FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Jake Gardner will have some time to reflect on a pretty impressive bull riding season that took him all over the United States and Canada, as he heals from a bicep injury sustained in Edmonton over the weekend.
The Fort St. John bull rider closed out the season at the PBR Canada National Finals with an unusual number of re-rides.
“I got a little bit of bad luck with re-rides, but you train and prepare during the week for stuff like that, so it wasn’t too bad,” said Gardner as he rests in Strathmore. “Unfortunately, a few of the bulls I had were pretty good ones, but it’s an unpredictable sport. That’s the way it goes.”
In round one, Gardner drew a bull by the name of Built Tough, but the bull hit the corner of the post on the way out of the gate, knocking Gardner off-balance before he had a chance to get seated. His re-ride was on Tractorland’s Pound Sand, but Gardner was tossed in 5.96 seconds.
“Basically, the cowboy needs to have a fair shot to get a good score on the bull. If the bull fouls himself or hits into the chutes, or if he doesn’t buck that good, all those variables will give a guy a re-ride.”
Round two was a ride to remember for Gardner, as he took Attitude Adjustment all the way to the buzzer, capping off the ride with a dismount and landing that would make an Olympic gymnast jealous. The ride earned him 86.5 points, the highest score achieved by that stage of the competition.
Round three was a challenge for Gardner as his first bull, Hot Tamale, backed out of the chutes rear-first and bucked Gardner in just over 2 seconds. On the re-ride, he got another bum wrap when Freaked Out didn’t give the cowboy a chance. Finally, riding Cash, Gardner missed the buzzer by four-tenths of a second.
The last ride of the event for Gardner, on a bull named Unkle Kranky, was the one that injured his bicep.
“I actually tore my bicep off on the last bull there, so I’m going to get surgery on it tomorrow.”
Still, the cowboy says he’s happy with how his season turned out. He gave his first real go at the PBR circuit in the United States, and he had some memorable moments up in Canada as well.
Gardner finished 6th in the PBR Canada National Standings, and he’s the 88th best bull rider in the 2021 World Standings.
“This season was a bit different, but I’m really happy with how it turned out. Although [I got] the injury, things could be worse. But I was pretty lucky to have the season I did, I got to go down there, and it’s just a different ballgame down there. That’s the world down there, not just Canada.”
Competing against athletes from all over the world helped Gardner develop his skills.
“I got to go compete against some of the best guys in the world, and it was a great experience. I finished in the top 40 down there, and I was only down for three months, so I feel like I had a great year. Then, when I came back here this fall, I got to do good at these PBR events.”
When asked for a highlight and a lowlight from the season, Gardner really only had one.
“I’d have to say the highlight was winning the Grande Prairie PBR this fall. I don’t think I had any lowlights at all. I got to compete all summer and stayed safe and healthy, so I don’t think there’s any lowlights from this season that I can think of.”
Gardner will have some time to recover from his surgery, but he’s got his eye on the calendar for when he can start training again.
“I think it’s going to be a month and a half of not doing too much. Then I think I can start doing a little bit of rehabilitation, and they’re saying three to four months before I can return back to competition.”
One thing that kept Gardner going through this season is the support he gets from home.
“The thing that’s helped definitely on the road is having all this support from everyone up north. They’re cheering me on, so that definitely helps a guy.”
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