Astronauts & Actors

Credit: Lyle Aspinal / Calgary Sun

There are few horses who can claim they’ve carried both astronauts and actors on their backs. But the lovely grey gelding, “Jag” can. Owned by John Scott of Longview, Alberta, Jag was chosen as the Stampede Parade Marshal mount for Chris Hadfield, a Canadian astronaut who is now back on Earth after living in space aboard the ISS as Commander of Expedition 35.

Hadfield accepted the offer to be Marshall from space, via social media.

“I would be THRILLED to be the Stampede Parade Marshall! A great reason to come back to Earth!” was the Tweet Hadfield sent from a 370-kilometre orbit, agreeing to the offer to lead Stampede 101’s festivities.

Hadfield, the first Canadian to walk in space, has been the Parade Marshall once before in 2001. Back then he wore a space uniform and rode a Paint horse. In 2013, the now retired colonel and former CF-18 pilot, donned a white Stetson and a fittingly Canadian or “Calgarian” red western shirt. A perfect uniform aboard his white steed.

“Good morning! Odd how wearing my Stetson was so natural in Calgary, but seems less suitable here in Toronto. The geography of hats.” Hadfield later Tweeted on July 8, 2013.

The Tweets and social media charm is one of the things that makes Hadfield really cool. You know – aside from him being an astronaut and all. Yet, his ability to equally navigate a Soviet Tupolev Tu-95 “Bear” bomber and a Quarter Horse with all the coolness of a rock star make him even him even more awesome in my eyes.

Of course, a good horse helps make the Parade Marshal. So where did “Jag” come from?

Jag sells to John Scott at the 2008 Calgary Bull Sale, earning previous owner Don Raffan the High Selling Horse buckle. Credit: Don Raffan.

Chris Hadfield’s gray steed is a graduate of the Calgary Bull Sale. Owned previously by Don Raffan of Armstrong, BC, Raffan and his wife Diana were thrilled when the horse came across their television screen last Friday with a true Canadian hero aboard.

“Di recognized him on TV in the parade. She said – I think that’s Jag!” recounted Raffan.

Raffan owned the horse along with Denton Moffat, from the time he was a two-year-old. Then, Raffan fitted him for the 2008 Calgary Bull Sale. There, Jag sold to John Scott and earned Raffan the buckle for the Highest Selling Horse honors.

“Jag is just a beautiful, nice guy. He has a beautiful personality,” said Raffan.

That beautiful personality also helped to make Jag a movie star. Some of you may also recognize him as “Phoenix” on the wildly popular television show, Heartland.

“Jag is just a really good, solid horse,” said owner John Scott.

Hadfield did not get much time to practice his riding skills before acting as Parade Marshall. An afternoon beforehand was it, but luckily, the Canadian colonel had some previous experience with horses when he was younger.

“He told me he really enjoyed the whole experience,” recalled Scott.

“And Jag truly is a nice horse. He’s done a lot of movies and he’s got the mind and temperament needed to handle that kind of business really well. That’s why we put the Astronaut on him!” Scott chuckled.

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