Calgary Stampede Showriders auditions are coming up on Saturday, March 7 and Sunday, March 8 at the Barron Barn in Turner Valley. Showriders alumni Haley Peckham and Mazlie Gehring decided to share some inside information about the prestigious riding ensemble for prospective members and admiring fans. Here are 10 things you probably didn’t know about the Showriders:
1. The Showriders were formed in 1985 as a colour guard for the Calgary Stampede Showband.
Originally, the Showriders existed to accompany the Showband in parades and rodeos across southern Alberta. Celebrating their 30th anniversary this year, the equestrian group has since developed its own identity as a unique Calgary Stampede Foundation educational program that develops members’ riding skills and provides opportunities to travel, perform, and compete.
2. Boys are allowed
Historically, the Showriders have been comprised of female riders, but male riders are allowed in the group!
3. The Showriders and the Stampede Showband rehearse together before parades so that the horses get used to being around the band.
Most horses don’t spend a lot of time around trumpets and bass drums, so the Showriders and Showband get together to practice before the summer performance season begins. This helps the horses acclimate to the loud sounds.
4. Showrider horses are as much part of the team as the riders.
Much of the Showrider rehearsals involve the horses getting to know each other and learning to work together. Showrider horses learn to be calm and resilient, in addition to the unique performance skills they acquire through clinics and rehearsals. Pairings are also made based on how the horses get along with each other. The riders learn how to take better care of their horses through information sessions on topics such as “how to feed your horse,” “how to keep your horse energized” and “how to condition horses to keep them in shape between practices.”
5. The Showriders use A LOT of hairspray and glitter.
Gehring told us that she goes through six cans of hairspray and an absurd number of bobby pins during Stampede time. What else could keep their hair looking fabulous after a performance in the Infield? They also go through a lot of glitter. Apparently, it is easy to spot the Showriders’ area in the barns because it is covered in glitter. If you look closely, you’ll see that they also stencil a “C lazy S” in glitter on each horse every day.
6. The Showriders aren’t the ranch girls that carry the flags during the Calgary Stampede Rodeo.
The Calgary Stampede Ranch Girls are an entirely separate program from the Showriders. The Showriders sometimes also carry flags, but you’ll notice that they dress differently and give a performance similar to the RCMP Musical Ride.
7. They are different than American-style drill teams.
American drill teams are known for their speed, the Showriders are known for their precision, something they call “sitting pretty.” The Showriders also have a much shorter season and are a smaller team compared to most American-based groups, which are often able to ride year round.
8. The Showriders ride behind the Showband for two very important reasons.
The Showriders ride behind the Showband so that the band doesn’t have to step in horse poop (ick!) and so that the horses can see where all that noise is coming from.
9. The Showriders rode as the colour guard for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, William and Catherine (Will and Kate), when they visited the Stampede in 2011.
Peckham recalls Kate saying that the Showriders and their horses were “beautiful.”
10. Being a Showrider is a great way to train to become a Calgary Stampede Queen or Princess.
There is no guarantee that Showriders will go on to become rodeo royalty, but many alumna have become Calgary Stampede Queens and Princesses. Peckham, a 2015 Stampede Princess, and Gehring, this year’s Airdrie Pro-Rodeo Princess, both say that their experiences in Showriders helped them to develop confidence and improve their riding ability – important factors considered by judges in rodeo royalty contests.
The Showriders are looking for 14 – 21 year-olds who love to ride and own their own horse. To register for the Showriders clinic and auditions on Saturday, March 7 and Sunday, March 8, email email@example.com.