What do you see when you see this picture?

Internationally famous counselor and speaker Dr. Wayne Dyer is famous for saying “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change” – his reminder to remain soft and open in how you view the world and to be open to changing your mindset.

This immediately came to my mind in relation the story of the well-loved dog that travels with his owners to the Stampede – a family that raises and shows draft horses. The horses are hitched up in a team of eight to parade at the Calgary Stampede each year. It’s a busy time with a lot of activity. This dog, like others, likes to nap. Like most dogs, he has a favorite spot. His favorite spot happens to be in a quiet stall atop fresh woodchips, undoubtedly scenting his slumbers with the woodsy smell of days spent romping through the trees on the ranch that is his home. Pretty darn good life for anyone – man or beast, wouldn’t you think?

The Calgary Stampede posted an image of this napping dog to its Facebook page on a cold Monday morning this January, with the caption “Hit like if this is how you feel this morning.”

What I see when I look at this image: a well-cared-for dog, wearing a bright and clean coat with a clean collar, who has found himself a quiet spot and a bed a fresh wood chips to snuggle up on and have a snooze. The door to this bright, clean stall is open. It’s obviously a horse stall (and an immaculate stall, at that!) The dog is free to come and go, but has found this to be a sweet quiet secret spot for a nap.


Hundreds of people clicked “like”. However, I was surprised to see this image elicited a few critical comments, a sad reminder there are people who may see the world through rage-coloured glasses that do, indeed, change the things they look at.

I ask myself who could imagine this image depicts animal abuse or neglect anymore than a snapshot of solo dog napping on grass? Where is the basis for statements this depicts “a helpless animal confined from family and nature”? What reasonable person would shout “shame on the Stampede” “this photo is just sad” and say “this picture is just wrong”?

At the risk of being accused of wearing rose-coloured glasses, I am baffled at how anyone could choose to view this image that way. I choose to recognize the wisdom in Wayne Dyer’s words and pause to consider before jumping to conclusions. And I will dream wistfully of the smell of woodchips and a soft nap on a cold January morning.




Meet the Calgary Stampede Historical committee

Exploring the Calgary Stampede archives, you will find drawers full of pins and pennants, binders full of postcards and photographs, old accounting books, rodeo and business records, past Royalty outfits carefully stored in dark, dust proof drawers, trophies, bronzes, souvenirs and much, much more. The Stampede’s volunteer Historical committee has been pivotal in collecting and maintaining this incredible collection, which will be brought to the public through the SAM Centre, when it opens in the new Youth Campus.

The Historical committee was formed to preserve, present and promote the history of the Stampede and its affiliates.


Until the SAM Centre opens, the Historical committee is busy bringing the Stampede history to life through their major and travelling display programs. The committee maintains major displays in the BMO Centre, the Scotiabank Saddledome and Mavericks restaurant. Every year, the displays feature a new theme. 2013 told the story of the Stampede OH Ranch, the 8,000 acre working cattle ranch gifted to the Calgary Stampede Foundation by Bill Siebens. The 2014 displays will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the new Grandstand.

During the 10-day Stampede at the Western Oasis, the committee collaborates with the Southern Alberta Pioneers and Their Descendants to create a display celebrating Stampede history.

For the 2012 Centennial, the Historical committee spearheaded a travelling display program, which brought Stampede history to schools, senior homes and Stampede breakfasts around Calgary. This year, the committee is designing new travelling displays that will enable them to bring Stampede history to more people year-round.

In conjunction with the Public Art committee and the assistance of the Government of Canada, the Historical committee commissioned the restoration of eight murals on Stampede Park. Weather and time had taken their toll on the original murals, which were painted in the 1990s. The Stampede was able to commission all of the original artists to paint the new murals, this time on metal rather than wood panels to bolster their longevity.

Mural restoration

One of the restored murals on Stampede Park

Throughout the years, the Historical committee has interviewed many of the people that have had an impact on the Stampede, including past Queens and Princesses, announcers, and Rodeo and Chuckwagon competitors. These oral histories will allow future generations to hear first-hand accounts of the history and evolution of the Calgary Stampede.

