Special Delivery: Canuck bucks hit the coast

When cowboys know the Calgary Stampede’s legendary bucking stock is coming to the party, they come prepared to walk away with a pocketful of cash.

Even amongst the Stampede’s strong stable of stars, Special Delivery stands a head above the herd. This powerful and spirited stallion is renowned amongst the bareback cowboys for his consistency and reliability to bring the buck when it matters. Son of many-time CFR and NFR qualifier mare Z-38 Zippy Delivery, sired by six-time world champion Grated Coconut, Special Delivery was named the 2012 Canadian Bareback Horse of the Year and has been a CFR and NFR qualifier of note.


Special Delivery (pictured above CS2014)  has been proving this again on the rodeo trails that lead through Oregon, Washington and into B.C.’s interior. He paired up with Steven Peebles to rock out an 87-point ride to win the bareback championship at the Farm-City Pro Rodeo in Hermiston Oregon on August 9th. After resting up, Special Delivery did a rare switch-hit into the saddle bronc event at Canby, Oregon, scoring an 84-point ride with Joaquin Rael.


As strong as Special Delivery was, another Stampede horse took the top ride in Canby’s saddle bronc event. Lynx Mountain (pictured above CS2014) had her way with Isaac Diaz to score 88 points to win the championship.


Simply Marvellous was also utterly that this past weekend at the Kitsap Stampede in Bremerton, Washington, with virtually vertical bucks that cowboy Dusty Hausauer just couldn’t keep up with, as seen in this picture (above).

Special Delivery and his fellow stars are now bouncing between Armstrong BC and Ellensberg. Special Delivery bucks Wednesday night in Armstrong, then takes a short jaunt up the highway for a starring role in the Ellensburg final round on Monday. He’ll have some bovine company for the trip, since 10 of the Stampede’s top bulls are scheduled to amp up the excitement at Ellensberg’s PRCA Extreme Bull event this coming Saturday night and the rodeo’s final round on the Monday. Amongst the toughest will be I’m a Gangsta and Low Life, two of the Stampede’s bucking stock that instill the most respect and fear amongst bull riders.

More to come on how those showdowns play out in the coming days and weeks, as the Stampede stock continues to stamp their brand across the northwest part of the continent.


The Summer of the Wild Warriors that Deliver

This may be the Chinese Year of the Horse, but so far it’s been a summer of the “wild warrior delivery” from the Calgary Stampede’s bucking stock at various Canadian rodeos throughout the summer.

Two horses from the famed “Warrior” lineage took the top prizes early in the season. Born from mare Fearless Warrior by legendary sire Grated Coconut, full brother and sister Tiger Warrior and Stampede Warrior have been tearing up the circuit.


Fiery stallion Tiger Warrior (pictured above at CS2014)led the charge at Ponoka on the July long weekend, taking the halter for the Saddle Bronc Horse of the Ponoka Stampede. He followed it up with strong performances during the Calgary Stampede, winning a first-place split with Heath Moss in Pool A then later teaming up with Cody Wright in the final 10 on Showdown Sunday.


Tiger Warrior’s full sister Stampede Warrior (pictured above at CS2014) wowed the crowd and won the Saddle Bronc Horse of the Calgary Stampede. The mare showed her power on the Showdown Sunday’s Final Four performance, paired up with Canadian cowboy Dustin Flundra to score an 89 point ride that helped lift Dustin to his first-ever Calgary Stampede Championship win. Stampede Warrior has been astounding throughout the 2014 season, shattering the Rodeo Houston record with a virtually perfect 94-point ride with Cody DeMoss earlier in the spring.

wild cherry 1

Wild Cherry (pictured above CS2013) brought the “wild” to the Curtis Glencross Invitation Rodeo event at the Daines Ranch near Innsifail this past weekend. Created by the Calgary Flames’ star forward, the event raised almost $200,000 for Ronald McDonald House and Hockey Alberta last year. This year, the Calgary Stampede bucking stock did their part to make the event a success for the cowboys and spectators alike. Wild Cherry, born from mare Flavoured Cherry and six-time world champion Grated Coconut, lived up to his championship lineage by carrying saddle bronc rider Sam Kelts to an 88-point ride, winning Kelts the rodeo and a new truck in the process. This is one of Wild Cherry’s first appearances on the rodeo circuit in 2014, sitting out for recovery from a foot surgery earlier in the spring. Now fully healed, this gelding showed he’s back on top of his game once again.

As the prairie rodeos wind down a bit, the Stampede’s best broncs and bulls hit the road for the coast, with a series of top-ranked pro rodeos throughout Washington, Oregon and B.C.’s interior.

4H Rodeo teaches the ropes to youngsters

Almost 70 young aspiring cowboys and cowgirls learned the ropes of their industry at the 17th annual Calgary Stampede Invitational 4H Rodeo this past weekend.

