Sexsmith calf roper Lee Rombough in tie-down roping action from the Grande Prairie Stompede on June 2. Rombough is having a steady year on the Pro Rodeo Canada tour with about a dozen events left in the season.
Gordon Anderson / Daily Herald Tribune
Lee Rombough can hear the sound of his tires clicking on the highway as he rides down another asphalt trail to another event.Rombough will take part in the Jasper Heritage Rodeo from Aug. 7-10 before hitching up his blue jeans and heading to the Dawson Creek Exhibition and Stampede event, where he’s slated to dirty the Wranglers this Sunday. Rombough also participated in the Field of Dreams Rodeo in La Crete mid-week but the official results weren’t available.The Sexsmith native is having a solid year on the Pro Rodeo Canada tie-down roping circuit, heading into rodeo action this weekend.“I’ve been able to rope a few more calves this year and stay solid in placing,” Rombough said as the rationale for his success. “I’ve been consistent in winning a lot of second and third-place cheques. I think I’ve won only one first (place) this year and that was in Coronation. Usually, throughout the year, I’ll win three of four rodeos. I’m hoping with the next (bunch) of rodeos, I’ll get a couple of more wins.”Rombough pulled in $1,104.03 for his win in Coronation. He completed the timed roping event in 8.60 seconds. The Coronation Rodeo took place the first weekend of July.The latest numbers from the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association (CPRA) Finning Pro Canada Tour website has Rombough tied for 7th in the tie-down roping category with $11,614.12 earned in 27 events. Rombough is also fifth in the tie-down roping standings in the first-year Maple Leaf Circuit with $6,285.91 earned.In the CPRA money standings Rombough is ahead of Calgary Stampede participants like Tuf Cooper and Matt Shiozawa. Shiozawa finished second in the $100,000 Showdown Sunday tie-down roping event at this year’s Stampede while Cooper won Showdown Sunday in 2018.That’s a couple of guys with serious weight behind their names and brash accomplishments on the CV.While the cowboys in tie-down have a pretty good idea how a calf will react coming out of the chute—there is ‘a book’ on most calves— but they’re animals, thus they aren’t predictable like a straight line. Through nearly a decade of roping, Rombough is learning how to react to both the expected and unexpected nature of his event.“The biggest thing is staying positive throughout the year and (not let) a bad run pull you down,” Rombough said. “I’m a lot older now and maybe the maturity in my roping, this is my ninth year as a professional cowboy, so I’m a lot more seasoned. I used to go on sporadic wins, and now every (second) or third rodeo I’m winning a cheque.”With the exception of team-roping, all events on the rodeo circuit are solo pursuits by nature but behind the performance floor the guys know each other and develop friendships. It’s gotta be a weird feeling to pal around with a competitor but—at the same time—you wanna take the food from his baby’s mouth with a great performance on the dirt floor.Despite the harsh nature of competition for cash, friendships and bonds are made during the down time, with social libations readily available in those down times, for those who choose to indulge. The 34-year-old spends his free time with like-minded rustlers.“It’s like any sport, it’s being around positive guys,” Rombough said. “It’s the people you talk to and who you’re around, that’s the biggest part of the game. We get a lot of time between runs—sometimes 16 hours—and you might spend 10 of it in the truck. You can mentally beat yourself up pretty fast. You have to stay on that positive mindset like ‘hey, you’re going to win tomorrow’ and it’s always looking forward and never looking back.” The wheels spinRombough has logged 16, 000 kilometres in his truck since June 1, traipsing through Alberta, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia and back. Sometimes, he travels with other competitors but most of the time he goes solo with his wife and kids.Rombough wiped the dirt off his Strathmore Stampede adventures on Monday, just before packing another suitcase for the La Crete rodeo on Wednesday and Thursday.“That’s a lot of time thinking and sitting in the truck,” Rombough said, while admitting the fuel bill doesn’t stray far from his mind. “(Roping) is pretty much all we think about, the guys at that elite level and that’s what you focus your mind on. You try hard to not focus on the last run you had but (focus on) the rodeo you’re going to.”