7 Things Musicians (and everyone else) Should Know About Being Around Horses

Since 1985, the Calgary Stampede Showriders have been accompanying the Stampede Showband in parades as a mounted colour guard made up of 12 young riders and their horses. This pairing of horses and marching musicians is unusual and a lot of prep work goes into making sure that the horses are comfortable with the band.

Every year, the Showband and Showriders rehearse together to help desensitize the horses to the craziness of parades, and teach the Showband how to act around horses. It’s a great opportunity for the mostly city-dwelling band members to learn more about agriculture and animal care, especially since the Showband spends a lot of time around animals during the 10-day Calgary Stampede. Here’s a peek at what they learned from the Showriders this year!

Showrider Hannah Braun, 15 years old, and her horse Tokahee teach a group of Showband members about performing around horses.

Showrider Hannah Braun and her horse Tokahee giving a group of Showband members tips for being around horses.

 1. Don’t run through the barns

You don’t want to turn a corner and run into or startle a horse. Don’t jump for the same reason.

2. Use your inside voice

Shouting and screaming can upset horses. Horses are reactive and pick up on the energy of other people an animals around them.

3. Stay a horse length away from a horse’s back-end

That way, even if the horse kicks out, you’ll avoid getting kicked.

Showband member Cassie Groves got to bond with Tohakee, petting the horse from the side so as not to startle the horse.

Showband member Cassie Groves pets Tokahee from the side so that she doesn’t startle the horse.

 4. Ask permission before approaching horses or offering them treats

Sometimes, like with the Showrider “Stand and Pat” events, it’s obvious that you’re welcome to approach a horse. If you’re walking through the barns or see a horse on its own, ask the owner if it’s okay to pet the horse. This is the best way to avoid getting bitten!

5. Approach horses from the side

Horses have blind spots directly in front and behind them. A horse can see you best if you approach from the side and pet their shoulders and back. Plus, if you approach a horse head-on and try to pet its face, it might think your fingers are treats – yikes!

6. Never play instruments while you’re walking through the barns

Sudden movements and unexpected loud noises can startle horses and they might react to the sight of shiny instruments and noise from musical instruments more than you’d expect.

 7. Ask questions

The Showriders love to answer questions about their horses. They spend a lot of time caring for their horses to keep them healthy and happy and are eager to share what they know with others, especially if it helps to keep their horses and others safe.

 

Stampede Ranches Busy with Babies

Life is always interesting at the Stampede Ranch, but springtime is something special.

“It’s my favourite time of the year,” says Calgary Stampede ranch manager Tyler Kraft. “After a long winter, spring comes and the grass starts to turn green. But the best part is the babies.”

The little ones started to make their arrivals on the Stampede’s 22,000 acre property near Hanna, Alberta mid-April. Still in full baby-mode, Kraft and ranch hand Charlie McKinnon are busy watching over the new moms and pregnant mares, which have been brought up close to the ranch buildings for the season. While hands-on with the mares if they need to be, the men know the horses would sooner just be left alone to give birth. And it’s never long before the foals are up, active and – hopefully – hungry.

Newly born foal with mom at the Stampede Ranch

Newly born foal with mom at the Stampede Ranch

“The most crucial thing early on is making sure they are up on their feet and getting the essential first nutrients from their mother’s milk,” says Kraft, adding “they’ll stay with their mothers for about eight months before they are weaned.”

With bucking in their blood, these wobbly-legged foals hold the promise of one day becoming powerful rodeo competitors. Part of the Born to Buck program, they will eventually be introduced into the herd of more than 600 horses at the Stampede Ranch.

Nearly two dozen babies have been born so far, with dramatic weather swings adding a unique twist to the already busy time. Temperatures in the high twenties one week turned into three straight days of snow the next. But despite a foot and a half of snow, Kraft says the temperatures didn’t drop enough to cause problems. In fact, the snow was welcomed.

