Canvas Auction Numbers Up

In a show of strong community support for the sport of chuckwagon racing, the total auction proceeds this evening are $2,420,500 up $123,000 from 2016. Kelly Sutherland takes home the top bid of the night, $110,000, courtesy of Friends of the King.

“This sport has deep roots in our city and in our country, and tonight’s bidding makes that very clear,” said Calgary Stampede Chuckwagon committee chair Mike Piper, following the auction. “The support pledged to these drivers helps to ensure we will continue to enjoy chuckwagon racing for years to come.”

In total, more than 175 groups and companies registered for the opportunity to advertise with the 36 men who will be competing in the 2017 GMC Rangeland Derby during the Calgary Stampede, July 7-16. The proceeds of tonight’s auction will help those drivers cover the expense of caring for and travelling with their horses, not just during the Calgary Stampede, but throughout the racing season.

In addition to gaining valuable exposure for their brand, successful bidders now have the opportunity to offer clients, employees, friends and family a one-of-a-kind experience in the chuckwagon barn area during the 2017 Calgary Stampede.  For interested parties, a select few of those opportunities may still be possible post-auction by teaming up with successful bidders. More information is available at

Total Auction Proceeds $2,420,500$2,297,500
Average Bid$67,236$63,819
Top bid driverKelly SutherlandKurt Bensmiller
Top bid$110,000$120,000

Doc West: The Tuf Cooper Debacle



Question: Tuf Cooper invited back to compete at the world’s richest rodeo after last year’s fiasco is a bit of a head-scratcher for me. As, for that matter, is the invitation. These rodeo cowboys need to understand it’s a new world, one where abuse of animals is simply no longer sanctioned. Period. Cooper’s apparent disregard of the intense scrutiny events like the Calgary Stampede are under, should have been, in my opinion, addressed in a longer suspension. If Cooper wants to whip his horses, he can just stay in Texas as far as I’m concerned. Don’t you agree, Doc? 

Answer: Let’s set the record straight – characterizing Tuf Cooper’s ‘over and undering’ his horse with the end of a tie down rope as “abuse” is akin to portraying Justin Trudeau’s now infamous “elbowgate” as the greatest MMA beat-down of all time. Yes, yes, to a West Coast “progressive” it’s a capital offense. Pamela Anderson might write a letter in protest (or try to write a letter. . . or, have someone write a letter for her). But ask any horse trainer worth his salt, any horse trainer worth his salt, and they will all say something like, “you have to get after one every now and then”. Physical correction (within acceptable parameters) is part of horse training and yes, it is part of horsemanship. Forget the warm and fuzzy movies, forget the charlatans, and suave peddlers, forget the money you wasted on nonsense “natural horsemanship” videos – the hard stark truth is horses sometimes require physical correction.

You can’t talk to a horse, you can’t reason with them, they are free from logic as we humans understand it. Horses don’t understand your soft coos, ladies, and they don’t give a hoot about your hollering, fellas. Horses are herd animals that work on pressure and release. Physical pressure and physical release. What Tuf did was not abuse, he applied pressure to his horse in order to obtain a response.  ‎

That being said it wasn’t the place for it. Most “cowboy hat with a whistle” types sitting in the club seats at the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, don’t break, train or even own their own horses. Some of them don’t eat meat, others bicycle to work, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say most don’t own a pair of boots – leather or rubber. They see horses as pets – to be cuddled and spoken softly to like their cat, Jerry, on Thursday Greys Anatomy night. So naturally, when people see a big bad cowboy “whip” his horse they spit out their beer and squawk. No one expects to see animals injured, or hit, or even die – because in the minds of the viewing public, those things never happen. That is the reality of the Calgary Stampede, and frankly it’s the reality of modern rodeo; rural culture – all sanitized, distilled, corrupted, packaged and finally displayed in spectacular fashion to all the city folk safe in the fold of a comfortable urban venue. It’s a marriage of opposites – culture, ideas and philosophies – bringing the country to the city, and as with all challenging relationships, both partners need to compromise enough to make it work, but not so much as to lose what made the marriage worth it in the first place.