“This is an exciting time for our committee,” said Linda Clarkson, Historical committee chair. “We have worked hard over the years to find a way to properly display the archives and we’re so grateful Don Taylor donated the funds for the SAM Centre, which will allow us to bring the Stampede archives to the world. In the meantime, we continue to seek out ways to work with other committees to continue to bring Stampede history to the people of Calgary.”

Stampede School: More Than Your Average Field Trip

If you’re on Stampede Park during the week, you have probably seen them at one point or another: a long trail of brightly garbed children—punctuated by the occasional, more soberly attired adult—slowly making their way from one adventure to the next. These are the kids of Stampede School, the Stampede Foundation’s innovative program which emphasizes hands-on learning with the goal of bridging the ever-widening gap between Calgary’s urban youth and Alberta’s rich rural past, present, and future.

With its intuitive connections with Alberta Education curricula—especially the Social Studies programs—Stampede School is a logical fit for many of Calgary’s elementary and junior high classes.


“Our trip to Stampede School has given [the kids] a greater appreciation of the history of our city and the contributions people have made to it over the years,” says teacher Shane Thompson, whose grade three/four split attended Stampede School last September. “It has helped them understand what it means to have a real sense of pride and that, I think, fits in with what western values are all about.”

While on Stampede Park, students have the opportunity to take a trolley tour, visit the Grain Academy, interact with live animals, sketch various murals and statues, and learn about the cultures of the First Nations of Treaty 7. Each experience is designed through careful consultation with the classroom teacher in order to bring the history of the Stampede and the city to life—and it works: as one student aptly put it, “I learned that learning about history is fun!”

The appeal of this engaging and experiential program is not limited to its curricular synergies. Indeed, Stampede Park has a lot to offer Calgary’s high school students as well. In January, for the first time, we welcomed grade 10 students from Jack James School to week-long Stampede School.

For teacher Ron Robinson, the week “provided [the students] with opportunities they never would have the chance to experience.” Ron teaches the Paced Learning Program (PLP) at Jack James School in southeast Calgary. According to the Calgary Board of Education, PLP meets the needs of students who “exhibit below average cognitive abilities and experience significant difficulty with academic subjects.” Thus, Ron’s high school PLP class tends to focus more on hands-on learning and life skills than on academics, which makes Stampede School a perfect fit.

In addition to enjoying some of our more traditional programming—including a tour of Union Cemetery and a workshop on First Nations culture and dance with Shirley Hill—the kids from Jack James had the chance to take part in several new Stampede School experiences. Horse trainer Muffy Knox gave a presentation on equine education programs at Olds College and career options in equine-related industries, and Executive Sous Chef Darcy Genest gave the students a tour of the Stampede’s commercial kitchens and catering facilities. The students also visited the storage warehouse as part of environmental tour with environment and safety specialist Bina Patel, and crushed fluorescent light bulbs with Dave Hickman.

All in all, this new vein of Stampede School was a definite success. “The activities were fantastic and the students talked about what they did after returning to the school. The tours were excellent as they really like the opportunity to see what is available for them to consider as jobs once they have completed school,” says Ron. “[Stampede School] made learning more rewarding than sitting in the classroom.”

Stampede School is in its eleventh year as a part of Campus Calgary/Open Minds. For more information on our program, please visit foundation.calgarystampede.com/youth-programs/stampede-school, or email Stampede School coordinator Amanda Hansen at ahansen@calgarystampede.com.

Calgary recognized as a tourism hotspot for 2014

Those of us who live here don’t have to be told twice: we live in a great city. It seems to get better every day. A delicious new restaurant to check out. Festivals that celebrate western heritage, performance, engineering, art, music, film and more. And if you need to get away from the city rush, those Rockies are just a stone’s throw away. Here at the Stampede, we are so proud to be a part of it all. The city and the people who live here inspire us every day.

Now Calgarians and even Canadians aren’t the only ones in on our secret. The New York Times ranked Calgary #17 on their list of 52 Places to Go in 2014. Calgary was #9 on The Guardian’s Holiday hotspots: where to go in 2014  and also appeared on vacay.ca’s list of 20 Best Places to Travel in Canada 2014.


