After two years of leading the regular season only to fall short at the Canadian Finals, brothers Dawson and Dillon Graham of Wainwright, Alberta, triumphed at the 2022 Canadian Finals Rodeo in Red Deer, Alberta, Nov. 2–6, to earn the championship title.
“We began the year with the goal of getting into the top 30 in the PRCA standings and winning a Canadian championship,” said Dawson, 23. “We came up short the last two years and this was the year we wanted to do it.”
After the 2022 PRCA season, Dawson finished at No. 30 in the heading standings and Dillon at No. 33 in the heeling, both earning a total of $60,086 in PRCA earnings. Each brother was No. 1 in the CPRA standings with $40,933.33 in season earnings heading into the CFR.
They won Olds, Alberta’s Oldstoberfest; Merritt, British Columbia’s Nicola Valley Pro Rodeo; Armstrong, British Columbia’s IPE and Stampede; Taber, Alberta’s Harvest Round-up; the Okotoks (Alberta) Pro Rodeo and the Lethbridge (Alberta) Pro Rodeo.
“We had a great year,” said Dillon, 21. “It just felt like everything came together. We caught way more than we ever have, and we caught at the right places.”
With two second-place finishes and one round win at the CFR, Dawson and Dillon finished fifth in the average with $23,220.19 in round earnings and $1,436.30 in aggregate earnings. They finished the year with $131,179.67 in total earnings, and the brothers walked away with the buckles, saddles, and championship titles.
“It’s just something that you always look forward to,” Dawson said of the event. “We’d go to the dummy ropings there when we were kids. The first buckle I won was dummy roping there in 2004. It’s kind of been a highlight. It’s a family thing. Mom and dad, they took us there every year when we were little even through all the bad roads just to go watch it. Canada is not that nice of a place in November and December, but I don’t think we ever missed a year going to it. So, just to finally accomplish something that we’ve been going to forever and have the whole family there is huge.”
At the CFR, Dawson rode Chex Yer Gun, a 10-year-old palomino gelding he calls Outlaw. Dillon rode DT Sly Axel Dunnit (“Axel”), a 12-year-old brown gelding he acquired from J.D. Yates. In fact, both brothers relied heavily on horses from the Yates family throughout the season.
“I became a family with those guys,” Dillon said. “I owe a lot of my success to J.D.. I stayed there for a while at his place and helped him and, you know, he helped me.”
There is a strong bond between the brothers, and both agree that there is no other person with whom they would rather rope or win a championship than each other.
“At the end of the day, family is all you got,” Dillon said. “We have a great relationship. We never fight. We never get mad at each other. We both know we’re trying to do the best for each other.”
Now that the brothers have won the Canadian championship, they will strive to win the world.
“We’re going to go south and go to all the winter rodeos and hopefully have a good winter and try to make the National Finals,” Dillon said.