The Stampede board, committees and directors need to realize that their job is not to simply bend to the whim of Hollywood activists and PETA zealots. They have a responsibility to stand firm, to educate and explain ethical, yet practical realities of animal husbandry. However, in this case even ordinary folks may have cringed a little, because Tuf’s display was cringe-worthy after all, which brings me to my final point. The cowboys also have a responsibility to realize that they are no longer competing in Terrell, East Texas – they are on an international stage with millions of viewers. Certain sensibilities need to prevail. In other words, think a bit. That means you too, Cooper. Just because your mamma named you “Tuf,” doesn’t mean you can’t use your head a bit more, and the end of your rope a little bit less.

Q & A With the Calgary Stampede Queen


The Calgary Stampede kicks off this week! Western Horse Review sat down with Maggie, this year’s Calgary Stampede Queen about her experiences, her Stampede horse and much more about her exciting life experience as Stampede royalty.

Can you please tell me what has been one of your most memorable experiences of being part of the royalty to date?

My most memorable experience so far has been our time spent at Aggie days. Not only was this our first time doing an even with our horses, it was our first grand entry! All of the kids were so enthusiastic which made the event even more memorable.

The Stampede Royalty on a promotional trip to London.

The Stampede Royalty on a promotional trip to London.

What have you learned about the experience thus far?

I’ve learned that this year is full of surprises. The committee works so hard and does such an amazing job taking care of us that we always seem to be being surprised with something special they’ve done for us or arranged for us to do. We are so lucky!

Can you tell me about your clothes and boots? Do you have a favorite outfit?

All of the clothing we wear is sponsored. Our cowboy hats are provided by Smithbilt, our cowboy boots from Alberta Boot Company and our clothing comes mainly from Janine’s Custom Creations and Lammles. My favourite outfit is our formal outfit that features Flores LaDue. The outfit is comfy but also formal and highlights this amazing cowgirl, giving us the chance to explain her role in the start up of the Calgary Stampede.


How do you ladies always look so beautiful? Any hair, make up or nail tips you can share?

Well thank you! Aria, our skin care and make up sponsor, definitely plays a huge role in keeping us looking our best. Katie Kempthorne keeps our hair looking fabulous and Lushus Nail Concepts keeps our nails fresh! All of these things are definitely difficult when you spend a lot of time with horses, so if you need some help in any of these areas those are the people to talk to!

Maggie on her Stampede horse, Kansas.

Maggie on her Stampede horse, Kansas.

Can you please tell me about your Stampede horse?

My Stampede horse for this year is Kansas. Kansas is a bit of a goof in the sense that everything seems to frighten him but that’s what makes him so unique. He’s always the one to walk up to you out in the pasture as if to say, “Yup I’m ready to go mom!” The girls and I decided that his celebrity personality match up was Jimmy Fallon because of his jokester personality.

In the Banff, AB, parade.

In the Banff, AB, parade.

Can you tell us about a day in your life, when you are required to appear as part of the Stampede Royalty? When we are required to make an appearance, the getting ready starts a few hours before we’re needed at the event itself. We always go to events in full make up and curling our hair can take a bit of time. I usually leave at least half an hour before attending the event to research what it’s about and the organization that’s hosting it.

Queen Maggie, being herself.

Queen Maggie, being herself.

For others who might aspire to try out for the Royalty competition, do you have any tips or advice to offer? Always be yourself! People can always tell when you’re being genuine and I think that really shines through and means a lot to everyone you meet. Also, don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone. Although it may be terrifying, it is always worth it.

Maggie, in her spare time.

Maggie in her spare time.

Q’s & A’s With Stampede Royalty

Photo by Laura Parry of Wildheart Photography.

Photo by Laura Parry of Wildheart Photography.


Western Horse Review sat down with Chelsey, the second Calgary Stampede princess about her experiences, her stampede horse, beauty, learning experiences and much more about her exciting life experience as Stampede royalty!

Can you please tell me what has been one of your most memorable experiences of being part of the royalty to date?

It’s so hard to pick just one, but one of the especially memorable moments was during Aggie days.The entire week was such a blast, we got to do so many exciting things and I loved hanging out with the kids, and of course It was our first grand entry as a trio so that in itself was sure something! But the very first time we were waiting in the alleyway on our horses, when they began to open up for the rodeo they began playing AC/DC (which of course is a heartwarmer for me on any day!), and when the announcer began his line “welcome to the Calgary Staaaaaampeeede!” which we’ve all heard so so many times as spectators, it was almost surreal for me. It really hit me, I think possibly for the first time, of the role that I’m in and that I was in a once in a lifetime spot, preparing to do what I love to do most. Really geared me up for the rest of the season and especially Stampede itself.

