This morning I called Jeremy Buhler to talk about heel loop mechanics for an upcoming article in The Team Roping Journal, and we got to talking about rodeo life and doing battle for a spot in the top 15. Look for his article on getting comfortable with your loop in our November issue, and in the meantime get a feel for how the Canadian world champs are fairing on the rodeo road.
Chelsea Shaffer: Is this the best spot you’ve ever been in at this point of the regular season?
Levi Simpson: This is by far the best spot. To be able to be inside the top 15 is awesome. I’m not comfortable—it’s still a long ways til Oct. 1. Anything can happen, but it definitely makes it a lot nicer not trying to catch up.
Jeremy Buhler: This is probably the best spot we’ve been in. Last year we were, well, I don’t know—we had a lot more winning to do.
CS: I’ve heard guys say winning the World changes everything and nothing. How has the experience been for you?
LS: I’ve had a few good things come from it, for sure. It can change things quite a bit for you, but on the same hand, as far as being a competitor every day it changes nothing. You start over at zero as soon as you enter the next rodeo.
JB: Ha, that’s really pretty accurate. It changes everything and changes nothing at the same time. The biggest thing is the pressure that you put on yourself before you make it. You think that it’s your entire life’s work. Now we’ve made it, we have a little more confidence. Every year you’re out here, you realize how long the year actually is. There are teams you see along the way that won’t have much won at Great Falls and they’ll go on a runaway. You quit worrying about the deadline.
CS: For the last eight months, you’ve been backing into the box with an announcer saying, “Here are your reigning world champions…”. Is that still strange to hear?
LS: Every now and then I will hear it sometimes, somewhere. But it was crazy the first time I heard it. What’s the coolest is at home at the Canadian rodeos, they’ll announce it or have us in the grand entry, and they’ll say what we did for team roping. That’s the coolest part about it.
JB: It used to be real weird at the start. It was—yeah—like a dream at first. Now it’s just their job to talk, I’m more worried about catching two feet.
CS: What horses do you have on the road?
LS: I just have Stetson, my big sorrel horse. He’s 10 this year. The older horse, Frasier, I rode him at Ponoka and Edmonton. But he lives at Coulee Equine, a fitness center. He’s there year-round so that when I need him he’s handy.
JB: I spelled Rick James out for a few weeks, but I have him back now. I had my bay I call Fabio. He’s back at home but I’ll bring him back out to jackpot on in the Northwest some.
CS: You hit the northern rodeos most of the year–staying so close to your families must be pretty nice.
LS: All of the winter my wife and daughter stay in Arizona with me, and this spring we stayed close to the house. They came with me all of July, and the first of August we stayed home for a week. It’s been awesome to be able to hang out with them and involve them in everything.
JB: We have it better than a lot of guys. The longest I was out—we were gone all of July. And that’s the longest I’ve been away from home in the summer run. Now, I think we’re gone for 10 days and home for two or three.
CS: You’re leading the Canadian standings at this point. Where have you done well north of the border?
LS: We’ve done well at the tour rodeos up there. Ponoka and Edmonton are the two biggest of the year and we won Ponoka and split at Edmonton. There’s quite a few guys roping well up there, and it’s hard to expect to stay on top there. There’s guys catching up.
JB: Ponoka and the K-Days Rodeo in Edmonton. Other than that we’ve just picked away. Really it’s just been those two big hits and some placings.
CS: The K-Days Rodeo had equal money in the team roping, and it seems like there are more rodeos up there moving in that direction.
LS: Team roping in Canada is going awesome right now—with the Finals adding equal money for the first time. It will be outstanding. Overall the whole association is doing things for the better for the whole sport. Everyone is on the same page now. It used to be people were looking out for themselves, and now they’re trying to make the whole association better.
JB: The CPRA is making baby steps. That rodeo in Edmonton was huge having even money at the biggest one-header we go to all year. They have a tour finals—the Calgary Grassroots Finals—with even money. The rodeos that start now, they’re getting more of it. It’s only been 20 years these guys have been fighting for it.