Newly Crowned and Now Two-Time PBR Canada Champion Dakota Buttar Looks Back at Record Breaking National Finals
By: Covy Moore Thursday, November 23, 2023 @ 3:18 PM
AIRDRIE, Alta. – Dakota Buttar fought through the pain of a less-than-healed broken collarbone to record a 4-for-4 performance to win the 2023 PBR Canada Championship, the second national title of his career.
Six weeks ago, Buttar broke his collarbone en route to the event win in Grande Prairie, Alberta, the penultimate Cup Series event of 2023, propelling him to the top of the standings. As a result, the Eatonia, Saskatchewan rider was nervous knowing the healing process wasn’t completely done heading to Rogers Place.
“It was pretty up and down,” Buttar said of his recovery. “Three weeks in, I went and got x-rays, and nothing had really changed much. It started stressing me out and worrying me that it wouldn’t be ready to go. It was feeling good, but it wasn’t healing much.”
“I got with sports medicine and started working on other things, trying to strengthen the muscles around it. It got me feeling really good. The Thursday before Finals, I got another x-ray, and it had some good healing on it.”
“It felt good knowing that it was coming along, but it wasn’t at 100 percent,” Buttar continued. “I knew the bone had some strength to it and if I did my job things should be just fine.”
The past two years Buttar has entered the PBR Canada National Finals as the season leader, but carrying injuries and being forced to watch titles slip away has given him a rough taste of what the competition inside Rogers Place can offer.
With a slight change in how he approaches the event, and not worrying about the bigger picture, Buttar said he felt those bad omens from years past were well in the rear view mirror.
“It was a lot nicer going up with that day between,” Buttar said of the downtime competitors had given the Ty Pozzobon Sportsman’s Banquet being held a day earlier than in past season. “We are normally packing a lot into three days, so it was nice getting up there and going to the Pozzobon dinner, hung out the next day, and got lots of rest.”
“This year I wanted to change my attitude, I wanted to make the most of everything I could. This year I didn’t double enter anything, I just went and got on the bull I had drawn and made the best of it. That's how I went into Finals too, just do my job on every bull I got. That is all I could do.”
“You don’t really know when you go that long without getting on a bull how your body might hold up,” Buttar said of his return to competition at the National Finals. “Ten years ago when I won my rodeo titles, I took time off going into Finals. And I have always felt like if I was fresh going into Finals that everything would be working properly. Breaking my collar bone in Grande Prairie might have been a blessing in disguise because I would have seen a lot of bulls these last few weeks with CFR and Saskatoon and some other events. It worked out though, I went in fresh, healthy, and really craving it.”
During the first night of competition, Buttar drew Young Blood from the X6 Ranches in Round 1, making the requisite 8 for 84.75 points to set himself up for a solid pick in the second round.
Visibly in pain after his first bull, Buttar tended to the shoulder, which he says was just muscle soreness from not using them much as of late, and not the bone itself.
With an early pick in the first of three bull drafts. Buttar selected Slim Wilson’s High Voltage, an excellent red bucker from the Gleichen, Alberta contractor.
“Getting that first one down, and getting those muscles worked after definitely helped,” Buttar said.
With some of the first picks each round, Buttar was looking for bulls that he could manage, but would still deliver scores to keep him in the title hunt. He admits that in previous years at Rogers Place, while fighting injury, he was always looking for the round winners.
“It is a strategy for sure,” Buttar explained. “These last couple years when I was losing it, I was going in for the round win every day, not getting them all rode. I was always looking for the strongest bulls in each pen. This year I was going with the bulls where you know you can ride them and play the midfield and keep getting a solid pick.”
“That was where my head was at this year. There was another bull that I think I could have gotten a round win on, but I went another direction and kept plucking away at the average. All those points were the most important I felt.”
With that strategy in mind, Buttar says he was there to win the Finals, and didn’t pay attention to the standings.
Always a team player, he admitted that he was consistently hoping his championship rivals could ride all their bulls too, and make it a riding competition, singling out runner up Nick Tetz who fell just one bull short of claiming his second Canadian title.
“I honestly didn’t look at the standings once that weekend. My goal that weekend was to win the Finals, if I kept that goal in mind, I knew the year end would work out the way they were supposed to.”
“I really didn’t go in looking at a title win, I went in looking for the event win. I don’t want to see anyone else buck off. I can only control what I do. I want Nick to go ride his bulls, and I wanted to get mine rode too. It did come down to the very last bull, but the game plan never changed. Focus on this one and get them rode.”
