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

Small Spurs, Huge Futures

They may wear some small spurs for now but rodeo in southern Alberta has a big future. The Small Spurs Rodeo in Claresholm, Alberta gives tomorrow’s stars of rodeo a place to develop their skills.

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Since Dusty and Travis Whiteside created the program it has taken off and today there are more than 400 entries on a given weekend for the rodeos. Kids ages 14 and under have a chance to test their skills in events like barrel racing, pole bending, goat tying and even steer riding.

Today’s organizers, Ty and Hayley Elliot and Matt and Janessa McNichol, spend countless hours organizing and preparing as well as running each of the rodeos held over the winter months. Thanks to their dedication and hard work and the support of corporate partners like the Calgary Stampede, hundreds of kids have an opportunity to get involved in the sport of rodeo.

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On March 11-12, the Small Spurs held their annual season finals and what an exciting way to cap off their season. The Calgary Stampede is one of the leading supporters of the program and along with contributions from many great corporate partners, there were more than 100 prizes handed out to the champions on the weekend.

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Ty Elliot   is a former Canadian Finals Bull Rider who now focuses on developing the next generation of rodeo. He recognizes the lack of interest in the rough stock events and hopes that organizations like Small Spurs will help to revitalize the rough stock end of the arena.

“The kids need a place to try it out where the animals match their skill level,” said Ty as he explained how each kid is split into the A, B and C pools according to their size and experience. This is a great way to ensure that the kids will be able to ride an animal that suits their ability. The formula seems to be working and with more than 20 steer riders each weekend, the talent pool seems to be growing at the Small Spurs.

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The steer riders treated their fans and sponsors to a special performance this past Friday and I was lucky enough to be a part of it, helping organize the event for the evening. Some of the stars of the sport were on hand to help out the riders such as former Canadian Champions Matt Lait and Wes Cyr. Stampede’s own rodeo announcer Dave Poulsen called the show alongside Mike Labelle and music director Ted Stovin. Multiple-time Rodeo Entertainer of the Year, Dennis Halstead, kept everyone laughing.

Coupled with great music, some fire in the dirt and a massive replay screen, the Small Spurs Rodeo was much like watching a miniature version of the PBR bull ridings and the kids rose to the occasion, riding over half of their animals and Cranbrook cowboy Lonnie Phillips came up with high score of 86 points. There were some very excited little cowboys walking away with some great hardware and some big plans of where their talents will take them next. Hopefully most are considering this summer’s Stampede Rodeo as one of their tour stops.

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Saturday’s events brought more great action from the timed event competitors and many more great moments as the rest of the 100 prizes were doled out to the event champions in many age categories. Dennis Halstead was still on hand and said that he is very fortunate to be a part of such a great event and a great organization. All of the personnel and helping hands are volunteers and they truly do a fantastic job creating a rodeo that would impress even the most seasoned of fans. The rodeo industry is alive and well in Claresholm and with the continued support of organizations like the Calgary Stampede we can rest easy knowing that rodeo will have stars well into the future. If you ever get a chance be sure to slip down to Claresholm and cheer on the big hearts that wear the “small spurs.”

History moment: Calgary Stampede remembers some of our greatest female contributors for International Women’s Day

To celebrate the centennial of Alberta women achieving the right to vote and International Women’s Day on March 8, let’s take a look at some of the pioneering women of western performances and rodeo who competed at the first Calgary Stampede. 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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Royalty in Las Vegas

Hey y’all! Princess Chelsey here, returned in one piece from Viva Las Vegas! What a busy couple of weeks we’ve had, coming back from Winnipeg to head South only four days later!

It was both Queen Maggie’s and my very first time in Vegas, so luckily we had Princess Bailee and Indian Princess Vanessa to show us the ropes. Don’t worry, we were behaved and brought a heap of western hospitality to share.

We went down to experience the National Finals Rodeo, so not unlike our own Stampede week, the city had turned western! A few more bright lights than we’re used to, but just as many cowboy hats I think! We spent a lot of our time at Cowboy Christmas at the Calgary Stampede booth, promoting the Stampede and entering people to win a trip for two up our way in July. If you don’t know what Cowboy Christmas is, imagine the largest building you’ve ever been in, double that, and then fill it with all kinds of booths selling rodeo gear, western apparel, horse trailers, and more pairs of cowboy boots than I knew even existed! So in other words, heaven on earth. Needless to say, I came home a few dollars poorer.

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I even found a hoverboard at Cowboy Christmas! (I’ll stick to walking though) Continue reading

Stampede Royalty goes to CFR

Hello everyone! Your 2016 Calgary Stampede Queen here, Maggie Shortt. As I’m sure you guys know, we’ve hit the ground running since we were crowned this past September. We’ve had a number of events since that point, but we had our very first overnight trip this weekend up to CFR in Edmonton. For those of you that don’t know what CFR is, it’s the Canadian Finals Rodeo! Headed to CFR bright and early

 Headed to CFR bright and early!

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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

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.

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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.

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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!

