Jake Vold riding bareback

What turns a sociable horse into a juice cat? Could be a good breakfast of oats, or a sunny day … or maybe it’s having a cowboy with the right touch.

All three came together during the bareback riding on Day Three of Pool A action at the Calgary Stampede.

When Jake Vold saw his name beside Welcome Delivery on the draw, he recognized a horse with a solid reputation. But when it’s the Calgary Stampede and you’ve got a pen full of rank horse power combined with the superstars of the riding world, ‘good’ doesn’t always cut it.

“I’ve seen him his last few trips and he’s just been a nice little horse, usually takes a little scoot, just jumps and kicks,” related Vold, a three-time Canadian champion. “So I pulled a loose rigging today, just to try to help him out, and man, did he come unglued, and bucked! I had my hands full. I just kept scrambling. It all worked out in the end, but I wasn’t really sure what was going to happen.”

What happened was a whole lot of spurring and kicking and when the dust settled, the judges rewarded the eight seconds with 88 points, best of the entire round, and worth $5,500.

“On paper, he was probably one of the weaker ones. But I kept just trying to think ‘I can do this today on him, it’s going to work’. Maybe I shouldn’t have wished for so much,” Vold laughed.

“This is awesome, exactly what I needed.”

Vold only returned to rodeo competition at the beginning of June, following surgery to repair the kneecap smashed by a horse during the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas last December.

“I still feel a little rusty in spots and at times,” admitted the Airdrie cowboy. “I was doing some equipment changes these last couple weeks, just trying to find my groove again. I’m still not right where I want to be, riding-wise. I still feel sloppy in spots but I’ll get it back. It’s coming.”

Vold is well on his way to booking a return appointment to Sunday’s program.  He’s part of a trio of bareback riders knotted up at the top of the standings. He, Clint Laye and Richmond Champion all have $10,000 won so far in Pool A, with one day left to go.

Vold is no stranger to the Showdown round at the Stampede, but he’s never won the big one.

“That’s what everybody is shooting for. It’s been one of my major goals ever since I started riding bareback horses. There’s just something about Calgary. It’s like one of the ‘seven wonders of the world’. I love this place, I love being here, and hopefully one year is my year.”

Jordan Hansen bull riding

Another Stampede competitor coming off the disabled list is Airdrie-raised Jordan Hansen. But his return was just in time for the Stampede.

“Two days ago, that was my first bull back from the two and a half months I was sitting off,” said Hansen. “These last couple days, I felt pretty slow and weak, that’s for sure. I felt like I haven’t been on in a while.”

“I’m sure glad I could turn it around today.”

Turn it around he did, when he sat firmly in the middle of the spinning Vold bull called Blow Me Away, for 87 points.

“I knew that was a great one. I’ve been on that bull and I’ve seen him lots, so I don’t think I could’ve handpicked a better one. He’s as honest as can be, and does that pretty much every time. I kind of knew his game plan, and it worked out for me today.”

Hansen was out with fractured vertebrae and a fractured hip.

“The hip has kind of been wrecked for some time,” added Hansen, who lives in Ponoka now. “They were worried about my back, more than anything, so just making sure I took enough time to make sure that healed up.”

With the guidance of his doctor and the Canadian Pro Rodeo Sports Medicine Team, Hansen decided he was ready to take the spot he’d earned at the Stampede.

“This is huge. It just makes me that much more excited to come back tomorrow and do it again.

Of the four qualified bull rides on Sunday, Ty Wallace’s came in with the same mark as Hansen’s. So the Colorado cowboy and Hansen shared the first and second place purse, giving them $5,000 apiece.

“Yesterday I was pretty upset with myself,” said Wallace. “This is my first time to Calgary, so I don’t want to be embarrassed up here. I figured I’d better show ‘em what I had before I left. It’s a big atmosphere, and great place.”

Joe Frost remains the leading earner in the Pool A bull riding standings, with $9,500, followed by Wallace and Cooper Davis, who have $7,500 each.

Kyle Irwin hadn’t found his way to the pay window Calgary yet, but he changed that in 4.1 seconds, wrestling his way to first place Sunday in the steer wrestling.

“It’s always good to come up here and do good,” grinned the cowboy who hails from Robertsdale, Alabama.  “So to strike and win first is good, it’s real good.”

“I’ve always liked this rodeo – the setup, the opportunity. My first year here I won second, then last year, I didn’t make the short round, but I still won seven or eight thousand. My wife and little boy are always glad to have that.”

Irwin knew his steer had a reputation for pulling up to a quick halt and catching a cowboy off guard if he wasn’t ready.

“We had a game plan together and knew what we wanted to do, but still things happen. The momentum when they’re dead stopped, it’s like hitting a mailbox going 20 down the road. It’s a sudden stop. So I was glad it worked out the way it did. Our plan came through, but a lot of times it doesn’t.”

There may be a lot of variables when it comes to steer wrestling, but one Irwin doesn’t have to worry about is the horse underneath him. He and fellow contestant Tyler Pearson are partners on what was voted the 2017 PRCA steer wrestling horse of the year, Scooter.

“He makes our job so easy and takes the stress out of it whenever you back into the box. He’s the same trip every time, gives you a chance, and you can’t imagine how much that means.”

The $5,500 paycheque puts Irwin into the mix in the Pool A race, where the top four advance directly to Sunday’s Finals. He needs to make up some ground yet, because leading the charge still is Cody Cassidy with $9,500, followed by Tyler Waguespack with $9,000.

For the second straight day, Texan Cade Swor came out and caught and wrapped a calf flawlessly. His time of 7.1 seconds was best again, so he got himself another go-round trophy bronze and $5,500 more.

“That’s kind of different for me around here,” claimed Swor. “I haven’t won many firsts, and two days in a row, man, that’s pretty cool. I couldn’t be more happy with the way things are going.”

“We’re building a house back at home, so we’re putting some pieces together now.”

Swor now has $11,000 in the tie-down roping Pool A but he shares top spot after three days with fellow Texan Cory Solomon who has the same total.

He may be a veteran of saddle bronc riding, but he rode like a kid on Sunday. Cody DeMoss made headlines when he played with the Calgary Stampede horse Xecutive News, to put together an 87.5 point ride and earn his first paycheque of the week.

“He was just outstanding,” drawled the Cajun cowboy from Louisana. “He was fun to ride, really jumped up in the air and allowed me plenty of time to set my feet, get my toes out, and it was fun!”

DeMoss made his first trip to Calgary back in 1999, and coming to this town never gets old for the 2007 titlist.

“It’s been a great one for me. I’ve won it once, and I’d dang sure like to do it again. This’d be a good year to do it,” he grinned.

Isaac Diaz continues his roll at the Stampede despite his sore ribs, placing in the round again. So he leads Pool A saddle bronc standings with $11,500, with Nanton’s Clay Elliott in next with $10,500.

Kelly Bruner may be a newcomer to the Calgary Stampede but she hasn’t had any trouble finding her way around the barrel pattern of the infield with her gelding Suzy. They won Sunday’s round with a time of 17.43 seconds.

“I left him alone, and let him do his job for a change,” she smiled. “And he did great. He didn’t need me up there!”

Bruner, from Texas, has placed in every go-round and she shares the Pool A lead with Ivy Conrado. Both have collected $13,500 so far.

Monday is the last day for Pool A competitors to try to secure a bye into Sunday’s Finals, with the rest given one more chance to be there through Wildcard Saturday.