So perhaps we can look forward to seeing more international visitors around town. In the meantime, we’ll look forward to seeing all you Calgarians out there-thank you for making this such a great place to live.

Four major horse events scheduled in the new Agrium Western Event Centre

The Calgary Stampede welcomes four major horse events to their new home, the nearly constructed Agrium Western Event Centre. Each event will draw new participants and visitors to the heart of Calgary from across Western Canada to enjoy top horses and riders in action. Collectively, the events will add to the reputation of Stampede Park as a year-round gathering place.

“When we embarked on this journey to build Canada’s premiere agriculture showcase space, these are the types of events we envisioned – big national and international shows that will connect the country to the city and draw guests to Calgary,” said Max Fritz, director of agriculture and western events for the Stampede. “We designed the building to meet their needs and to create exceptional experiences for participants, animals and guests.”


The following four events have signed multi-year agreements with the Stampede to host their major shows and competitions at the Agrium Western Event Centre:

  • Arabian Horse Association Region 17 Championship, July 21 – 26, 2014
  • Team Roping Canada Canadian Finals, September 26 – 28, 2014
  • Canadian Team Cattle Penning Association National Finals, October 9 – 14, 2014
  • Royal West, produced by Rocky Mountain Show Jumping, October 23 – November 1, 2014

showjumping photos

One of the most ambitious capital projects in the Stampede’s history, the Agrium Western Event Centre is an ultra-modern centerpiece for western events and agriculture education, exhibition and industry in southern Alberta. Slated to open in June of this year, the building features 150,000 square feet of dedicated livestock-friendly space. The $61.6 million project was made possible by $25 million contributions from both the Government of Canada and the Province of Alberta, and contributions from our key sponsor, Agrium. Their collective support helps the Stampede elevate its agriculture and outreach programs by creating this world-class facility.

Size and specialized facilities drew the Canadian Team Cattle Penning Association back to the Stampede after several years in other venues. Their championships finals draw up to 1,200 team entries with many as 2,500 spectators in the stands.

“Agrium Western Event Centre is an ideal set-up for us,” says Kent Hillard, vice-president of the association. “Adjacent warm-up and staging spaces ensure the horses and riders can warm up, stand by to watch cattle and then jump into the action. The livestock stalls for pens of cattle right under the stands make for quick transitions between pens. The audience is going to love this modern arena because they can see the action from anywhere, even on the concourse.”

Take note of the dates you’ll want to add to your calendars. These are all must-see events for horse-lovers of all ages.





Winter Showband Performances

Everyone loves watching the Calgary Stampede Showband perform in the Calgary Stampede Parade and on the Saddledome Steps during the 10-day festival, but many don’t know that the Showband rehearses and performs in the community year round. During these cold winter months there are still many opportunities to appreciate the hard work that these 120 students invest in music and performance excellence. Below, learn about the Showband’s winter guard, indoor percussion and concert band activities and show your support at one of their upcoming performances!

Winter Guard 2013Winter guard is an indoor colour guard activity performed to recorded music. The Showband’s colour guard performs at judged competitions throughout Alberta, showcasing their precision and creativity through choreographed dance performance using equipment including the traditional flags, rifles, sabres, and other props. This year, the Showband’s winter guard show is called “A Woman’s World” and takes a humorous twist on this 1955 Good Housekeeping article. Featuring music from strong female artists, the winter guard show pokes fun at antiquated ideas about a woman’s place.

Indoor percussion (also called winter drumline) is an indoor percussion and marching activity featuring the Showband’s marching percussion section (called the battery) and front ensemble (called the pit) which combine music, marching and theatre to capture their audiences’ attention. The Showband’s winter drumline also travels throughout Alberta to compete in judged competitions. This year’s show is called “Storm” and evokes wind, rain, thunder, lightning and destruction.

