Graham Brothers Among Big Winners

Jun 10, 2024 #sport

June 10, 2024

The busiest CPRA rodeo weekend to date was, as expected, impactful for a bunch of cowboys and cowgirls. And big changes to the Canadian standings, and in a few cases, the World standings will result.

2022 Canadian Champion team ropers Dawson and Dillon Graham were on target as the duo posted wins at SMS Equipment Pro Tour stop, Lea Park Rodeo, (5.0 seconds, $2470) and at the 50th Anniversary edition of the Rocky Pro Rodeo (4.6 seconds, $1955). The Wainwright, AB brothers added a 4th place cheque at Newell Rodeo in Brooks courtesy of a 5.9 second run ($1243) and topped off the weekend’s successes with an 8th place cheque at Sisters, Oregon (6.0, $1769).

The productive week will see $5668 tacked onto their Canadian earnings and an important boost to their PRCA standings. After narrowly missing a trip to Las Vegas in 2023, Dawson and Dillon went into the week sitting 23rd and 27th respectively in the world standings, nicely positioned for a run at CFR in Edmonton and the NFR in Vegas later in the year.

2023 provided something of a learning curve for the pair, particularly in terms of how to rodeo on both sides of the border, where to go and when. This weekend was a prime example of that strategy at work.

“We entered kind of backwards to everyone else,” Dawson explained. “We were in Rocky for Thursday morning, Bonnyville Thursday night, Brooks Friday morning, Lea Park Friday night, then we drove all night to be in Sisters for Saturday.”

The other change for the Grahams will see them competing in the Wilderness Circuit (Utah) this season after a number of successful years at the Maple Leaf Circuit Finals. (Contestants must designate a circuit for a given season).

Dawson explained the move. “The biggest reason is down here (in the U.S.) the Tour Rodeos count in the circuit where they don’t in Canada and when you can only count 80 rodeos, that’s really important. It’s one of the best Circuits down here, but their finals was always over top of the CFR, so once the Canadian Finals moved, we talked to Rhen Richard about the Wilderness Circuit and decided to make the switch.”

As always, the Grahams were riding really solid horses with Dawson on last year’s CPRA Heading Horse of the year, Outlaw. Dillon rode Garfield, a 16 year-old gelding owned and ridden by Hunter Koch to a Canadian title in 2019 and Cruz, two-time Canadian Heeling Horse of the Year. Dillon rode Garfield at the Canadian rodeos and Cruz at Sisters.
Next up for the Grahams is Vernal, Utah Wednesday, then it’s back to Canada for Stavely and Innisfail with a lot of back and forth between Canada and the US in the coming months.

“The rodeos are getting good now. Before Buffalo Lake weekend it was kind of one rodeo a week, but now we can go to three or four so that’s kind of nice.”

And, of course, the goals remain the same—year-end trips to the CFR and NFR.  The talented brothers had never been to the CFR when it was previously in Edmonton. “I think it’s going to be really cool in Edmonton, at Rogers Place, especially the atmosphere part of it.”

Another cowboy who had a bigtime weekend was bull rider Jake Gardner. The BC cowboy who has two All-Around titles to his credit and was the first-ever Kenny McLean Award winner collected wins at Rocky Mountain House (80 points on Vold’s 737 Big Bird, $1341) and Newell Rodeo in Brooks (87.5 points on Big Stone’s G6 Broken Pearl, $1237), then added a second place cheque of $2637 at Lea Park. But of major significance to the man known as the Prince of the Peace Country is the ground money that went along with his wins. At both Rocky and Brooks, Gardner was the only man to ride, which added $6313 to his winnings total as did $1185 ground money at Lea Park for a total payday of $12,713. That will easily shoot Gardner to the lead in the Canadian standings and will also provide a welcome boost to his world earnings—he entered the weekend in 37th place on the PRCA leaderboard.

“I’ve been struggling a bit lately,” the 25-year-old hand admitted. “I just decided to try to use the weekend to regroup and reset. I knew I had good draws and I just wanted to do my job and it worked out, that’s for sure.”

With a busy time coming–Reno Xtreme Bulls event then the rodeo there–then a First and Fourth of July that will see Gardner competing somewhere every day from June 25th to July 7th, the four-time CFR qualifier is feeling good about where he’s at.

“I try not to worry about the standings,” he stated. “I just want to make every ride count and have fun doing what I do.”

Among the cowgirls who made significant moves over the weekend was 2019 Canadian Champion, Brooke Wills. The Kamloops cowgirl rode to the win at Bonnyville with a 16.81 second run for $2100, then added a second place at Lea Park (16.69 for $3875) and a third at Rocky Mountain House (16.08, $1357). The $7332 haul will see Wills make up several spots in the standings from the 9th place she was occupying prior to the weekend.

One interesting note in the tie-down roping. Kyle Lucas’s winning run at Bonnyville (9.5 seconds, $2270) was on a young horse and was the first time back in an arena for the mare that had suffered a major injury just two months before. The Carstairs cowboy who has been on a heater of late added a second-place cheque of $2105 at Rocky as well and he too continues to work his way up the Canadian standings and will be solidly in the top 12 after the weekend.

Rocky Mountain House, Bonnyville and Brooks were all Maple Leaf Circuit rodeos while Bonnyville and Brooks kicked off the just-announced Precision Rodeo Tour.  Go to for all unofficial results and standings.

The steady pace continues for CPRA athletes with Gunner’s Bronc Battle in Gleichen, AB June 12 followed by Stavely Pro Rodeo June 13-15, Wildwood Bronc Bustin’ June 15 and Daines Ranch Rodeo in Innisfail June 14-16.