Jacob Stemo can tell you all about it.
He shared his jubilation with the grandstand of fans during the third performance of the Calgary Stampede, as he windmilled his hat and raced around the same arena he’d just spurred his way to number one in the bareback riding moments before.
Stemo, who grew up in Calgary, but calls Bashaw home now, made an aggressive 88-point ride on Arbitrator Joe.
“That horse is great,” credited Stemo. “I knew that was a money horse, one you need to show off on, and do good on. Luckily it worked out.”
“I’m ecstatic. I wrote this goal down on a white board four years ago when I was in college. To be here this year is unbelievable.”
Stemo, who won the Stampede steer riding title in 2007, was a little sheepish about his energetic celebration, where he nearly fell off the horse at the end.
“That’s a little embarrassing. I guess I was fired up. I grew up in Calgary and it’s been five years getting here, battling injuries, and to be here in front of the hometown crowd, I had to go show off.”
It was a turnaround in fortunes that Stemo desperately needed, including the $5500.
“I’ve been rodeoing hard with Clint Laye and Connor Hamilton. I’ve just had tough luck the last month. I don’t think I’ve won a dime and been to 40 rodeos, so having a horse like that and doing the job that I need to, was awesome.”
It’s not only a matter of feeling like you belong again in a truckload of talent, but it’s also about reinforcing his decision to pursue rodeo as a career.
“I turned down going to chiropractor school, I turned down an oilfield job for this. Just to have this today, I guess, gives me more confidence. It’s been a struggle the last month. I’m trying to do this for a living, so today, to do it here, is awesome.”
Jake Vold remains the Pool A bareback leader, with his tally of $11,000, but Taylor Broussard of Louisiana is just back of him by $500 after placing again Sunday.
Stephen Culling has been making a real name for himself in the steer wrestling world, and he helped build that reputation by collecting his first go-round win at Calgary in just 3.9 seconds Sunday afternoon. It’s his debut year at this big show, and described his feelings after knowing he was the fast one of the day.
“A big sigh of relief. That was a dream come true right there, getting a go-round win here at Calgary,” said the Fort St. John, BC bulldogger.
“I knew if I wanted to win something, I needed to be on that barrier. I broke it yesterday to win a good cheque.”
It’s taken a bit for the steer wrestlers to adjust to a slightly different setup with the barrier this year.
“They put six inches more on it. It used to be that you could go really fast and now you’ve got to kind of sit there and go behind him. That first day there was a little bit of kinks to work out because no one knew what you really had to see, but we’re starting to get it figured out right now.”
“I’m running Curtis Cassidy’s horse Tyson, and Cody’s doing the hazing for me. I have a lot of confidence with Cody next to me, and riding that horse.”
“I’ll probably need to win a little bit more tomorrow to get a spot in on Sunday, but we’ll go at that tomorrow.”
Craig Weisgerber didn’t place Sunday, but remains the Pool A frontrunner with $10,500. Culling is sitting third with $7000 now, behind the $9000 assembled by Cody Cassidy.
It was a big day for BC rodeo fans, because joining Culling on the awards stage Sunday was Jake Watson, from Hudson’s Hope. Watson spurred to an 87.5 on a horse by the name of Twisted Sister.
“Luckily, she’s a pretty nice bucker,” said Watson, who got some tips from fellow rider Zeke Thurston who’d won a rodeo on her recently. “The hardest part about her was the turnback there. I managed to stay with her. I knew it was coming, so I had a plan for it.”
Watson has been traipsing to the paywindow this week, but this was his biggest cheque ($5,500).
“The first day, I thought I rode really good. Yesterday, I had a really good horse and I kind of let it get away from me a little bit. I probably had a chance to win the round yesterday and I didn’t want to pass another one up.”
Thurston, at 86.5, was just a point behind Watson, so stays atop the Pool A standings, with $13,000, but Watson’s total is next best at $11,000.
“I’m actually entered in a rodeo in Wyoming on Saturday night, so I really wanted to make it through to Sunday, so I could go to that rodeo. I think that got me there today, but we’re going to try for another round win tomorrow.”
Defending Stampede bull riding champion, Marcus Gloria, came out flying on one called Home Grown and stuck to the middle of the whirling storm, to emerge with an 87.5. He tossed his hat in celebration, as he made his first whistle in Calgary this year, collecting $5,500.
Gloria is a Brazilian now living in Edmonton, with his translator and mentor Andre Portes. He was excited to draw that bull.
“I’ve seen him before, a couple of weeks ago,” said Gloria. “I knew he was a good bull, in my hand, so I had to do my best to get a great ride today.”
“I was very happy especially because I didn’t have a good start during the first two days, so that’s the reason to celebrate today.”
Gloria returned to Brazil for surgery on his collarbone, after injuring it at last fall’s PBR Canada Finals in Saskatoon. He only returned to action in March.
“In the beginning, I was kind of concerned because I didn’t know how it was going to hold up, but then I see that it was pretty good and I’m feeling a hundred per cent.”
Life, and bull riding, changed for Gloria after his $100,000 victory at Calgary a year ago.
“It helped me in every way. After winning here, it opened a bunch of doors. I got invited to big rodeos and it definitely was a hundred per cent change.”
Jared Parsonage is on top for the bull riding standings, with $10,750, after placing second Sunday.
Marty Yates put himself into the Pool A conversation in tie-down roping by speeding up the pace for the week in tie-down roping, by tying up his calf in just 7.2 seconds.
“That was a good calf. All the calves in this set were awesome. I just did my job today,” said Yates, who’s up from Texas. “The first two days I’ve had a little, I guess you could call it, bad luck but it’s just not performing well on my end, and today it all came together.”
Tie-down roping is one of the most technically demand events in rodeo and seven second runs don’t happen every day.
“That’s why I think in this event there’s not as many guys that are as dominant as they are in say the bull riding or the bareback riding. You’ve gotta have great horsepower, you’ve gotta rope good and you’ve got to have a good calf. I mean there’s lots of variables in this event. When it comes together there’s not a better feeling in the world.”
Fellows Texans Jake Pratt and Caleb Smidt share the Pool A standings lead, with $11,5000 apiece. Yates is now fourth with $7000, behind the $10,000 earned by Logan Bird.
For the second straight day, Sister and her jockey Nellie Miller made their way to the winner’s circle. They managed to speed up their Saturday time nearly half a second, and at 17.29, were just a tenth faster than Ivy Conrado, at 17.30.
“She felt better on the second (barrel) today,” commented Miller, a California cowgirl. “She really finished hard and strong, so that our third good, and she just felt awesome.”
Miller is the highest Pool A money winner so far, with $14,500.
Monday is the final day for competitors in Pool A to earn their way directly to Sunday’s Showdown round, by finishing among the top four money winners in their event.