NORTH BATTLEFORD — The Professional Bull Riders Canadian Touring Pro Division bucked its way into town on July 27, producing one of the most lively events in the Battlefords this summer.
Backed by a nearly sold-out arena and floor area, residents of the Battlefords and those coming in from out of town were treated to a feverish competition from start to finish.
Coy Robbins (Camrose, Alta.) and Dakota Buttar (Eatonia, Sask.) were the last two riders of the evening, and to say they delivered is an understatement.
The former reached the requisite eight in the first round with a score of 83.5 points off his ride on Thor’s Hammer, moving into the second and final round as the event leader.
The latter also made the eight, topping Dance Money for 77.5 points, good for fifth going into the second run.
In the final run for the evening, both made the eight once again, with Buttar riding Free Fallin to a score of 74.5, enough for second place. However, it was the 2017 PBR Canada Rookie of the Year that would score the win, covering Midnight Panda to secure the event.
Robbins continued his win streak, picking up his third win of the campaign, and followed up his previous victory at the Calgary Stampede with another first-place outing.
The win vaults Robbins from number 15 to nine in the national standings. Meanwhile, Buttar, who is attempting to become the fourth multi-time PBR Canada Champion, inched closer to leader Brock Radford, now sitting in third place and 18.5 points out of first.
Despite the hot hand, Robbins maintains cool-headed.
“I just keep my head down and take each event for what it is.”
That ability to keep the emotions in check is key, particularly when it comes to bulls that tend to give riders more buck than they bargained for.
“I have that dog mentality. It makes me want to prove, mainly to myself, that no matter how bad or good they are, I’m here to do my job and couldn’t care less about anything else.”
No matter the competition, the event itself exemplified the community aspect of the sport itself. With the area being agriculturally-inclined, the support and interest are strong.
Many of those in attendance are ranchers, have raised cattle, or had some sort of involvement in rodeos.
The same goes for Jennifer and Allen Cave, who meet all the criteria above.
What makes the event more significant to them, however, is that the McDonalds PBR Classic now is a memorial event for their son Colby Cave, someone who loved coming to this kind of event.
The former Battlefords AAA Star turned hometown hero (after making his NHL debut with Boston in 2017) passed away a year ago from a brain bleed.
While the event is a different experience now without their son, Jennifer has pointed out that the support has been absolutely incredible and hasn’t worn off.
It’s that support and community connectivity that always drew Colby back whenever he could, taking in the opportunity to see as many people as possible.
“(Jennifer) Colby was very proud of where he came from, he loved his community, and loved to be involved as much as he could.”
That communal bond extends beyond the Battlefords area and into the rodeo community.
Robbins, who won the event, spoke of how closely-knit all those involved in the sport really are, citing how he rode to the competition with two fellow competitors. Yet, all three helped one another when it wasn’t their ride, prepping and encouraging their fellow athletes.
“It’s definitely a family and fun to be a part of.”
Those who are bullish about the competition will not have to wait long, as the 2022 PBR Canada circuit shifts to July 30 with the Touring Pro Division’s Lacombe Pro Bull Riding. Action at the Lacombe and District Ag Society begins at 7 p.m. CDT.
This story has been updated to correct the misspellings of Coy Robbins and Colby Cave.