What are you still looking forward to?

Of course Stampede week will probably be the most exciting part of the whole year, however, I’m really looking forward to attending the Handhills Lake Stampede. Not only is this their 100th year, but coming from Drumheller, it is like a hometown rodeo for me. I already have so many friends and family members that are planning to be there to see us and I’m so excited to be able to be a part of something larger and hopefully make my hometown proud!


Chelsey all cowboyed up.

Chelsey all cowboyed up.


What have you learned about the experience thus far?

Well of course we’ve been through tons of great training, which has offered an incredible amount of knowledge for the role, but on a more personal level I’ve learned a lot about myself as well. Coming from the country, I was raised pretty much a tomboy (when I was little my dream was to be a NASCAR driver). But I grew up tinkering on vehicles, riding quads, playing in the dirt, and hunting. Having this opportunity introduced me (and everyone else) to a completely new side of me, which even I didn’t know existed. I have opened up and discovered that I can be, for lack of a better description, a Princess, and even enjoy getting pampered and all dolled up for events while still remaining true to myself and my roots.


Going for a nice relaxing trail ride.

Going for a nice relaxing trail ride.


Chelsey bow hunting.

Chelsey bow hunting.


Can you tell me about your clothes and boots? Do you have a favorite outfit?

We are so incredible lucky to be able to work with the sponsors that we have. Each and every outfit and pair of boots seems to out-do the last and we are beyond grateful. One of my most favorite outfits though, was one that we received from Janine of Janine’s Custom Creations, it is a full leather jacket and skirt that is white leather and brown lamb suede (SO soft!). It has fringe all throughout as well as some subtle bling of course, but whenever we wear it, we truly feel like royalty. It pairs with a pair of custom cow hide boots from Alberta Boot Co. that are a shimmery brown and actually have our crowns lasered onto the front! It means the world to us that with these boots, we get to carry our crowns with us and don’t have to completely give them up at the end of September.

How do you ladies always look so beautiful?? Any hair, make up or nail tips you can share?

Let me tell you, we certainly don’t wake up like this! To start with though, we use all Aria skin care products specialized for each of our skin types as well as the Aria makeup line, which has been a lifesaver! The trick with the makeup is to apply it inside and then go sit in your car and re-evaluate, because no matter what, it always looks different in natural sunlight! For the hair, I never curl freshly washed hair or else it becomes limp and unmanageable within a few hours, go spend some time with your horse before curling it to get it a little dirty first which helps lock in the curl! For nails, our sponsor nail technicians at Lushus Concepts are miracle workers, I had never touched my nails before this year and they make them look amazing. I keep them short otherwise they break pretty quick working in the barns and such.

Chelsey enjoying some nice hot Starbucks.

Chelsey enjoying some nice hot Starbucks.


Can you please tell me about your Stampede horse?

I’ve been told that my Stampede horse, Snoopy, and I are kindred spirits. I think we’re the most competitive pair out of the group, no matter what we’re doing. Snoopy has one of the biggest personalities I’ve seen in a horse and makes me laugh every time I’m with him. He always has to be watching and waiting to help out while I groom and tack up, he will have his head literally cranked right around to ensure he doesn’t miss a thing. He also has to get every job done as fast as possible…life is a race for Snoop, and let me tell you, he usually wins. We have compared him a couple times to Justin Timberlake with his charming personality, and his love to dance (especially in the arena to O’Canada). He is a quirky guy who knows his job inside and out, and we definitely feed off of each other’s energy, especially when AC/DC comes on.

Chelsey cruising down the street in Calgary with Snoopy.

Chelsey cruising down the street in Calgary with Snoopy.


Can you tell us about a day in your life, when you are required to appear as part of the Stampede Royalty?

First off, there is hardly a routine to our lives, each day is different, and sometimes a surprise! But a typical day starts off with getting ourselves all dolled up and into whatever casual or formal outfit required. We usually meet on park and carpool over with our chaperone to the event itself. We check in with whoever is the contact for that event and carry on with whatever duty is expected of us. After it’s done, I like to come home and do nothing but unwind for about 15 minutes before even taking my makeup off. We typically like to prepare for each event by researching the event itself as well as who the guests and audience will be so that we can go in knowing as much as we can to avoid any unexpected surprises. It also makes the hosts feel more appreciated that we took the time to learn about their cause or hopes for the event, whatever they may be.


