For bull rider Tyler Pankewitz, things have changed in his chosen profession, and more so in his life with wife Megan, and their new baby boy, Tayze Wayne Pankewitz.
“That is the biggest difference for wanting to go rodeoing or not now. It’s tough when you’ve got two things you love.”
Luckily for “Pank” (as he’s known by most of us on the road), he planned ahead, buying his family a motor home for the summer trips when they have to leave their home in Ponoka, Alta.
Megan and Tyler were married in May of 2009 and had already spent a lot of their time together on the road. Now that she’s back to work, she won’t be on the road as much.
“When she gets time off work, we will set a few weekends aside and give’r as a family.” Tyler said.
But when Pankewitz is on the road with the guys, it’s not always the best of times back home. Like the time when Pank took Megan’s Ford Flex to Spokane, Washington.
In fact, while we were talking on the phone for this interview, she called to talk to him about it. Pank sheepishly replied to me after a minute or so being gone, “Megan called and gave me shit for taking her vehicle to Spokane and getting a rock chip in it.”
As his defense, he added with a laugh, “I can’t control other vehicles throwing rocks at me.”
What he can control though is his bull riding career, a career that’s seen some of the highest points and some of the lowest.
When asked about the highlight of his career so far, Tyler said it was easily his 2007 PBR Canadian National Championship. “It’s the biggest thing I’ve ever done in bull riding, the best year I’ve ever had, and the best I’ve ever ridden.”
Even with a Canadian Championship, there was still room for improvement. “It seemed like I won only at PBR events though, because at the rodeos I’d ride good but couldn’t win, or I’d get bucked off at seven seconds.”
Because of his 2007 Canadian Championship, Pank was invited up to the big leagues, the PBR’s Built Ford Tough Series (BFTS). “At the beginning of the year I was winning quite a bit.”
Unfortunately though, it didn’t last as long as he would have liked as he started to fall off more than he rode and he got into a slump.
“It got to my head a little bit, then they kicked me off the tour. Once you get into a slump there, it’s tough to get out cause you’re getting on the best bulls every day.“
Since then though, Tyler Pankewitz has qualified for the PBR Canadian Finals a total of six times and the Canadian Finals Rodeo on four separate occasions.
The 2012 CFR was his fourth appearance but he almost didn’t make it after a scary wreck in Langham, Sask. in August where he came down hard off of the Calgary Stampede bull, Pawn Star.
It didn’t look bad at first and nothing happened until they were nearly home.
“At Camrose I finally made the guys pull over and told them I don’t care if they leave me, I gotta get into a hospital, there’s something wrong with me.” Tyler told.
Once there, he learned there was a third degree tear of his spleen. “Then they shipped me up to Edmonton and I had to stay in there for four days.”
Those three months off didn’t affect his fourth CFR appearance as he rode his first two bulls and picked up about a $7,400 cheque. Since the CFR and his sixth appearance at the PBR Canadian Finals, there’s been some hanging out at home to do with 15-month old Tayze.
“He’s starting to say a few words now like ‘oh shit.’ He must have heard me say it before. He knows the dogs’ names, kitty, Mom and Dad, and Megan. He calls Megan ‘Megan’ when she’s not listening to him,” Tyler added jokingly.
“I try to call her Mom around him. He calls her Mom most of the time but then if she doesn’t listen, I think it’s like when I’m talking to her and she doesn’t listen so I go — ‘Megan!’ So I think he just goes ‘Megan!’ too.”
With a beautiful wife and son supporting him, 28-year old Tyler has many big plans yet in the rodeo arena before he’s done. Like winning a Canadian Championship in the CPRA and that ever-elusive $100,000 bonus at the Calgary Stampede.
It’s up to Pank and like he said. “You set your own future.”