Stampede means a lot to this home-grown cowgirl

You might be surprised when I tell you that my favourite part about the Calgary Stampede is not those 10 special days in July. While I certainly love ‘dem little donuts, cheering on the eight-second rides and the occasional visit to Nashville North, there is so much more to the Calgary Stampede organization that influences Calgarians year round. The cowboy spirit has defined our city’s values, influenced how we do business and will inspire generations to come.

What originally attracted me to the Calgary Stampede is what is at the heart of the exhibition: the animals and particularly, the horses. I was first introduced to the Born to Buck breeding program by the most influential cowgirl in my life, my Nan. Growing up, we would often go check on the wild horses as part of our farm chores. Their grace, strength and gentleness never cease to amaze me. Did you know the Stampede has a 600-head herd of horses–some of the finest rough stock in the world? I am honoured to be an advocate for the Stampede livestock and I truly am excited about promoting the Born to Buck breeding program and Calgary Stampede’s commitment to animal care.

bucking stock

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Kicking 2017 off to a great start!

It’s always fantastic to hear compliments from other rodeos about our Calgary Stampede bucking stock. But the horses’ recent performance in Denver at the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo is drawing extremely high praise.

“They steal the show from the rest of the stock contractors that are there,” said Leon Vick, Denver’s Senior Director of Rodeo and Horse Show Operations.

Tootsie Roll and Richmond Champion earn 85 points in Denver

Tootsie Roll and Richmond Champion earn 85 points in Denver

47 Calgary Stampede horses were in Denver for the Colorado VS the World Rodeo on January 7, as well as the Pro Rodeo performances that followed on January 12-22. The results on the scoreboard from those events back up Leon Vick’s compliments. In Saddle Bronc, all three rounds of the PRCA sanctioned competition were won on Stampede horses, with Cody Wright riding Tokyo Bubbles for the top score in the finals.

Bareback competition also went well, with two second place finishes on CS stock in the first two rounds, a win for cowboy Jake Brown on our Reckless Margie in the finals, and a 87.5 point championship clinching ride for Tim O’Connell on Tootsie Roll.

“They’re just bigger, stronger and buck better,” said Vick, when asked what makes Calgary Stampede horses stand out from the crowd. “They’re good in the chute and guys get out on them easy. They really perform well, they’re very showy and they tend to help the guys win a lot of money. “

Tim O'Connell captures the championship thanks to another great ride provided by Tootsie Roll

Tim O’Connell captures the championship thanks to another great performance from Tootsie Roll

With competition in Denver wrapped up, the horses have now made the move to San Antonio, Texas. They will enjoy some well-earned rest and relaxation before returning to action at the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo, February 9-26.

Greatest of the Great in Las Vegas

This year’s National Finals Rodeo (NFR) will go down in the history books as the greatest all time showing for Canada at the world’s richest rodeo and the Calgary Stampede was right there to be a part of it. It is very fitting that we chose to theme our Calgary Stampede booth at the Las Vegas Convention Centre Cowboy Christmas the “Greatest of the Greats” this year because that is truly what was showcased from start to finish at the NFR this December.

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If you had a chance to get down to the promotional booth, you would have noticed the walls decorated with all the great things Stampede has to offer. On the wall were photos of incredible Stampede competitors like Sage Kimzey, Mary Burger and Zeke Thurston, as well as some of our great Stampede bucking horses. As the week unfolded some of our featured athletes showed the world why they are the greatest of the great. Mary Burger came into the week as the all-time money earning Barrel Racer and left Las Vegas with the distinguished title of oldest-ever competitor at the NFR along with a brand new gold buckle and the crown of World Champion to go along with her other major wins in Houston and the Calgary Stampede.

Mary Burger at the 2016 Calgary Stampede

Mary Burger at the 2016 Calgary Stampede

Sage Kimzey may not have won this year’s Stampede Bull Riding title but he has hoisted that bronze trophy on our stage in the past and also knows how to win World Championships. Sage stayed ahead of his field of tough competitors to claim his third consecutive World Title; the same number of years that he has been a professional bull rider.

Sage Kimzey at the 2016 Calgary Stampede

Sage Kimzey at the 2016 Calgary Stampede

Last, but certainly not least, on the list of all-time great champions of the Calgary Stampede was Zeke Thurston from Big Valley, Alberta. Not only is Zeke the two-time and reigning Calgary Stampede Champion Saddle Bronc rider, he is now the newly crowned World Champion in the event. Zeke is a proud Canadian and second-generation National Finals qualifier who has been carving out his own page in rodeo history with an impressive resume that includes a Rodeo Houston title, two Calgary Stampede titles, a National Finals Rodeo title and  now a World Championship. We are looking forward to seeing all three of these ‘Greats’ back at Stampede in 2017!

Zeke Thurston at the 2016 Calgary Stampede

Zeke Thurston at the 2016 Calgary Stampede

But the story of Canadian success at the NFR doesn’t stop there. Of the eight Canadians competing at this year’s NFR, five are now qualified for an invitation to the 2017 Calgary Stampede. Airdrie’s Jake Vold, three-time and reigning Canadian Champion Bareback Rider, finished second in the NFR and Reserve World Champion. Jake Watson of Hudson Hope, British Columbia, finished the NFR in second place and fifth overall in the World Standings. Clay Elliot, 2016 Canadian Champion Saddle Bronc Rider, calls Nanton, Alberta, home. He finished ninth overall in Las Vegas, with Orin Larsen the Bareback Rider from Inglis, Manitoba, ending his season sitting third in the World Standings.

