Several cowboys managed to double down in Day 2 of the Calgary Stampede rodeo, picking up their second trophy bronze in as many days.
Tanner Milan was one of those, as he won the $5500 prize for first in steer wrestling for the second straight day. The two-time Canadian champion caught his steer in just 3.4 seconds, which was best in a speedy round of action where you had to be faster than four seconds flat to even catch a sniff of cash.
“The steer was known to be a little slower, so I was happy to have him,” explained Milan. “I just had to see a bit more (head start) on him, and it worked out perfect. The steer didn’t run like the other ones, and gave me a chance to catch up a lot quicker.”
Steer wrestling is a game of inches, and it looked like Milan would be bumped to second place when Dakota Eldridge was a tenth of a second faster. But Eldridge had come out a hair too soon, and broke the barrier string, a fate Milan was determined to avoid with his run.
“I knew that steer was really good on the ground and I didn’t want to break the barrier, so I damn sure gave him some extra (space).”
While most Stampede competitors enjoy the sights of Calgary and some down time while here, Milan was able to do something even better to celebrate his opening day victory – some ranch work back in Cochrane.
“Well actually I went home, and we had a lame bull we had to go gather. We went out and roped him so we had a little bit of fun last night, but other than that I was to bed pretty early, and got a good night’s rest.”
“It’s nice to be around home. I don’t get to that much throughout the year, just to be home with the family. It was nice to relax, and do something different other than hopping in the truck and taking off to another rodeo right away.”
Could Milan go for a three-peat on Sunday? He simply grins in reply.
“I’m just going to try and keep knocking ‘em down, and the money’s always nice.”
Milan already has $11,000 to lead Pool A standings.
Mark it a double win for Jess Lockwood in the bull riding as well. The young Montana cowboy tied onto a bull called Chrome for an 89 point adventure, making his grin wider than ever.
“That bull was really, really good around there, and ended up going both ways,” he bubbled. “I knew he would, so I was trying to be real patient. I couldn’t ask for a better bull.”
When Lockwood dismounted and got away, he tossed his helmet some fifty feet in the air to celebrate.
“Yea, whenever I make a pretty good ride like that, I give an ol’ bucket toss,” he chuckled.
But Lockwood was considerably tamer in his victory lap, a day after a spectacular rare-up on the same ride, when the supplied horse didn’t like his bull riding spurs.
“Everyone said ‘keep your spurs out of ‘em’. I said I’m just gonna trot him. I’m not going to touch him at all!”
Lockwood leads Pool A with $11,000.
The other two-time winner was tie-down roper Ryan Jarrett of Oklahoma. With a single swing of his loop in Round 2, he caught his calf and posted a 7.7 second score. But Texan Cade Swor was able to get the job done in the same time, so the two split the prize money, netting $5000 apiece, but they both got a bronze.
Like Jarrett, Swor is also running a young horse at Calgary. He made a few adjustments after their first run, and they seemed to work. Jarrett is the Pool A leader with $10,500.
Barrel racer Kassie Mowry had some tough decisions to make when she got to Calgary. The Texas cowgirl had to choose between two great horses to run. There was Rocco, which she’s had access to for about a month, and her usual good horse Firewater.
“It was the toughest decision ever,” confirmed Mowry. “I came in here yesterday, and they let us practice. They both felt great. My friends and I debated it back and forth all day, but when it came down to it, on Rocco, I felt a little bit more confident about sending him in there, like you need to do when you come somewhere like this.”
They are the first rodeos for Rocco, who’s owned by Robin Weaver, and is only seven. But his rider Brandon Collins has won lots of big barrel racing events on him, so the horse is no stranger to the winner’s circle. Rocco showed it by the speed burst Saturday, with a 17.31 second run.
“I definitely wanted to take advantage of my first spot out,” said Mowry. “The ground felt really good. I switched shoes on him, and I felt like it really held him when he put his feet, so it was a good move.”
Mowry picked up $5500 for the win, but Oklahoma’s Emily Miller earned second placed money for the second day in a row, so she’s leading Pool A barrel racers with $9000.
The $5500 first place cheque in the saddle bronc riding when to Allen Boore of Utah, for an 87 point ride on Sergeant Whitney. But Day One winner, Layton Green, placed third on Saturday, so he’s the overall leader in Pool A with $9000.
J.R. Vezain of Wyoming got his first Calgary cash of 2017, with a top placing 87.5 point bareback ride on a Calgary horse called You See Me. He got some extra motivation from a chuckwagon driver behind the chutes, helping cheer him on.
“Darcy Flad is a friend of mine, and he’s a pretty electric fella. He always likes helping us out, and he’s gets real excited and pumps me up,” says Vezain.
Vezain gets the $5500 for first, but Richmond Champion finished second, so he is out in front overall with a $10,000 total.
Tier 2 Junior Steer Riding wrapped up Saturday, with Tristen Manning of Edson posting 148.5 points on two rides to win the title. Tier 2 features younger, less experienced riders on cows not quite as tough, to help ease the youngsters into the competition.