CHARLES TWEED/Black Press
Next year the Ponoka Stampede Association might just think about handing out the steer wrestling championship buckle to one of the Cassidys from Donalda.
After winning the average with a time of 13.3 seconds over three runs, all that was left for Curtis Cassidy was to take home the championship buckle and $10,000 prize in Sunday’s showdown in Ponoka.
“I had a good steer tonight and Deuce (his horse) worked awesome and it all fell into place for the second year in a row,” said Cassidy moments after winning the steer wrestling showdown and tying Tom Barr, from Pincher Creek, as the only man to win the event three times in Ponoka.
Cassidy’s three wins have come on two different horses — he first won it five years ago on legendary horse Willie, who has won more than $2 million for cowboys during his career and has now won it back-to-back on Deuce.
“I have a lot of trust and confidence in Deuce and he don’t have the statistics that Willie has and probably never will but he’s such a good horse in this situation. He stands in the box perfect and most horses get revved up and are hard to control,” said Cassidy speaking about the long chute the steer wrestlers must contend with at Ponoka.
The win means the Cassidys have won the last five Ponoka Stampede steer wrestling events after Curtis’ brother, Cody, took home back-to-back titles in ’08 and ’09.
“It’s awesome to come here and all my family is here, right from my grandpa down to his great-grandchildren running around so it’s awesome feeling to do good in front of the hometown crowd,” said Cassidy. “All of my friends and family are watching and we get to go back and spend some time with them and have a beer and celebrate. It means a lot.”
The win didn’t come easy for Cassidy, who had to watch Straws Milan, from Cochrane, throw down a 4.9 just moments before his run. The consistency he displayed all week meant Cassidy got to run last and it proved to be an advantage.
“It’s an advantage but at the same time it’s a lot more pressure. I was telling myself not to get caught up on what the other guys are doing but score good and make a good run and don’t back off,” said Cassidy.
Another thrill for Cassidy was taking part in the past champions night the Ponoka Stampede held on opening day of the rodeo.
“It was awesome to come out in front of the crowd with all of the past champions. There were guys that had won it in the ‘40s and ‘50s right up to current champions and to get to talk to them and hear their stories was a pretty cool experience,” said Cassidy.
When asked if the Cassidys even have to show up next year or whether they’ll just be awarded the steer wrestling buckle, he said with a chuckle, “That’s one thing about rodeo, they never give it to you. Rodeo is humbling experience for damn sure and you have to enjoy the wins and when you’re not winning, just appreciate that you’re out there doing what you love to do.”