“It’s much needed moisture. With the warm weather, this spring has been very dry. This snow will give the grass a good start.”

Mom and foal enjoying the moisture the snow brought to the Stampede Ranch

Mom and foal enjoying the moisture the snow brought to the Stampede Ranch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the Calgary Stampede’s historic OH Ranch, just down the road from Longview, Alberta, the weather is also proving beneficial. The mild spring is making things much easier for ranch manager Ken Pigeon and his team during calving season this year.

“It’s been great. It’s a lot easier to check on them and we aren’t finding them shaking and shivering right after being born.” says Pigeon, adding “we also haven’t had to bring any of them indoors to warm them up.”

Right now Pigeon is constantly on the go. Every three to four hours he heads out to check on the more than two hundred cows and the calves that have already been born. The heifers – first time moms – are watched even more closely. A much smaller group of 17, they are in a pasture close to the ranch buildings to make sure they get help quickly if they need it.

Calves enjoying fresh milk from their moms

Calves enjoying fresh milk from their moms at the Calgary Stampede OH Ranch

All that care and attention is paying off. More than 150 little ones have now been born, with a few extra surprises along the way.

“We have two sets of twins,” says Pigeon, with a smile. “They’re doing great!”  Under the ranch manager’s watchful eye, those twins and all of the newborn calves will continue to flourish and grow on land that has supported cattle for generations and will continue to do so for years to come.

Calves twins means there's always someone to play with!

Calves twins means there’s always someone to play with!

 

Riding high in Houston with the Calgary Stampede

Canadian saddle bronc competitor Clay Elliott wasn’t too sure just how to react after his big Rodeo Houston win on one of the Calgary Stampede’s top horses.

“It hasn’t quite sunk in yet,” Elliott told local media. “I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do with $50,000.”

The Nanton, Alberta cowboy scored the huge paycheck by winning a ride-off in the finals on board Stampede Warrior. It was one of many notable performances by Calgary Stampede horses at the Livestock Show and Rodeo in Houston, Texas. In total, Stampede horses competed 84 times in front of 1.3 million attendees over the course of 21 performances. And they definitely caught the attention of the cowboys and the crowd, as they do year after year.

Stampede Warrior competing at Rodeo Houston in 2014

Stampede Warrior competing at Rodeo Houston in 2014

“They captured an incredible 14 go-round wins and more than $110,000 in prize money in Houston,” says Robert Wise, director of Western Events & Agriculture for the Calgary Stampede. The highest marked ride of the rodeo was given to Austin Foss, who scored 91 points on the Reserve World Champion, Calgary Stampede’s Special Delivery. Continue reading

More than the Money – the Unique Partnership at the Back of the Track

John Walters isn’t easily shaken. A veteran chuckwagon driver, his previous career in rodeo included riding broncs and wrestling steers. But cowboy tough doesn’t always keep the nerves from getting to you. Especially when up on stage at the Calgary Stampede Canvas Auction.

“There are definitely some butterflies in your stomach. It’s nerve-wracking, for sure,” Walters said with a grin, clearly back in his comfort zone after the bidding had ended and he was teamed up with the  Brakeman Foundation for the third year running.

Photo courtesy: Larry Kwan

Photo courtesy: Larry Kwan

The Canvas Auction is a high stakes event. Pegged as a yearly barometer of Calgary’s economy, the money raised also plays a big role in the success of a driver’s entire season. Continue reading

New adventures, new home for Aggie Days!

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to kiss a llama? Or how a tiny bee can turn nectar into honey? At Aggie Days the answers, adventures and wonder await! And this year you will be able to find them in the Agrium Western Event Centre.

“The new location means a new way of exploring Aggie Days. As you walk through the Agrium Centre and wander through AltaLink Hall you will find new things to see and do,” says Aggie Days committee member Josh Traptow. “Our Aggie Days team has also been working hard to ensure there are brand new experiences for our visitors, many who join us year after year, but also familiar ones as well.”

