Bulls are in the blood of Ponoka, Alta. stock contractor Nansen Vold.
For over half a century, his family has supplied the powerful animals to events all across North America.
His great-uncle Harry Vold brought seven bulls to the first-ever National Finals Rodeo in Dallas back in 1959, and the Vold family has had a presence at that event, regarded as the sport’s biggest, ever since.
“My grandpa’s brother started the company back in the early-1950s,” Nansen recalled. “It’s been in the family a long time and I figure I kind of followed in my family’s footsteps.”
As a stock contractor for PBR Canada events, Vold is tasked with providing some of the animal athletes for Saturday’s event. He’ll be bringing a total of 14 bulls to the show, and the journey from Alberta began on Thursday morning.
“It’s about a 12-hour trip from Ponoka across the mountains,” he said. “We take off at 7 a.m. on Thursday and arrive at about 7 p.m. that night. We give the bulls a full day of rest on Friday, and they get more rest till Saturday night when they perform. Then we head home Sunday morning.”
While in Abbotsford, the animals are housed indoors near the arena, and Vold is responsible for making sure they are ready for Saturday’s big stage.
He said watching his bulls perform is a unique experience. He doesn’t necessarily cheer for his animal; he just wants the fans to enjoy the show.
“You want to see them perform well,” he said. “But riding someone to a 90-plus-point ride is a little bit better than just having them throw the guy off all the time.”
Vold said years of genetics have made the process of developing bulls easier, but the potential of an animal becoming a top bull is based on a number of factors.
“Overall athleticism is the biggest part, I guess – like how they perform and kick,” he said. “But attitude has a lot to do with it as well – just having the intensity and the ability to perform day in and day out. We breed the best of the best and you always hope you can produce another good one. Other times, you can tell by how fast the bull spins, or how hard they kick when they extend their legs out.”
He said some of the bigger-name bulls coming to Abbotsford include Sheep Creek and Blow Me Away. Sheep Creek has bucked at the World Finals in Las Vegas and is one of the more well-known bulls on the tour.
“He’s a grey bull that I think a lot of people have become fans of,” he said. “He’s performed at quite a few of the bigger shows in North American the last few years. Blow Me Away is just a large animal. He’s extremely big for a rodeo bull.”
Many of Vold’s bulls travel to not only PBR events, but events throughout North America. He has also named two bulls after the late Ty Pozzobon, who won last year’s event in Abbotsford.
“We name the animals based on their personality or how they look,” he said. “Or some of them are named after guys that have passed, to kind of keep their name in the business.”
Vold acknowledged some of the concerns for the safety of the animals at rodeo events, but said his bulls are well taken care of.
“The best thing I can do is to give more information to the public about what we do,” he said. “It can help people get a feel about how we care for them. They get fed every day before we do and they get looked after every day. It’s just like horse racing or any other animal sport. We really look after them.”
He encouraged Abbotsford residents to check out Saturday’s show.
“It’s a good family show and this is the best stock we’ve got in this country,” he said. “It’s going to be a good event.”
A total of 25 riders are set to accept the challenge of riding the bulls, with competitors coming from Canada, the United States, Mexico and Paraguay.
The Abbotsford show is the last stop on the Monster Energy Tour, before the tour finals in Saskatoon on Oct. 20 and 21. The tour also had stops in Quebec City, Ottawa and Toronto in June, followed up by Calgary in September and Winnipeg on Oct. 6.
Alberta’s Brock Radford heads into Abbotsford with the most points for 2017, followed by Alberta rider Zane Lambert and then Saskatchewan’s Cody Coverchuk. All three are expected to compete in Abbotsford.
B.C. riders at the event include Jackson Scott from Kamloops and Jake Gardner from Dawson Creek.
It all gets underway at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Abbotsford Centre. For more details, visit pbrcanada.com.