Dawson Hay – Hereford, Alberta ($100,311)
First-time WNFR qualifier
It’s been over 20 years since there has been a Canadian named Hay ride at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. Now it’s the next generation that is getting their turn.
Dawson Hay, middle son of Rod and Shelley Hay, is making his first trip to Las Vegas to compete. He was at last year’s NFR to collect his saddle bronc riding rookie of the year buckle and awards.
This year, he is there competing for a world championship, something that his father and his uncle Denny Hay always wanted. Denny qualified for the NFR four times. Rod, nearly set a record at 20.
The last time that Rod rode in the Thomas and Mack Center, Dawson was 10 years old. He is the middle of three boys that includes Logan and Devon. Logan and Dawson both qualified for this year’s Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR) and each got a round win.
Dawson had a good winter this year and built up enough money to have a cushion in the standings that would become very important. He had knee surgery last spring and missed three months of competition.
The first of April he had dropped to 14th in the standings. He came back in June and started working his way up the standings. A good Fourth-of-July “Cowboy Christmas” run helped too. He tied for the win at the Cody Stampede and moved up to 11th.
He will enter his first NFR in 10th place as a 21-year-old with $100,311 in regular season earnings. Dawson is following his father’s career path, but he is anxious to get out there and make a name for himself.
A highlight of last year was having his parents come to the San Antonio Stock Show Rodeo to watch him compete. It was the first time that Dawson had qualified for the $1 million competition and a rodeo that helped Rod get to the NFR in 2004. Dawson won $10,000 there this year.
While he is making a name for himself, he still depends on his mom and dad for advice and encouragement. With Rod Hay’s experience in the arena, his knowledge is unsurpassed. Dawson says he can break a ride down better than anyone he knows and explain exactly what needs to be done to make it better.
This has been a memorable year across the board for the family. Along with Logan and Dawson qualifying for the CFR, and Dawson’s NFR bid they got to all be on hand for Rod’s induction into the Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame. Now they are going to cap it off with 10 nights in Vegas at the NFR.