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Arena Chatter

Let’s Talk

I have had a lot going on in my head in the last few days. Though I was not close with Ty, and had only hung out with him less than a handful of times, I know that he was different than most. His contagious smile, athletic ability, & kind heart will be missed by everyone. Pozzobon had an outstanding career & touched the soul of each person he met. I know that his family and many of my friends are hurting and it pains me to see the rodeo family grieving.

What does rodeo family mean to you? To me it means support and love. It means brothers and sisters. The rodeo family comes together in times of grievance to lift one another up. To be the shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen when you need someone to talk to. Times like this we need to take the time to grieve. Whatever that looks like for you, I hope you take the time to do this. Do not push the emotions you are feeling aside. If you are mad, be mad get mad, let it out. When you feel sadness surround you, accept it, cry, be sad. We are human and too often run away from these emotions, but I encourage you to embrace them. I hope that in time you will rise up from these emotions and share stories of Ty. Talk proudly of the man that he was. Reminisce of  the friend he was to you.  I hope that you find peace in sharing stories of the best times and what he meant to you with one another.

You don’t have to be a competitor to feel the presence of the rodeo family, as my friend Charmayne Crowe explains, “I’ve never competed but have been around the sport my whole life. I know more about some of these people than I do my own family members. It makes me incredibly proud to be considered part of the rodeo family. I think for the simple reason that not many communities can both compete against each other and love each other so loyally as the rodeo community.”

God & rodeo go hand in hand. Regardless of your religious beliefs, many people find comfort in believing in a higher power. That God has a plan, and that there is rhyme and reason behind all that happens in the world. When we lose someone and don’t understand why, people can find some peace in believing there was a reason that person was chosen to go home to be with their creator. In this time talk to God. Pray for those who have left us, and pray for their family.

Angels. I believe in angels and perhaps Ty is an angel who was sent to us to teach us to be kind to one another, to support, empower and love one another. To live life to the fullest and have no fear. To show us that when we live this way, there is no limit to what we can achieve. I hope that when people think of Ty they not only think of the good times, but are reminded of his character and that we should all live a little more like him.

Maybe we are also to open up our eyes to the world of sports injuries and head trauma and what can come of it.

Concussions have been overlooked in each and every sport. Though Ty rode with a helmet his concussions over time still affected him. I will not go into depth on this as I am not a doctor or specialist. “It’s important that people know about the implications of head injuries as a result of concussions,” Leanne, Ty’s mother said in a statement earlier this week. People in the rodeo community have since began speaking about Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) which is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in athletes (and others) with a history of repetitive brain trauma, including symptomatic concussions as well as asymptomatic sub-concussive hits to the head. Over the last few days many have shared some links to shed light on CTE. Check them out here and here. Though Ty may or may not have had CTE, it is still something worth reading up on. If you would sooner watch a movie to better understand, rather than read, then check out the trailer for Concussion here. We need to educate ourselves more on this matter, especially for our rodeo athletes.

Mental health is something that can go hand in hand with concussions, and we do not discuss it nearly enough. We feel our peers will judge us and not understand, and often they just don’t. If you have any mental health illness, it is just as serious as having any other illness; do not let anyone make you think otherwise. Depression is not something you can just turn off. Yes, it really can get that bad, that a person can feel there is no other option for them, no matter how great their life may look and be. Talk to your friends. Have a relationship with them that is deeper than gossip and surface conversation. We need to end the stigma around mental health. This starts with YOU.

If someone reaches out to you and begins to discuss what they are going through with you, listen. Be there for them & leave your judgement at the door.  They trust they can confide in you without judgement and need an outlet. We have to look out for one another, as we are family.

“When you come to realize that we are truly connected, there are no goodbyes, Love has no disconnect.”Debbie Hausauer

Bell Lets Talk is January 25th. I hope my rodeo family will be present and open on this day, and every day moving forward. #BellLetsTalk

On The Record


The 2015 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo will showcase six of our talented Canadians. In 2010 Canada had six qualified but only five competed since Rod Hay got hurt in Innisfail. Before that it was 2008 when 6 competed at the Thomas and Mack in Las Vegas Nevada.

*Matt Cohen Photography

*Matt Cohen Photography

Deb Guelly of Okotoks,  Alberta competed at  77 qualifying rodeos to slide into 15th position just in the nick of time with $59,769.17, securing her spot to the WNFR! In September alone, she brought home just over $17,000! Deb just finished running at the Canadian Finals Rodeo in Edmonton, Alberta on Bobbie Goodwin’s horse Sonnie taking home a couple go round wins! Her total 2015 season earnings were $51,016.06 putting her third overall. Deb’s full interview can be found here.

