Canada Night at the NFR – ’21 WNFR


Round 8 Results & Round 9 Draw

Canada Night, eh? PRCA photo by Roseanna Sales.

I caught ‘The NFR Tailgate Party’ today; the guests were Dawson Hay and Zeke Thurston for a portion of it. Host Janie Johnson said, “You guys have known each other since before you were born because your dads rodeoed together. So, you should do good in this quiz about each other.” I’m paraphrasing now, and when Janie asked Dawson what Zeke’s Spirit Animal would be. He replied, “Zeke’s Spirit Animal would be a horse.” When Janie asked, “What kind of horse do you mean? A Shetland? A Quarter Horse? A bucking horse? Dawson deadpanned, “An Arab with his tail straight up in the air.”

Don’t worry, Zeke got even. When it was his turn, he said, “Dawson’s Spirit Animal would be a raccoon.” When Janie asked, “Why a raccoon?” Zeke responded, “Because if he can’t get in it, he’ll wreck it.”

Next on the program, Jayne Thurston and recently married Lily Hay were in the guest chairs. The ladies were quite a bit more disciplined than their bronc riding husbands. Lily told the crowd that Zeke and Jayne’s daughter Lucy was the flower girl when she and Dawson tied the knot.

When the show changed gears, a new host appeared, it was 2015 Miss Rodeo Canada Katie Lucas. She interviewed current Miss Rodeo Canada Alicia Erickson about her unprecedented two-year reign. She pointed out that the multi-talented Alicia sang the American national anthem at the Breakaway Finals and will sing ‘O Canada’ during the opening ceremonies of Round 8.

Round 8 Results

PRCA photo by Click Thompson.

High River’s famed trick rider Madison MacDonald rode in with the Canadian flag during the opening, and Alicia sang a fine rendition of our national anthem. The onstage entertainment for the opening was none other than retired Junior Steer Rider Corb Lund and the Hurtin’ Albertans; they did a rip-roaring version of ‘Rye Whiskey.’

Now to the action:

Five-time World Champion Bareback Rider Kaycee Field, in pursuit of his sixth title, marked 87.5 for another first place cheque. For the third night in a row, Orin Larsen cashed a cheque. His 84.5 finished fourth, and he’s moved up to fifth in the aggregate. Caleb Bennett’s 82-point ride on Calgary’s S-77 Soap Bubbles didn’t place. Three-time World Champ Tim O’Connell scored 80 points on Pow Wow Nights. Richie Champion was 79.5, and Tanner Aus marked 79 on Legend’s 936 Cool Agent.

Will Lummus won the Steer Wrestling with a speedy 3.4-second run. Scott Guenthner’s 4.1 split sixth with three other guys. Curtis Cassidy did the deed in 5.0 seconds; still no sign of his great horse, Tyson.

The Team Ropers are really bunched up; tonight, Clay Smith and Jade Corkill won with a 3.4. There were quite a few teams that caught single legs tonight, and Rhen Richard and Jeremy Buhler were among them. They didn’t place, but their 5.4 + 5 keeps them third in the aggregate and a factor in the race.

Layton Green on F13 Virgil. PRCA photo by Phill Kitts.

It was a Canadian bronc rider on a Canadian bucking horse on Canada Night. Layton Green split the bronc riding with a 91-point ride on C5’s legendary F-13 Virgil. The two-time World Champion Bareback Horse was converted to the Saddle Bronc event just this year. In a behind-the-chutes interview, Layton said he rode Virgil at the CFR, but he needed more horse tonight, so he and C5’s flank man Tyson Cardinal decided to give him a little less flank —  and it worked.


Layton Green & Virgil. PRCA photo by Click Thompson.

Speaking of Tyson, he’s becoming a rock star. At the Buckle presentation, co-host Flint Rasmussen wanted to give him a buckle for ‘Best Dressed.’ Tonight, Tyson replaced his customary bowler with a conventional western hat and was sporting a fancy plush suit jacket and his trademark bowtie. Tyson said, “This buckle is very special because Virgil had won go-round buckles in the Bareback Riding, and now he’s won buckles in two events. A very happy Layton said it was his first Go-Round Buckle.

Ben Andersen earned his first-ever NFR cheque when his 86.5 ride on Calgary’s Z-37 Zoaria Hills placed third. Dawson Hay ended up in the crying hole with his 78-point journey. Zeke Thurston managed to cover his nasty mount for 76.5 points and remain in the mix for the aggregate title. Kolby Wanchuk bit the dust early, Cody DeMoss scored 76 points on Calgary’s Y-38 Yesterday’s Delivery and Tegan Smith came down early from the Stampede’s big rank studhorse T-65 Tiger Warrior.

The title race is far from over in the Tie-Down roping. Hunter Herron won his first cheque of this year’s NFR with a speedy 7.1. Shane Hanchey got back on Logan Bird’s Peso, and it paid off. He was 8.3 to split fourth and fifth money. Cory Solomon wowed the crowd when he two-looped a calf in 11.6. It didn’t place, but, yeah, that’s right — two-looped in 11.6 seconds. (!)

Second-generation NFR Barrel Racer Jordan Briggs toured the pattern in 13.45 and remains the only lady that hasn’t tipped a barrel.

In a similar scenario, Bull Rider Parker Breding won the round with a 92.5-pts and leads the average because he’s the only one with six scores.

Highly Recommended

Earlier in the day, I got thinking about pickup man Gary Rempel. He holds all the records for that skill. He’s been selected to work the Canadian Finals Rodeo 21 times and the NFR nine times.

The Cowboy Channel Plus has a feature called “Wild Rides”. It’s mainly a sit-down interview with great background shots and footage. I searched it out because I remembered there is an episode with Gary, and I wanted to pass on a recommendation, including which season. Anyway, Gary’s episode (season 2) was filmed at Pendleton, and he told some good tales.

I also saw a (season 1) episode that featured three World Champion cowboys, namely Deb Greenough, Dan Mortensen and Bill Smith, having a visit. Bill, who won three Saddle Bronc titles (1969,71 &73) is a very humble man. At one point he said, “My hero was Kenny McLean, I tried every day to ride like him, and I never got it made.”

In my search, I discovered a brand-new episode (season 5) on Orin Larsen, it’s pure gold, and I fully recommend viewing it. If you don’t have Cowboy Channel Plus go to the neighbour’s house and get them to show it to you.

Round 9 Draw

In the Bareback Riding, Sixth round winner Orin Larsen will strap his riggin’ on Calgary’s A-47 Arbitrator Joe and Richie Champion has drawn C5’s 44- Sesame Street. In the Saddle Bronc Riding, Dawson Hay has drawn Calgary’s S-83 Special Delivery. Ben Andersen has the infamous V60 Womanizer from The Cervi Brothers. Layton Green will pair up with Cervi Championship Rodeo’s U82 Hitman. Kolby Wanchuk drew the old reliable 446 Kool Toddy from Big Bend Rodeo. Two-time World Champion Zeke Thurston will test Corey & Lange’s 532 Monster. Calgary’s B-26 Business Girl and A-73 Amazon Hills will supply the horsepower for Stetson Wright and Sage Newman. Tegan Smith has drawn Hi Lo Prorodeo’s old Art Francis horse 010 Larry Culpepper. In the Bull Riding Six-time World Champ Sage Kimzey will test Duane Kesler’s rank 481 Switchback.

The drama continues.