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'This is rodeo': Second-place homecoming for local bull rider Jake Gardner

At Spring Breakup in Dawson Creek, the 25-year-old from Fort St. John certainly hasn't forgotten where his roots are, or the support that got him to where he is.

OK, so maybe bull rider Jacob Gardner isn't considering a career in politics, but he probably shook more hands last Saturday night in Dawson Creek then most candidates do on the campaign trail.

The 25-year-old from Fort St. John certainly hasn't forgotten where his roots are or the support that got him to where he is.

“Holy, do I love our fans up here in the Peace Country. Nothing like it,” Gardner said moments after scoring an 87.5 on his eight-second ride. “Just grateful to see everyone. I have a lot of friends and family here and I'm just so glad I could perform in front of them.”

His ride, the very last one at this year's Spring Breakup Rodeo, gave him a second-place result just back of another Canadian, Coy Robbins of Camrose, Alta.

Even with his latest and past successes, Gardner continues to remain humble.

“I don't think I'm any different than any other person out there. You know, I feel I'm out there to represent the north country. I'm glad they want to talk to me. I really like that.”

Even as he prepared for his ride, Gardner could be seen striking up conversations with younger competitors like the junior steer riders as they got ready.

“I remember being a little kid. Always felt, 'Hey, how cool would it be if that guy helped me?' So, now I'm at this level and any chance I see a kid behind the chutes, I want to make them feel welcome.”

Just the night before, Gardner was competing in Medicine Hat and less than a week before that in the southern U.S.

Was it worth the long trip back home?

“Hundred-percent. This is rodeo,” adds Gardner. “Sometimes, you drive 20 hours over the night. You're just hoping you get a (successful) ride. Sometimes it don't work out like that. It worked out really good here.”

As it turned out, it would be his second bull of the night that he would win on, after Broken Halos decided to take the night off.

“You get two shots to get out on him clean. I did the first one. I tried the second. He didn't want it, so they ordered me a re-ride.”

He then drew Trashy Side.

“(The bull) came around good into my hand. Felt like a dream. I could hear the crowd cheering. There was no way I was letting go.”

For Gardner, though, the trip home was a short one, successful with a payout of just over $1800, but only just enough time catch up with friends, sit down for a home-cooked meal, do laundry, and find the next rodeo.

Oh, the life of a bull rider...

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