the great white north

Levi Simpson and Logan Cullen Make $6K in Lucrative Maple Leaf Circuit Weekend
Canadian’s Levi Simpson and Logan Cullen picked up steam in the Maple Leaf Circuit after adding $6,179.83 to their earnings across four circuit rodeos.
Levi Simpson and Logan Cullen at Wainwright Stampede 2024. | Chantelle Bowman photo

The 2016 World Champion Header Levi Simpson and the young gun heeler Logan Cullen have officially kicked off their ProRodeo season after adding a total of $6,179.83 to each of their earnings from June 21-24, 2024, in the Maple Leaf Circuit.

Then, the duo continued their streak by pocketing another $1,654 each after placing third at the Midnight Days Pro Rodeo in Fort Macleod, Alberta, which ran June 25­–26, 2024.  

“It was a good weekend,” said Simpson, 36, who has been competing in rope horse futurities and Royal Crown ropings. “We had a terrible start to our year last year. I think by the first of July, we had won $54, so it’s a little better to have a good start. Last weekend there were four good rodeos, and we managed to capture four steers and win a little bit out of each one. It damn sure helps add up some points.”

The runs

Though Simpson and Cullen didn’t have any first-place finishes on the weekend, they stayed consistent and placed at each of the four rodeos they entered: the Sundre (Alberta) Pro Rodeo, the Wainwright (Alberta) Stampede, the Bassano (Alberta) Pro Rodeo and the Guy Weadick Rodeo in High River, Alberta. 

“I’d say we drew just the middle of the road at all of them,” said Cullen, 21, who comes from a family of commercial fishermen in British Columbia. “They were just good steers, and we had a chance at all the ones we got to rope. We drew a strong one in the second round at Wainwright that I felt like we made a good run on. At High River, as well, we drew a strong one that I felt like we made a good run. We caught them and it just worked our way—we got the ball rolling.” 

With the Canadian rodeo season just taking off, the steers are still on the fresher side, giving team ropers the advantage of seeing what they are and how they pattern. 

“The steers have been pretty good as a whole up here this year so far,” said Simpson, who resides in Ponoka, Alberta. “We drew a couple strong ones and made a couple good runs on them and managed to get paid a little bit out of those. Then, on the ones that we drew that were a little bit better, we definitely made some sharper runs which definitely helped, as well.”

Simpson and Cullen finished third at the Sundre Pro Rodeo with a 5.4-second run, worth $2,617.23 a man; second at the Bassano Pro Rodeo with a 4.8-second run, worth $1,729.60 a man; sixth at the Guy Weadick Rodeo with a 6.9-second run, worth $985.12 a man; and they finished fifth in the second round at the Wainwright Stampede with a 5.8-second run, adding $847.88 to both of their earnings. 

Looking at the standings

Though the Maple Leaf Circuit Standings are not officially updated as of June 26, Simpson and Cullen are sitting inside the top 10, both sitting in the No.7 position with $3,126.44 in earnings, unofficially.

With their big weekend hit in the circuit, Cullen, who hails from Courtenay, British Columbia, is eyeing what could be his first-ever Maple Leaf Circuit qualification in 2024.

“I’ve never actually gotten to rope at the Circuit finals up here, but I’m hoping we can get into it,” said Cullen, who spends most of his winters in Arizona. “It gives a good head start to the year if we can get in and do some good there before the summer.” 

READ: World Champ Chat: Levi Simpson and Jeremy Buhler

Simpson, who was last seen hitting the ProRodeo trail hard in 2022 with five-time NFR qualifier heeler Ryan Motes, was just short of qualifying for both the Maple Leaf Circuit and the Canadian Finals in 2023. 

“Last year we almost made the Canadian Finals, I think I ended up one out, but we did not do good at any Maple Leaf Circuit Finals rodeos, so we’re hoping we can try and catch a few more at all of those rodeos,” said Simpson, a two-time NFR qualifier. “It would definitely be a big advantage to make it to the circuit finals. I think it’s in November and there’s a chance to win some good money there, which that all counts towards the next year’s standings, so it will be a pretty good head start.”

Were Simpson to find success at this year’s Finals, he notes, it would set him up for an even better start to his 2025 season, especially if he qualified to rope at the NFR Open in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

“There are quite a few guys that do good at those that it’s hard to catch up to them when they have a $5,000 to $6,000 head start going into the spring,” Simpson said. “If a guy can go up the Circuit Finals and do good, then you have a chance to go down to the NFR Open and play for some decent money.”

On tour

What made the weekend more of a success for the team was the Sundre Pro Rodeo and the Wainwright Stampede also counting toward the SMS Equipment Pro Tour standings. Simpson is currently fourth in the heading and Cullen is sitting No. 1, each with 260 points. 

“The tour rodeos are good because the last rodeo of the year is [August’s] Tour Finals in Armstrong (British Columbia), and it’s kind of a big one to get into because it’s 10 teams,” Cullen explained. “It’s a one-header and it pays really good. It’s an advantage to get in and rope at that at the end of the year, especially.”

Return of the rope horses

This year, Simpson is cracking out Streakin Jose, aka “Jose,” the 12-year-old gelding he purchased from Kaleb Driggers that has been sitting at home since 2022 due to ringbone.

Levi Simpson's Streakin Jose

“I’ve been rehabbing him and getting him ready and finally got him back,” Simpson said. “That was kind of his first weekend back. Most of the last year I rode a 4-year-old. It was nice to get on something that you can just back in the box, and you didn’t have to worry about what was going to happen—if he was going to spook at the crowd or what he was going to do. You can kind of rely on him a little more. That made a big difference.”

Still, Simpson knows he needs to keep an eye on the horse’s condition and plans to call upon Jose strategically.

“I went through the fusing process with it and a year and a half later he is good enough to ride again,” Simpson said. “I don’t know how long it will last or all it entails. It’s kind of a new experience for me, but we will see what happens. We have a fairly big week this week with Ponoka and some of the rodeos, so I’ll try to utilize him at the big ones and then see if I can give him some time off after that.”

As for Cullen, he is heeling on CB Flashin Wizard, a 12-year-old bay gelding he calls “Wiz.”

Logan Cullen's CB Flashin Wizard

“I didn’t get to ride him last year because he was hurt,” Cullen said. “He’s easy, and I know what he’s going to do every time. He’s not the most fun to ride around, but he gets to the end of the cow and lets me throw it fast.”

2024 Season Planning

With rodeos like the Williams Lake (British Columbia) Stampede and the Ponoka (Alberta) Stampede coming up and both being SMS Equipment Pro Tour rodeos, plus the Cowboy Christmas run getting underway, Simpson and Cullen are looking forward to keeping the ball rolling and being mentally prepared. 

“We’re just staying up here over the Fourth,” Cullen said. “I’m looking forward to hopefully doing some good. I just try to keep things simple. I just have to back in there and, whenever Levi turns them, I just try to heel them. I don’t really think about much else; just have fun and enjoy it.”

READ: Learning to Overcome with Levi Simpson

Meanwhile, Simpson plans to keep working on client horses for the futurity scene while ProRodeoing, with hopes of the younger ones stepping up to become ProRodeo caliber head horses. 

“Ideally our plan is to try and win as much as we can throughout the year,” Simpson said. “I’m going to start doing more of that showing stuff and hopefully some of these young ones turn into good enough horses that maybe one day you’ll see me back on the other side of the border.” 

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