Stampede horses to rock and roll Vegas

As the continent’s rodeo community and the world’s best cowboys converge on Las Vegas for the National Finals Rodeo, the Calgary Stampede’s top horses are ready and waiting to give them the ride of their life. A total of 14 Stampede rough stock horses have been selected to compete at the biggest indoor rodeo in the world. They have been camped out nearby for more than a week, acclimatizing and resting up for their moment to shine under the big city lights.

Six Stampede horses have made it in the Bareback event:

  • S-83 Special Delivery
  • S-77 Soap Bubbles
  • T-25 Turkish Whisky
  • T-19 Tootsie Roll
  • T-25 Trail Dust
  • T-17 Twin Cherry

Eight Stampede horses were selected for the Saddle Bronc competition:

  • S-66 Stampede Warrior
  • T-65 Tiger Warrior
  • L-40 Lynx Mountain
  • M-64 Mata Fact
  • T-38 Timely Delivery
  • S-3 Simply Marvellous
  • U-1 Until Kamloops
  • S-91 Shoshone Mountain

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The National Finals Rodeo is where world champions are made, and where horses are also crowned world champions. Most of the Stampede horses showcased at this year’s NFR are the offspring of the world’s most successful bucking horse ever – the legendary Grated Coconut (picture above), who was a six-time world champion and six-time Canadian champion bareback horse, plus winning virtually all major rodeo titles in the course of his 10-year career.

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Special Delivery  (above) is following closely in his famous daddy’s hoofmarks, being named the number three bareback horse of the year by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) this year. This spirited stallion, mothered by many-time CFR and NFR qualifier Zippy Delivery, has already been named the champion Bareback Horse of Canada in 2012, and the runner-up as Bareback Horses of the CFR this year after a great pair of performances at CFR earlier in November. Special Delivery was also named Bareback Horse of the San Antonio Rodeo this spring, winning Steven Peebles the championship title. His full brother, gelding Timely Delivery, will also serve up some challenging rides in the saddle bronc event at the CFR.

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The “Delivery” brothers’ half-siblings Tiger Warrior (picture above) and Stampede Warrior – also sired by Grated Coconut but by famous bucking horse Fearless Warrior – are two more strong contenders to watch during the NFR. Tiger Warrior’s star is rising after two incredible round-winning performances at CFR 2014 that earned him the Saddle Bronc Horse of the CFR runner-up spot.

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His full sister and fellow saddle bronc – Stampede Warrior (above) –captured the attention and fascination of the American rodeo world earlier this season, earning herself a reputation as a champion-maker. Stampede Warrior set an astound 94-point arena record in Houston early in the season with Cody DeMoss, then helped Wade Sundell earned a $100,000 pay day during the inaugural All American Rodeo in Arlington, Texas. Read more HERE on Stampede Warrior’s record-setting rides.

For more information on which NFR performances will featured Stampede horses, check out the Stock Roster.

 

Lucky 7 at Agrium Centre this fall

This coming weekend marks the seventh major new event drawn to the heart of Calgary by the newly-opened Agrium Western Event Centre during the fall season alone. The World Professional Bull-riding’s championship finals event wraps up the fall season with a huge bang this Friday and Saturday evening.

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Top bull riders and bucking bulls will converge on the Agrium Centre November 21 and 22, with riders coming from Paraguay, Mexico, Australia, USA and across Canada, vying for the title of 2014 WPB champion. It’s sure to be a fun ride. Check out details and links to tickets HERE.

Since mid-September, the Stampede’s new customized livestock-centric facility has seen a steady round of an estimated 4,000 horses, bulls, cattle and even show-jumpers flow through Stampede Park for a series of client events. This fall’s new events at the Agrium Centre included an international horsemanship conference, a pro rodeo finals competition, team roping championship, team penning finals, showjumping and the bullriding championships.

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Two of the events are all-new – the Jonathan Field and Friends international Horsemanship Conference and the Royal West showjumping competition - made possible by this unique building. The other five have been held in other cities, but relocated to Calgary for the Agrium Centre. These have all drawn thousands of visitors to Calgary. For example, the 10-day elite Royal West showjumping event continued over two weekends (image from Royal West Facebook, above) and drew international competitors, plus thousands more viewers online to see the building in action.

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The Calgary Stampede’s own annual Cutting Horse Futurity competition (pictured above) was a five-day event earlier in October, shifting from its traditional home in the Stampede’s Corral to the new Agrium Centre. The new venue and some added commemorative prizing helped attract a large spike in entry numbers of horses and riders from across Western Canada and through the western United States.

All riders, horsemen, cowboys and livestock owners have been thoroughly impressed by the facility’s tailored features designed for the comfort, safety and top performance of their animals. Riders from across Canada and the USA have commented it’s among the top facilities they have visited of its kind in North America. Word is spreading, enticing ever-more horse and livestock events to consider Calgary for their coming events.

Whether groups are interested in hosting corporate rodeos to accompany big conferences, riding workshops, horse competitions or even special performances showcasing animals, the Agrium Centre is ready to ride for 2015. For more information on bookings, contact Stampede Sales and Events.