By Rob Vogt
Lucas Dunand dreams of being a world champion bull rider.
The Claresholm native is pursuing that dream in Texas, a dream he has had as long as he has been riding. That’s been a long time, too.
He started with mutton bustin’ at the Stavely Amateur rodeo, moved on to steer riding, then bull riding.
“I’ve been pretty much riding my whole life,” Dunand said.
His big chance came in 2021 when he was in Grade 12 at Willow Creek Composite High School.
He finished fourth in high school rodeo, and qualified for the National High School Finals in Lincoln, Nebraska.
That caught the attention of Howard College in Big Spring, Texas. Dunand had made some videos of his rides and was sending them to colleges mostly in Texas. Qualifying for national finals rodeo helped him earn a scholarship.
“It sold them on me being a good bull rider,” Dunand said.
Ultimately, Howard College offered him a full ride scholarship. That included tuition, residence and a meal plan, for two years.
Riding in Texas definitely was eye opening for Dunand.
“The bulls are hard,” he said. “I learned a lot.
The competition in collegiate rodeo was at the highest level.
“I rode against some of the best guys in the world.”
The size of school does not matter, so Dunand’s Howard College competed against the biggest schools in the state such as Texas Tech and Texas A&M.
“I was in the best region by far,” Dunand said. “It definitely made me better.”
Dunand also had to adjust to life in another country, but he did not find it difficult. He noted it was different, the food tastes better down there, and there are a lot more people everywhere.
The biggest difference is there is a lot more bull riding in Texas. He could go to a bull riding every day.
He did go to the Fort Worth Rodeo every weekend, held at the Fort Worth Stockyards.
“It’s like the Calgary Stampede only year round,” he said.
Through it all, he said, sponsors make all the difference.
“We couldn’t do it without sponsorship,” he said.
Dunand prepares a variety of different ways.
He does a lot of stretching and balance training. He also has a barrel welded to a lever to mimic a bucking bull.
“The best practice is getting on practice bulls,” Dunand said. “Just get up there and do it.”
He counts as his role models three Claresholm bull riders – Chad Besplug a Canadian and Calgary Stampede champion; Logan Biever, and Griffin Smeltzer who have both been winning events in Canada and abroad.
“I always looked up to them,” Dunand said. “They’re from around here.
“I thought if they did it, I can do it too.
“I’ve known them my whole life.”
In fact, Besplug and Biever helped Dunand ride his first steer when he was eight years old.
The Smeltzers have also helped him out a lot.
This summer he is back home and working locally. He has also been competing in events in PBR Canada and Bull Riders Canada.
Howard College offers two-year programs, so Dunand has now graduated with an associate degree in agriculture.
He transferred directly to Sol Ross University in Alpine, Texas where he will earn his degree in agri-business, and keep on riding bulls.
“I really like their program,” Dunand said. “They have a great coach.”
Sol Ross University is also where Griffin Smeltzer went. The Claresholm bull rider is quickly making a name for himself in Professional Bull Riders, or PBR.
Moreover, a rider from Sol Ross won the national championship.
Dunand also wants to go pro in the fall, meaning he can ride in Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, or PCRA, events. He plans to stay in Texas and close to home to balance his schooling with his bull riding.
His goals are simple.
“I want to be a professional bull rider,” Dunand said.
His goal this year is to make the college final and win it, then make the National Finals Rodeo and, after college, win a PBR world championship.
Dunand wants to ride as long as he can.
He gets on bulls every day and believes he can make a living riding bulls.
There was self doubt before he went to college, but the experience has definitely made him a lot more confident.
By Rob Vogt