You might be surprised when I tell you that my favourite part about the Calgary Stampede is not those 10 special days in July. While I certainly love ‘dem little donuts, cheering on the eight-second rides and the occasional visit to Nashville North, there is so much more to the Calgary Stampede organization that influences Calgarians year round. The cowboy spirit has defined our city’s values, influenced how we do business and will inspire generations to come.
What originally attracted me to the Calgary Stampede is what is at the heart of the exhibition: the animals and particularly, the horses. I was first introduced to the Born to Buck breeding program by the most influential cowgirl in my life, my Nan. Growing up, we would often go check on the wild horses as part of our farm chores. Their grace, strength and gentleness never cease to amaze me. Did you know the Stampede has a 600-head herd of horses–some of the finest rough stock in the world? I am honoured to be an advocate for the Stampede livestock and I truly am excited about promoting the Born to Buck breeding program and Calgary Stampede’s commitment to animal care.
When I went to university, I quickly realized how rare and special it is to be raised by the prairies and guided by the Rocky Mountains. Growing up with access to farmland I learned important lessons about strength of character, humility and capacity for hard work – lessons not always taught in a classroom. This is why one of my favourite Stampede programs is the OH Ranch Education Program. At the authentic working cattle ranch, Grade 4 and 5 students have the opportunity experience a day trip learning essential lessons through life experiences and memorable learning.
Now, as a member of the Royal Trio, I learn of new Calgary Stampede programs and initiatives every day. I’m likely a little biased but my current favourite is our Royalty Riding program. We are graced with four beautiful horses (yes, I have a favourite), an experienced coach, and team of hardworking cowboys and girls. We train year-round to prepare the horses for parades, road trips and grand entries. But most importantly, we ride to connect to our cowgirl roots, which is truly the essence of the Calgary Stampede.