Chelsey, Maggie, and Vanessa chatting it up with etalk.

Chelsey, Maggie, and Vanessa chatting it up with etalk.


For others who might aspire to try out for the Royalty competition, do you have any tips or advice to offer?

For me, during the whole competition, I kept being told to just be myself and let my real personality shine. So that’s what I did and here I am. I typicall am very positive and bubbly and I didn’t hold back at all. The judges are looking for three genuine girls who are true to themselves and are grateful for the opportunity to represent the Stampede and what it stands for. So being your true self is a huge step in the right direction, nobody wants to see someone become somebody they’re not just because they’re in the spotlight or feel they need to impress others.

Chelsey pictured with the London bridge.

Chelsey pictured with the London bridge.

The 2017 Queen and Princesses Contest is now open. Applications accepted until August 15, 2016.

Q & A With Stampede Royalty

Photo by Laura Parry of Wildheart Photography.

Photo by Laura Parry of Wildheart Photography.


Western Horse Review sat down with Bailee recently – one of the Calgary Stampede princesses – about her experiences, her Stampede horse, beauty tips, learning experiences and much more about her exciting life experience as Stampede royalty!

Can you please tell me what has been one of your most memorable experiences of being part of the royalty to date?

The most memorable moment so far has probably been our first grand entry at Aggie Days. I was a ball of nerves leading up to it, but my horse, Hawk, as well as Maggie and Chelsey, helped to ease my nerves and we had an absolute blast going full speed around the arena full of cheering kids!

What are you still looking forward to?

Definitely the actual ten days of Stampede! In particular, I’m really looking forward to riding in the parade – what better way to kick things off?! Every year I look forward to eating pancakes for ten days straight, and that hasn’t changed either – haha.

What have you learned about the experience thus far?

I thought that I knew a lot about the Calgary Stampede and I thought I was very passionate about it when I first tried out for Royalty – but that knowledge and passion of this organization has only grown! Learning about everything the Stampede does year round, from agriculture education to animal events to supporting youth programs has only made me love it more and I know I will remain involved long after my year as Princess is over.

Bailee giving some scratches to a week old foal.

Bailee giving some scratches to a week old foal.


Can you tell me about your clothes and boots?

We are so lucky to have our whole wardrobe sponsored for the year! Lammles, Janine’s Custom Creations, Alberta Boot Company and Wrangler do an amazing job of making sure that we look and feel our best whether we are at a pancake breakfast with elementary school kids in town, or at a party with the Canadian Ambassador in Berlin. I love wearing any of our Alberta Boots with skinny Wranglers and a fancy top – I feel just a little dressed up, but could also hop on my horse in that outfit!

Bailee's gorgeous Stampede Royalty journal.

Bailee’s gorgeous Stampede Royalty journal.


How do you ladies always look so beautiful? Any hair, make up or nail tips you can share?

Liz from The Aria Studios gets full credit!! She provides us with all the skin care and make up products we need throughout the year and teaches us how to use all of it. My go-to’s are matte powder, blush and bright lipstick – always bright lipstick! I’m not a good person to talk to about nails, I bite mine so much! I don’t know how they do it, but Lushus Concepts always manages to make my manicure beautiful though. I love pastel colours on my nails year round. As for hair, we curl our hair a lot so I like to put coconut oil in my hair over night to help ease the heat damage. It also makes my hair smell awesome.

Photo by Laura Parry of Wildheart Photography.

Photo by Laura Parry of Wildheart Photography.


Can you please tell me about your Stampede horse?

My horse is a stunning dun named Hawk. He has year-round natural highlights through his mane and tiger stripes down his legs. I like to compare Hawk to George Clooney: he’s super handsome, one of the best at what he does and is always relaxed under pressure. A couple of things Hawk and I have in common are that we are both the oldest members of our trio and we both love snacks and laying in the sunshine. We call him “Hawk the Rock” because he is always a good balancing board for me; when I am energetic and little crazy Hawk levels me out and brings me back down to earth and when I’m down or having a bad day, he always lifts my spirits.

Bailee's Stampede horse Hawk.

Bailee’s Stampede horse Hawk.


Can you tell us about a day in your life, when you are required to appear as part of the Stampede Royalty?

