(Editors note: Release written by Ruth Nicolaus / Last Chance Stampede)
HELENA — Pascal Isabelle is having the best year of his rodeo career.
The bareback rider, from Okotoks, Alberta, is ranked twenty-first in the PRCA world standings, and after his 80.5 point ride in Helena on Thursday night, he’s in the lead.
He was aboard the Kesler Rodeo horse Alley Street, a horse he’d tangoed with before.
He rode the bucking horse at the Brooks, Alberta rodeo in May, with separated ribs, which resulted in a 78 point ride. “I guess it worked today,” he said. “Eighty (points) is all, but it felt good. I’ll take it.”
Isabelle, who is 27 years old, competed in amateur rodeos in Quebec but moved to the Calgary area five years ago, to rodeo professionally in both the PRCA and the Canada Pro Rodeo Association. He was looking to improve his skills. “I decided to put the game up one day,” he said, “and if you want to do it for a living, you can’t stick around the house. You have to travel and get on everywhere.”
He travels with another Canadian, Spur Lacasse, who is ranked in the top fifty in the PRCA standings, and the two are having fun. “Spur has been riding amazing,” he said “It’s just fun. Every time we jump back into the rig, we’re so happy with the work we do.”
After separating ribs in May, he separated ribs in a new spot a few weeks ago. This new injury is in the front, below his pectoral muscle, and occurred when hitting the saddle as he got off onto the pickup horse. But there’s no time to sit out. “Some people would take time off, but this time of the season, you really can’t take time off. I’m sitting pretty good in the world standings, so I just have to keep going.”
The injury does have a benefit, though. “Actually, it’s helping me think about my posture because as soon as I’m in the wrong posture, it hurts me.”
A Helena man is in the lead in the steer wrestling.
Timmy Sparing had a time of 4.4 seconds to take the lead in his event.
He rode a horse owned by Kenny Holland of Dillon. The horse, named Vern, has been ridden at Montana Circuit rodeos. “I was fortunate enough to get on Kenny’s horse,” Sparing said.
Sparing, who is thirty years old, is coming off a back injury. In June of last year, he got kicked by a steer, which was the final straw on back problems that came from shoeing horses. It resulted in a crushed disc, and after four epidurals and a lot of physical therapy, it’s better. Sparing hopes to not have to resort to surgery.
He started back to rodeo this winter and eased back into competition. “I have to manage it,” he said. “I can’t practice a whole lot.”
He realizes it’s only the first night of rodeo and there is slack plus two more performances to go. “I don’t expect (his time) to win the rodeo but it might hold,” he said “There are some good guys coming up.”
Sparing won the Last Chance Stampede in 2016.
Other high scores and fast times from the rodeo include team ropers Garrett Rogers, Baker City, Ore./Jake Minor, Ellensburg, Wash. (5.1 seconds); Logan Hay, Wildwood, Alb. (69 points); tie-down roper Bode Scott, Pryor, Mont. (9.8 seconds); barrel racer Heidi Schmid, Kalispell, Mont. (17.76 seconds); and Luke Gee, Stanford, Mont. (76 points).
The Last Chance Stampede continues tomorrow night with a Tough Enough to Wear Pink performance on Fri., July 26 at 7:30 pm. Fans are asked to wear pink to support breast cancer research and awareness. For more information, visit the rodeo’s website at LastChanceStampede.com. Tickets are available online at www.LastChanceStampede.com [lastchancestampede.com] and at the gate.
Fast times/high scores from the first performance of the 59th annual Last Chance Stampede, Helena, July 25, 2019
1. Pascal Isabelle, Okotoks, Alb. 80.5 points on Kesler Rodeo’s Alley Street; 2. Spur Lacasse, Calgary, Alb. 77; 3. Buck Lunak, Cut Bank, Mont. 76; no other qualified rides.
1. Timmy Sparing, Helena, Mont. 4.4 seconds; 2. Shawn Downing, Saco, Mont. 4.9; 3. Will Stovall, Roberts, Mont. 5.5; 4. Kris Anderson, Hamilton, Mont. 6.4.
1. Garrett Rogers, Baker City, Ore./Jake Minor, Ellensburg, Wash. 5.1 seconds; 2. Jr Dees, Aurora, S.D./Lane Siggins, Coolidge, Ariz. 5.4; 3. Riley Minor, Ellensburg, Wash./Brady Minor, Ellensburg, Wash.10.8; 4. Derick Fleming, Warden, Mont./Brett Fleming, Worden, Mont. 11.1.
Saddle bronc riding
1. Logan James Hay, Wildwood, Alb. 69 points on Kesler Championship Rodeo’s Trail Smoke; no other qualified rides.
1. Bode Scott, Pryor, Mont. 9.8 seconds; 2. Quay Howard, Canyon, Texas 11.0; no other qualified runs.
1. Heidi Schmid, Kalispell, Mont. 17.76 seconds; 2. Lexi Bagnell, Polson, Mont. 18.03; 3. Kenna Kaminski, Bellville, Texas 18.12; 4. Jessie Telford, Caldwell, Idaho 19.24.
1. Luke Gee, Stanford, Mont. 76 points on Kesler Championship Rodeo’s Last Resort; no other qualified rides.
** All results are unofficial. Visit Prorodeo.com [wildbillhickokrodeo.com] for results and www.LastChanceStampede.com [lastchancestampede.com] for fair and rodeo information.