Ponoka Stampede Day 1

If you’re going to ride bucking horses when you’re over 40, you’d better be in good shape and you’d better know your game.

Kelly Timberman proved he’s both, during the opening performance of the 82nd annual Ponoka Stampede. The Wyoming cowboy recorded the high mark in a round of bareback riding filled with scores well into the 80’s. But the 84.75 he spurred to on Kesler’s horse Imperial Beach was a quarter point better than the 84.50 turned in by Canada’s number one bareback rider this season, Ty Taypotat, of Regina.

“I’m one of those guys that still studies films,” says Timberman.

After watching video of the horse’s trip at Cloverdale, B.C. this spring, Timberman observed how the horse tried to move away from his rider.

“In bareback riding you always want to be in front of that horse. You want to dictate the ride,” he explained. “You don’t wait to wait for him, you want to be ahead of him.”

“I got to thinking if I could really start that horse good and do things right, I might make that horse another five points better. That was my game plan today.”

“The horse really did stuff right, and he was phenomenal.”

Timberman won a World bareback title in 2004. He’d retired temporarily from the sport, and when he came back, had to deal with some lingering shoulder issues that kept him off the shelf all winter. So he was relieved and overjoyed to get matched up with that caliber of horse and get the job done.

“I was nervous. That’s the best one I’ve been on in a while and when you’re my age, 42, you’re like ‘do I still have it? Can I still ride something like this?”

“When the discipline pays off the way you believed it would, it’s pretty cool.”

“In rodeo you’ve got to find your advantage, because I’m my own business. I’m 50 per cent of my business. The other part is my horse, and if I can make that horse better, I’m gonna do it, because I want to win on him.”

If Timberman sounds like a rodeo motivator, it’s because he spends plenty of time doing that, conducting athlete training and rodeos schools in places like South Africa, Mexico and Brazil. But he also held one just a few months back in Ponoka, with his students ranging from youngsters 5-14, all the way up to active competitors in the advanced sessions.

“I go over the mindset of a champion, the goal setting, the power of positivity, your outlook on life. We’ve got a complete training model.”

Timberman is counting on his score being among the twelve best after all six performances, so he can come back for the Finals on Monday, July 2nd and have a chance at the big bucks in the Showdown round.

There was only one qualified bull ride Tuesday night at the Ponoka Stampede, but it was a good one. Four-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier Joe Frost of Utah racked up 85.75 points on the bull Pink Panther.

“Golly, that’s one of the biggest bulls I’ve been on, probably ever, and bucked,” commented Frost. “He was kind of nasty, had some tricks to him and was hard to get by, but it was worth 85.75 points and it will get me back for some more.”

“There wasn’t any spot where I felt like I had him knocked out. I had to keep hustling clear to the whistle. He didn’t give me much time to think.”

This is Frost’s third trip to Ponoka, which he calls a favorite stop.

“I’ve made the short round both the last two years. I made the Shootout last year, but I screwed up and didn’t get my bull rode there, but this is one I’d really like to win. So we’re gonna give ‘em heck this year.”

There’s an 85.75 mark on the top of the saddle bronc riding leaderboard as well. It was turned in by Sterling Crawley of Texas, after his stellar effort on the horse Next 2 U.

After winning more than $4000 at two of last weekend’s Canadian rodeos, Texan Stevi Hillman rolled into Ponoka and posted the fastest barrel racing time of the round at 17.560 seconds.

Timed event contestants have an extra round at Ponoka. Canadian tie-down roping champion Logan Bird is looking good in the team roping this season, with his partner Stacy Cornet. The two roped their steer in eight flat Tuesday night, and they also lead on two runs, with a total of 15.6 seconds. In the steer wrestling, the best time of the performance was 5.2 seconds, from Clayton Moore of B.C., but Layne Delemont of Chauvin has an edge on him in the total on two runs, where he sits at 15.7 seconds, while Moore is 16.8 seconds. Saskatchewan’s Jesse Popescul had the best time of the night in tie-down roping with his 10.3 second run, but Cory Solomon, who just finished winning the Wainwright Stampede, leads overall with his time of 20 seconds on a pair of runs.

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