Chad Davidson spent most of the Stettler Steel Wheel Stampede watching his son in the wild-pony races all three days.
But the 22-year veteran bull-rider from Stettler still showed he has some kick in the rodeo ring, winning the closing program Sunday afternoon under steamy sun.
Although younger competitors were bucked from the testy bulls, the 37-year-old Davidson rode a Prairie Rodeo bull in impressive fashion — albeit during an exhibition performance.
“I know the contractor, and they’ve always got re-ride bulls just in case one doesn’t buck, and they didn’t need either re-ride bull today, so I got on one just for exhibition,” Davidson said Sunday. “Iwasn’t in the competition. It was just for my excitement and the crowd’s excitement. It felt really good. I thought it was (the best ride). And it felt like it was probably an 82- or 83-point ride.”
While most of the competitors were young guns from the Canadian Cowboys’ Association, Davidson has experience on his side. He’s been on about 2,500 bulls in his lifetime.
In recent years, however, his participation has been limited because of an ankle injury.
“I crushed my (left) ankle two years ago,” he said. “June was the first (bull) I got on again. So it was a little intimidating. I was favouring my foot quite a bit. I’ve been having kind of a rough go (this season). I’ve only stayed on two out of 14 (bulls), so today was what I needed. It wasn’t for competition, but it’s still a great feeling when you can ride one for eight (seconds), especially when you’ve been in the slump you’ve been in.”
Davidson said his 10-year-old son, Weston, appreciated watching his father in action.
“He thought it was pretty good,” Davidson said of his son, who turns 11 this September.
In similar respects, the rodeo patrons gave the fourth annual Stettler Steel Wheel Stampede favourable marks.
“The competition was great,” Davidson said. “They had a lot of good bull-riders. They had a lot of good stock here, actually. The crowds to me seemed pretty fair. The weather was warm, but they’ve got a roof here (on the grandstand), so everyone can stay out of the sun.
“Out of all the CCA (Canadian Cowboys’ Association) rodeos I’ve been to — and I’ve been to a lot over the years — this is probably one of the better ones.”
Davidson, who works as a welder in Stettler, isn’t ready to torch his bull-riding career. He plans a light schedule for the rest of this season and to make a full comeback next year.
“I’m going to go to a half a dozen more this year, but next year I’m going to go pretty hard, just getting the feel of it again,” he said. “When you have a bad injury like that, you don’t just jump back into it. It takes a while.
“(This fall), I’m entered in two (rodeos), for sure, that I know of, and I’ll probably go to three or four more after that. Nothing hard, but within a couple of hours driving distance.”
ON TAP: Local rodeo action continues this weekend on a couple of fronts: Stettler hosts the season-opening high school rodeo on Friday and Saturday, while the popular Halkirk bull-a-rama is slated for Saturday.