One of the most popular events in equine sports, the ultimate cowboy challenge, will be held at the Agrium Western Event Centre in Calgary on Thursday, Dec. 31 with two of the area’s well-known riders, Josh and Colter Harden of Big Valley participating in the draw.
In a typical rodeo, most cowboys specialize in one or two of the featured events.
But the Ultimate Cowboy V event is a challenge to test the contestants’ versatility and skills and is a throwback to the sport’s roots, where contestants often entered in every competition they could and had as many chances to win as possible.
“To bring the best cowboys to an event designed to showcase how difficult rodeo events really are,” said event organizer Scott Wyzykoski, who is a professional steer wrestler himself, as well as a practicing dentist. “I’ve always thought rodeo has two main downfalls, first is the entry fees – the cowboys and cowgirls basically put up most of the prize money out of their own pocket and second is the draw – many contestants at rodeos will draw animals that they basically have no chance of winning money on.”
This prompted Wyzykoski to create an event with no entry fee.
Participants qualify based on merit and skills to compete for their share of $20,000, and they also get to pick the animals they will compete on.
The way the participants were selected were based on previous results, with five guys qualifying from their previous two years’ results.
Colter Harden came in second in 2014, which got him his invitation.
Wyzykoski also took five guys from a qualifying rodeo in Rimbey on Saturday, Dec. 12, the winner of which was Josh Harden of Big Valley.
“We’d like to produce a high-quality rodeo event with a great party,” said Wyzykoski. “We are also trying to produce a rodeo video that would be entertaining to a non-rodeo crowd and will be shown on Shaw cable throughout January and also working on other video/TV deals.”
This event is in its fifth year, with at least two of the Harden brothers competing at each of the first four ultimate cowboy events.
Jeremy Harden was the winner of the Ultimate Cowboy 2012 in Ponoka and dominated the event, the only time it was won before the bull riding even started.
“We’ve really become international this year, as the All Around Champion from Australia, Braydon Wellby is in the mix,” said Wyzykoski. “We’ve had so many cowboys who want to compete now that we’ve had to add a qualifying event.”