4-H Rodeo 11

The Stampede hosted the 4H students, aged nine to 20 years old, at the Agrium Western Event Centre on August 23 and 24, making this the first rodeo to be held in the new tailored livestock facility. The Stampede hosts the 4H Rodeo annually to give the youngsters a solid grounding in their sport, in rodeo production, livestock handling and animal care. Alongside the competition, the young rodeo competitors take part in educational sessions aimed at stepping up their game in all these topics and more.

4-H Rodeo 03

While rodeo is familiar, many of the events are not generally well-known in non-rodeo circles. Time events like thread-the-needle, pole-bending and goat-tying are the training grounds for younger athletes and their horses before graduating to tie-down roping and barrel racing.

4-H Rodeo 15

Learn more in this video interview from Global TV Morning News.


Post-Stampede Chill-out at the Ranch

With the Stampede done for another year, employees and volunteers are enjoying  much-needed downtime and quiet days.

So, too, do the bucking star horses that brought the Stampede rodeo to life. Five days after Final Sunday, I visited Stampede Ranch by Hanna. I was accompanying Gabriele, a photojournalist from Germany on a round-the-world tour to capture images and stories of horses in their most natural elements. An experienced rider and horse breeder, she marveled at the Stampede Ranch herd’s health, pride, natural herd social dynamics, and healthy curiousity about the people who came to visit them.


Bucking horses from the Stampede’s Born to Buck breeding program enjoy  the most natural herd setting of any domesticated animals – with natural mixed ages herds raised on open pasture with minimal human contact beyond being halter-broken to receive regular medical treatment. Ranch-hands keep an eye on them, watching for injuries or illness and ensuring they get grain to supplement their grazing as needed. But otherwise, the herds generally roam unencumbered and freely across the ranch’s vast 23,000 acres and open skies.

When we arrived at Stampede Ranch, we hopped in the truck with ranch hand Trevor and drove to the expansive pasture where one part of the herd was relaxing – a mere 150 horses or so. There are another 450 in other pastures father afield, including the stallions, breeding mares and colts and bucking bulls that are kept separate from the general population.

In the distance you could see clumps of horses grazing. A few honks of the truck horn and the herd perked up and headed our way, lured by the promise of grain trailing from the truck with the push of a button. Soon the herd was strung out in a long looping line, munching contentedly.


This herd included current bucking stars, up and comers, retired bucking horses, and horses that never made it on the rodeo circuit, but contribute as members of a healthy herd mixture of ages and temperaments.

We hopped out of the truck and snapped photos. At first the horses sidestepped around us. But as the grain was eaten and they began grazing, they all edged closer and closer, their curiousity about the newcomers in their midst overcoming their natural shyness. Soon we were surrounded by the curious gentle giants, nudging in closer to get a look at us, and in some cases, get a pet from us.


Trevor rolled off the names of bucking stars – past and present, pointing out which horses had a bit more thoroughbred, quarter horse or heavy horse blood in the mix. There was the semi-retired Gin Neat, a name well-recognized in rodeo circles. I spoke a soft word and current bucking star Nightmare Rocket strode straight up to me for a cuddle. We’ve met before several times and he’s always eager to have his nose and cheeks petted, whether in the pasture or in the pens prepping for his performance. He was equally happy for a scratch and pat from Gabriele.


There was Lynx Mountain and Loadstone Jade, two long-time stars who are still bucking strong and kicking cowboys into the dirt. Suddenly Loadstone Jade was right up close, curious and looking for a bit of a pet from Trevor, who was happy to oblige.


With reluctance, we shook off the 100’s of horses and headed back to the pens to visit the bucking bulls, stallions and some of the new baby colts with their mares. Here, we opted to stay in the truck to avoid raising any maternal defensiveness, and simply marveled at the baby buckers from afar.


Wistfully, we thanked Trevor for his time and headed back to town, pausing at the ranch gates to share stories of late greats such as Coconut Roll and Cindy Rocket, legendary Stampede bucking stars buried in this place of honour when age and declining health claimed them at last.

But they live on within the ever-increasing power, strength and pride we see in their offspring. What a rare treat to enjoy this peaceful day, photographing just a small slice of the wonderful, natural quality of life these incredible horses enjoy all year-round at the Stampede Ranch.


New public art installation: 100 Years of Champions

Today, the Calgary Stampede officially unveiled the spectacular art installment 100 Years of Champions, honouring the champions of the Calgary Stampede Rodeo and chuckwagon races. Champions_1

The oversized aluminum horseshoes represent the strength of the iron that protects the animals from harm; six to honour the six disciplines of rodeo and chuckwagon racing: bareback riding, barrel racing, bull riding, saddle bronc riding, steer wrestling, tie down roping and chuckwagon racing.