Ric Anderson photo. Cheyenne frontier days short go

Ric Anderson Ohoto. Clint Laye at Cheyenne Frontier Days Short Go

Cadogan, Alberta cowboy Clint Lay ehad a solid season. He won $24,250 at Houston &  $100,000 at  The Calgary Stampede this year. Sadly, both rodeos didn’t count for the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Standings the same as it does for the Womens Pro Rodeo Association, but Laye made his season count and is headed to the WNFR in 13th position with $80,307.44 won. I did an interview with Clint earlier in the year, which you can check out here.

Tanner Milan, from Cochrane, Alta., competes in the steer wrestling event during Calgary Stampede rodeo action in Calgary, Sunday, July 5, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Tanner at Calgary

Tanner Milan of  Cochrane Alberta heads to the WNFR in 13th position in the Steer Wrestling with  $66,326.67 banked from PRCA rodeos.  Tanner’s two round wins and reserve championship in Red Bluff, CA helped him stay in the running for a WNFR qualification.  Milan just finished up at the Canadian Finals Rodeo with a grand total of $49,420.30 banked as total season earnings in the CPRA.

Mike Copeman Photography

Mike Copeman Photography

Zeke Thurston of  Big Valley Alberta sits 11th in the Saddle Bronc PRCA standings with $72,278.18. It was his first season as a pro, and a huge season it has been!  Thurston took home the $100,000 Calgary Stampede Championship Cheque , set an arena record at Tucson with a 90-point ride, and cashed in $50,000 as the BP Super Series Saddle Bronc Champ at  RodeoHouston though he  came into the event as an alternate!

Tyrel Larsen at San Antonio Photo by Greg Westfall

Tyrel Larsen at San Antonio Photo by Greg Westfall

Tyrel Larsen of Inglis, Manitoba ended the season in 15th position in the Saddle Bronc with $61,171.86. He was only $573 ahead of Chad Ferley to be headed to the Finals.


Orin at Houston Rodeo Photo by Impulse Photography

Orin Larsen also of  Inglis, Manitoba heads to Sin City in the 10th spot in the Bareback with $81,627.04 to his name, whose biggest check this year came out of Salt Lake City, UT for $11,000!

What was your favorite rodeo you competed at this year and why?

Clint “Favorite 2015 rodeo would have to be Caldwell Idaho, I drew two of the toughest horses there(Big Show)(Craig at Midnight) and won it.”

Tanner “My favorite rodeo for 2015 would have to be the Calgary Stampede. Its a rodeo I really enjoy going to cause its pretty much a home town rodeo for me and I’ve always got a lot of support from family and friends plus the money that is up there is incredible. It’s also nice to be in one spot for at least 4-5 days and not have to worry about loading the horses up right after were done and driving my butt off all night to another rodeo. It’s just nice to hang out and relax and spend a little time at home with family.”

Zeke “My favorite rodeo of 2015 would have to be Calgary I think. Not just because I won it but it’s the biggest rodeo you will attend all year. It’s a well run and operated production and it’s nice to spend the week there with everyone in one spot not having to be driving to another rodeo.”

Tyrel “Not sure if I had a single favorite rodeo this year but the 4th of July run is always my favorite time of year because you’re at at least one rodeo everyday for about ten days and at times you don’t know where you’ll be there next day. It’s a lot of traveling and a lot of horses. Just a really exciting time of year.”

Orin “It’s difficult to pinpoint one rodeo as my favorite rodeo to go to year after year. But I think I would have to say Pendleton, Oregon. Pendleton is so rich in history and a unique set up, with the old fashioned wooden chutes and the arena full of grass. It’s definitely a rodeo to remember.”

What have you been doing to prepare yourself mentally and physically before Vegas?

Clint “To prepare for the WNFR I have been going to the gates crossfit here in Pocatello Idaho every morning, eating good and staying on top of supplements and vitamins to keep my body feeling good. The CFR was a really good warm up to test new equipment and get all the bobbles out.”

Tanner “Mentally I’ve been talking to both my brothers Baillie and Straws, Curtis Cassidy and Lee Graves. Baillie has been there 3 or 4 times as a hazer and the other 3 as competitors. They’ve help me out with what to expect, how fast the start is down there and how sharp you need to have your horses and yourself. They tell me there’s no room for error on getting a good start and catching up quickly. Physically just been practicing a lot as much as I can. Just trying to keep myself sharp and also my horses.”

