts.
“It’s amazing how much these guys travel – the guy, he drove in that night, and he took off that night because the next day he was in Kentucky competing somewhere,” said Millar of Courville.
The ladies barrel racing division was won by Barb Millar of Orangeville, who took home $1,024.65. She finished with a time of 16.02, narrowly beating out the second-place competitor Syndel Peterson, by 0.12 seconds.
“She’s last year’s champion,” said Millar. “She was on a grey horse by the name of Smoke.”
Gideon Stutzman of Owen Sound won the novice bucking horse division atop a horse named Don Puablo, ending up $97.20 richer for his efforts.
“The novice bucking is the young kids getting started, which is fun. We enjoy it because they all went to the school and they’re all in their first summer,” said Millar.
Cierra Boniface took first-place for the pole bending competition with a time of 21.05, netting $729.68 in the process.
“She won the pole bending, and you can see in the pole bending there’s a time of 21.0, 21.4, 21.5, 21.5, 21.8; it was awfully close,” said Millar.
Peter Hallman of New Hamburg won the saddle bronc competition with his horse, Blue Snowball. The veteran of more than 20 years on the rodeo circuit gained $849.42 for doing so.
“He’s been the RAM Rodeo champion and also the Ontario Rodeo champion,” said Millar.
Tory Fry won two separate divisions: youth barrel racing with a time of 16.32, netting $165.60, and youth pole bending with a time of 21.52, which paid her $115.20.
“She had a good day,” added Millar of the young Peterborough-area rider.
Junior steer rider Tyler Bauer of Mono, Ontario, took the youth steer riding division and got a total of $216 for it.
“He’s a wonderful young guy,” said Millar. “He has autism. I actually mention he’s autistic quite often during the show because our attitude is if there’s a mother out there with a child with autism, and she sees him doing really well, that might give her a little bit of encouragement too, right?”
Luiz Gustavo Azevedo of Brazil, along with Fry, topped the rescue race division. Both team members got $162 each for their efforts.
Hannah Barraclough and Deirdre Smullen each took home $18 for winning the youth rescue race.
Of all of the divisions, Millar noted he was particularly surprised by the results in the bull riding competition.
“In the bull riding, we never had one cowboy that covered any of those bulls for eight seconds. We were surprised by how well the bulls bucked because it was a warm night, right? We just kept them as cool as we could and just kept the water to them, so they weren’t dehydrated. But they bucked really well,” said Millar.
To receive a score in bull riding, participants must stay atop the bull for a minimum of eight seconds with one hand gripped on the bull rope tied behind the bull’s forelegs. Failing to reach that eight-second mark, or touching themselves or the bull with the free hand results in a no-score ride.
Anyone can participate in a rodeo by signing up at least 10 days in advance. For this particular division, competitors are encouraged to attend a bull riding school. There is a school called Build-A-Cowboy Rodeo School based in Orangeville where those interested can learn such skills.
“The thing that attracts with the bull riding is obviously the extremism of it. I’m not sure they can all relate to what it’s actually like sitting on a bull, but I think they kind of get it looking at it,” said Millar.
The Ontario tour has 15 stops this year, with the final taking place in the Newmarket RAM Rodeo Championships mid-October.
Proceeds from the event went to the Canadian Diabetes Association. For more information, visit www.ultimaterodeotour.com.