If you look closely, you will notice some gaps in the years between 1912 to 2012. Some history: The first rodeo took place in 1912. Following a hiatus, the Stampede returned in 1919 to honour soldiers returning from World War I. The festival became an annual event in 1923 when it merged with the Calgary Industrial Exhibition to create the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede, now known simply as the Calgary Stampede.


100 Years of Champions was funded in partnership by the Calgary Stampede and the Government of Canada through a contribution by Canadian Heritage through the Building Communities Through Arts and Heritage, Legacy Fund.

Country’s new home in the City

Horses, cowboys and rural residents now have a custom-built, year-round home right in the heart of Calgary on Stampede Park.

The Calgary Stampede has officially opened the Agrium Western Event Centre – Canada’s premiere western event and agriculture education showcase. The building opened on Saturday, June 21, amid much fanfare of a community open house and a grand ribbon-cutting ceremony that featured federal Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification Michelle Rempel and Alberta’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Verlyn Olson.


The ultra-modern 150,000 sq. ft. building features an extra-large 2,500-seat specialized arena for equine and western events, a multi-purpose exhibit hall, and a grand rotunda entry that double as a week-day classroom for a unique educational program on sustainable agriculture. The Agrium Centre becomes the new focal point of horse and agriculture-related activities at Stampede Park. Visitors will experience it first during the Stampede July 4 to 13, and with more experiences this year when a series of new horse shows and competitions fill the building throughout the fall season.

“The Calgary Stampede is a world-class event, attracting millions of visitors from all over the world,” Minister Olson said when addressing the crowd on Saturday. “As the largest facility of its kind in Canada, the new Agrium Western Event Centre will be an incredible venue for education, entertainment and to showcase our agriculture industry.”


The Government of Canada and Government of Alberta each contributed $25 million towards the Agrium Centre as part of a series of recent agriculture infrastructure enhancements at Stampede Park that, together, cost $61.5 million. Agrium contributed as title sponsor of the building.

“We are thrilled that our partners shared in our vision of creating a world-class, year-round venue that connects urban and rural,” said Bob Thompson, President and Board chair of the Calgary Stampede. “This provides a gathering place for agriculture industries and associations, offers economic benefit to Calgary businesses, and ensures city residents have a regular connection to agriculture, horses and livestock all through the year.”


Agrium’s President and CEO Chuck Magro also spoke at the Agrium Centre’s grand opening, underlining how the building houses a unique global education program created by the Stampede and Agrium. “We’re thrilled to be part of making the Agrium Western Event Centre a reality at the Calgary Stampede,” said Magro. “This is a place to celebrate agriculture and to learn about sustainable farming practices, through the Journey 2050 program, as we work to feed 9 billion people globally by 2050.”

Journey 2050 coaches grade seven students to explore how the world will feed itself sustainably in the year 2050. Up to 70 students will gather at the building’s rotunda each weekday to experience an interactive inquiry-based personal and computer program that shows the results and impacts of their virtual farming choices.

Guests of the grand opening event marveled at the building’s size and the great sight-lines from the open concourse and seating areas. The behind-the-scenes features of the building were a hit with horse-owners who recognize the animal-friendly features built into every aspect of the handling, warm-up and performance areas.

grand opening

“We are bringing the Arabian Horse Association’s Western Canadian show to Calgary because of this building,” Arabian Association representative Allison Mostowich told the crowd. “Our first priority is always our horses, and we can tell from the way this building was designed, animals are the Stampede’s top priority as well. We’re looking forward to being the first big event here after the Stampede (July 21-26).”

A current listing of the horse shows, competitions and championship events being hosted this year at the Agrium Centre can be found at www.calgarystampede.com/AgriumCentre. Many are new to Calgary, with several events created with this new facility’s capabilities in mind.


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.


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.


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.


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.


(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.


(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.


(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.



A trip to the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo

The Calgary Stampede has been a huge part of my life for many years and it’s a great honour to currently serve as president and chairman of the board. I’ve been a volunteer since 1987 and on the board since 1998. Before joining the board, I served on both the Rodeo and Chuckwagon committees, so it was a great experience to travel down to the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo.

The Calgary Stampede has a strong presence at this event as a significant supplier of broncs to their rodeo. I was most proud sitting in my seat watching our animal athletes perform. They are the best of their breed.

On my final day Keith Marrington, director of rodeo and chuckwagon, invited me out to the facility where our horses stay during the San Antonio rodeo. I was able to mill among our tremendous athletes, up close and personal, and to see first-hand what healthy and well-cared for animals they are. The facility was relaxed, there was plenty of space for them to move around and enjoy the warm Texas sun.

Bob_San Antonio

No sooner was I there, that Keith Marrington put me to work feeding the horses off the back of the hay wagon. Having a bit of farm boy in me (I’ve predominately lived in the country my whole life), it was quite natural for me to move, cut bales and distribute hay.

