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Haven Meged claims first career Ponoka Stampede crown

Haven Meged Ponoka Stampede
Posted at 10:17 AM, Jul 02, 2024

(Editor's note: Story by Dianne Finstad/PRCA)

PONOKA, Alberta — Where there's Smoke, there's fire — at least in Haven Meged's world these days. The Montana-raised cowboy leaned on his bay horse's talents to help claim his first Ponoka Stampede championship.

Smoke is an 8-year-old Meged got about three years ago and has been seasoning since.

"He's been a lot of work, but this is his third season out here, and I feel like he's getting better and better. By the time he's 10, he'll be perfect," Meged said with a smile.

Ponoka is an extra test, with the famous long score alley setup, which Meged actually likes, and so too does Smoke.

"I won the second round at Prineville, Ore., on him the other day, a shorter alley than this, but he's just amazing," Meged said.

In Ponoka, Meged put together three solid runs to finish first in the aggregate and make him last man out in the Showdown, where he posted the fastest time of the rodeo at 7.8 seconds to win the overall title.

"(Monday) in the four man, I definitely didn't think I had the best calf. She ran the rope, and she tries to get up the whole time after you get up off her. She rolled over, but it worked out. My horse made the difference," Meged said.

"Even if I rode my horse, I rode here last year, I probably wouldn't have got by some of these calves, as fast as they ran. I feel like he's one of the best horses out there right now. He can run, and he's square. He's always on your team."

This is the time of year which tests both four-legged and human athletes.

"We were in Greeley (Colo.), drove all night here, drove all night to Williams Lake (British Columbia), drove all night and went to Livingston and then drove all night back up here last night," Meged said. "We've been some miles. And now we're driving all night to go to Red Lodge.

"He's a big, strong horse. I think that's what separates him from a lot of the horses out here. He takes it really good, and I'm just really thankful to have him in my trailer and on my team."

The zigzagging across the continent continues for Meged, with stops ahead in Red Lodge; Cody, Wyo.; Oakley City, Utah; St. Paul, Minn.; Mason City, Iowa; Bigfork; and Prescott, Ariz., all before getting back to Calgary July 8.

The Ponoka championship had eluded Meged twice. So, he was happy to get the jacket, the buckle, and the $20,062 payday. Since he also competed in team roping, he became the High Point winner at Ponoka as well.

"It's great to get to come here and compete, and they added $60,000 for us at Ponoka. It's a big deal. This is going to help me a lot. I think I've had a $25,000 week so far just in Canada, so that's big for me in the world standings and the Canadian standings. If I didn't do good this week in Canada, I wasn't going to make the Canadian Finals."

Other Ponoka Stampede champions included rookie Zachary Dallas in the saddle bronc riding for a 90.5-point ride on Calgary Stampede's Tokyo Bubbles ($18,863); another rookie in the bareback riding, Weston Timberman, who had a 90-point trip on Calgary Stampede's Agent Lynx ($14,891); for the second straight year Dalton Massey in the steer wrestling with a 5.8-second run ($20,191); Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira in team roping with a 5.5 ($17,131 each); Jared Parsonage in bull riding, as the aggregate winner, since none of the four bulls were covered in the Showdown ($11,865); and Lindsay Sears in barrel racing with a 17.47 ($14,347).