A young bull rider was bucked off and fatally injured by a bull at a rodeo in Îyârhe (Stoney) Nakoda First Nation on July 2.
Homer Holloway, a member of the Nation’s Canada Day Rodeo committee, said the 19-year-old rider, Seth Saulteaux from Ermineskin Cree Nation, was hit in the back of the head by the bull’s horn after he was thrown during competition at the Chiniki Rodeo Grounds.
“He had a helmet on. The helmet didn’t even crack or anything, but the bull rider was helped up and he walked out of the arena, went behind the bucket chutes and that’s where he collapsed,” said Holloway.
Medical care was administered on site and an ambulance was dispatched, however, Saulteaux succumbed to his injuries before he could be taken to hospital.
“What EMS were told they were responding to was a head injury,” said Pedro Ramirez, AHS EMS public information officer. “But things started to decline for the patient. It turned into a cardiac arrest and he unfortunately died.”
Holloway said the incident occurred around 5 p.m. Saulteaux was one of the final participants on the bull riding card and the four-day rodeo was a qualifying stop on the Indian National Finals Rodeo (INFR) tour.
“It just happened really fast and it was unexpected,” said Holloway. “It’s tragic.”
The 19-year-old was a regular on the Alberta bull riding circuit and also competed in steer riding in his adolescent years. He is ranked 22nd in the INFR bull riding standings in the ongoing 2023 rodeo tour.
Friends, family, and others in the rodeo community have turned to social media to express grief and share memories and condolences.
“What can I see about this guy, no words can explain the joy he brought into peoples lives. Including mine,” said friend Tryon Simon in a Facebook post. “He was such a good person and better all … an even better friend.”
As a stock contractor who raises bulls and horses for competition, Holloway understands better than most the risk competitors take when getting in the arena with an animal.
“When a cowboy gets hurt and I own that animal that hurt him, it’s sad,” he said.
In this case, the bull Saulteaux was riding was brought to the rodeo from another stock contractor in northern Alberta, according to Holloway, who added all rodeo events come with inherent risk.
“We’re playing with animals,” he said. “It can happen anytime — even a barrel racer can have an accident. We’re playing with animals. It’s a tragedy, it happened. The animal was just doing its job.”