Tough rodeo bulls made user friendly

Affable rodeo stock contractor develops a reputation for quality bucking animals from his herd of 60 Brahma-cross bulls

Some of the rankest, orneriest and smartest bucking bulls are owned by one of the nicest and youngest stock contractors in the rodeo world.

Easy-going and quick with a smile, 18-year-old Cody Strandquist has been in the business for more than five years at his parents farm near Kyle, Sask. However, his experience and professional bucking stock have put his reputation up with seasoned contractors more than twice his age.

It started in 2011 with a bucking bull named Legend. Cody, who was 13 at the time, bought the four-year-old Brahma cross using money he’d earned from two summers of roofing houses. The bull went on to the Canadian Cowboy Association Finals Rodeo that same year.

“Legend’s still one of the better ones and one of the favourites,” he said. “He’s the one I’ll never get rid of.”

Cody’s herd grew with his reputation and now numbers about 60 Brahma cross bucking bulls.

With names like Real Deal, Barely Legal and Booster Juice, some of his top end bulls continue earning their way to the Professional Bull Riders Canada Finals and CCA Finals.

The CCA named Real Deal bull of the year in 2012.

Cody has his sights set on eventually competing at the Calgary Stampede, as well as the PBR World Finals and the World National Finals, both in Las Vegas.

“Cody’s got such a good repertoire (of bulls). They’re user friendly, they’re not mean, they’re not killers, but they can still be 80 to 85 points on every one of them,” said his father, Brad. “Even kids come to get on his.”

Added Cody: “You can tell the bulls who are smart. They work good and they walk and stand in the chute and then go out there and really buck.… They know how to get the riders off them.”

Cody comes by his love of competition the old-fashioned way: both his parents, Brad and Kathy, are from rodeo families.

Brad followed in his father’s steer riding boots to become a professional bullfighter, while Kathy barrel raced. Her family, the Rempels, managed the historic Matador pasture in southern Saskatchewan and have rodeoed for generations.

They met during the Calgary Stampede, married in 1991, bought land just east of Kyle and started a commercial beef herd in 1992.

Growing up, Cody was often in the pen and behind the chute helping his father, mother and a ranch stock contractor his father continues to work with to this day. He learned the art of flanking a horse and bull and working stock. His bucking Brahmas were eventually added to the contractor’s bull string.

Brad said it’s unusual, even in rural schools, to find kids like Cody who take an interest in stock contracting and rodeos.

“Rodeo right now is a dying sport. We have no up and coming young people in Canada,” he said.

“That tough style comes to very few kids anymore… To say ‘I’m a bull rider’ now at high school doesn’t mean crap.”

Mentorship from fellow contractors and family have allowed the young bull contractor get a toehold in the competitive business, where quality bucking stock rules.

“A lot of these guys, when they see him at one of these events, they don’t know him, but once they see him with his bulls, they’ve got to know that he’s not some fly by night, that he’s serious about it,” said Brad.

“He’s an 18 year-old in a 24-year-old world. That’s huge.”

Added Kathy: “You can be nice and good.”

But it all comes down to the bulls, which Cody said are like the siblings he never had.

“Most kids would go out and play with their dogs, cats, brothers and sisters, but I’d much rather go in there with those yearling bulls and push around with them,” he said.

“Every single one of them has a special part in my heart. They’re my little brothers.”

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