High Scores Rapid Times and Big Dollars

Jun 24, 2024 #sport

June 24, 2024

… Wainwright, Sundre, Bassano and High River

Ethan Mazurenko just enjoyed the biggest moment of his bareback riding career to date. The 21 year-old Thorhild, Alberta cowboy put up a spectacular 91 point ride aboard the Calgary Stampede equine superstar, Y-92 Yippee Kibitz at Sundre Pro Rodeo for $2816.

“Great horse. When you have a matchup like that, things come together in a hurry. I was pretty excited,” Mazurenko acknowledged. “Yippee, Stevie Knicks, Virgil, those are all tenth round NFR horses (all horses Mazurenko has drawn and ridden), you can’t get any better than that but Yippee’s probably the one I rode the best. Such a great horse, feels so good, just does everything for you.”

Mazurenko was having a solid year last year when the injury bug knocked him out for the second half of the 2023 campaign. But the Caspar College grad is happy with where he’s at right now with the weekend successes (he added a $964 third place cheque at the Guy Weadick Rodeo in High River) and will be solidly in the top ten in the Canadian standings.

“It would be great to make the Canadian Finals and maybe have a shot at the Rookie of the Year in the PRCA and maybe even the NFR.”

The ride on Yippee Kibitz couldn’t have come at a better time for the young rider (who is actually still age-eligible for the Novice event). “I wasn’t drawing very good and I was pretty down on myself,” he conceded. “I thought I was riding pretty bad, but then you get on a horse like that, it just completely flips things around. You get your confidence back and now I’m really excited to see what I can do over the 1st up here and the 4th in the US.”

The talented bareback rider wasn’t the only success story on this four-rodeo weekend as a number of American cowboys and cowgirls made their way to the north country. That number included Texas cowgirl, Abby Phillips, the number 3 ranked barrel racer in the world who continued her winning ways on this side the border with championships at both SMS Equipment Pro Tour rodeos—17.33 seconds, $4868 at Sundre and 17.30 seconds for $6326 at Wainwright.

Riding her former Derby mare Andi, the talented Texan made a critical decision when it was time to enter for this weekend. “I got looking at the schedule and I’ve never really done that well at Reno and some of the rodeos around this time down there, so I decided to give Canada a try,” she admitted.  “I was a little scared because I’d never been up here before but my horses loved it and so did I so it worked out just great.” 

VF Expensive Taste is the 7 year-old mare’s registered name and she has been a pleasant surprise to say the least. “Just after the July 4th run last year I tragically lost my good horse and I had this mare with me just to let her see the rodeo world and experience things. But when I lost him it forced me to get on her a little bit. She won a cheque at the first rodeo I took her to in Nephi, Utah and then the next weekend we hit a barrel to win the first round at Salinas and that’s when I realized hey, we just might have a lot bigger horse than I originally expected.”

Fast forward to 2024 and the dynamic pair are making a bigtime run at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. “After the Wilderness Circuit Finals last year we started setting goals and she’s smashed through all of them.”

As for return trips to Canada, the 27 year-old hand will compete at the Ponoka Stampede before heading back south for the American 4th.  But Canadian rodeo fans haven’t seen the last of Abby Phillips. 

“Now that we’ve been up here and seen what it’s like, we’ll be back later in the year. It kind of suits my horses and me; the weather’s great, the rodeos are awesome and everyone’s been really good.”

Another American competitor who knows his way around Canadian rodeos is the four-time Canadian champion, Shane Hanchey. The veteran Louisiana tie-down roper was on his game this weekend as he split the win (8.2 seconds, $3470) at Sundre, then topped the field at High River with a 9.0 second run that generated another $2430.

Blackfalds, Alberta’s Nicholas Patterson was another Canadian bucking horse rider who set a personal best with a 90-point gem at Sundre on the back of Calgary’s B-62 Breaking Acres for $3365 and the bronc riding win. 

And not to be left out of trips to the winner’s circle, junior steer rider, Brodi Beasley struck for a pair of wins – 74 points for $1203 at Sundre and 75.5 points for $1047 at Wainwright. The talented second-generation teen entered the weekend with a narrow lead atop the steer riding standings but the dual victories will allow him to pad that lead. 

Next up on the CPRA schedule is the huge Cowboy Christmas July 1 (Canada Day) run with stops at Fort Macleod June 25-26, Ponoka (SMS Equipment Pro Rodeo Tour) June 25-July 1; Airdrie June 28, 29 and July 1, Williams Lake (SMS Equipment Pro Rodeo Tour) June 28 – July 1 and Raymond, June 29 and July 1. 

Look for official results and updated standings later in the week including Canadian, SMS Equipment Pro Tour, Precision Rodeo Tour and Maple Leaf Circuit at rodeocanada.com