A Prince Albert bull rider is now a Canadian champion.
Tanner Byrne won the Pofessional Bull-Riding Canadian National Finals Saturday in Saskatoon, marking the beginning of a new era for the Byrne family.
As Tanner won his first national title, his cousin Scott Byrne retired after 20 years of professional bullfighting.
“It was amazing to win a Canadian championship,” Tanner said, “but it was more amazing to do it when it was (Scott’s) last time in the arena.”
Best friends, Tanner said it was hard to see his cousin go, but it was something else to see him go out on his own terms.
“I’m so proud of everything he did in and out of the arena,” Tanner said.
Instead of living by a particular word of wisdom from Scott, Tanner says he takes everything his cousin says to heart.
“He’s been there, done that, and knows what it’s like to be at the top of your game.”
Tanner entered finals with a strong lead and managed to stay on his bull on the first and second day. Even though he was bucked off on the third day, he was the highest ranked Canadian in the top 10, earning him the title of Canadian champion.
“I wish I could have finished it off and won the finals also, but I’m just happy to win the Canadian championship and get that title.”
Born into a family of bull riders and bull fighters, the goal of winning the Canadian championship has always been on his mind.
All that falls away once he’s on the bull, however.
“By the time it comes to get on that bull you can’t be thinking about championships or titles. It’s just one jump at a time. All I can do is focus and try to relax as much as I could, and take it as another bull another day.”
Tanner’s now taking some well-deserved down time as the bull riding circuit enters a brief off-season. Before heading back out on tour, which includes a stop at Madison Square Garden in New York, he’ll be at home with his family.
A new Byrne will enter the scene in February, when Tanner and his wife have their first child. He said all he’s focused on right now is getting ready for the baby.