Spring fever for Stampede hotshot horses

After a blockbuster run through Texas earlier in the year, the Stampede Ranch bucking stock continues to make international headlines for their winning ways.

Last weekend in Lea Park, the horses enjoyed the show at one of Canada’s most beautiful rodeo settings – a lush green valley near Marwayne in Alberta’s east-central region. In the saddle bronc event, the highlight was the final round win by American cowboy Tyler Corrington, scoring 84 on the back of well-known Stampede star Sargeant Whitney. The Pro Rodeo website features Tyler and Sargeant Whitney in its weekly highlight. Read their story HERE.

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Sargeant Whitney is an eight-year-old gelding, out of a spirited mare named Frisky Whitney by Stampede stud Majestic Rocket. A seasoned roughstock star, Sargeant Whitney has been to the National Finals Rodeo (NFR) and the Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR), where he was also paired up with Corrington for a great ride.

Not to be outdone by the broncs, the Stampede’s bareback athletes upped the score a couple of notches, taking first and second in the final round.

Airdrie cowboy Russ Hallaby took top billing, scoring an 87 on one of the Stampede’s top stars – the formidable Special Delivery. This eight-year stallion earns a lot of respect both in and out of the arena, and was named Canadian Bareback Horse of the Year for 2012. See him in action in the video, below:

Stampede Reckless Margie took second fiddle by a tight margin, bucking out a score of 85.5 with Clint Laye from Cadogan, Alberta. The nine-year-old mare, out of well-known mare Erotic Margie by legendary Grated Coconut, emerged as a strong star on the pro rodeo circuit early on. She took time off of her athletic career to foal some new colts for the Stampede’s Born to Buck breeding program. Reckless Margie is now back and showing motherhood hasn’t slowed her down in the arena.

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Reckless Margie, Special Delivery, Sargeant Whitney and the other Stampede champs are looking forward to the rest of the season, including putting on a show in their home turf at the Calgary Stampede in a few weeks’ time.

 

Calving Season on OH Ranch

It’s calving season again at the OH Ranch. We learned a lot from last year and have applied those learnings this year which is making calving season much smoother this time around.

This year, we turned the bulls out about a month later, so we haven’t had calves born in -22 degree weather. When a calf is born in those temperatures a lot of them will freeze their ears.

To prepare for calving season this year, our foreman Rob built a hot box—a plywood box with a mesh floor heated by a ceramic heater– for the calves. If a calf is born in extremely cold weather, we bring them in from pasture, put them in the hot box to dry off and get their circulation going. Then we get them back to their mothers. It’s important they get the first drink of colostrum from the mother, which contains natural antibiotics for the calf.

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We also purchased a portable wind fence and calf shelters. Calves can lie down in a straw bed in the calf shelter to get out of the elements and mom can find protection behind the fence.

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We’ve also made changes to calving grounds. This year we are calving on the east side of Steer  flats and as the cows calve we move pairs the  west side  of the flat and then once the calves are old enough we move the pairs to Home Coulee.

So far, 161 calves have been born and we have 47 to go. No major problems to date, so the season is off to a good start.

Agrium Western Event Centre: Information of Interest

After years of planning, 22 months of construction and much anticipation, the keys to Agrium Western Event Centre have now been turned over to the Calgary Stampede.

Our team’s hard work continues to install equipment, commission, clean and prepare the building for our human and animal guests. The building will open with a flourish with a ribbon cutting ceremony and community open house on Saturday, June 21 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Plan to join us in celebrating one of the largest projects in the Stampede’s history.

As we await an inside view, we would like to share some information of interest:

Overall:
-The building took 22 months to build. Sod-turning was July of 2012, completion May 2014.
-The building construction was completed about one month ahead of schedule.
-More than 3,700 cubic metres of concrete were used in its construction.

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-The barrel-vaulted curved trusses span 200 feet across.
-The seating for the arena’s 2,500 guests is more steeply pitched than most, allowing guests to wear cowboy hats without blocking views of those seated behind.
-For added comfort, the arena’s seats are wider than industry standard seats.
-Guests can enjoy a view of the action from any spot on the open concourse, such as while waiting for food at the concessions.
-The arena features five VIP suites with preferred seating, separate washrooms for VIP guests and hosting rooms that offer views of both the arena and the racetrack.