Children can get up close and personal with a variety of animals at Aggie Days

Children can get up close and personal with a variety of animals at Aggie Days

Aggie Days is a place of wonder where children can see and learn about where their food comes from, how animals can be hard working helpers and of course, have a lot of fun. From farmers and ranchers, bee keepers to weavers, many different experts will be sharing their love for what they do and just how exactly it all happens. Continue reading

Meet our Princes!

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Howdy everyone & Happy New Year!

As Queen Maggie, Princess Chelsey and I prepare for The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth and continue our journey as the Royal Trio, we find ourselves spending a lot of time with three dashing princes – our horses, of course! Riding is a big part of becoming a Stampede Queen or Princess; there are three different equestrian portions throughout our competition and improving our horsemanship is an integral part of our year as Stampede Royalty. Banner1

Queen Maggie, Princess Chelsey and I riding Snoopy, Hawk and Kansas in our final riding competition

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2016 Calgary Stampede poster and the poster artwork legacy

The Calgary Stampede unveiled our 2016 poster in the Shaikh Family Welcome Gallery of the Calgary Public Library’s central branch on October 5, 2015. Community members and Stampede volunteers and employees were thrilled when the curtain pulled back to reveal the priceless piece by award-winning local artist, Michelle Grant: Born to Buck, pictured below.

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“When you visit the Stampede Ranch in Hanna [Alberta], you witness many scenes of horses running freely in the fields together,” said Bill Gray, president & chairman of the Calgary Stampede board of directors, “and that was the inspiration for the poster.” Continue reading

Chuckwagon Drivers get ready to race under a new Calgary Stampede invitational format in 2016

The Calgary Stampede is introducing a new qualification process that is changing the way we select chuckwagon drivers for the GMC Rangeland Derby. Under the new format, drivers are now being invited to compete in 2016 based upon rankings of safety, competitiveness and professionalism.

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Labor Day Classic for Stampede Horses in Ellensburg

It may have been the Labor Day long weekend, but for the Calgary Stampede’s stock and crew it was business as usual out on the rodeo trail. The first stop of the weekend was the Armstrong Interior Provincial Exhibition and Stampede. I joined Barry McGrath, Catherine Laycraft, Tyler Kraft and the rest of our Calgary Stampede help to produce one of the top rodeos in Canada. The crowds were outstanding for each of the five nightly performances of rodeo, and the Calgary Stampede’s stock gave them a lot to cheer about.

This year’s Calgary Stampede Champion Bareback Rider, Clint Laye, matched up with a young horse named Wanaka Rocket for an 87.25 score and the win in the bareback riding. This win helps secure Clint’s chances at qualifying for his first National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.

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Quarter horsing around at Horse Haven

The Calgary Stampede is proud to once again partner with the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA)! The AQHA has impacted the lives of horsemen and women around the world–ensuring the unique qualities of this breed does not parish. The AQHA strives to provide beneficial services to both their members and their American Quarter horses.

If you’ve been to Stampede Park during Stampede time, you may have seen the AQHA booth in Horse Haven in the Agricultural Barns!

Pictured: Working Cow Horse Classic Open Bridle Champion 2014– Maximum Echo, ridden by John Swales, owned by Flo Houlton

Pictured: Working Cow Horse Classic Open Bridle Champion 2014– Maximum Echo, ridden by John Swales, owned by Flo Houlton

AQHA members are passionate about the care of the American Quarter Horse and the vast lifestyle created by the world’s most popular horse. The Stampede shares this passion for horses by presenting exceptional equine experiences year-round and during the Greatest Outdoor Show in July.

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Learn to do by doing!

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The 4-H on Parade, presented by Cervus Equipment wrapped up today with showings by many impressive Albertan youths.

Stampede Park was particularly busy this week with the wave of high school graduations (congratulations, class of 2015!) and various conferences, however, this didn’t stop us from also cheering on enthusiastic 4-H members as they shared their final projects.

