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

Continue reading

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

“Rocket Brothers” Barebacks place 2, 3 in rounds 5, 6

Two more exciting NFR performances down, two more Calgary Stampede bucking horses holding their heads high….

Following up on the heels of Mata Fact’s round-winning first placed finish in the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo paired up with saddle bronc rider Spencer Wright, round five kicked off with the bareback event Monday night.

Trail Dust

Justin McDaniel, a seven-time NFR qualifier from Oklahoma, matched up with the Stampede gelding Trail Dust (shown above during Stampede 2014). The two bucked out a strong ride for an 86-point score to place third. Justin was a great match for Trail Dust, since this seasoned cowboy has been on a roll all through the NFR, placing in the money in four of the six rounds to date.

Turkish Whiskey

Round five on Tuesday night was even a step better for Stampede stock, again in the opening bareback event. Turkish Whiskey (above during CS 2014) stepped into the chutes full of fire to be paired up with Bobby Mote, a  four-time world champion, 14-time NFR qualifier, and known as one of the most consistent cowboys in the game.

When the dust settled, Turkish Whiskey and Mote scored a 83-point ride, good for second place behind 86-point Austin Floss.

Both Turkish Whiskey and Trail Dust are eight-year-old geldings, half-brothers born from one of Stampede’s prime studs, Majestic Rocket. Turkish Whiskey takes his name from his mother, mare Sour Whiskey, while Trail Dust’s name reflects his mother, mare Dairy Dust. Both of these talented young bucks have been to the Canadian Finals Rodeo before in their rising careers, but this is their first time qualifying for the NFR.

Looking for more great things from these Rocket babies in the years to come!

It’s a fact! Mata Fact wins WNFR buckle

Even amongst the world’s elite bucking horses, Calgary Stampede Ranch’s bucking horses stand hoof to hoof with the best of the best.

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Mata Fact proved that last night during the fourth performance at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo Sunday night in Las Vegas. This 12-year-old mare was matched up with 24-year-old Spencer Wright from Utah, the youngest of a trio of three Wright brothers at the NFR in the saddle bronc competition.

This marks Spencer’s first trip to the NFR, and he’s shown incredible consistency in the opening rounds – placing in the money each night, including the 2/3 split in round three.

But there’s nothing like a cowboy’s first go-round buckle at the NFR, and Mata Fact delivered that Sunday night.

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Rearing up out of the chutes off the start (check it out on the PRCA’s Youtube Highlights Reel) Mata Fact drew cheers from the audience, and she just grew more and  more powerful from there. Her heels high up over her head, she shifted into a strong bucking pattern with a bit of a side-step, then looped around to the left without missing a beat.

When the dust settled, the judges awarded the pair of Spencer and Mata Fact a total of 84 points - the top score of the night - earning Spencer his first go-round buckle and the saddle bronc buckle for the Calgary Stampede.

Mata Fact has more in common with Spencer than just a great score. She also has a lot of star siblings at the NFR, too, since her sire is the legendary Stampede bareback 6-time world champion Grated Coconut, from a pairing with mare Rattled Mata. Most other champion buckers at the NFR from the Stampede are also offspring of “The Grate One.”

The Stampede is looking for more impressive rides tonight, when four more star horses are on the roster, including one of the top anticipated match-ups of the NFR to date:

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

All eyes will be on the saddle bronc pairing of Cody DeMoss with Stampede Warrior – a match-up that scored a record 94-point ride in Houston earlier this spring, (read more HERE). Spencer’s brother Jake Wright will climb aboard Stampede Warrior’s half-brother, stallion Timely Delivery, to offer up some strong competition in the saddle bronc event as well.

The world’s number three-ranked bareback horse, Stampede stallion Special Delivery  is expected to draw a lot of attention in the bareback event and give cowboy Will Lowe a good shot at the go-round buckle, while another Stampede star, Trail Dust, is paired up in a great match-up with Justin McDaniel.

Yahoo to more great Stampede rides lighting up the arena in Vegas!