Big Valley cowboy brings home $100,000 prize
The village of Big Valley has something to yahoo about.
Twenty-two year old Saddle Bronc rider Zeke Thurston of Big Valley rode his way to the grand prize at the 2016 Calgary Stampede.
What is even more extraordinary is that this is the second time Thurston has won the title, the first time being almost exactly one year ago.
“To win a rodeo that big and to compete against the best, on the world’s best stock and to win it two years in a row, is crazy. It was awesome. You can’t ask for a better rodeo. There is a reason they call it the greatest outdoor show on earth,” says Thurston.
Not only is the Calgary Stampede one of the biggest rodeos in North America, it was also very close to home for Thurston.
“You know, me being from Alberta, and to be considered a hometown boy is a really cool experience. It's cool to represent your country, especially on home soil. My family was there the whole time. I had lots of friends come out. Also my grandma, mom, dad, siblings, and my girlfriend came to watch, so I had a big entourage.”
Thurston was raised in the village of Big Valley and cannot remember a time when he wasn’t on a horse.
“Both sides of my family have a strong rodeo background. My mom and dad both did it. My dad rode professionally for twenty-some years. He had a really successful career and rode in the National Finals, and in the Canadian Finals. So I just kind of grew up in it. I can’t remember learning to ride, I just grew up with it,” says Thurston.
This year’s Calgary Stampede forecast called for one thing only, and that was rain. This caused the infield and track to become a muddy, sloppy mess for the cowboys and cowgirls of the stampede.
“The conditions weren’t the best. It was kin-
To win a rodeo that big and to compete against the best, on the world’s best stock and to win it two years in a row, is crazy. It was awesome. You can’t ask for a better rodeo. There is a reason they call it the greatest outdoor show on earth.”
da nasty. You had to make sure to keep your equipment dry. Stay dry as best you can and stay on. Every horse is different. It doesn’t affect the cowboys as much as the horse.”
In the Calgary Stampede finals, Thurston met his third match up with bucking horse Spring Planting, and left the audience in awe with an impressive 84.5 point ride winning the championship prize.
“I knew she was going to do good, she has been around for a long time. She is an older horse but she is solid and dependable.”
Thurston plans to continue competing in rodeos in the United States this summer, chasing after the grand prize.
You can see Thurston competing in the upcoming Strathmore Stampede on July 29-31.
Zeke Thurston of Big Valley shows off his $100,000 cheque after becoming the 2016 Calgary Stampede Saddle Bronc Champion.
Big Valley 's Zeke Thurston claims his trophy after winning the Saddle Bronc event at this year's Calgary Stampede.