Unsure if he’d made the whistle, saddle bronc rider Dawson Hay breathed a big sigh of relief when the scoreboard lit up at the Clovis Rodeo on Sunday.
The Wildwood, Alberta, native – who now lives outside Clovis, Calif. – saw a score of 89 next to his name after an action-packed eight seconds aboard C5 Rodeo’s Double D. That left him a point ahead of fellow Canadian Jake Watson.
Hay’s 89 was three points more than he’d earned on the horse years before in the Grass Roots Series Finals in Regina, Saskatchewan. He was excited to see the Clovis draw and knew he could challenge for the winner’s check if he could match wits with the talented bucker.
“I was stoked all week to be able to get on that horse again,” said Hay, the son of 20-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier Rod Hay. “It’s grown up, and I think that horse is better now than it’s ever been. My favorite horses are the strong, slow horses where it’s going to be a fight from start to finish. Some of my biggest wins have been on horses like that.
“You’ve got to just lay it all out there and hope for the best, and that’s kind of what happened today. There was no guarantee the whole ride, and I actually didn’t even know if I’d made the whistle. It’s one of those ones where you’re just waiting to hear the whistle, and you’re just trying to give it everything you’ve got.”
The $8,827 victory more than doubled Hay’s 2021 season earnings and likely will propel him into the top 10 in the PRCA | RAM World Standings heading into a busy May.
“I was really worried about getting into this (Coarsegold) California bronc match, because it’s got $50,000 added and they only take the top 10 from this year,” Hay said. “So, I really needed to make a move this past weekend, and it really helped out big time. You never know when the next opportunity is going to come.”
The win also served as validation for Hay that he’s that much closer to the form that led him to a 2019 NFR qualification and seventh-place world standings finish. He missed nearly two months of last season after suffering a skull fracture on July 3 in Belle Fourche, S.D., and is still working to get back to 100 percent.
“When you have an injury and can’t get on for a few months, it takes a minute to get back to where you feel like you’re riding decent but takes a couple months and 30 or 40 head before you feel like you’re at the top of your game again and back in rodeo shape,” Hay said. “It’s a definite process. It’s been an ongoing battle, but I feel like I’m feeling the best I have in a long time.”
With some much-needed momentum going into the summer run, Hay is optimistic.
“It’s a great confidence boost and a weight off my shoulders, but also a push to keep it going,” he said. “There are still a lot of guys who have a lot more money won, and I just want to push it to get to the top instead of falling behind again.”
Other winners from the $345,344 rodeo were: bareback rider Tilden Hooper (90.5 points on C5 Rodeo’s Virgil); steer wrestler Scott Guenthner (17.3 seconds on four head); team ropers Tyler Wade and Trey Yates (39.1 seconds on four head); tie-down roper Jake Pratt (39.1 seconds on four head); barrel racer Megan Champion (50.88 seconds on three runs); and bull rider Boudreaux Campbell (88 points on Macza Pro Rodeo’s Lap Dance).
For more coverage of the Clovis Rodeo, check out the April 30 edition of ProRodeo Sports News.
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