As the Canadian tie down roping Champion, Ty Harris certainly knows how to win at Canadian rodeos. But the talented Texan had never advanced to the finals at the Ponoka Stampede.
Harris took care of that dilemma on a sunny Tuesday afternoon, as he ran down the long score setup to still rope and tie his calf in a sizzling 7.6 seconds. Combined with his solid 8.9 second time from the morning slack, his 16.5 second total means Harris can make his hectic travel plans now include a Sunday return engagement in Ponoka.
“The last cheque I got here was in 2018, so I’m pretty excited,” says Harris. “I think I got just a really, really good start and the calf was right there, and the rest was kind of a blur. It happened quick, and man, I was super blessed.”
Harris is also feeling blessed to be able to rodeo this summer with his younger brother Joel, who also roped at Ponoka.
“He quit roping for two and a half years to go to Bible college when he was 17. I never thought that he was going to rope again, no one did. But God called him back to roping, so it’s been a super huge blessing to be able to do it. It was our dream our whole life, but I’d let go of it because that wasn’t what he was doing. But to get to live our dream now is such a blessing.”
Ty helped his brother prepare for the Ponoka long score by taking him to Prineville, OR where there’s a similar alley setup, and they watched the first round at Ponoka too.
“He did really well, so I’m happy for him. Everybody roped their butt off here,” Harris exclaimed. “My brother is 18.9 on two, and winning fifth. Usually 20 or 21 makes it back. I hope he makes it back, but with these great ropers and these great calves, you never know.”
There’s a chance the Harris brothers will both be in Sunday’s Ponoka finals, but there are plenty of miles to travel before then. Ty’s schedule includes a pair of stops at Greeley, CO; Prescott, AZ; St. Paul and Molalla, OR; and Williams Lake, BC.
“I got exactly how I wanted it set up. I’m really excited about my schedule. Spend a lot, and hopefully make a lot,” he grinned.
Carlee Rae Otero left the Ponoka Stampede in 2012 as the champion barrel racer, and hadn’t been back until this year. A lot has changed since them for the busy Texas cowgirl, but not her love for the Stampede.
“I’ve been wanting to come back every year, but lift happens,” she smiles. “I’ve sold several horses in the last several years that have gone on to make the NFR, so I’ve kept with seasoning young horses.”
But this year she’s on a five-year-old called Sly, that brought her back to the trail.
“He’s extra special, and I was like ‘you know what? I want to take him myself and see if we can make anything happen’. He loves it up here, so we’re going to stick around for a while,” says Otero, of the horse who’s only been to ten rodeo barrel racings, but has placed at eight of them.
The two smoked their Ponoka run in a 17.20 second pace, which surprised even Otero.
“In my mind, I said if I’m below 18 seconds, I’m going to be happy. I had no clue he was that fast. What’s funny is I was looking at my 2012 runs on Dillon, a phenomenal horse, and my last run was a 17.20 and that’s what we won the last round with. So I think it’s just meant to be!”
The best steer wrestling of the performance were two 5.0 second runs, from Casey Lawes of Provost, and Kalane Anders of Wyoming, who was making his first trip to the Ponoka Stampede. He had a time in the opening slack of 5.4, so Anders is now the overall leader with his 10.4 second total.
“My steer was just loping across the ol’ lane right here, so I was just trying to take it easy, throttling Rooster (the horse) across the line, and then we were catching up quick,” recalls Anders. “I just tried to get a good head catch and slow down. I was just trying to react.”
There’s a tie at the top in the team roping now, after Brody and Logan Groves of Czar scooped up a pair of steers in a total time of 13.0 seconds, to equal the mark set by Paul Eaves and Erich Rogers on the opening day.
Tuesday’s best bareback ride came from North Dakota’s Ty Breuer, who marked 85.5 on Macza’s Sunday Stepper, which puts him in third place, with the 89.25 from Kade Sonnier still on top for the event. Mitch Pollock, of Idaho, climbed aboard Country Girl, to mark an 83.25, enough for a fifth-place tie behind leader Ben Anderson with his 86. The Macza pen of bulls proved untameable, and not a single rider made the whistle Tuesday afternoon. So the bull riding leaderboard still has a lone name on it, the 80 from Lonnie Phillips in the first performance.
The third performance of the Ponoka Stampede begins at 1 pm Wednesday afternoon. The top twelve in each event return for Sunday’s finals, followed by the Showdown round Sunday evening.