Of course all good things must come to an end, and I returned to Calgary to -30 degree (!) weather.



Stampede cowboys have lessons for racecar speed demons

What can Calgary Stampede cowboys teach speed demons at NASCAR, speedways and grand prix events? It turns out we know about far more than just horsepower!

The Calgary Stampede was invited to host a panel workshop for about 50 of motorsport world’s top event organizers in Dallas, Texas on Sunday, February 9. The Motorsport Workshop featuring the Stampede was part of the three-day National Sports Forum, an annual convention that attracts executives from the NHL, NFL, NBA, NCAA, NASCAR and other major sports.


(L to R) Pat O’Brien, Jason Coxford, Rod Tate and Robert Wise presented at the Motorsport Workshop at the National Sports Forum in Dallas on February 9, 2014.

The Stampede has attended the forum for the past three years to keep abreast with our peers in major sports event management. This year, forum organizers felt some other sports could learn the ropes from the Stampede in some key areas.

“For a 10-day event, we attract the same level of ticket sales, sponsorship support and VIP experiences that many NHL teams would handle annually,” explains Patrick O’Brien, Stampede sponsorship manager, one of four Stampede panelists at the workshop. “Yet our event extends beyond the grandstand with a huge variety of audience experiences, one of Canada’s largest music festivals and activations throughout the entire community.”

“When you think of it, we have a lot more in common with NASCAR and other annual sporting events than we would have with other rodeos and western events.”

The Stampede attracts more than one million to its site over its 10-day run, and sells 300,000 tickets to its grandstand rodeo and evening shows each year, about 10 per cent of which are VIP packaged experiences. The Calgary Stampede is a “bucket-list” unique experience that attracts global tourists for the once-in-a-lifetime experience of the western sport and huge country-themed community-wide festivities surrounding the main event.

“The workshop participants were very enthralled with the extent of our community involvement,” says Jason Coxford, ticket sales manager. “For a lot of these race cities like Daytona and Indianapolis, their events are tied into the fabric of their city. But the level of volunteerism and whole-city support for the Stampede is something they’re very curious about.”


Coxford also notes many speedways are also striving to create more year-round programming as well, which the Stampede succeeds at with thousands of events hosted annually on Park. He says the balance is to adapt facilities for new programs while remaining aligned with their original brand and purpose.

O’Brien notes Stampede offers great year-round value to sponsors by connecting them with client events that book Stampede facilities year-round. During Stampede, widespread product offerings and variety of programing offers sponsors complex and varied options and great return on investment.

Promotions can run year-round and internationally, partnering with big hitters such as Disney. Yet being a relatively small organization allows the Stampede to be adaptable and nimble enough to capitalize upon an emerging trend, as they did when turning the mid-flood “Hell or High Water” rallying cry into a $2.1 million T-shirt fundraiser for the Red Cross. This earned the Stampede an international award for best social media campaign, beating out 4,700 parks and attractions from 97 countries.

View an interview about the workshop on Alberta Prime Time.



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.


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.


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.




New year, new arena record for Stampede’s Princess Warrior

Nothing like starting the new year off with a big bang. Even better when it is THREE big bangs.

With 2014 only 11 days old, Stampede Ranch’s bareback bucking horse, Princess Warrior set her mark in rodeo history with a record-breaking 92-point ride in Denver on Saturday night. The ride happened during the finals of the Colorado versus The World, a unique rodeo showdown format that pits cowboys representing top rodeos like the Calgary Stampede against cowboys representing top rodeos within Colorado.

The 11-year-old mare put on a great performance and tough ride for 20-year-old Richie Champion, a Texan. Richie had two other great rides on Stampede horses to advance into the playoff rounds. Richie paired up with R20 Risque Elsie to score a great 88-point ride, then scored another 88 points on S3 Simply Marvellous, and finally won the championship round on Stampede Princess.

“I was a little behind at the beginning of the ride, but when I caught up with her (Stampede Princess), it felt awesome,” Richie commented to officials later. “That’s the highest score I’ve ever gotten.” Not only his highest score – the highest score ever awarded in Denver.

High scores are nothing new to Princess Warrior. In her seven years on the pro rodeo circuit, she has been a Canadian Finals Rodeo qualifier four times and to the National Finals Rodeo twice. She is living up to her top-notch bucking stock lineage as the daughter of F-51 Fearless Warrior, who qualified many times for the CFR and NFR, and sired by six-time world champion stallion Grated Coconut.

Three horses, three great scores. One arena record.

Pretty great way to start 2014 for Stampede Ranch horses flying the flag south of the border. Looking forward to even more titles and great performances from the 48 snowbird horses who will spending the next two months on the Texas circuit.

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.


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.

Stampede Ranch 177

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.


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