The eventual winner of the National Finals, Tyler Craig, was the only rider to best Buttar in overall points, claiming his first ever PBR Canada Cup Series win at its biggest event. Buttar added that Craig, along with the success the entire field saw this year is a testament to the next generation and the talent that Canada has.
“Tyler has really turned it on this year, not even just this weekend but all year long. He has ridden a pile of good bulls. It doesn't matter whether they are into his hand or away from his hand, when you get on all these Finals buckers like he did this weekend, he rode phenomenal.”
“He even handled the Bull of the Year, Built Tough, dead easy.”
And with an event that saw nearly 60% of bulls covered, which tied for the highest riding percentage across all individual PBR events worldwide alongside an event in Brazil, Buttar says it cements Canada as a force on the global stage.
“I think this weekend proved that Canada has as good of talent as anywhere in the world,” Buttar said. “There weren’t no slouches either, these are our Finals bulls. This was our weekend to prove what talent we have up here, both bull and rider wise. It will only make bull riding in Canada that much better from here on out.”
“It is good to see,” the two-time Champion added. “We have the older guys like Aaron [Roy] and Jared [Parsonage] who are kicking ass, then there is the new wave of younger guys who are going to keep the sport going well past when we are all done. It has been cool to see because I have seen these guys grow up from steer riding and junior bull riding, and now riding up here with us, it's been really cool. Nick Tetz, Coy Robbins, Chad Hartman, all these kids. It’s awesome.”
With a capacity crowd in attendance at the PBR configuration of Rogers Place, the fans were absolutely raucous, which the 30-year-old rider says only helps keep the entire field pumped up, himself included.
“I feel like it helps me when everybody is into it, and loud in that building. I know it fires me up, it definitely does not bring you down. When you see people that excited for the guys ahead of you, you just want to be the next guy to get them amped up like that too.”
Buttar’s success in Canada also earned him a Top 5 position in the Challenger Series Global standings, earning him a handful of PBR Unleash The Beast event opportunities in 2024.
And while he plans on heading south again, he doesn't necessarily think he will be putting too much stock into making the PBR World Finals, especially with great money and a ton of events on tap in Canada in 2024.
“It is something I never thought about,” Buttar explained. “I didn’t plan on going back down. It was a surprise when they told me I had those events. I have them, I am going to use them. Just going to wait for this collarbone to get figured out, which is looking like 12 weeks, which puts us into February already.”
“There isn’t much going on up here then, so I will probably go then and see. I don't have a ton of intentions on making a World Finals push, but if I did end up in a spot of contention, I would push for it. With the World Finals being when they are now, you don’t really need to miss too much in Canada to go.”
When asked what he is going to do with the roughly $121,000 he took home from Edmonton in 2023, he said “nothing silly.”
“Shoot I don’t know yet. Might invest in my bucking bulls a little more, might look at some other breed bulls, add some cows to the herd. Pay off some bills,” he laughed.
“It is going to get put to good use, I won’t be blowing it on silly stuff. I have a wife and family now, it’s not just me, there are lots of others to think about too.”
And with that $100,000 bonus, Buttar said he is extremely thankful to see the efforts that have been going into the PBR in Canada, and that the work of Jason Davidson and his 3D Bullriding team have not gone unnoticed by the entire PBR roster of bull riders.
“Looking back in 2016, I don't think any of us thought we would be riding for the money we are right now. We are all very thankful for Jason, and the people who work with him and 3D getting this money to where it is right now. We don't even have to go very far to make a decent living in Canada.”
“It means a lot to all of us. Even with these kids coming up, if they don't want to go South, they can stay home and make similarly big money. That is pretty awesome that we get these opportunities. There are a lot of guys before us who never got to ride for this kind of money. It is really special.”
For the now two-time PBR Canadian Champion, he said the reality of the win finally sank in on the ride home, ironically when the adrenaline was finally wearing off and the pain in his shoulder hit.
But he heaped it on his team of supporters from his wife Caitlyn to his circle of friends inside and outside the PBR, and even competitor Brock Radford who was on the back of the chutes for every single out Buttar had in Edmonton, despite having turned out of the event as an alternate.
“I can't thank everyone enough,” Buttar exclaimed. “We are an individual sport, but I don’t ever feel like I am alone. With all my family, friends, and the support system I have, I don’t think anyone will ever know how much it means. From someone pulling my rope one day, to the texts after asking about how I am doing, where I am going, wishing me good luck. It all means so much.”
“Brock was pulling my rope on that last one, and he said he was so nervous that he didn’t want to pull my rope cause his hands were so sweaty and he didn’t want to slick up my rope. It’s an individual sport but people don’t understand how much we really root for each other in those situations. I feel like we have a tighter bond than any other sports team does, hands down.”