June 30, 2008. It’s a long way from Prescott, Ariz., to Ponoka, Alberta, Canada—especially, when I have less than 24 hours to get there.
Grounded in Arizona. Am I the only American who wants leave of the “land of the free” over the Fourth of July holiday? After searching the outbound commercial flights to Canada, I’m beginning to think so. My horses, Stitch and Potato Chip, are no doubt enjoying their ride up north, while I sit in this airport terminal trying to find a set of wings headed for Edmonton. Normally, catching a plane to Canada wouldn’t be an issue during my Cowboy Christmas schedule, but this year, my husband, Doug, and I decided to send a rig across the Northern border for some events. We drove Stitch, Potato Chip, and one of Doug’s horses to Alberta, while a separate rig hauled Duke (Yeah Hes Firen) and another rope horse to June rodeos in Sisters (Ore.), Turlock (Calif.), Livermore (Calif.), and Reno (Nev.).
An Early Start. So far, the events leading up to July 4th have gone well. Bambi Robb has taken over driving and caring for the horses in our second rig, while our friends, Oscar and Mary Lynn Walters in Lethbridge (Alberta, Canada), are handling our mounts up north. The West Coast rodeos went well. Duke and I won a check at the Turlock Rodeo, before we had to pull out for Reno. So far, this gelding’s taking things in stride. I bought him last March from Latricia Duke. She finished the futurity year on him, and then I started rodeoing with him this year. I’ve already won about $7,000 at Professional Rodeo Cowboy’s Association (PRCA) sanctioned rodeos—not bad for a 5-year-old. The camera pit spooked Duke on his first run at the Reno Rodeo, but he managed to bounce back for the other rounds. He has a little trouble with the ground sometimes, but that’s just part of being a colt. I know Duke is going to make a good one—he’s already shown himself. Speaking of “good ones,” Stitch and I have pocketed more than $6,000 at four of our five Canadian rodeos so far. The Prescott Frontier Rodeo was another story. We hit barrels in both go rounds, but we refuse to let it put a damper on the rest of our weekend.
High-Flying Adventure. I finally found a charter plane out of Arizona. It’s going to cost me $1,700! So much for my “I-have-to-save-some-money-because-I’m-already-spending-a-fortune philosophy.” My high-priced plane will deliver me to Salt Lake City, Utah. From there, I’m scheduled for a 6 a.m. commercial flight into Edmonton by way of Denver—just in time to make the short round at the Ponoka Stampede. I think my lack of rest is affecting my eyesight because, I swear, I’m looking at a compact car with wings. Is this my charter plane? The fact that my pilots are both flight instructors does little to quench my apprehension. However, sleep overpowers fear as I settle in to a deep slumber 15 minutes into the trip. The arrival into Salt Lake City is one of the most turbulent I’ve had to date. Here’s hoping my flights to Denver and Edmonton are less eventful. July 1, 2008. Cowboy Christmas has officially begun.
Up and Running. Barrel racer Maria Butterfield is waiting to drive me to Ponoka when I touch down in Alberta. She and her husband help with the Ponoka Stampede. I can’t believe she’s taking more than two hours out of her busy schedule to help a girl she’s never met. Who says the people in this sport don’t look out for each other? The time I lost trying to get back to this rodeo paid off in the long run. We didn’t win it, but Stitch and I walked away with more than $12,000 for our Ponoka efforts. In other good news, Casey Branquino, Ryan Garrett and Doug offer to drive me back to Montana, so I can get some much-needed rest. We part ways in Shelby as the guys board a charter for Greeley (Colo.), and I point my rig for the bright lights of the Red Lodge Home of Champions Rodeo (Mont.).
July 2, 2008. Who needs the Energizer Bunny when you have a Stitch? Road Warriors. I know people might find it hard to believe, but the more I haul Stitch, the faster he runs. I can’t explain it, but I’m certainly not going to question it either. That said, Stitch ran true to form, turning in another pretty pattern for a fourth-place win at Red Lodge. We’re up at the Livingston Roundup (Mont.) this evening and Cody Stampede (Wyo.) tomorrow morning, so there’s no time to rest on our laurels—it’s back down the road we go. A power nap is the first order of business for both the horses, and I once we pull into the Livingston rodeo grounds. After my evening run, the geldings and I make the midnight haul to Cody.
July 3, 2008. Fifteen hours of sleep in three days is barely enough to function, let alone ride. I’m a little tired from the drive, but morning slack at Cody goes smoothly. I pause briefly to run a few errands in town, and then we’re off again—this time we’re headed for Canada and the Calgary Stampede.
Hitchin’ a Ride. A desperate call from Lisa Lockhart fills the rest of my trailer for the haul to Calgary. Her rig had quit her midway through Montana, so I stop to pick her horses up for the ride into Canada.
July 4, 2008. The weekend isn’t over ‘til Potato Chip gets to run. With our afternoon run at the Calgary Stampede behind us, I decide to let Stitch rest for this evening’s performance at the Benalto Rodeo (Alberta, Canada). Potato Chip was more than ready for the limelight. Who could blame him? He’d weathered the same miles we all had, without seeing any arena action. I think he won third there just to prove his point.
July 5, 2008. Well, we made it—and some. When it was all said and done, sending a rig to Canada turned out to be a pretty profitable decision. This Northern run of rodeos added more than $20,000 to my bank account, not to mention the checks I earned stateside during my normal slate of Cowboy Christmas rodeos. One thing’s for sure, the “same beaten path” the geldings and I take next year will include stops in Canada. In the meantime, I have a handful of colts while up in Cheyenne (Wyo.) to ride and a bunch more rodeos to schedule. I’ve always believed that if you waste a day, someone will pass you by.
For more information on Brittany Pozzi-Pharr or her upcoming schedule, visit brittanypozzi.net. Jennifer Zehnder is a contributing editor for BHN’s sister publication, Western Horseman.