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Rotunda:
 -The rotunda doubles as a classroom for Agrium’s Journey 2050 program – an inquiry-based education program on agricultural sustainability.
-The magnificent rotunda was designed to echo the shape of grain silos.
-Two-hundred-year-old reclaimed wood featured on the wall alongside the rotunda’s escalators was sourced from a former grain elevator.
-The rotunda’s custom floor tiles depict a map of the globe:

  • The tile was cut using a waterjet cutter in Italy. The dark chocolate tile (land) and beige tile (water) were cut as individual pieces and then put together like a puzzle.
  • Each of the five foot by five foot tiles weighs about 70 pounds.
  • This is the largest tile that the manufacturer has ever cut and the largest tile that our tile contractor has ever installed.

Animal-friendly features:
-The ground floor animal areas feature performance-grade dirt or slip-resistant rough concrete flooring on a level surface with no steps or changes in elevation.
-Six-foot-high solid arena walls improve animal and competitor safety, and eliminate visual distractions for animals during competition or performance.
-The larger 250’ x 125’ arena performance floor reduces the need for hard braking during events such as show jumping, creating opportunities for more diverse events to be hosted.
-Under-the-stand holding pens with a traffic lane around keeps animal and foot traffic flowing and herds in place.
-A secondary show-ring or warm-up arena with performance dirt is standard in the adjacent Exhibition Hall, meaning streamlined warm-up, no cold muscles and better performance potential for animals.
-Outside roof overhangs on the south and east portions of the building offer sun and rain protection for herds stalled in outdoor livestock pens.
-Direct access from participant entrance to animal stalls in the Agriculture Building reduces animals crossing traffic.

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Stampede horse shatters arena record in Houston

The Calgary Stampede’s star horses are stamping out their brand all over Texas this season, and none more so than Stampede Warrior. After a string of championship-winning rides already, Stampede Warrior set a new arena record of an astounding 94 points at Rodeo Houston this past Saturday.

Paired with veteran saddle bronc rider Cody DeMoss of Louisiana, Stampede Warrior kicked out a fierce and powerful performance with her signature change-up moves. This sharp mare knows how to put on a show, and her kicks and performances grow stronger and stronger with each time out of the chutes since swapping from the bareback to the saddle bronc event this season. DeMoss was up to the challenge, meeting her moves with expert form. Together, the pairing scored an unbelievable 94 points, shattering the previous Houston arena record believed to be 91. Click HERE to view this historic ride on the Rodeo Houston website.

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(Above) Stampede Warrior and Cody DeMoss shatter the arena record at Rodeo Houston this past weekend. Photo courtesy Rodeo Houston.

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Stampede brings the Big Bucks to inaugural All-American

When it comes to big bucks in rodeo, a $1.1 million payday to a single cowboy is pretty much as big as it gets. When it comes to big bucks from the rough-stock, Calgary Stampede’s horses, particularly its mares, brought a lot of exciting horsepower to the party.

March 2 was an exciting day for the pro rodeo world with the launch of the inaugural All-American Rodeo, a unique event that drew 60,000 people to the football stadium in Arlington, Texas for a one-day showdown rodeo. The Calgary Stampede was invited to bring its best bucking horses, with 14 horses giving strong performances to help cowboys earn a lot of cash.

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(Above) Stampede Warrior makes headlines carrying Wade Sundell to the saddle bronc championship at the inaugural All-American Rodeo in Texas.

Cowboys vying for $100,000 purses in each event were invited by either being the top 10 in the world, or through lead-up qualifying events. The cowboys who got there the hard way were eligible for a $1 million bonus should they defy the odds to win.

And that’s just what bareback rider Richard Champion did, with the help of Stampede horse T-17 Twin Cherry. Richie drew Twin Cherry in the opening round, and this powerful young Calgary mare gave him a ride to the money round, scoring a strong 85 to get him to the final four shoot-out round. One more strong ride won the day, and Richie left Arlington with $1.1 million more green in his jeans.

