Ranch Challenge

Poplar Meadows Angus Ranch Challenge

The Williams Lake Stampede had its origin in a group of local cowboys deciding to get together and organize a contest whereby they could show off their cowboy skills and compete for prize money and settle the age old argument of who really was the best!

Over the years as the Stampede grew and changed from an amateur rodeo to a professional one we lost that original theme. The birth of the Ranch Challenge was a discussion among a few ranch/rodeo committee members of the need to bring back the local cowboys to the rodeo. We are a ranching community and are home to several of the bigger ranches in the province and we wanted those ‘real cowboys’ back at our rodeo.

We started in 1993 on a limited basis to see if the idea had any merit and by 1994 as more teams began to enter we had a successful event and the fans loved it. The competition is invitational, open only to 10 teams of working cowboys from surrounding area ranches.

The Poplar Meadows Angus Ranch Challenge is a popular spectator event where teams of three riders must compete in all 4 events that showcase the specific skills and knowledge required in their profession:

  • Cattle Penning
  • Cattle Sorting
  • Saddle Up Race
  • Cowhand Trailer Race
  • Trailer Loading
  • Ranch Branding

The events will take place Saturday following the Bull Riding and Sunday morning at 10 am., and are included in the admission fee. Points are given in all events from 1st to last and the Ranch Team accumulating the most points over the two days is the Ranch Challenge champion. Teams receive payouts based on the top teams in each event. Buckles and prizes will be handed out shortly after the end of Sunday’s events.

Limited to the first 10 ranches who enter -please submit your entries prior to June 1st. The entry fee of $150 will go up to $200 after June 1st.

 Team Cattle Penning

A team of three cowboys mounted on their best stock horses line up behind a starting line. A herd of cattle is at the opposite end of the arena. Each animal has a large number from 0-9 glued high on its shoulders. As the cowboys cross the start line the announcer calls out a number. Example: “5”. The team of cowboys now has to cut out (separate) all animals bearing the number 5. There will be two cattle with each number. The separated animals are herded back to a pen at the start end of the arena. When all two animals are in the pen one rider will ride to the gate, raise his arm and time is stopped. There are penalties for less than two cattle penned. Disqualification can occur for unnecessary rough handling of stock or for letting too many cattle cross a penalty line or for a horse & rider entering the cattle pen at the end. The teams are placed from first to last based on the time it takes to pen their cattle. All teams penning two cattle will beat any teams penning only one head. Teams will have two goes ( turns) to get cattle to the pen.

Sometimes the penning goes as ‘smoothly as silk’, sometimes not. Every now and again an already cut out cow will sneak past the watcher back into the herd, (this is when the cowboy ‘cusses’ his partner instead of the cow) sometimes a lot of cattle will break back and all cross the penalty line, or the herd will be unsettled and restless making the separation of the three cattle next to impossible. Every little while when things are going poorly the odd ‘cowboy cuss’ escapes when the cowboys forget they ‘came to town’ for this event and think it’s an ordinary day out on the range with no one to hear you (but the odd tree) for miles around.

Cowhand Trailer Race

Two teams (one rider from each) will race at the same time from their designated trailer around a marked course and back to the trailer. They will pass their rope to the next partner who will run the course, until all three riders have finished the course. The riders will then dismount and load all three horses into the trailer. The riders will exit the trailer and latch the door to signal the end of time.  Each team will be individually timed. Teams will race on Saturday.

Trailer Loading

The team stands at a start line in mid-arena. A herd of cattle (numbered in pairs from 0-9) is at the far end of the arena. Time starts when the first rider crosses the line and the announcer will call out a number.  Example: “5” the team of cowboys now has to cut out both animals bearing the number 5. The separated animals are herded back to a trailer at the start end of the arena. The riders will load their cattle into the trailer and close the door to stop the time clock. Sounds easy right? Well like any event involving animals, things don’t always go as planned. They can be right up to the door and change their minds about getting in. Extra cattle may be loaded but must be unloaded prior to signaling for time. Riders on foot may enter the trailer to sort out the wrong animals.  Riders may ask for time with only one animal in the trailer but all teams with both cattle will beat any teams having only one cow.

Ranch Branding

Three mounted ropers will be at the marked start/foul line in the arena. The branding bucket filled with flour paste is tied to the fence. A herd of numbered cattle will be at the far end of the arena. Time will start as the first rider crosses the line. The announcer will call out a number and a brand position.  Example: “5, Left Hip” the three riders now have to head and heel the animal bearing the number 5. They have a limited number of loops (attempts) to catch the cow. If they catch within the time limit the partner who has not roped the cow will dismount and race to get the dauber the cow and paste a brand on the designated area and race back to put the brand in the bucket stopping the time clock.  While they are roping their cow it must remain within the marked area.  A 5 second penalty will result if only one heel is caught.

Cattle Sorting

This event replicates the sorting of cattle at home with a twist. At the ranch you would be looking at smaller ear tag numbers placed to identify each animal. Here for the benefit of all, the numbers are large and easily read. There will be herd of cattle numbered from 0-9 within a “corral” with an open gate. Teams will try to sort the animals out thru the gate in number order starting with the number called out by the announcer. They try to get as many as possible within the time limit. Example “5” riders will bring out #5 then 6, 7, 8, 9, 0, 1, 2, 3, and ending with 4. Should an animal come back into the corral or a wrong numbered animal escape the team will be given a “dirty time” based on how many cattle are correct. The team with the most correct cattle through the gate will place at the top. Sounds easy
right? Well like at home not everything goes smoothly. A lot depends on the teamwork and communication of the riders. A good cow horse is a definite asset. And then there are the cattle that may have a different plan in mind.

Saddle Up Relay

This was a new event last year and is a real crowd pleaser. Teams are split into groups and compete side by side. One horse for each of them is at the start line with only a halter and lead rope on. First team member leads horse to second partner who then bridles the horse and rides it bareback to the third rider who then saddles up and rides back to the start. All teams are timed to decide the winner. All gear must be done up properly. Needless to say, some ranch horse don’t like to be ridden bareback or saddled in a hurry.

If you wish to participate as a Sponsor for Ranch Challenge, Mountain Race, or Ranch Bronc Riding please contact Willie Crosina @ (250) 392-5910 or lacrosina@hotmail.com. For info 250-398-8153.