Champion steer rider snags glittering buckle despite broken foot


Crippled by a busted foot, a local rodeo rider still managed to make his eight seconds – and secure the coveted silver and gold champion’s buckle at the Teulon Rodeo.

Zander Kummer, 16, is a rising young rodeo star here in Killarney, and is currently ranked #2 in the Heartland Rodeo Association (HRA) standings for Junior Steer Riders.

But when a mountain of steer landed on him during the recent rodeo in Teulon, Manitoba, the Killarney School student knew he was in trouble.

“It was my first ride on Saturday, and the steer fell down, on my left foot,” said Kummer. “I got a re-ride, with 75 points, and I ended up winning my buckle for Teulon. But I had hurt my foot. The steer weighed around 800 to 1,000 pounds, and he kind of laid his whole body on me. I’ve seen it happen to a lot of people, but I didn’t think it would happen to me. But I made the eight seconds, and won the ride with a broken foot.”

A trip to the local hospital after the rides confirmed that Kummer had indeed sustained some partial fractures.

“Mom took me to Stonewall hospital,” he said. “I pretty much walked to the car. They took X-rays, and three bones across the top of my foot were broken. I had my cowboy boots on, and they didn’t have to cut that one off, which was good, because they are $300 a pair. I’ve got a cast now up to my shin.

The good – and bad – news is that Kummer is on the narrow list of riders slated for the Heartland rodeo finals to be held in Grunthal on September 14. 

It’s a chance to maybe win the title, and add a third buckle to the two he already owns. 

By that time he should have lost the cast, he said, and be sporting a ‘boot’ over his foot. And he is still hoping to climb into the chute and onto the steer.

“I’ll get all healed up,” he said, a couple days after the weighty event. “It’s all right now. I’m happy to win, but I’m mad too, because my foot hurts. I asked the doctor if I could ride, and they said it’s up to me if I ride. It’s possible I could still ride in the finals.”

Kummer only took up rodeo riding recently. His family was living in Airdrie, Alberta, just west of Calgary, where at the age of 14 he began to attend rodeo schools at Olds, Alberta.

“I started riding, but not competing,” he said. “It’s not really in the family, but my mom’s uncle was a team roper.” 

Last summer the Kummers moved to Killarney, where they have family connections, and Zander decided to crank it up a notch and enter competition on a steer’s back.

“My first rodeo was at the annual rodeo in Teulon, last year, when I was 15,” he said. “I placed fifth in Junior Steer Riding. This year I placed first at Richer, and got my first buckle.”

In fact, Kummer has been making a name for himself all over the province this past summer, capturing second place in the Junior Steer Riding at Killarney’s Rippin’ & Roarin’ Bull Riding in May; a third place at Miami rodeo; and another first at Gilbert Plains. In Arborg he was tied for the top, at McCreary he made sixth, and in Eriksdale rodeo he was tied for third place. 

Zander Kummer is currently ranked #2 in the HRA standings for junior steer riding, with 225 points. The lead rider is Damon Tritthart, just ahead of him with 245 points.

Both young men are scheduled to be part of the eight eligible riders taking their place at Grunthal next month for the rodeo finals. Kummer is holding up hope he can still compete, despite his injured foot.

Winnings run from the hundreds of dollars, and up over a thousand, plus there’s always the lure of the big fancy buckle. 

Zander’s parents, Mario and Shawna, have been surprised, and pleased by their son’s success. A local uncle with cattle also helps him work on his skills.

“Rodeo is new to the whole family, and my parents are proud of me,” said Kummer. “They also think I’m crazy. Now they ask me how much money I made. They come to most of my events.”

 Local auctioneer and livestock mart owner Allan Munroe is right behind him. Not only does he financially sponsor Zander for his rodeo career, he also hires him to help out at the Killarney Livestock Auction, sorting and penning cattle on Monday sale days, and to help him sometimes at home on his cattle ranch north of town.

“There’s not many kids who would come out and help like he does,” said Munroe. “He’s a great kid, and he’s doing well.”

In addition, local horse breeders Cam and Crystal Mason also support Kummer, and ‘treat him like a son.’ They often drive to rodeo events together, when Zander’s parents are unable to go, and have helped him move forward as a rodeo competitor.

“Cam is a pick-up man in the arena, on horseback, and Crystal is a barrel racer,” said Kummer

So what drives a 16-year-old to get up onto a wild steer and get bucked around like a piece of steak?

“I think it’s enjoying the rodeo, the people, and the organizers,” said Kummer. “When you are behind the chute, around eight people come up and talk to you, and calm you down. They do this for everyone. Everyone is friends. And the adrenalin rush you get on the steer, and winning, is pretty good too.”

And what does it feel like up on the steer’s back?

“It’s the same as bull riding, but it’s a younger, less strong animal,” said Kummer. “There’s no saddle. There’s a flank rope that helps the animal – a bull or a steer – to buck. And there’s a bull rope that goes around the animal’s chest area. It has a handle that you pull. The aim is to stay on for eight seconds, and the more bucks you get, the more points you score. I just go and do my best, and try to stay on.”

And if his foot heals up fine, and he gets back into the chute to compete, plans are to move onto the big guns in 2020, he said.“Next year I’m going into bulls,” said Kummer. “I feel like I’m getting to the point where I am ready to deal with the size difference between steers and bulls. I think I’m ready for it. I’m maybe going to riding school this winter to train up for it.”

CHAMPION JUNIOR STEER RIDER – Zander (Alexander) Kummer, 16, a champion rodeo rider, poses with the steers at auctioneer Allan Munroe’s ranch north of town. That’s his first rodeo belt buckle he’s wearing with pride – between his leather chaps – which he won this year at the Richer Rough Stock Rodeo on August 9, 10 and 11. He went on to nail another one at Teulon on August 24 – and also broke his foot when a steer rolled onto him in the dirt. Slated as #2 in the HRA junior steer riding standings, he is one of eight top competitors short-listed to ride in the finals at Grunthal on September 14 and 15.