Skip to main content
Complete Olympic Games coverage at your fingertips
Your inside track on the Olympic Games
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week for 24 weeks
Complete Olympic Games coverage at your fingertips
Your inside track onthe Olympics Games
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

Get Smart and Stevie Knicks are lounging in the penthouse pasture. Blackstone After Party is having sex.

Rodeo announcers constantly refer to bucking stock as athletes and point out their performance accounts for half a rider’s total score.

With rodeos across Canada cancelled this summer because of the COVID-19 pandemic, broncs and bulls can’t use home gyms and treadmills like their human counterparts do to stay in shape.

Story continues below advertisement

“It’s just like a human athlete. If you sit around and do nothing, you’re going to get fat,” said Ross Lewis, who owns a dozen bulls in the Wild Hoggs Bucking Bulls company.

“That’s what these guys are doing. They don’t have a job right now. A big part of their day is walking from where they’re [lying] down 20 feet to the feeder, eating and then walking back 20 feet and laying down again.”

Blackstone After Party – Rodeo Canada’s bull of the year in 2019 – weighs more than half a tonne and got a job requiring some physical exertion.

“We just sent him out on Saturday to breed cows,” said Curtis Sawyer of Outlaw Buckers Rodeo. “All our heavy-hitters are going out this year to breed cows. Normally they wouldn’t. They’d be rodeoing.”

A few Wild Hoggs bulls will also be performing a service that’s often reserved for their retirement.

“Because they’ve got no rodeos to go to, they’ll spend their summer with the ladies,” Mr. Lewis said.

The Calgary Stampede rodeo in July is among almost 50 Canadian rodeos, along with multiple Professional Bull Riders Canada events, cancelled or postponed because of the pandemic.

Story continues below advertisement

That leaves a lot of bucking stock with nothing to do.

Northcott Macza Rodeo’s star steeds Get Smart and Stevie Knicks were named Canada’s top saddle bronc and bareback horses of 2019 respectively. They’re pastured, but get daily grain to ensure they’re ready if and when there are rodeos again in 2020.

“They’re on the best pasture I got,” Ward Macza said. “I go give them three or four pounds of grain a day just to keep them half-assed in shape.

“They look as good as they ever have. The only problem is there’s no place to go.”

If rodeos were on the horizon, broncs would get taken out for a jog with saddle horses. Bulls might get put in a pen with a sand pit for them to dig with their horns and strengthen their muscles.

“If we knew we were going to go in a month, we’d start exercising them and changing their feed and getting them more prepared,” Mr. Sawyer said.

Story continues below advertisement

Ranch manager Tyler Kraft says horses walk several kilometres a day on the Calgary Stampede’s 8,800 hectares near Hanna, Alta.

“They’re keeping themselves maintained by going to water and we spread salt and minerals out strategically to give them the most amount of exercise,” Mr. Kraft explained.

The Wild Hoggs herd of bulls near Nanton, Alta., has feed troughs at the bottom of a hill and water at the top.

“They’ve got to make that trip twice or three times a day,” Mr. Lewis said. “In my opinion, the bulls are like teenagers. If you keep them active, they’re going to be active, but if you let them get lazy, they’re going to be lazy.”

Stock contractors agree bulls and broncs will buck the next time a rider drops on their back. Opinions are mixed on how well those muscles will fire after months of inactivity.

“It’ll take some time,” Mr. Sawyer said. “When you get going in the spring, it takes them a few weeks to get back on track and it’s going to be the same once we get going.

Story continues below advertisement

“It’ll take some trips and some miles just to get back in fighting shape I’d guess you’d call it.”

Veteran contractor Wayne Vold allows that bulls might come out of the chutes sluggish the first few times, but believes his broncs won’t miss a beat.

“I believe they buck better when they’re fresher,” Mr. Vold said. “I’m not worried about them bucking one bit.”

Experienced, mature broncs such as Stampede Warrior or Tiger Warrior won’t be rusty when rodeos reboot, according to Mr. Kraft.

“They’re going to buck at the top of their game any day of the week,” he said.

Like human athletes, however, their careers are finite.

Story continues below advertisement

What pains owners is their star bulls and broncs might not perform at rodeos at all in 2020.

“Blackstone is eight years old now and he’ll be at least nine before we use him again,” Mr. Sawyer said. “That’s getting up in the twilight of his career. He’s kind of missing the end of his career.”

At 18 years old, Get Smart is the Tom Brady of rodeo. Five times Canada’s saddle bronc horse of the year, the gelding is performing and winning well into what would be retirement years for most broncs.

“Being that he’s so old, you know he only has so much time left,” Mr. Macza said. “If you skip out a year, it’s gone. Never to return.

“If it’s a young animal, you know you’ve got six, seven, eight more years left. Unfortunately he doesn’t. His age is against him.”

We have a weekly Western Canada newsletter written by our B.C. and Alberta bureau chiefs, providing a comprehensive package of the news you need to know about the region and its place in the issues facing Canada. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies