C+ Rodeos stock contractor Roy Call said he is pleasantly surprised with the talent being showcased at the 94th Annual Williams Lake Stampede.
“I’m really happy with how strong the field is,” he told the Tribune.
Earlier rodeos in Canada this year did not have a lot of American competitors coming up and usually that would account for about 40 per cent of overall entries.
“A lot of those guys are anti-vaxers and didn’t have vaccines. Now they have signed up to come to Williams Lake.”
Rodeo stock from C+ Rodeos in 150 Mile House, and subcontractors John Duffy of Doubletree Ranch And Rodeo Stock from Buck Lake, Alta. and Darren Shaw of Cardston, Alta. began rolling into the Stampede Grounds on Tuesday with the last of the loads of stock on Wednesday.
“By the time we get done it will probably be five full liner loads,” Call said. “There are a lot of events and it’s a full slate.”
When asked for some rider and animal pairs to watch for, Call did not hesitate.
He pointed to the first performance’s saddle bronc riding with Logan Hay of Wildwood, Alta, who will ride C+’s Strawberry, a “really bucky and pretty chesty” horse that’s been to the Canadian finals a couple of times.
Ben Andersen, from Rocky Mountain House, Alta. who made the National finals last year and finished 14th in the world standings, will ride Ring a Dum Doo.
“He’s a young black horse that really bucks,” Call said. “Ben’s been 90 points several times already this year and this young horse might just be really, really good.”
For the second performance, Call suggested Sage Newman, of Melstone, Mont., who is the number one saddle bronc rider in the world.
He will be riding one of John Duffy’s horses Friendly.
“The horse has been all over the place and is a real good jumper and kicker, but something Sage could definitely be middle 80s on. The guy’s been incredibly hot – he’s riding, really, really well.”
Another contender on Friday is Jake Henry, of Wheatland County, Alta, whose dad Shawn Henry grew up in Williams Lake and was a Canadian finalist for many years.
“Jake’s in the rookie-of-the-year standings, he rides really well,” Call said. “He’ll ride a young horse of John Duffy’s called Mojo Nixon, who is pretty testy. Jaek’s an interesting kid to see.”
Call said Henry has lots of family in Williams Lake and it should be pretty fun to watch him compete.
The best horse out is another of John Duffy’s, a white stud named Bootilear who will Ben Wickham from Calala, NSW, Australia will ride.
“He rides pretty good and that horse is absolutely outstanding. He’s been to the Canadian Rodeo finals and is a real bucker.”
Cort Scheer will be riding Miss Heart Broke in the third performance Saturday.
“She’s awesome – that should be an 85 or 86. She’s outstanding. But actually all 10 of those guys are. There are two world champions out. It’s going to be really, really good.”
In Bareback riding, first performance, he highlighted Caleb Bennet from Corvallis, Mont., who will ride Unmanned, a 15-year-old gelding raised by C+ Rodeos that “really bucks, is fresh and outstanding.”
Bennet has attended the Canadian Nationals half a dozen times.
“He is former Canadian champion, he’s from Montana, and he can really ride.”
Another to watch for is Trenten Montero from Winnemucca, Nev., who will ride Christian.
For the second performance, Call said the first two guys on the list are former world champions.
Tim O’Connell from Marshall, Mont., will ride Unmanned and Jessie Pope, also from Marshall, Mont., will ride Jane Doe.
“If we get to see those guys that will be the toughest guys you’ll ever see and they are riding great horses. That could be really good.”
Clint Lave from Cadogan, Alta, will ride Kissin Kate who Call described as a “super hopper.”
“He’s going to be smiling all the way to the bank.”
Orin Larsen from Ingills, Man., is the first rider of the third performance.
A “tall skinny kid,” who has been to the national finals the last few years and been as high as the top three in the world.
He will be riding a horse called Fresno, followed by Kody Lamb from Sherwood Park, Alta who will ride Big Woo, a big buckskin horse of C+ Rodeos with a bald face.
“That could be really, really good.”
The first performance bull riding will feature Brock Radford, riding Great White.
Call described Great White as a “monstrous big white bull” who spins, but can be a real “bunch of points.”
“Brock’s a former PBR champion.”
Dakota Buttar from Eatonia, Sask. is a ‘really sticky’ rider and former Canadian PBR champion who has been to the national finals in Las Vegas. He will be riding Short List.
“They almost never ride him,” Call said.
Coy Robbins from Camrose, Alta will ride Vanilla Gorilla, one of John Duffy’s bulls.
“Coy is hot, hot, hot and real tough to get on the ground.”
In the third performance he said to watch for Jacob Gardner from Fort St. John, B.C. who is riding Pig.
“He’s been to the Canadian finals a couple of times and that’s going to be good.”
Jett Lambert, from Grand Prairie, Alta, will be riding Zak Attack, another of John Duffy’s bulls.
“He’s a young rookie who came up through the high school rodeo strain. He’s a high school champ and he can really ride. Zak Attack is a brown bull with horns. He jumps out and spins her. That’ll be good.”
On Sunday, July 3, there will be a BRC Bull Riding event at the Stampede, which Call noted will also be “really good” and “something totally different,” featuring a “strong field of guys.”
There will be 20 riders total.
They will all ride once and the top 10 will return and ride again.
“That will be a lot of fun. We have not done that at the Stampede before, but the guys put up $10,000 in the purse, and that actually helps to get a pretty darn good entry. We’ve got some good talent in the pools.”
Animals and athletes are paired by a draw.
There are 20 rodeos going on this week in North America and the cowboys will enter 10 and go to where there is the best stock and the biggest money, Call said.
“About 10 days ago they entered Williams Lake. There are four rodeos here in Canada – Williams Lake, Ponoka, Airdrie and Raymond – this week plus all the ones across the line.”
With 10 guys in a performance, Call assigns 12 horses for each performance.Through a random draw, two drawn for re rides and the other 10 are drawn for each rider.
Call assigns the horses how he thinks they are going to buck best or how he wants to use them.
“Some of the horses that are out twice, you’ll see them on the first performance and the third so they get a day off in between.”
All together there will be about 75 horses at the rodeo between the ranch bronc riding, novice riding bronc riding, saddle bronc, wild horse races and the barrel racing.
Normally there would be four performances but that was reduced to three so they’d be fuller.
“It’s been really good. We’re going to have about 10 competitors per event which is good. If we’d stayed with four we probably would have had less.”
So far he and his brother Earl Call have gone to half a dozen rodeos in 2022. Alberta opened up sooner than B.C. and they went “across the rocks” in April.
Two things they have noticed while attending those rodeos are that sponsors and communities want events back and have “really stepped up” and put money in and secondly, the crowds “have been nuts.”
“We’ve had big, big crowds everywhere we go,” Call said. “People want to have fun. It’s been refreshing to get out and see people. It’s probably going to be one of the funnest rodeos we’ve seen. I would also suggest get a ticket because I think you are going to sell out.”
For close to 30 years the Calls have been part of the Williams Lake Stampede and this year the weather has been wet by comparison resulting in volunteers working to prepare the arena, he said.
“They’ve taken out 30 loads of dirt and put new dirt in. They didn’t have any choice because there was three feet of mud. Those Stampede guys have done a ridiculous amount of work to make it reasonable.”