Prior to COVID, a five-year-old bull named Switchback from Vernon’s Coyote Creek Rodeo Company off Westside Road wasn’t on the rodeo radar.
Coyote Creek’s Chad Marchand sent Switchback out to Alberta to work with legendary Canadian stock contractor Duane Kesler to become rodeo ready.
Kesler sent the 1,600-pound beast back to the Okanagan.
“He wasn’t on par with the other bulls so Duane sent him back for us to work on him some more,” said Marchand.
The work has paid off as Switchback, now seven, has been selected to be one of the bulls the cowboys will try to ride for eight seconds at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, set for Dec. 2-11.
The NFR is one of the world’s largest rodeos on one of its biggest stages.
“He’s a pretty nice bull and does get ridden,” said Marchand. “But he can also be scary. He’s a really good bull.”
The world’s best cowboys will be competing and at least one will get the opportunity to sit atop Switchback and hope to stay aboard for eight seconds to score points. If Switchback does well in his first outing, there’s a chance, said Marchand, he’ll get a chance at a second show.
Marchand and his company are no strangers to the NFR. He and his father have helped raise four bulls, with Kesler’s help, that have competed in Vegas. Flight Plan was a two-time performer at the NFL, Whiskey Jack – the Canadian champion bucking bull in 2012 – White Devil and Magic Show have also been selected to perform south of the board. Another Coyote Creek bull, Double Dragon, was chosen for the Canadian Finals Rodeo.
“It’s what we shoot for,” said Marchand of having animals selected to major events. “The NFR is different than the PBR (Profession Bull Riders) in that the cowboys choose the bulls for the NFR. That’s the rodeo aspect we aim for. We want to have our bulls selected.”