Eckville area riders saddle up for CFR

Ben Andersen, 20, and Hayden Cole, 19, are competing at the Canadian Finals Rodeo, Oct. 29-Nov. 3

Eckville’s Ben Andersen sits on top of a bronc on a sunny day at the rodeo. Andersen is competing in saddle bronc riding at his first CFR as a pro at Westerner Park, Oct. 29-Nov. 3. Photo Submitted.

Two Eckville area riders have landed on the 2019 Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR) qualifiers list.

Ben Andersen, 20, and Hayden Cole, 19, will be competing at Westerner Park in Red Deer during this year’s CFR.

Eckville’s Andersen will be competing in saddle bronc for his first CFR appearance as a pro.

“It’s definitely a new experience,” said Andersen in a phone interview, “I get to ride all six days so I’m pretty excited about that.”

Andersen made his first CFR appearance last year in Novice Saddle Bronc.

The saddle bronc rider says he is expecting tough competition from the 11 other qualifiers.

“There’s some badass bronc riders here and it’s going to be tough,” explained Andersen. “With Zeke [Thurston], Dawson [and] Logan, the Hay boys, it’s going to be pretty tough, but it’s going to be pretty cool.”

“There’s a lot of great bronc riders here, it’s going to be all high scores,” he added.

He says his first season as a pro has gone well, despite breaking his foot halfway through the year.

During the 2019 season Andersen won in High River and Merritt as part of his campaign to CFR qualifications.

He also finished second at the Strathmore Stampede with an 86.5 on a Calgary colt B-21 Blue Chip.

“Ponoka was pretty awesome too,” commented Andersen. “It’s a cool rodeo and I did pretty good there.”

According to the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association, Andersen has won $27,063.48 during his rookie pro season.

On the other hand, Cole is saddling up for his first CFR appearance in Novice Saddle Bronc.

“It’s been a goal of mine for the last three years,” said Condor’s Cole. “I wrote it down as a goal for the last three years, so it feels good to finally cross it off.”

Cole says he is anticipating a tough, but friendly, competition from the other two qualifiers.

“The other two kids that made it I’ve travelled with a bit this year and we’re all pretty good friends,” said the 2019 Canadian College Rodeo Champion.

Cole earned $5,506.01 and finished the year in the top three in standings to find himself on the qualifier list.

This season he claimed the title of Champion in Falkland, Wildwood, Dawson Creek, Kennedy and Pincher Creek.

Personally, he says, the standout memory from the season was the bronc match in Pollockville.

The 2016-2017 Canadian High School Champion says he is working towards making rodeo is only interest.

“I like being able to travel all over and do what you love,” said Cole, “not being stuck in the same place all the time.”

Andersen is also looking to make rodeo a top priority heading into the future as he plans to make it his career.

He competes both north and south of the border with his eyes set on the National Finals Rodeo (NFR) next year.

Currently, Andersen trains colts and helps his dad, Chris Andersen, out on the ranch.

“I like to ride my BMX bike quite a bit,” he added. “I think it helps with bronc riding just balance wise.”

Both riders are looking forward to competing so close to home with their family and friends being able to attend.

The 2019 Canadian Finals Rodeo begin today, Oct. 29, at Westerner Park in Red Deer and will run until Nov. 3.

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