MEDICINE HAT, AB — When the Canalta Centre first opened its doors in 2015, it never crossed Jared Parsonage's mind whether it would host a professional bull riding event.
"I didn't know when they built it if it would ever do something like that," said the 26-year-old, calling from his home in Maple Creek, SK. "It's a beautiful building and set up good for bull riding. I think it'll be awesome."
In what's a first of its kind for the 7,100-seat facility, the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) is making landfall in Medicine Hat for 'Thunderbuck in the Badlands' on Saturday night.
Canada's most daring will attempt surviving eight seconds on some of the most athletic bulls in the country. The top 10 riders from the long-round will qualify for the short-round, with a chance to take home a nice paycheck and some valuable points in the national standings.
Parsonage, a five-year bull riding professional, is the local favorite on the line-up.
"It's about as close to hometown bull riding as I can get, for sure," he said. "I know a ton of people around there and know lots of people that are going to be there."
Parsonage has already amassed a strong PBR campaign, taking top spot in Lethbridge in early March, along with a first-place finish in Halifax on June 1. Along with his two victories, he's finished inside the top-five in six of his last 10 events.
Entering the weekend with a successful ride rate of 51%, Parsonage says he's established a strong level of confidence from his years of experience.
"You get older and wiser, per se," he continued, noting bull riding has strong similarities to any other sport. "You get some experience under your belt and learn the ins and outs, that's a big part. It doesn't matter if it's the PBR or the rodeos, whatever it is, you learn how to do your job to the best of your ability and take advantage of the opportunities ahead of you."
Those opportunities have helped him climb the national ranking ladder, now occupying first overall in the PBR Canada standings.
Parsonage says he's proud of the way he's risen to the top, having shuffled through the top five over the last few years.
"You don't do something like this, this dangerous and everything, if you don't expect to be the best, right?" he added. "A person always wants to be the best. When you're number one, at the end of the year you want to continue being number one."
Along with a heavy PBR Canada schedule, Parsonage is also rotating through numerous Rodeo Canada competitions. Prior to the show at the Canalta Centre, Parsonage is set to ride in the Wainwright Pro Rodeo at 1:00 p.m.
After his ride, he'll drive southbound to the Gas City and begin his pre-ride routine all over again.
"I feel like I'm probably at the age and the stage of my career where the next couple years will be my very best," he said. "I want to take advantage of it."
This is Parsonage's second of three pro events in Medicine Hat, having finished fourth at the annual Broncs & Honky Tonks Spring Rodeo in early April. He's also setting his sights on the Medicine Hat Exhibition and Stampede in July.
"They're all important to me, you always want to win and want to be first," he continued. "But it's always nice to do good in front of faces you know that are watching you."
Tickets for 'Thunderbuck in the Badlands' can be purchased by clicking here.
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