Along with the success of our future Stampede competitors, some other great Canadian competitors were breaking records in the Team Roping event. Levi Simpson and Jeremy Buhler became the first all-Canadian team of ropers to ever qualify for the National Finals Rodeo. Not only did they qualify but they dominated the field and on day 10 were crowned the 2016 World Champion Team Ropers, which, as you can guess, also went down in the record books. This is an amazing accomplishment for the Alberta cowboys and a proud moment for rodeo in Canada. Kolton Schmidt from Barrhead, Alberta, also competed in this year’s NFR Team Roping but came up short. Kolton and his great horse Badger did however take home the title of Heading Horse of the Year in the PRCA.

That brings us to our final piece of the Canadian contingent at this year’s NFR: the bucking stock. The Stampede was honored this year to have 13 horses and two bulls selected to compete at the National Finals Rodeo. All in all, it was a great showing, with more than $125,000USD won by cowboys on Stampede stock, and over a quarter of a million dollars total on Canadian bucking stock. We are extremely proud to say when the dust settled, it was an NFR rookie with the CS brand that took home the title of Top Bareback Horse of the NFR. X-9 Xplosive Skies is a descendant of the legendary Grated Coconut and is performing true to her lineage. Being recognized as the best bucking horse is no easy feat but this young mare has incredible skills and will be a force in the arena for many years to come.

One last Stampede notable is Pick-Up Man Gary Rempel who made a record-setting ninth appearance at the National Finals this year. Gary is an integral part of the Stampede team, keeping riders and livestock safe in the arena during all of the rodeos that Stampede is involved with. Congratulations to Gary on yet another successful year!

There were too many great success stories at this year’s Nationals Finals Rodeo to name them all but in the end it comes down to a great team that comes together to represent the Calgary Stampede as The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.

NFR 2016

Stampede bucking stock selected for the Canadian Finals Rodeo

It’s post-season time for rodeo competitors in Canada and the US, and the Calgary Stampede Ranch is busy getting a large roster of our four-legged athletes ready for the championships to come.

The first of two major rodeo championships this winter is the Canadian Finals Rodeo in Edmonton, November 9-13. This is where the top rodeo competitors will face off against the top stock in North America for a chance to be crowned Canada’s National Champion in rodeo. Not only will competitors have an opportunity to win a national title, but their placement at the CFR could secure them a much-coveted invitation to compete at next year’s Calgary Stampede.

Photo Credit: Bill Marsh

Ranch Manager Tyler Kraft and his team work tirelessly to ensure rodeos from Ponoka, Alberta to San Antonio, Texas have the best bucking stock that the Calgary Stampede has to offer. And this year, that hard work and the quality of our horses and bulls were recognized in a couple of very special ways by the competitors of the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association. First, the Calgary Stampede was selected as the CPRA’s 2016 Stock Contractor of the year. Then the competitors selected 41 Calgary Stampede animals to compete at the Canadian Finals Rodeo.

Stampede bucking horse, Special Delivery

Stampede bucking horse, Special Delivery

Leading the pack into Edmonton this November will be some true Stampede greats like reserve world champion bareback horse Special Delivery; two-time horse of the Calgary Stampede, Tiger Warrior; multi-NFR and CFR qualifier Stampede Warrior; and perennial favourite Mad Money. The veteran squad is also taking along a few rookies, including You See Me who is only in his first full year of professional competition and has already put up some impressive numbers. Along with the horses five Stampede bucking bulls have also been selected.

Make sure you get your tickets to the CFR because it`s next week and the Stampede’s stars will be rolling into Edmonton to put on a show! Perhaps you’ll see some of these bucking stars at the Calgary Stampede next July. You can get your tickets now!

The full roster selected for the Canadian Finals Rodeo:

Saddle Bronc
L-2 Labeled Money
M-2 Mad Money
S-3 Simply Marvellous
S-66 Stampede Warrior
S-91 Shoshone Mountain
T-38 Timely Delivery
T-65 Tiger Warrior
U-7 Umber Bubbles
U-8 Uvid Bubbles
W-1 Weekend Departure
W-16 Wild Cherry
W-46 Waning Moon
W-7 Wiggle Lizard
W-74 Weary Joke

Bareback
Y-5 You See Me
X-9 Xplosive Skies
X-89 Xavier Joan
X-40 Xceptional Margarita
X-2 Xrated Dancer
W-84 Waskasoo Soot
W-34 Wanaka Rocket
W-32 Walleye Rocket
T-29 Trail Dust
T-19 Tootsie Roll
T-17 Twin Cherry
S-83 Special Delivery
S-77 Soap Bubbles
S-65 Shadow Warrior
R-82 Reckless Margie
P-65 Princess Warrior

Novice Saddle Bronc and Bareback
L-112 Labyrinth
N-57 Needs Ajax
R-62 Redon Acres
S-15 Sargeant Whitney
U-96 Unit Doctor
Y-55 Youngstown Rocket

Bull Riding
003 Wranglers Extreme
105 Uptown Funk
126 Jukebox Hero
193 Compton Bound
201 Night Moves

 

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

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