Monsoon June

photo by Matt Cohen / Cowboy Journal

photo by Matt Cohen / Cowboy Journal

I probably ruined three pairs of pants, three piggin’ strings, two ropes and a pair of boots that won’t be dry till August.

by Shane Hanchey
 
 

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At Williams Lake, British Columbia, we had a decision to make. Was it too muddy to compete? The night before I was up, it rained for six or seven hours. The rain had stopped, and there wasn’t even much standing water, but the mud was boggy and deep. Before the performance, we walked around the arena to check the conditions. It would be okay in some spots, but then a few feet away there would be a soft spot, and you’d sink down six or eight inches over your boots. Tractor ruts ran in front of the roping chutes. You couldn’t tell where the good ground was. It was hit or miss.

The deeper and stickier the mud, the more opportunity you have of throwing a shoe or crippling your horse by pulling a tendon or muscle.

Honestly, it was probably some of the worst conditions I’ve ever seen. Put it this way, out of fifteen barrel racers, only three of them ran. They drove all the way over to Williams Lake, turned around and left. I saw Jimmie Smith the next day at Airdrie, Alberta, and she said Williams Lake was too dangerous. She said if she had a calf horse to lope around the barrels, she might have done it, but she wasn’t going to risk it on her good barrel horse.

photo by Matt Cohen

photo by Matt Cohen


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Williams Lake is eleven hours west of Ponoka on the other side of the Canadian Rockies. It’s one of the better-paying rodeos. After making that drive, I didn’t want to turn around and leave. Plus I had another consideration: As an American trying to make the Canadian Finals Rodeo, I need to go to fifteen rodeos to be eligible. I won the Canadian Finals last November. I decided I couldn’t pass up the chance to rope at Williams Lake.

I had left Bam Bam in Olds, Alberta, so I rode Bull, the new horse I bought with Clint Robinson. I was 9.4, which wasn’t bad under those conditions and even better since nothing happened to my horse.

Being from Louisiana, I’ve roped in the mud my whole life. Generally, when everybody has to rope in the mud, I can eliminate fifty percent of the field right off the bat. I won Calgary in the mud one year.

What isn’t good is when it’s muddy on your day and dry over the next couple days. You can make a good run in the mud and be winning second or third going into the next group. Maybe that group is a little muddy too, but the one after is dry, and then all of a sudden your 9.4 drops to eighth. That’s exactly what happened to me. I ended up eighth at Williams Lake and won $1,100.

That’s just part of rodeo. You know when you put your name down that the weather could change any minute. You know what me and Taylor call June in Canada? Monsoon June. That’s their wettest month. They get so much rain in June, but in August when we go back up there, it’s dry and dusty. You’re like, Where was this weather for the biggest rodeos of the year? That’s just part of Canada. I still love roping up there.

I feel good after my first trip to Canada. I did what I wanted to do. I scored, got it around the neck and gave myself a chance to win some money, despite the conditions. I probably ruined three pairs of pants, three piggin’ strings, two ropes and a pair of boots that won’t be dry till August. We put a lot on the line for this.

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