Alberta brothers building on family's legacy in the world of bronc riding

“Our dad never pushed it on us. We played a lot of other sports growing up, but we just fell in love with it. We all wanted to be bronc riders.”

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Their dad Rod is an eight-time Canadian saddle bronc champion. He won the prestigious Calgary Stampede four times, qualified for the National Finals Rodeo a whopping 20 times and will go down as one of the best bronc riders ever.

For Logan and Dawson Hay, there’s never been any pressure to follow in their father’s footsteps.

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But they are — and in their own way.

It’s always been about carrying on the family legacy in the sport that’s truly in their blood that started with their grandfather Fred Hay and passed down to their dad, uncle Denny and now them.

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“For the first couple years, that’s all the announcers ever talked about. We’re Rod’s boys, Denny’s nephews,” said Logan.

“In a way, we had a name already because of that, but we wanted to carve our own path and prove that we were meant to be here. We’ve done a lot of things on our own, and now we’re just adding onto the family legacy.”

Bronc riding in the blood

The Hay brothers are certainly forging their own path. And their youngest brother, Devon, isn’t far behind as he is working his way up to the professional ranks.

These third-generation cowboys are dominating the saddle bronc riding circuit. Both brothers are among the best in the world.

In 2022, Logan and Dawson finished 1-2 at the Calgary Stampede, and last year Dawson took top honours. Logan has one NFR appearance under his belt in 2022, and Dawson has four.

This weekend, they are taking part in Kid Rock’s Rock N Rodeo competition at AT&T Stadium in Dallas.

It’s a first-of-its-kind event, as the Hay brothers are part of six teams competing in a bracket-style competition. The winning team takes home a cash prize of $1 million.

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“Ever since I could walk, I was going to rodeos. That was my life ever since I was born,” said Logan.

“Our dad never pushed it on us. We played a lot of other sports growing up, but we just fell in love with it. We all wanted to be bronc riders.

“We had the best coach in the world as a dad. We had the best advice and the best resources we could’ve asked for.”

Just because bronc riding was in their blood, that didn’t mean it came easy for them. The Hay brothers had to work extra hard at it. There were a lot of tough days at the family ranch near Wildwood, about 120 kilometres west of Edmonton.

Logan Hay
Logan Hay of Wildwood took the big prize in Saddle Bronc at the Calgary Stampede Rodeo in 2022. Mike Drew/Postmedia Photo by Mike Drew /edm

“When we were little, we got on steers, and I was horrible at that. I got on 20 steers, and broke my arm twice,” laughed Logan.

“In December of 2013, I got on my first bronc, and I was hooked, but it certainly didn’t come fast. Dawson and I looked like we were hopeless in the first couple of years. We definitely didn’t look like prodigies.”

Still, the Hay brothers stuck with it. Like many cowboys do, they took a lot of bumps and bruises along the way — and still do — but they worked their way onto the pro circuit and have achieved a lot of success along the way.

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In 2020, Logan finished in the top 25 in the world and two years later, he finished in the top three. Dawson finished seventh in the world in 2022 and last year was 11th.

They’ve competed in multiple Calgary Stampedes and NFRs together.

Rodeo life together

What makes it even more special is often when they’re settling into the chute and getting ready to go on a wild eight-second ride, they can look just a few chutes down and see their sibling.

They can experience the rodeo life together, and also support each other through all the ups and downs.

“Our goals in this sport continue to get bigger and bigger, and it’s nice to be able to share these experiences together,’ said Dawson.

“Sometimes you have to take a step back and see some of those things and really appreciate them. We’ve been able to ride and compete in the NFR. It’s the biggest rodeo and hardest rodeo to qualify for and you look down the chutes and see your brother preparing — holy, we’ve come a long ways.”

Hay family
Devon Hay, left to right, Logan Hay, Shelley Hay, Rod Hay and Dawson Hay pose for a photo in Wildwood, AB, in this June 28, 2022 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO – Hay Family Photo by Al Charest /Postmedia

For their father, if injuries didn’t put an end to his illustrious career, who knows, he may be still competing beside them, but Rod is happy to see his sons competing in the sport that has brought so much love, joy and happiness to their family.

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“I am very proud of the boys. The third one (Devon) is coming up as well. He’s following in their footsteps, too,” said Rod.

“To see how hard they’ve worked since they were youngsters and going through all the stuff it takes to become a professional bronc rider, it’s nice to see them have success.”

So how has it been watching them grow through the sport for the proud papa?

“They’re fun to watch, but it can be rough watching them, because the sport is so dangerous,” said Rod.

“Definitely in the beginning times, when they were just learning, there’s a lot of things that can go wrong, and you definitely worry more about your kids. But now, I just love watching them. They’ve put so much work in, and they have such great attitudes, and I think they’re doing better at it than I did at their age.

“It makes it extra special for me to see how much they love what they do, and they’re achieving so much together and they’re just reaching the height of their careers. They’re just having a ball.”

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Rod, Denny and Logan Hay
Denny Hay (left) with brother Rod Hay (right) and Rod’s son Logan Hay (red hat) after Denny won the Calgary Stampede in 1998. Photo by Shannon Oatway /Calgary Herald

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