Typically, Maggie, Chelsey and I are in touch throughout the day, planning what outfit to wear and what jewelry to pair it with. I’ll crank up some Keith Urban or AC/DC about an hour before I have to leave the house, because doing make-up in silence is no fun! I have a big rolling rack of my royalty wardrobe in my room so everything is easy to find. If it’s not something I’ve done already, I’ll double check the event information and make sure I have an understanding of the company/organization hosting us and what we are there to do. Then I kiss my puppies good-bye and I’m out the door – I’ll meet up with Chelsey and Maggie at Stampede Park and we’ll head off to our event together! Everyday is a little bit different, but that’s the general way things go for me.

Bailee attending the 2013 Grey Cup.

Bailee attending the 2013 Grey Cup.


For others who might aspire to try out for the Royalty competition, do you have any tips or advice to offer?

This is definitely a role that will require 110% commitment, so just know that you really have to put your heart and soul into it! If you decide you want to be a part of the trio, don’t be afraid to commit to pursuing that dream wholeheartedly. I was selected the second year I was in the competition and it has without a doubt been worth it. It may seem like a crazy dream or something that might be out of reach, but it’s not!

Bailee packing for her trip to Berlin.

Bailee packing for her trip to Berlin.

The 2017 Queen and Princesses Contest is now open. Applications accepted until August 15, 2016.

Born to Buck

2016+Poster+online (522x800)

The Calgary Stampede revealed the original artwork for the 2016 Stampede poster (on Oct. 5) at the Central Calgary Public Library. Community members, and Stampede employees and volunteers in cowboy hats, cheered the unveiling of the painting.

The 2016 poster artwork, completed by Calgary artist Michelle Grant, represents six horses that have been bred and raised at the Stampede Ranch. The piece, named Born to Buck highlights the Stampede Ranch’s very own Born to Buck program.

“I wanted to create awareness and conversation around our Born to Buck program,” says Bill Gray, President and chairman of the board of the Calgary Stampede. “To capture the spirit of this incredible Stampede program, we needed a meticulous artist who could create movement and evoke the essence of these equine athletes. I am extremely pleased with the final piece, and I am proud to share it around the world as our iconic Stampede Poster.”

The painting recognizes the Calgary Stampede bucking stock that participates at rodeos all across North America, in addition to the Calgary Stampede Rodeo. The careful attention to detail and acute sense of movement brings the stunning piece of art to life.

“I was thrilled when Bill Gray contacted me to create the artwork for the 2016 Stampede Poster,” says Grant. “My passion is horses and everything they represent. My work is focused on capturing their strength, agility and personality.”

Grant works in acrylics, oils and graphite and brings a sound understanding of design, light, form and anatomy to all her work. She has a unique ability to combine a realist style with impressionist input. Grant has been the recipient of many awards, has worked with the Canadian Mint on numerous gold, silver and circulation coins and has participated in creating the Mural Mosaic for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver.

Each year, since 1912, the Calgary Stampede creates a poster to promote the upcoming year’s Stampede. For many of the early years, the poster was the Stampede’s main form of advertising. In recent years, the poster artwork was auctioned off during Stampede time. The 2016 poster will be the first to be permanently displayed on Stampede Park as part of a new tradition.

During the months leading up to the 2016 Calgary Stampede, the painting will be on display in a number of locations around the city. For more information on where the artwork will be as well as how to apply to host the artwork, please contact Shannon Murray at

Western Artist – Sheila Schaetzle

Story by Piper Whelan

Calgary artist Sheila Schaetzle will be featured at this year's Calgary Stampede Western Art Gallery.

Calgary artist Sheila Schaetzle will be featured at this year’s Calgary Stampede Western Art Gallery. Photo by Emily Exon Photography

Sheila Schaetzle is wild about nature. It’s evident in her art: in how she paints radiant autumn leaves in a distant valley, in the way she creates light on a snowy path. This Calgary-based artist uses her Maritime roots and Alberta home for artistic inspiration, both of which will be seen in the six paintings she’ll have on display at the 2015 Calgary Stampede’s Western Art Showcase.

Schaetzle grew up in the Restigouche region of New Brunswick, the subject of many of her paintings. “A lot of my work is inspired by the colours in the fall and just nature in general,” she says. “My dad was a hunter and a fisherman, so we were always outdoors, whether we were on the beaches or we were camping out somewhere. As far back as I can remember, I have really loved being out in nature, amongst the trees.”

"Early Snow" will be on display at the 2015 Western Art Gallery.

“Early Snow” will be on display at the 2015 Western Art Gallery.

