Bray Armes.

No one enjoys that more than the steer wrestlers. Well, it’s probably the fans who get the biggest kick out of the inevitable mud bath.

Bray Armes led the charge for the bulldoggers, and set a blistering pace. The Texan made short work of his time in the mud, getting the job done in 3.7 seconds and then whirling his hat in excitement.

“It was great fun,” grinned Armes. “When you come out on top, it’s always funner.”

“I’ve always done good, it seems like, when I go first. I’m not trying to beat anybody else. You just back in there and do your best, and see what everybody else does.”

When Armes saw the sloppy conditions, he had no qualms about competing in them.

“Calgary’s crew does such a great job taking care of the ground, so even with all the rain, their ground is great. So (mud) is no big deal here.”

Armes jumped on board Scooter for the run, a horse owned by Kyle Irwin and Tyler Pearson. It was his first time on the horse.

“When you come to Calgary, you’re going to try to take a fast start, to try to win first every day. I just backed in there, and tried to do that, and it worked. I nailed the barrier. I don’t think I want to get any closer tomorrow,” he smiled.

Armes committed to the ERA Tour last year, and wound up winning it. His appearance at Calgary this year will be one for the memory bank.

“I’m actually retiring after Calgary. This is it, I’m done after here. My little girl is taking over my bulldogging horse, and it’s time to be a Dad. I’ve accomplished what I wanted to do and it’s been great.”

So there’s just one thing left on Bray Armes wish list, and he made a good start on fulfilling his Calgary Stampede wish Tuesday.

“I’ve made the Finals here twice, never have made the Final round. But I’m gonna do it this year. We’re going to go out on top.”

Armes leads the Pool B steer wrestling standings with his $5500 win. Ty Erickson of Montana was just a tenth behind Armes at 3.8 seconds, for $4500.

Steven Peebles bareback ride.

The last time Steven Peebles rode at Calgary it was in the mud on Showdown Sunday last year, so he was comfortable with that on Tuesday. He was also sitting pretty on a new Calgary horse called Yipee Kibitz, racking up 90.5 points to win the round of bareback riding.

“They say a good horse is half your score and that’s every bit of it,” said the Oregon cowboy. “I didn’t know that horse, but I knew Calgary’s young horses are all really good. When I asked around, everybody was telling me that horse was super awesome. So I just went in with that attitude. I didn’t know exactly what tracks he was going to cover or what he was going to do. I just figured I’d set my feet and beat him to the ground, and wait for the next jump every jump and hope it worked, and it did.”

Peebles is the defending bareback champion and his recovery to riches story last year was a fascinating one, since his first horse at Calgary (which he also won the round on) was also his first one back after several major back injuries. His journey this year to Calgary also included more medical sagas.

“After Stampede last year I went in and had back surgery. I’ve just been having heck with my back, and my lower hips and pelvis. It’s been an ongoing battle trying to keep that going. I had surgery and was out all the beginning of this year too.”

“So far, I haven’t had a healthy year of my career. It’s been all right so far and I’m just rolling along with it. This spring was a little slow, but coming into the summer I’ve been feeling stronger. I had one of the best fourth of July runs I’ve ever had in my career, so hopefully things are right back to where they were last year. Starting out like this is awesome.”

Peebles posted the $5500 to the early lead of Pool B, followed by Manitoba’s Orin Larsen and two-time Stampede winner Kaycee Feild are next with $4000 apiece, after both making 87 point rides.

Matt Shiozawa tie-down roping.

Idaho’s Matt Shiozawa is one of those competitors familiar with Calgary and with roping in the mud on the rodeo trail.

“We got to experience last year. That was a blast. Really, it’s a beautiful day. Rain or shine, we’re happy to be in Calgary,” insisted the always optimistic tie-down roper.

Shiozawa had confidence in his good horse Chuck, and the two of them teamed up for a smooth 7.3 second run, to claim the first day’s treasures of $5500 and a bronze.

“My biggest objective today was to get off on the right foot. My biggest concern was trying to make a good quality run and get a good start. My horse performed well. But I changed my equipment a little. I used a little more experienced ropes and experienced string because this may be the last time they ever get used. But, the approach is (the same). You still go out and tie them as fast as you can.”

Shiozawa is the Pool B frontrunner, followed by Texan Caleb Smidt with his 8.2 second run, for $4500.

Lisa Lockhart has her old friend Louis back from surgery to repair and injury after the NFR, and it’s clear he’s ready to run, posting a time of 17.68 seconds to win the barrel racing, and earn $5500 to lead Pool B.

“It still feels a little rusty, like our timings not there,” admitted Lockhart, from South Dakota. “Honestly, it didn’t feel that good today, so I’m absolutely surprised and thrilled that we clocked what we did. I’ll take it!”

Second fastest of the day was Sherry Cervi of Arizona, with a 17.68, and she now has $4,500.

Another Stampede veteran, J.B. Mauney was obviously back in his happy place, as he rode Outlaw Buckers Bomb Shell to 88 points for first and another trophy bronze to add to his collection.

“He had a little wild jump right out of there, and I kind of left there sitting flat instead of up out over him, riding like I should have,” Mauney, of North Carolina, admitted. “He about made me pay for it, about whupped me down on his head. But luckily I got myself stopped and it worked out good.”

Second place was Oklahoma’s Sage Kimzey with an 86 point ride, for $4,500.

The saddle bronc riding round isn’t complete, with one re-ride yet to go. But Jacobs Crawley of Texas is in the driver’s seat after posting an 86.5 on the great Kesler stud Spanish Pair.

A tribute to Rodeo legend, Winston Bruce.

The Calgary Stampede held a special tribute for longtime Ranch and Rodeo manager Winston Bruce, who passed away Monday night, by leading in his trademark Appaloosa with an empty saddle. Bruce, a Canadian and World Saddle Bronc Champion, contributed much to the advancement of rodeo and stock contracting.