After six British Columbia Rodeo Association (BCRA) events, Quesnel’s Clay Gordon sits atop the Junior Steer Riding Rankings.
The 15-year-old has earned just over $800 for his efforts so far this season but the sport is about far more than money for him.
Gordon says he loves the adrenaline rush and getting to travel all around B.C. with his buddies.
Those buddies have been making names for themselves too.
His cousin, Isaac Janzen, follows him closely in the standings. He sits at third place. The two are close but also highly competitive.
“We’ve been fighting over who’s going to get the saddle at the end of the year,” says Gordon. “So far, it’s looking like me, but we’ll see.”
The young rodeo rider practises constantly with Eric O’Flynn, brother of recently-retired bull rider Matt O’Flynn.
Eric has been making a name for himself in bull riding this season and is one of four Quesnel bull riders in the BCRA top five.
“Eric and I have been doing drills basically every day,” says Gordon. “We’re doing as much as we can to be the best that we can be.
“We go over to Matt [O’Flynn]’s place and get on a barrel and just practise form.”
Having so many talented bull riders surrounding him really helps Gordon improve, he says.
“We’re so supportive of one another, and you just want to see you buddy do the best he can. It always feels good watching your buddy make a good ride.”
Good genetics don’t hurt either.
Gordon’s father is Raven Gordon, a well recognized Quesnel bull rider who competed for 15 years.
He inspired a love for rodeo in his son, and Clay started riding cows when he was nine years old.
When he was 11, Gordon went to steer riding school in Bonaparte, B.C., and broke his arm on the third ride of the class.
Undeterred, he entered in the Quesnel Rodeo later that summer and hasn’t looked back.
This summer, Gordon’s looking forward to competing at home again.
He says there is a chance he will compete in the open bull ride, just to see how it goes.
Currently, he rides using both hands when trying to stay atop a steer, while bull riding requires riders to only use one. It will be an adjustment, but he feels he will be ready for it soon.
The 54th annual Quesnel Rodeo will take place from July 19 to 21 at Alex Fraser Park.