ARDMORE – There are no ribbons or first and second place trophies, but there is a whole lot of fun and a whole lot of hollering when it comes to Wild Pony Races.
During the Calgary Stampede, five local youth on three separate teams travelled south to take part in Wild Pony Races at the rodeo.
The group competed six days of the 10 days they were at the event.
One of the teams that competed at the Stampede both last year and this year, was a crew of three 12-year-olds from Ardmore.
Team Solid Earth Geotechnical is made up of Jess Tetreau, the team's Anchor. Her job is to hold the rope and control the pony. Stella Purdy is the team’s Rider. Her goal is to get on the pony – and hopefully stay there.
Autumn Cory is the team’s third member and Mugger. She is responsible for getting the horse’s head under control to allow for the rider to jump on.
“They did really good,” said James Purdy, Stella’s father. “They definitely had really strong tough ponies and were in pretty good wrecks, where ponies were rearing up on them and falling over.”
The group of girls did the best they could and were up against horses that put up a good fight. In the end they still got in a couple of really good rides.
“Stella got in a big wreck on the last day. The pony actually landed on her first and then ran over her. It was a pretty big wreck but ended up being OK, and she's back rodeoing again... The girls would just get back up chase after him trying to climb on him again, it was pretty amazing,” he said. “It just shows how tough these kids are.”
The group of three had one of their best runs at the Stampede on July 12, and the best run of the day.
Purdy’s nine-year-old daughter Layla also competed in Calgary with a different group made up of two other kids from Ponoka.
Team Big Luck Ranch is made up of the team’s Anchor Breely Pankewitz, 8, Layla Purdy, the Rider, and 10-year-old Tayze Pankewitz, the team’s Mugger.
“Watching the little kids is just cute as can be because they'll come out there with a smaller pony and the kids do all they can, but it usually ends up with them getting dragged around. I think they got maybe one ride,” Purdy said with a chuckle.
“It's a crowd pleaser... they hold on pretty darn tight.”
Another Ardmore local was also in Calgary competing in the Wild Pony Races, 14-year-old Mason Tetreau.
Mason is the Mugger for Team Gord Bramford and Viking Protects. Kalea Missa, 9, is the team’s Anchor and Nicola Li, 9, is their Rider. Both are from the Edmonton area.
Describing how the team worked together, Purdy said, “(Mason) is one of those kids who is nice, strong and is on a team with a couple younger kids. And he is their quarterback.”
Admitting he is a little biased, he said if times were being counted, Mason’s team would probably have been in the top two during the Stampede.
“Mason did a heck of a job helping the little girl jump on that pony.”
With all the Wild Pony Racers competing in one category, the event is more about achieving personal bests, said Purdy.
“They all go against each other, the little eight-year-olds and the 12-year-olds. But it's one of the coolest things about rodeo, you never really compete against the other person, it's just a big group,” he said.
The experience of travelling all over the province as a family to participate in rodeo is what keeps the Purdy family coming back summer after summer.
“It’s really such a neat experience, the kids hang out with all the rodeo contestants. These are the best rodeo contestants in the world and the rodeo contestants are giving these kids tips,” he said. “The kids are asking them all the questions they could ever wonder. It's like they are superheroes.”