Rodeo announcers often quip “if you look up ‘cowboy’ in the dictionary, you’ll find a picture of Kyle Thomson.”
You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who disagreed. Kyle Thomson is truly a working man of the West. He can rope, ride broncs, wrestle steers, ranch, and even do stunts in the movies.
In the sport of pro rodeo, Thomson has just added his name to an elite group of cowboys who show their skills in a variety of events. Just a few weeks after earning his fourth Canadian All-Around Championship, Thomson headed to Las Vegas to be presented with the 2012 Linderman Award by the PRCA.
In Canada, a rodeo contestant has to win at least three cheques in both a timed and riding event to be eligible for All-Around honours. On the world scene, the Linderman award takes that a notch higher. To qualify for the award, a cowboy must earn at least a $1,000 in each of three events and that must include at least one roughstock and one timed event.
According to the PRCA Media Guide, the award is designed to honour versatility. In a highly specialized age of the sport, it recognizes winners who can be considered the greatest of all-around hands.
The award is named in honour of Bill Linderman, who was a world champion in timed and roughstock events. He died in a plane crash in Salt Lake City in 1965, and the first Linderman award was presented the following year.
Thomson, a third generation rodeo competitor who lives at Lundbreck in southern Alberta, has qualified for the Canadian Finals Rodeo in both his signature events. He’s made it to Edmonton nine times in the saddle bronc riding and once in steer wrestling. But this year, he entered the team roping to make a run for the PRCA prestigious award.
“At the start of the year, I was roping with (bull rider) Ty Elliott,” explained the 34-year-old hand. “We placed at Luxton, and then we entered quite a few rodeos and nothing happened. So we quit entering, and actually (veteran rodeo reporter) Dwayne Erickson phoned me up and said ‘you’re one of just two guys that’s got money in three events.’”
Realizing he had a shot at the Linderman award, Thomson got back on the phone, and made the extra effort to keep going in the team roping.
“I picked up a few partners. I roped with Baillie Milan, Josey Young, and then Lyle Hewitt phoned me up for Pincher Creek, because he’s from around there. I thought ‘oh wow, he’s a good header, I’m glad he phoned.’ So I just started entering him, and told him later he was entered up,” he chuckled.
“Me and Lyle ended up winning second at Okotoks. I’ve got to thank all the guys I’ve roped with, and my sponsors for helping me get down the road. It was good to get it done.”
In the end, Thomson earned $28,441 in saddle bronc riding for the world season, $5,102 in steer wrestling, and $1,230 as a team roping heeler.
Thomson, who grew up in Black Diamond, becomes the fourth Canadian to earn the title; first captured by the legendary Kenny McLean, then Tom Eirikson, and also Bernie Smyth.
Trying to enter and travel to rodeos in two events is a big enough challenge, but adding in a third one, which requires a partner, is a big job. But for this rodeoing rancher, it’s all part of what being a cowboy means to him.
“It’s a goal of mine to do (the All-Around) every year. I love rodeoing so much I’d probably do it without awards.”
But winning the Linderman honour, and being able to take his wife to Las Vegas to accept it, definitely qualifies as rewarding.”
“I’m pretty proud of that. The more I get thinking about it, that’s a pretty cool deal, and I’m pretty happy with that.”