Zeke “I just go about my everyday life as normal I guess. I ride lots and do lots of cattle work. On top of that I rope quite a bit too. I’m not real big into working out. I do T25 just to kinda stay in shape and maintain good health. I found out my saddle I usually ride in broke and the tree has spread so I have a new one set up. I’ll get on some practice horses be for the NFR just to get things dialed in.”

Tyrel “To prepare for the finals I’ve been working out lots getting my body ready for ten horses in ten days as well as getting on some practice horses to stay positive and confident. I feel prepared mentally and physically.”

Orin “My physical training for the finals consists of running and lifting. I get on some horses every now and then to keep me sharp, feeling confident and to make sure my equipment is holding up well. As for the mental standpoint I stay positive and optimistic. I’m going to walk into the Thomas and Mack oblivious to everything around me and not let the bright lights take over my mind and ability.”

What is the best piece of rodeo advice you would give to a person who wants to qualify for the WNFR?

Clint “The best advice I have for someone wanting to chase a WNFR is that you have to put everything you got into it, it’s a full time job. The harder you work the better your odds are.”

Tanner “The best piece of advice I could give a person is that you gotta be all in or nothing you cant half ass it, you gotta have a great attitude you cant get down on yourself cause its eats at ya. You gotta keep your chin off your chest and realize you’ve got another one to run the next day that counts just as much as the ones in previous days. You also got to get in with a good crew of guys ones that don’t dwell on every mistake they make. Pick out the positives and learn from them, and practice. I can’t preach that enough to more you practice the sharper you’ll be day in and day out.”

Zeke “Anyone pursuing their dream of making the finals whether you’re a young kid or have been at it a while I’d just say to get in with a good group of guys that have been there and know what it takes to get there let them show you how the business side of how things work. I’d also say to never lose hope and sight of what you are working towards. Just because you might not make it your first year out the doesn’t mean it’s over. They have a finals every year. You just gotta figure out how to get there.”

Tyrel “The best piece of rodeo advice I could give to someone would be that no matter what happens, to always stay confident even when you aren’t winning or drawing good.”

Orin “My advice to everyone who looking to chase any dream is to be dedicated, work hard, and be disciplined. I have dedicated my whole life and put in everything I had into my career to get where I want to be today. You have to be willing to take risks and work hard to do whatever it takes to satisfied with your successes, rodeo is not a sport you can do half heartedly, you have to put in 120% in everything every time. When you ride successfully at a rodeo; be proud and praise yourself. When you know you didn’t do as well as your able to, discipline yourself, fix your mistakes and go back to being optimistic.”

What is your favorite pair of cowboy boots?

Clint “My favorite pair of boots would be the ones I’m riding on right now because they have won me the most money out of any other pair, but there about to fall apart on me.”

Tanner “My favorite cowboy boots are Ariat, that’s all I wear, either the Cobolts or At’s.”

Zeke “I wear a black pair of ostrich skin nocona boots.”

Tyrel “I suppose I wear a lot of Justin Boots”

Orin “Ariat”


Sponsor shout outs & special Thank-Yous:

Clint “More than anyone I would like to thank my family my dad Darcy and mom Terry for all there backing, Billy and Marci Laye. If I didn’t have the family I did I would not be where I’m at right now.”

Tanner ” I’d like to thank my sponsor Lyle Kurtz with CVS Controls, Cactus Equine Equipment, and Wrangler shirts and Jeans. and also my family Mom Roxanne, Dad Murry and my brothers Baillie and Straws. With out them it would be a tough tough go. I also like to thank Curtis Cassidy for the use of his hazing horse TUFFY that he lent me all summer long, that was a huge help. And all my friends out there that have been in my corner, thanks so much.

Zeke “I would just like to thank everyone that has been behind me all year. So many people would come up to me somewhere and say they were pulling for me, and that means a lot. I have great friends and family and am very blessed that way. I also would like to thank Cinch jeans and shirts for keeping me looking sharp all year.”

Tyrel “I just want to thank everyone north and south of the border for all of the support my brother and I have received. I’m extremely grateful for the amount of people who have helped us get to where we are today.”

Orin “The one thing that has helped get to the NFR is the support. From my family, friends north and south of the border and my girlfriend this dream couldn’t be possible. I have never taken the love and support for granted. Every time I think about it I still get blown away. From the bottom of my heart thank you to everyone who’s helped me along the way.”

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