Mel Hyland exemplifies the true spirit of the professional cowboy. At the height of his career, he dominated Canadian rodeo’s saddle bronc riding event as the undisputed king of bronc riders in North America in the 1970s and 1980s.
After turning professional at age nineteen, he finished seventh in the world in his rookie year and his career soared from there. He qualified for the National Rodeo Finals in saddle bronc riding every single year over a ten-year period and ranked in the top-ten from 1967 to 1984. He seized the Canadian championship a total of four times (1967, 1972, 1979, and 1982) and the world championship twice (1972 and 1976), earning the honour of being the only person in rodeo history to have ever won the world championship and Canadian championship in the same year (1972).
Hyland won every major rodeo in North America at least once and acquired career earnings in excess of $300,000 during his 22-year career. In 1981 he was named Cowboy of the Year, the highest honour given in Canadian rodeo.
Mel’s rodeo career began at an early age. He was able to ride in full size saddle at age four and graduated to steer riding at age six. He was ten when he paid his first entry fee to compete. His early coaching sessions were given by his uncle, Keith Hyland, a former Canadian champion. Retired since 1984, Mel later ran saddle bronco schools, colt starting and horsemanship clinics.