By John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Cowboy Clay Greenslade, 14, was recently victorious at the 2021 YETI Junior Roughstock World Finals in Las Vegas, claiming the Senior All Around World Champion title.
Clay, who attends Strathmore High School, said it was his second time attending the world finals, the first being last year when it was hosted in Texas.
“It’s pretty cool to be able to go to the world finals twice in a row. Last year it was a new experience being with the best in the world, the best stock in the world,” said Clay. “This year, I feel like I had a little bit more confidence going in because of all the work I’ve put in this year.”
Starting out learning bareback and saddle bronc riding when he was nine, Clay was introduced to the sport at a practice pen in High River with some ponies. Ever since he has been hooked on the sport of rodeo.
It wasn’t long before he was competing across the province. Last year, during his run in the Junior High Rodeo Circuit, he claimed second in bareback at the provincial final.
Clay also qualified to go to the Canadian Junior High Finals in Swift Current, where he would also claim a silver in bareback.
When asked about any potential rivalries within the competitive community, Andy Greenslade, Clay’s father, said the sport is more so a challenge between the athletes and the animals than each other.
“It’s not as much as a rivalry, as it’s a one-on-one between you and the horse and you’re cheering the next guy on as much as you are yourself,” said Greenslade. “It’s a competition between you and the animal. Maybe your buddy may have been on that horse a few times but he’s also there trying to help you get out of the chutes safely as well. It’s a pretty unique sport.”
Clay also joined the Crooked Run Canadian Junior Rodeo Association, where for most of the season he was the bareback season leader. He ended his run as senior bareback champion and senior saddle bronc co-champion.
Clay added that he’s thought about joining professional circuits beyond high school, but his current ambitions are more oriented to the years directly in front of him.
“I’d love to go pro, but I haven’t thought a whole lot about it,” said Clay. “I’m really thinking about high school rodeo and then maybe amateur rodeo after that. I’m really focused on what’s in front of me.”
At the 2020 Roughstock World Finals, Clay was matched with a horse named Texas Two-Step, who bucked him off in the first round.
At this year’s final, drawing the same horse again, Clay was able to best the animal before proceeding to claim his title.
It was also noted that Clay, being only 14, was the youngest rider in the senior category which normally takes youths 15 and 16 years of age. Clay qualified for the category based on his weight class.
Despite his title, Clay isn’t taking any time to rest on his laurels, as he said he intends to use the off season to continue training.
“This winter, I’d really like to improve on my saddle bronc riding and being able to lift on my grain a little bit better and get my feet moving,” said Clay.
By John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter / Strathmore Times