Another $100,000 was won on the backs of a pair of Stampede mares in the saddle bronc event. One of the world’s top cowboys, Wade Sundell, drew Stampede’s Lynx Mountain in the long round, topping the round with a 90-point ride to earn his way in to the final four shoot-out round. There, he drew Stampede Warrior, another Stampede mare who just swapped from bareback event into the saddle bronc pen a few weeks ago. The pairing topped the board with an outstanding 92-point ride to win Wade the $100,000 purse.

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(Above) Stampede Warrior and Wade Sundell score a 92-point ride to win the saddle bronc championship at the All-American.

Another Stampede rising star launched her name into fame in the saddle bronc event. Texas Cherry was selected as one of four horses to compete in the final round alongside Stampede Warrior, a huge nod of confidence given the calibre of rough stock from across North America at the event. Two jumps and one of the world’s top cowboys hit the dirt, making 60,000 folks in the stands sit up and take note that this young buck is one to watch. Texas Cherry carries high expectations in the rodeo world to begin with, as the daughter of Flavoured Cherry and Grated Coconut, two legendary bucking horses that are now retired into its Born to Buck breeding program on Stampede Ranch by Hanna, Alberta. She will be one to watch as the 2014 season unfolds.

Looking forward to more great performances from Stampede’s champion horses as they shift their focus to Houston later this month.

 

 

Texas-sized Stampede stars dominate in San Antonio

After 14 nights of exciting rodeo action at the San Antonio Pro Rodeo, only 20 bareback and saddle bronc cowboys and roughstock horses qualified for the final championship round for Saturday, Feb 22. Of those 20 horses, 11 were selected from the Calgary Stampede’s herd, an outstanding feat considering how many stock contractors showcased their best stock during the two-week rodeo.

Of the Stampede stars, none shone so brightly as champion stallion S-83 Special Delivery, who was voted the Bareback Horse of the San Antonio Rodeo, adding to his already impressive list of championships.The son of the most decorated bareback horse of all time, Grated Coconut,  and many-time CFR and NFR qualifier mare Zippy Delivery, Special Delivery has already been named the Canadian Bareback Horse of the Year in 2012 and the Calgary Stampede Bareback Horse of the Year in 2013. His performance in San Antonio continues to build his own legend, outlined in this 2013 feature video.

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(Above) Special Delivery delivered a championship-winning 88-point ride for Steven Peebles in the bareback event at San Antonio

Special Delivery paired up with Oregon cowboy Steven Peebles, who arrived at the championship round in first place but needed  a strong ride to secure that. Stampede Delivery more than delivered the goods, offering a challenging powerful ride with his signature switch-up moves. Steven stuck it out, scoring 88 points to secure his championship.

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(Above) Lynx Mountain carries Jacobs Crawley to an 88-point ride in saddle bronc championship event at San Antonio

Not to overshadowed by her Stampede teammate, L-40 Lynx Mountain scored her own 88-point ride in the saddle bronc championship event in a pairing with Texas cowboy Jacobs Crawley. The powerful mare thrilled the crowd with her signature move, rearing up just as the chutes opened to give Jacobs a run for his money. This 13-year-old mare was named Canadian Saddle Bronc Horse of the Year in 2009 and is a favorite of cowboys because of her consistently powerful performances and docile nature before the chutes open.  See her in action in this 2013 feature video.

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(Above) Lynx Mountain thrills the crowd with her signature move, rearing up to explode out of the chutes in San Antonio.

Close behind in the Saddle Bronc championship round was Stampede’s newest switch-hitter, S-66 Stampede Warrior, who scored 87 points with Troy Crowser of South Dakota. Half-sister of Special Delivery, this emerging star mare and progeny of Grated Coconut has earned accolades in the bareback event for the past few years, including getting the nod for both the CFR and NFR in 2013. Stampede Warrior switched into the saddle bronc event where her strength, wily moves and competitive nature are proving just as high-scoring, opening up new avenues for this talented switch-hitter to shine. Check out her bareback reputation in this feature video.