Drumline 2013Concert band is the one time that you’ll find the Showband sitting still! In concert band, the Showband woodwind, brass and percussion sections perform challenging and diverse music that pushes the envelope of what a marching band traditionally does. In addition to showcasing the multifaceted nature of the Showband, participation in concert band activities contributes to the further education of its members. Over the past decade, the Showband has won the Gold Award for Community Concert Bands from the Alberta International Band Festival (AIBF) eight times and has won the award for Most Outstanding Community Concert Band seven times. This year, the Showband’s concert band repertoire includes “To Tame the Perilous Skies” by David Holsinger, “Giligia” by Alfred Reed, and “The Soul Has Many Motions” by John Mackey.

Concert band 2013

Upcoming performances include:

February 1 – Winter Guard and Drumline Performance in Magrath, AB

Feb. 2 – Concert Band Performance (Community Celebration) at the Rosza Centre

Feb. 8 & 9 – Winter Guard and Indoor Percussion Competition hosted by Bishop Grandin High School

Feb. 22 – Winter Guard performance in Edmonton

Feb. 16 – Arts in Motion (hosted by CS Showband) at Henry Wisewood High School

Feb. 23 – AIBF Performance at the Rosza Centre

Follow the @ShowbandCS on Twitter and Like us on Facebook for more performance details!

New year, new arena record for Stampede’s Princess Warrior

Nothing like starting the new year off with a big bang. Even better when it is THREE big bangs.

With 2014 only 11 days old, Stampede Ranch’s bareback bucking horse, Princess Warrior set her mark in rodeo history with a record-breaking 92-point ride in Denver on Saturday night. The ride happened during the finals of the Colorado versus The World, a unique rodeo showdown format that pits cowboys representing top rodeos like the Calgary Stampede against cowboys representing top rodeos within Colorado.

The 11-year-old mare put on a great performance and tough ride for 20-year-old Richie Champion, a Texan. Richie had two other great rides on Stampede horses to advance into the playoff rounds. Richie paired up with R20 Risque Elsie to score a great 88-point ride, then scored another 88 points on S3 Simply Marvellous, and finally won the championship round on Stampede Princess.

“I was a little behind at the beginning of the ride, but when I caught up with her (Stampede Princess), it felt awesome,” Richie commented to officials later. “That’s the highest score I’ve ever gotten.” Not only his highest score – the highest score ever awarded in Denver.

High scores are nothing new to Princess Warrior. In her seven years on the pro rodeo circuit, she has been a Canadian Finals Rodeo qualifier four times and to the National Finals Rodeo twice. She is living up to her top-notch bucking stock lineage as the daughter of F-51 Fearless Warrior, who qualified many times for the CFR and NFR, and sired by six-time world champion stallion Grated Coconut.

Three horses, three great scores. One arena record.

Pretty great way to start 2014 for Stampede Ranch horses flying the flag south of the border. Looking forward to even more titles and great performances from the 48 snowbird horses who will spending the next two months on the Texas circuit.

Snowbird Bucking Horses

Twas the month before Texas and all through the pens,

All the horses were resting and frolicking with friends.

The halters were hung in the tack room with care

In the hopes that more titles would soon be there.

The broncs were relaxing and being well-fed

With dreams of tossing cowboys with each toss of their heads.


The holiday season was peaceful at the Stampede Ranch near Hanna, Alberta, where the herd of 600 horses is spread through various winter pastures and pens across the 22,000 acre ranch. A good blanket of snow bodes well for a good start to next year’s growing season and watering holes. Almost 75 mares are feasting and awaiting new foals in the spring. Young colts are growing up on the open range, free to run, buck, and learn from their elders as they are gradually introduced to halters, chutes and health checkups. The current stars of the pro rodeo circuit are enjoying some rest and relaxation in the off-season after posting incredible performances throughout 2013 across North America.

As the holiday season wraps up and folks get back to work, Stampede’s top bucking horses get back to work soon, too. But for these elite equine athletes, back to work means a return to warmer climates and green grass. Four dozen of the top bucking horses turn into snowbirds later this month, bound for the Texas rodeo run. Some 72 horses travel to Denver next weekend for the National Western pro rodeo, 48 of which then continue further south, bound for the sunshine of Texas. From late January to late March, these horses will be hanging out in the green pastures of the Lone Star State, with short shuttles to and from rodeo arenas for cameo performance appearances at big pro rodeos in San Antonio, San Angelo, Dallas and Houston.

