24 Ponoka Stampede Wrap 6

Leave it to some wily veterans to rise to the occasion and secure themselves a spot in the rich Monday Finals of the 88th Ponoka Stampede.

Take for instance, steer wrestler Cody Cassidy, who lives not far away, at Donalda. He’s part of a family legacy in the event, with his father Greg having one Ponoka steer wrestling championship, he’s got two, and his older brother Curtis has three.

“If there’s one that I get hungry for, it’s this rodeo here,” says Cody Cassidy, whose own career now spans more than two decades. “If I don’t go as much next year, I know one I will be entered at – it’ll be this one.”

“It’s been awfully good to me. I don’t know how many times I’ve made the short go here, but it’s been lots.”

The trend continued in 2024, as Cassidy tipped over his morning steer in 4.9 seconds, fastest of that round, worth $4600. He was two ticks longer in the performance, to pick up another $2800, and be the fast man heading into the Monday finals with a time of ten seconds flat.

The six-time Canadian Champion admits he may have pushed a little closer to the barrier than he needed in the afternoon.

“I have a feeling for where I think the steer should be as I’m going up the alleyway. This is my 22nd year here, and I ran a bunch of extra (steers) here before I ever had my (pro) card. That helped me a lot to prepare. It’s definitely the only rodeo that I really get much for butterflies, but they’re good butterflies.”

Even though he has been on the trail, you won’t find Cody Cassidy in Canada’s top thirty standings… yet.

“Already what I’ve won is going to give me a huge jump,” says Cassidy, who also runs his company Big Knife Outfitters. “I took a month and a half off and went on a bear hunt in Nunavut, and then I went and guided bear hunters up in northern Saskatchewan. So I missed some rodeos in there, but that’s my livelihood. Now it’s back to business in rodeo.”

And Monday’s business Is hunting down another Ponoka title.

“Curt and Tom Barr have each won it three times. I would really like one more.”
The top three combined times for steer wrestling all came from Sunday’s set, and included the defending Ponoka champion and world standings leader, Dalton Massey, hot on Cassidy’s heels.

He’s fairly deadly, isn’t he?” laughs Cassidy. “He’s on a roll. If you can stay close to Dalton Massey, you’re going to be doing just fine. He’s got a lot going for him right now. I’m going to try and stay ahead of him.”

The only cowboy to crack the finalists roster in saddle bronc riding was Dawson Hay, who was fresh off earning almost $12,000 at Reno’s rodeo the night before.

“It’s been a blur,” admits the third-generation bronc buster. “I started things off in Williams Lake, and then drove to Seattle and flew to Reno for the short round. Rode there last night, drove to Boise and flew to Edmonton, and just got to Ponoka on time for the rodeo. But it’s that time of the year!”

“Maybe I’ll get a little rest tonight,” he smiles, with his young daughter Honey clinging to him tightly.

Hay can do that after spurring to 86.5 points, to tie for second in the long round at Ponoka, drawing the same horse he met last year, Calgary’s Easy Money. Hay has qualified for Ponoka’s Finals in the past, but the injury bug kept him from riding in it two different times. He points out winning Ponoka is a tall task, with the best horses and best competitors all there. But it’s something his father Rod did three times, and his uncle Denny did once.

“Seeing my dad win it, and me and (brother) Logan have been just shy – it would be really cool to get there. It’s exciting to get in the Finals round, because whatever you get on from here on out is going to be really good.”
The barrel racing standings were blown up by a pair of Texas cowgirls. The 17.38 from Emily Beisel on opening night had held fast to the number one spot, until Halyn Lide flew through the pattern in just 17.07 seconds, and Carlee Rae Otero was just behind her with a 17.09.

It’s Lide’s first trip to Ponoka.

“It was completely overwhelming,” she admits. “I got here yesterday evening and I guess the PBR was going on. I came up to look around, and there were people everywhere. I’ve been to lots of big rodeos, but this one is something else!”

“I’m trying to get to all the biggest rodeos I can get to, and this is definitely one.”

Lide and her husband raised her horse, a 12-year-old they call Keeper, who clearly loved the wide-open spaces of the Ponoka arena.

“He can be really successful on small patterns, but bigger is his thing. He’s got that long stride and he loves to run. Actually, when he got out on this track (after the run) I’m 99 per cent sure he went faster. I didn’t know if we were ever going to stop!”

Both Brock Radford and Jared Parsonage will be back Monday in the bull riding Finals, after successful eight second efforts Sunday.

Parsonage finished in third place for the long round, with an 85.75 on Legend Rodeo’s Jail Break.

“The bull’s been really good this year,” says the Maple Creek cowboy. “A lot of times, he’ll spin to the left for 5-6 seconds, step ahead, and come back right. Today he decided he was going to stick to the left, so I wasn’t complaining!”

Parsonage rolled into Ponoka after an all-night drive from Williams Lake, BC, where his 88.5 point ride was sitting first. The a two-time Canadian Champion has been to the last two NFR’s, but with a growing family, there’s a change of pace this season.

“I’m just staying up here in Canada and not going south. I’ve got a couple kids and stuff ag home. Kids change the game. I’d rather be at home with them.”
The best Parsonage has done at Ponoka in the past is second place, so he’d like to change that Monday.

“Get on a good one in the afternoon, and a real good one at night and ride ‘em. At the end of the day, that’s all you can do, just ride ‘em.”

Another cowboy fresh off hitting the jackpot at Reno collected cash in Ponoka as well. Shad Mayfield, who is way out in front for the World Tie-Down Roping race, picked up some go-round cash at Ponoka with the fastest run at Ponoka this year so far, at 7.9 seconds.

“I had a really good start,” says the New Mexico cowboy. “I made a mistake in my tie and flanking. But that’s what calf roping is all about. You’ve got to keep moving, and I ended up getting a go-round win, so I’ll take it.”

“I did a bad job tying this morning, and let my first calf get up to make it back to the Finals. I wasn’t going to let another go-round get away. I said I was going to come here and get some money out of it. With Ponoka, the rounds pay so good, you’re never out of it with just going out in the first round. You still get a good little cheque out of it. Ponoka’s been one of my favorite rodeos to come, to so I’m glad I could make it here to get a little bit out of it.”

Mayfield’s go-round win paid $4170. Sundre’s Riley Warren was the only roper to advance to Monday, with his 20.1 second total on two runs.

Three teams from Sunday’s line-up of team ropers will be back to rope Monday, including veteran and eight-time World Tie-down Champion Joe Beaver, and his young partner Levi Pettigrew; and Kody Potts and Travis Speer – both with 13.1 second totals. Steele Depaoli and Rhett Haveroen are now also in, with their 15.1 second tally. Travel snarls, including an airline strike, kept most of Sunday’s bareback riders from getting to Ponoka, and the three who were there didn’t score high enough to change the leaderboard.

From Monday afternoon’s twelve contenders, the four best in each major event will be part of the evening’s rich Showdown Round, to determine the 2024 Ponoka Stampede champions.

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