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(Above) Former bareback  star Stampede Warrior shows her versatility, carrying Troy Crowser to an 87-point saddle bronc ride in San Antonio’s championship round.

After dominating the San Antonio Pro Rodeo’s championship roughstock events,  Calgary Stampede bucking horses are now shifting to new pastures and new challenges in San Angelo, Houston and Dallas over the coming weeks. Stay tuned for more great news soon of Stampede stars stamping their brand on more Texas rodeos.

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 (Above) Stampede star roughstock relaxing in the pastures during their two-month-long snowbird stay in Texas for a series of pro rodeos.

 

 

 

Seeking Your Best Buds Horse Tales

There’s a reason Budweiser’s Puppy Love ad was the runaway hit of the unofficial advertisement show-down that is the Superbowl. The puppy’s determination to be with his Clydesdale horse friend and his horse buddies rescuing him from being adopted and taken away makes me giggle while tearing up, each and every time I watch it. Budweiser, an official sponsor of the Calgary Stampede, hit the ball out of the park on this one, our Stampede community and fellow horse-lovers agree.

Here at the Stampede, we think we could all use more Best Buds love stories, so we’re asking  folks to share their Best Buds Horse Tales with us. We’re looking for anyone with a story to tell about a unique horse you love, and the unexpected friend it loves. It may be a dog, a goat, a cow or even a duck. We’re hoping to hear more stories that make the heart swell with wonder over the sensitive and social nature of these wonderful animals.

For example, Troy Flad’s chuckwagon race horse Nipper just isn’t himself without his little buddy, Oops, the miniature horse in tow. So Troy ensures Oops and Nipper are together whenever he travels, keeping both of these best buds happy.

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If you know of a great story, share it with us at a new page within our My.Calgarystampede website, a site created in the centennial year as a repository for sharing great stories within the community. A Best Buds page has been added, and is waiting for your Best Buds Horse Tales.

Submissions can be emailed to mystampede@calgarystampede.com .

Check out the submission guidelines at http://my.calgarystampede.com/share-best-buds.html  or read the stories being submitted at http://my.calgarystampede.com/#best-buds

Looking forward to sharing more Best Buds Horse Love through-out 2014 and beyond.

 

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.

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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.

 

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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

Hell Yah for The Duke

It’s a Calgary Stampede “first” for a famous veteran campaigner horse, that’s also a fun “first” for the National Finals Rodeo.

This year, the world’s top 20 professional saddle bronc riders decided to create their own award for the rough stock horses they know and love. Dubbed the “Hell Yah! Award”, the saddle bronc riders choose a saddle bronc horse that they are all excited to draw because they know they’ll get a great ride, the horse will always do its part to give them a great score, and they’ll likely be in the money. In short, they wanted to award the horse that makes them yell “Hell Yah!” when they draw it.

Famous for his signature rearing up out move out of the chutes, Stampede Ranch's John Wayne wins the inaugural "Hell Yah! Award" from the world's top 10 saddle bronc riders.

Famous for his signature rearing up out move out of the chutes, Stampede Ranch’s John Wayne wins the inaugural “Hell Yah! Award” from the world’s top 10 saddle bronc riders.

In its inaugural year, the Hell Yah! Award goes to John Wayne, a 22-year-old gelding from the Calgary Stampede Ranch. A contingent of saddle bronc riders presented the award at the Stampede’s annual reception party during the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. They said they could not think of a better horse to receive this first award, as John Wayne has been a top bucking horse on the world stage for longer than most of them have been riding, and he always helps them shine.

From left, Stampede 2013 Champion Cort Scheer, Wade Sundell, Calgary Stampede's Keith Marrington, Tyler Corrington and Chet Johnson, presenting Stampede with the Hell Yah Award for bucking horse John Wayne "The Duke".

From left, Stampede 2013 Champion Cort Scheer, Wade Sundell, Calgary Stampede’s Keith Marrington, Tyler Corrington and Chet Johnson, presenting Stampede with the Hell Yah Award for bucking horse John Wayne “The Duke”.

