The 31st annual Cranbrook Pro Rodeo took place this past weekend at the Wycliff Exhibition Grounds. There were three days of action-packed performances that featured the top cowboys and cowgirls from all over North America.
Rodeo announcer Wes Cummings says he announces at quite a few shows during rodeo season, wether it be professional, amateur or semi-pro shows he is busy from early spring to September.
“You’re always prepping, there’s always homework to do,” Wes said. “There’s always new contestants, new kids, up and coming cowboys and cowgirls. So you try to find any information you can to fill the people in; I think people like to know some background and what the kids have done or where they’re from, and if they’re a Canadian champion or a world champion. I think it’s important that I transfer that information onto the people out there.”
“My favourite part is probably doing the play by play. When I can introduce world champions and Canadian champions, and just good athletes in the rodeo world, that’s a big part,” said Wes.
Wes’ daughter, Shelby Cummings, is a professional trick rider who performed at the Cranbrook Rodeo.
“It’s pretty exciting when your kids find something they are passionate about,” said Wes. “Shelby’s been doing it since she was eight years old so we’ve kind of got accustomed to that; her and her mother and I. Her brother, he was a rodeo cowboy, he rode bulls, but of course you know the longevity if you’re a bull rider. He had back surgery so now he just got married and settled down, got a full time job, because he can’t ride bulls anymore.
“Shelby loves her horses, right now she’s attending to them, she takes care of her horses. In fact, I think she takes care of her horses better than I get taken care of,” joked Wes.
Shelby says her favourite part about trick riding is the crowd, “the fans; getting the crowd pumped up. They ride with you, it’s the funnest part,” said Shelby. “How fast the horses go and having a nice clean run, a safe run, it’s the adrenaline rush going into the arena and once you’re in it’s fun, the crowd gets you going.”
Shelby recently suffered an injury where her and her horse, Boon, fell during a show.
“I’ve only had him [Boon] for about two years, and I had a bad accident with him last year. They took me by STARS. He actually saved me,” said Shelby. “You know how some horses fall down and roll, and panic, he was calm and felt me there [under him] and he got up differently some how. I was lucky to only walk away with soft tissue damage in my neck, stretched ligaments in my back and a concussion. I was back riding after a month; I’m walking [and riding] today.”
This year, the Cranbrook Rodeo donated a portion of Saturday’s event proceeds to STARS, which is a critical care service that provides rescue via air ambulance to those that live in rural communities, work in remote areas, travel on highways or are being transported from community hospitals to major medical centres. They ensure that people have access to critical care within minutes.
Jim Kelts, father of saddle bronc competitor, Sam Kelts who won first in this year’s competition, is a pick up man. Kelts has been in the rodeo business for over 40 years and has competed and toured from Manitoba to B.C. and everywhere in-between.
“Being a pick up man involves picking up the broncos after the cowboy is done, so they don’t have to jump off. A big part of our job is clearing stock and clearing the arena,” said Kelts. “I rode broncs for close to 20 years and then I started picking up about 20 years or so ago.”
“[Historically] the rodeo is based on bronco. The cowboys would get together and ride all the rough ones, then it turned into a rodeo. They would compete at different ranches, riding all the broncs; that’s the original part of rodeo. It’s been around for hundreds of years. In this form, not as long of course, but it’s been around for a long time.”
When asked about how the stock is determined, Wes Cummings replied, “the rodeo stock is contracted by contractors, so they own the stock and the cowboys compete on their stock. Before the show it’s drawn for them, they know what horse they have, it’s randomly drawn.
“If you’re in the roping end of things, you will own your horse, you will load it and travel those miles with your horse. [The same goes] for team roping and calf roping, for sure. Steer wrestling is a different story; often times not everybody can own a good steer wrestling team of horses so they borrow horses. Cowboys don’t mind putting somebody else on their horse because if they happen to get any money, they pay 25 per cent of their earnings, so it’s a win-win for not only the cowboy that’s getting a good horse in the steer wrestling and making some money, but the guy who owns the horse as well is going to make a little bit back.”
All of the results can be seen at www.prorodeo.com.