Stampede Ranch 177

A new event shakes up the Texas routine for these snowbird bucking horses this year. Owing to the world-class strength and consistency of its Born to Buck breeding program, the Stampede has been invited to provide its top horse stars at an inaugural pro rodeo dubbed The American – a one-day, $1 million extravaganza rodeo being held in a football stadium in Arlington, Texas. This blow-out rodeo showcase could attract as many as 100,000 fans in a single day, putting Stampede’s best horses in the spotlight on the biggest stage of their careers.

This Texas circuit marks the first stage in a series of rodeos Stampede stock performs at this year. With a roster of hundreds of active pro rodeo bucking horses carefully managed to compete no more than about 10 times in a year, the Calgary Stampede showcases its stock at more than 120 performances in a year. Its stock trailers log more than 140,000 km annually (more than three times around the globe!). This all requires careful planning for the top care and comfort of our stock, welcoming pastures along the way, precise paperwork for crossing borders, and even a good understanding of preferred horse travel buddies.


We look forward to keeping up to date on the adventures and triumphs of Stampede’s top bucking stars as the season progresses.

Farewell to an icon, a leader, a friend – the late Bill Collins

In his 89 years of adventure and exceptional horsemanship, the late Bill Collins covered many miles and acquired a lot of fans and friends, including royalty. The Calgary Stampede honours and remembers this incredible cowboy icon as news of his passing (on New Year’s Eve 2013) spreads through the Stampede family, the equine community and around the world.


First as a rodeo star and later as a legendary cutting horse trainer/judge, Bill made the cover of Sports Illustrated in 1954 as a rodeo competitor, the only time Calgary Stampede rodeo was featured on the international magazine’s cover. Bill has been inducted into the Order of Canada and rodeo and equine halls of fame across North America. He taught cutting horse clinics worldwide and also served as a judge at competitions throughout North America, Australia, Germany, Switzerland and England.

Responsible for bringing the then-emerging sport of cutting horse to the Calgary Stampede in 1973, Bill had already caught the attention of Prince Philip, who invited Bill to bring the sport to England a decade earlier in 1964. This royal/cowboy friendship continued, with the Prince inviting Bill and his wife Pearl to return to England five years ago – more than 40 years after his first visit – to come for tea at the palace for a friendly catch-up.

Beyond cutting horse, Bill was an all-around horseman who also won the Canadian calf-roping championship title four times in the 1950’s, was a chuckwagon outrider for the Ron Glass and Orville Strandquist outfits, and was an accomplished show jumper.

Calgary Stampede September 20, 1954 X 1460 credit:  Hy Peskin - staff

Bill was undisputedly a celebrity within the global equine world, yet those who met him commented on how he not only taught horsemanship, he also taught people about themselves and epitomized the western values and spirit of integrity.

“Bill was as gracious a man as ever walked the earth. He was one in a billion,” recalls Pete Fraser, chairman of the Stampede’s Western Performance Horse committee.  “There was never a hand he wouldn’t shake, or a youngster he wouldn’t be eager to help become a good competitor and good citizen. Whenever Bill would attend an event, everyone – even the most accomplished and famous riders – would visit him and pay him their greatest respect. He had this ‘Ghandi’ effect where people would just want to be near him.”

The Calgary Stampede honours Bill Collins for his more than 40 years of leadership and volunteer service to our organization. He was awarded a lifetime Calgary Stampede membership in 2007, and is the namesake for the Bill Collins Youth Excellence Awards. He served as the chair of the Western Performance Horse and Cutting Horse committee for years. “Even 25 years after he stepped down as chair of the committee, whenever faced with a challenging situation, every chair since Bill always asked ourselves ‘What would Bill do?’,” says Fraser. “He remains our standard of wisdom and the innate ability to do the right thing.”