HORSE OF THE YEAR
Owned by Calgary Stampede
By Dianne Finstad
Saddle bronc riders can almost view the peaks of the Rockies when they climb aboard Lynx Mountain and nod their heads.
That’s because the brown mare, raised by the Calgary Stampede, likes to make a characteristic high-flying leap when she heads out of the chute.
After that, the eight-year-old with the L40 brand turns all bronc, and gives the riders everything they’re looking for. That’s why the 15 best cowboys in the saddle bronc standings named her Canadian Saddle Bronc Horse of the Year.
Lynx Mountain is a product of the Stampede Ranch’s famous Born To Buck breeding program. She’s out of a mare called Turtle Mountain, and a sire by the name of Walleye Roan. She’s part of an outstanding crop born the same year. But Calgary Stampede Senior Ranch and Rodeo Manager Keith Marrington says she’s really risen to the top of the heap.
“Lynx Mountain showed lots of potential early on,” noted Marrington. “But she’s certainly developed over the last year or two. She’s been consistent, and is the type of horse guys want to get on.”
Marrington continued, “She’s very flashy, and certainly rideable every time. She doesn’t do anything nasty with the guys, like a Gross Beetle or Mata Fact. She’s fairly consistent in her bucking style and pattern. The cowboys know that, and if they bring their ‘A’ game, they’re going to score some points.”
Marrington’s records indicate Lynx Mountain only bucked a cowboy off once or twice all season long, and the successful rider’s marks are usually in the high 80s. When it comes to outstanding trips, Marrington recalls the 90-point ride Taos Muncy scored on her early in the season at San Antonio. Chet Johnson was 87 points in the showdown at the Calgary Stampede. Then there was the 87.5 Cody Taton turned in with her at the Strathmore Heritage Days Stampede in August. And just last month, at the Wrangler Canadian Professional Rodeo Tour Championships in Calgary, Sam Kelts was 85.5 on her in the semifinal round.
Kelts, who finished as season leader, is definitely a fan of the lady.
“After that initial chute exit procedure, she gets pretty good,” he said after his first encounter with Lynx Mountain.
According to Marrington, the mare gives the contestants every opportunity to show their stuff.
“She jumps and kicks in a straight pattern or circles around to the right. They can get their spurring rhythm going without having to worry about a duck here or a dive there,” he described.
But the cowboys have to know how to handle her calmly in the chute as they’re preparing.
“She’s a little nervous in the box, and rares out of there all the time. She’s just flashy from the first jump to the eight-second whistle,” he said. “She likes to rare up in the air, and fans like to see that. It’s exciting.”
It was also exciting this year for the Calgary Stampede to sweep all three roughstock awards. It’s the first time that’s been done since Wayne Vold notched the same achievement in 1983.
“It’s a huge honor,” agreed Marrington. “We had a great year and the stock performed. I’m just glad the rodeo community recognized their efforts throughout the year. It’s amazing.”
The icing on the cake for 2009 was the Stampede being chosen for the Stock Contractor of the Year award.
“Well, it’s the first time the Calgary Stampede has won that award. I think it’s a huge accomplishment for the whole team. It’s not an individual award. It’s a business and it’s a team effort. There’s a bunch of individuals here in the office and at the ranch that had a part in that award,” Marrington said.
“The animals speak for themselves when they perform well. But when you win the stock contractor award, it’s more than just managing your animals, it’s communicating with cowboys and how you help out. The team worked hard all year, and the team deserves it. I’m extremely happy.”