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The Calgary Stampede’s Agricultural mission is to create meaningful year-round experiences for urban and rural audiences on Stampede Park by producing/hosting signature programs that feature animals, showcases, and western events–naturally, we are thrilled to host Canada’s largest gathering of 4-H clubs and members each year! Continue reading

Highlights from 2015 Aggie Days

Thousands of city-slickers got a chance to learn more about agriculture, farming and rural life at Calgary Stampede’s annual Aggie Days. This beloved event embodies the Stampede’s initiatives to connect the urban and rural– Aggie Days is a unique opportunity for urban communities to learn about about how and where their food is made, as well as what producers actually do on the farm.

Guests were invited to submit questions and write about their thoughts on agriculture in Alberta

Guests were invited to submit questions and write about their thoughts on agriculture in Alberta

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Stampede Champions represented well at NFR

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There’s no doubt about it – Calgary Stampede 2014 Bareback Champion Kaycee Feiold is having a great year! He not only took the title and $100,000 cheque at our Stampede in July, but he finished the WNFR with his fourth consecutive world champion title. Last year’s third-in-a-row championship broke the record, but Kaycee seems nowhere near slowing down in his dominance of the sport.

The Stampede looks forward to seeing him back again in 2015 to test his winning streak.

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In the Ladies Barrel Racing, CS 2014 champ Kaley Bass rocketed to the top of the world standings post-Stampede going into the WNFR. She performed well yet dropped in the standings to third place by the end. She was under tremendous pressure from World Champion Fallon Taylor and second placed Lisa Lockhart, who finished third and fourth respectively in the Top Gun standings in their neck-and-neck battle throughout the NFR’s 10 rounds.

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Steer Wrestling Stampede 2014 Champion Trevor Knowles ended his NFR as number six in the world rankings. Trevor placed in the money in four of the 10 rounds, and posted times in nine of the ten rounds to finish in 10th place of the go-round average.

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Canadian-based Dustin Flundra, Stampede’s reigning saddle bronc champion, went into the NFR ranked 15th and had a decent run, placing in the money in four go-rounds to end his NFR and year ranked 12th in the world.

Looking forward to seeing these Stampede champions back in Calgary next July to defend their titles, and looking forward to providing a warm western welcome to some new faces that topped the standings after the NFR.

Half of Stampede Stock in the money at NFR

The dust has settled on another Wrangler NFR in Las Vegas, and the cowboys and their horses are all home-ward bound, turning their thoughts to the holiday season and coming year.

The Calgary Stampede travelled to Vegas with a pen of 14 top horse stars, and are riding home with their heads held high boasting a great performance record. Half of our horses – seven in all – had great go-round match-ups with top cowboys, bucking and boosting their riders into the nightly earnings.

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Mata Fact (seen in PRCA video recap HERE) teamed up with newly-crowned WNFR Saddle Bronc Champion Spencer Wright during the fourth round to take first place and the stock award. The ride was indicative of Spencer’s entire NFR experience – his first time qualifying. Spencer accumulated $145,000 in earnings throughout ten rides, placing him second in the overall Top Gun Award for NFR money.

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Here’s the break-down of finishes for Stampede horses throughout the 10 rounds:

#1  – SB – Mata Fact  with Spencer Wright, Round 4 – 84 points

#2 – BB – Turkish Whiskey  with  Bobby Mote,  Round 6 Reride – 83 points

#2 – SB – Lynx Mountain with Jacobs Crawley, Round 10 – 83 points

#3 – BB – Trail Dust with Justin McDaniel, Round 5 – 86 points

#4 – BB – Soap Bubbles with Tilden Hooper, Round 8 – 81.50 points

#5 -  BB – Simply Marvellous with Taos Muncy, Round 4 – 76.50 points

#6 – SB – Stampede Warrior with Jake Writer, Round 10 – 78 points