Doing the right thing: steer disqualification

Sometimes our greatest moments come at a time of our greatest challenge, as we saw during the incredible efforts to overcome floods and host an outstanding Stampede 2013. Sometimes our greatest moments come when we are challenged to make the call and do the right thing, as we are now experiencing in relation to the disqualification of a steer from the UFA Steer Classic in 2013.

The Calgary Stampede is committed to doing the right thing for all of our human and animal competitors. We want to run good clean events and our people are charged with ensuring the safety, health and integrity of all those involved in our competitive and programs. In recent years, the Stampede has enhanced its animal policies, protocols and procedures, including drug-testing of all chuckwagon horses and barrel racing horses. This year we decided in advance of the finals to drug-test the top two steers at the UFA Steer Classic competition.

As some may know, the winning steer becomes the property of the Calgary Stampede in order to provide quality beef for a fundraising event later in the season. So you can see why our rules state that competition animals must be free of drug residues and are subject to blood tests.

When the Grand Champion steer blood samples revealed the presence of two separate drugs – Ibuprofen and Flunixin –we made the decision to disqualify. This was a clear, simple and straightforward decision given our rules. The disqualified  steer was returned it to its owners and we promoted the Reserve Champion to the title of Grand Champion. Disqualification was the right thing to do. There is no doubt in my mind and the minds of those involved from the Stampede.

We also did the right thing by the disqualified steer’s owners. We shared the detailed findings of the blood tests with the individuals involved. We agreed to maintain this information in confidence while we continued discussions and while they shared their perspectives and information with the Stampede’s Agricultural Review Panel. This is a serious issue and we respect their reputations as producers, so we maintained confidentiality during this process.

We also respect the reputations and contributions of our volunteers. Dr. Don Miller, Chair of the Steer Committee, has provided outstanding leadership and service throughout this situation, all the while facing  accusations of impropriety and even conflict of interest in media and social forums by those involved with the disqualified steer.

Dr. Miller is a long-time veterinarian and well-respected member of the Alberta agricultural community. There was no conflict of interest when the Stampede requested that the steer be cared for at the farm of Dr. Don Miller pending the results of the drug tests. This had no bearing on the drug test outcome as the blood samples had already been taken. And, there was no conflict of interest involving a competition entry by Dr. Miller’s son, as has been suggested. His son’s steer was entered in a different steer class, not in direct competition with the disqualified steer. The fact is that the Alberta livestock exhibition community is very entwined, with volunteers, judges and entrants often coming from the same families or and ranches.

The Agricultural Review Panel heard all the information available and upheld the disqualification and our actions in this situation. Furthermore, the review confirmed that Dr. Miller’s actions and reputation were beyond reproach, and at no time was there a conflict of interest involving Dr. Miller or members of his family.

Bottom line –our officials, employees and volunteers did the right thing through a challenging situation.

We recognize that doing the right thing may not be popular with everyone – especially affected directly -  but the Calgary Stampede will continue to implement rules and practices that ensure fair and safe animal competitions and we will come down solidly and decisively upon violations. We believe this is what our exhibitors, stakeholders and public would expect of us.

The OH Ranch crew heads to High River to help with flood relief

On June 20th when southern Alberta was hit by flood waters, the OH Ranch was lucky. We lost one bridge in the north pasture and the yard bridge will need to be repaired. There are a few cattle crossing points that we lost and we had to clear away some debris—but other than that, we were very fortunate.

Our neighbours in High River were hit hard.

Flood damage

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Artist Ranch Project tours the OH Ranch

Over the weekend, five Alberta-based artists visited the historic Calgary Stampede  OH Ranch to gather inspiration for the 2014 Western Art Show.


The visit was part of the Artist Ranch Project, “an initiative designed to create a discourse about western heritage and values for the 21st century by inviting contemporary artists to examine what it means to experience Western Canada from a traditional perspective” and now in its sixth year.

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What a Year!!!

I can not believe a year has come and gone. Feels like just yesterday Catherine, Danielle, Amber, and I were crowed the 2013 Royalty. Now the 2014 competition has begun and only a few weeks left of our rein.

Stampede was such an amazing experience, but a well needed break was very nice to have. After a few days off to sleep and unwind we were right back at it with rodeos, events, fundraisers, and tourism conferences. One event we were asked to attend was a Youth Ag-Summit. 120 youth from 20 different countries all gathered in Calgary AB to discuss the topic “Feeding a Hungry Planet.” It was great to see the youth of the wold so excited to discuss farming and ranching and working together to try to solve a problem. With the population of the world growing so rapidly, being able to feed everyone will become a concern. Everyone was so excited to be in Calgary and visit the Stampede Grounds. My Stampede sisters and I had the honor of white hatting everyone at the Summit. They were all thrilled to be given a real cowboy hat!

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Calgary Stampede bucking stock on the road

The late, hazy days of summer are anything but lazy for the Calgary Stampede Ranch bucking stock and ranch staff. During a six-week period from the beginning of August to early September, the Stampede horses compete on the northwest rodeo run through Washington, Oregon and British Columbia.

The Calgary Stampede hits the road in the first few days of August with 48 horses and a handful of bulls for these late-season rodeos. Touring with so many animals enables the Stampede Ranch to provide enough stock for rodeo while scheduling plenty of rest days in pastures for each animal between competitions.

Top bucking stock is a big draw for the cowboys –  half of a cowboy’s score comes from how well the horse or bull performs.

Hermiston, Oregon

The first NW stop in Hermiston, Oregon, was a tremendous success for Stampede horses, which carried cowboys to the top spot in both bareback and saddle bronc events. Clint Lay scored an 86 mark to win the bareback event aboard T-5 Till I C U. Brad Harter rode L-40 Lynx Mountain to an 88 to win saddle bronc.

Lynx Mountain (L-40) 06  2-0768

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Come to Stampede Park to check out Beakerhead!

The Stampede is very proud to be sponsoring Beakerhead–a new festival for anyone who likes merry-go-rounds, gothic rocketships, people in white lab coats doing back flips and robots (and really, who doesn’t?) The festival kicked off today in Stampede Park and is “a smash-up of art, creativity and engineering.”Jumpsuits

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Animal Q and A launched on Stampede website

Animals are at the heart of the Calgary Stampede, and have been for its entire 101-year history. Stampede events and programs involve horses, cattle, bulls and other livestock, showcasing how society interacts with animals. A lot has changed in 101 years, both from a livestock handling point of view and the public’s connection with livestock animals.


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Calgary Stampede inducted into the Ellensburg Rodeo Hall of Fame

The Calgary Stampede has been a part of the Ellensburg Rodeo for the past 30 years, bringing our world-class bucking horses to their rodeo and developing partnerships that have deepened into friendships.

We were humbled to receive not one, but three Calgary Stampede-related inductions into the Ellensburg Hall of Fame this year.

Ellensberg Hall of Fame

photo courtesy of Barbara Landis

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