Named John Wayne, the cowboys affectionately know him as “The Duke”, and engraved that nickname on the halter award they presented to Stampede’s Keith Marrington.

John Wayne has been a top horse in the Canadian and world rodeo circuit for 18 years. He has qualified for the Canadian Final Rodeo a total of 17 times, and has been invited to buck at the NFR ten times, including this year. He’s a proven and reliable horse, consistently powerful and strong in the saddle event – known for his signature move of rearing up just as the chutes open to start off each ride with a flourish. Even at age 22, The Duke continues to be the horse the cowboys want to ride.

Bradley Harter rides John Wayne "The Duke" during the 2012 Calgary Stampede.

Bradley Harter rides John Wayne “The Duke” during the 2012 Calgary Stampede.

Outside of the arena, though, John Wayne is  known amongst Stampede Ranch hands as a great “nanny” or “uncle” for the younger horses. His calm demeanor and familiarity with life on the road is invaluable at helping the younger horses get settled into their temporary homes and pastures while travelling to and between rodeos. This veteran campaigner helps the younger horses find the best spots in new pastures for food, water, shelter, and his presence is always calming when the horses are hanging out in the pens before a rodeo.

Stampede Ranch is proud to receive this award from the cowboys who best know great rough stock – the saddle bronc riders themselves. It’s a great honour for a distinguished Duke of a horse who lives up to his nickname in every way.

Cody Taton rides John Wayne The Duke in the saddle bronc event at the 2013 Calgary Stampede.

Cody Taton rides John Wayne The Duke in the saddle bronc event at the 2013 Calgary Stampede.

Shadow Warrior brightens day for world champion contender

Calgary Stampede’s Shadow Warrior brightened up the night for bareback rider Kaycee Field at the National Finals Rodeo Wednesday night.

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(Photo by Mike Copeman. Kaycee Field and Calgary Stampede horse S-65 Shadow Warrior teamed up to win round seven of bareback event at National Finals Rodeo on Wednesday, December 11, 2013)

Kaycee is a two-time defending world champion, gunning for a third championship and to tie the record for three consecutive world titles – a feat hasn’t been done since the mid-1970s. But in the first six rounds of NFR action in Las Vegas, his rides hadn’t been putting him in top spot.

That all changed in round seven when Kaycee drew S-65 Shadow Warrior, a feisty stallion born to many-time CFR and NFR qualifying mare F-51 Fearless Warrior and legendary bareback horse Grated Coconut – the holder of a record six world championship and six Canadian championship titles.

Shadow Warrior has qualified for the Canadian Finals Rodeo three times and this is his first visit to the NFR. He lived up to his champion bloodlines and own reputation as a smart, tough horse on Wednesday night. He burst from the chutes with a powerful and difficult bucking performance. Kaycee was on top of his game as well, and together the pairing scored an 83. That was enough to win the round and put the cowboy back on top of the world standings with three more rounds to go.

Read a bit more about the ride and what it means in Kaycee’s bid for a third consecutive championship in this article.

Dr Temple Grandin shares insights with Calgary Stampede

When Dr. Temple Grandin made a special visit to Calgary on October 30, she inspired a large group of veterinarian medicine students, and spoke to a packed public lecture hall about how she turned her autism and unique way of thinking into a world-famous career transforming livestock handling. Dr. Grandin is an American doctor of animal science and professor at Colorado Statue University, a bestselling author, autistic activistic and consultant in the livestock industry on animal behaviour.  Click HERE to read more on her Calgary presentation.

Growing up with autism, Grandin came to realize that her way of thinking – in visual pictures – is very different from most other people who think in words and language. It is, however, very similar to the way livestock animals experience the world around them.

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New tunnel and reconfigured track are officially open

Yesterday, the Calgary Stampede officially opened its new tunnel and reconfigured track. The tunnel is a pretty incredible piece of infrastructure, that will allow for safe, smooth passage for animal and humans alike between the Barns and the new Agrium Western Event Centre. It also keeps all vehicle traffic off the track and enhances access to the Infield.

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Cutting the ribbon

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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.

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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