Schaetzle admired many artists featured at the Western Showcase in the past, but never imagined that she would be among them today. “Going to the art show was always a big part of attending the Stampede,” she says. She’s exhibited in the Western Art Gallery for three years; prior to that she volunteered by giving demonstrations in the Artists’ Window booth. She is proud “to be part of that now and have my work on exhibition next to some of these great Calgary artists.”

Her love for art began at a young age, filling sketchbooks as a child and studying art throughout school. She decided to pursue art more seriously in 1998 with night classes, as well as learning from books and experimentation. Schaetzle works with oils, acrylics and mixed media, and loves exploring different techniques. Her goal is to create a “painterly” view, “something that’s not necessarily what you’re going to see in a photograph, but something that’s more original and on the creative side,” she explains.

"Rocky Mountain Sketch II" was exhibited at the 2014 Western Art Gallery.

“Rocky Mountain Sketch II” was exhibited at the 2014 Western Art Gallery.

“I’m thinking more in terms of big shapes and concepts that aren’t necessarily based on realism [when beginning a piece]. I’m not thinking about painting a tree, or painting a house; I’m more interested in creating content and creating a structure that is more about shape and value.”

She describes her process as “freeing,” and often works from sketches rather than photos. “Even in the sketching stage I’m working out a lot of what needs to happen, eventually, when I get the paint on the paint brush. So I journal about the thoughts and ideas that I have about what I want to achieve,” she explains. These are broad ideas on the feeling she wants to convey. “Often it’s based on something that I’ve seen or experienced, or a memory that I’m working from … I believe in painting what you know.” This way, each painting tells a story connected to the place or experience it depicts.

"It's a Beautiful Day" will be on display at the 2015 Western Art Gallery.

“It’s a Beautiful Day” will be on display at the 2015 Western Art Gallery.

When creating artwork to submit to the Western Art Gallery, Schaetzle focuses on what will suit the venue, and also considers the Stampede’s international audience. “It’s an opportunity for artists to share all of the wonderful things that we have in the west — our mountains and our foothills. Our scenery is just full of beautiful landscapes, from our rolling hills to our green pastures, so there’s a ton of content that artists can use.”

"Million Dollar View," a new painting that is part of the Rocky Mountain Series exhibited at the 2014 Western Art Gallery.

“Million Dollar View,” a new painting that is part of Schaetzle’s Rocky Mountain Series exhibited at the 2014 Western Art Gallery.

When she’s not at work in her studio, Schaetzle gives weekly art classes at the Calgary School of Art, and volunteers in her local arts community. Her work is on exhibit at Calgary’s Leighton Art Centre. Visit her website to check out more of her artwork and her blog on an artist’s life.

Western Careers – Equine Veterinarian

Not many people have the gumption to give up a successful career and start into post-secondary schooling again. Yet, that’s exactly what this cowgirl did. Here’s why she’ll never look back.

 Interview by Jenn Webster • Photograph by Deanna Kristensen


My great-grandfather homesteaded in Millarville, AB, in 1902. My grandmother was part of the very first University of Calgary graduating class. Being born and raised in the Calgary area meant I was always around horses. They were a part of my DNA. I remember how I used to get so excited if a veterinarian came to our place.

When I was younger, I started riding and training with show jumper Jonathan Asselin. At his barn I saw many interactions with vets and other equine personnel. The first time I ever observed a horse receiving acupuncture, I became immediately intrigued by sports medicine and its application to horses.

I went to school to be a human chiropractor for four years and later practiced with a big sports medicine practice in California. Our clients included the San Franciso 49ers and the San Jose Sharks. I got the opportunity to work with many injured players.

I met my future husband Dave while I was in California and ironically, he was also originally from Calgary. We knew we wanted to settle back in Calgary but if we wanted to travel, then was the time. So next we found ourselves in Ireland and I ran a locum Chiropractic practice there for two years.

I enjoyed what I was doing but I craved to work with animals. After Ireland we moved back to Calgary and the new University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine was opening. Hundreds of students were applying but I sent my application in and was lucky enough to be chosen. I’ve never looked back.

I graduated with distinction as a member of the first graduating class from the U of C’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. During my time as a vet student, I won a scholarship for leadership and excellence in equine veterinary medicine. The award is offered by the American Association of Equine Practitioners (which represents 63 countries). Every school has an internal competition to compete for this scholarship and my name was put forward by my teachers. Then you compete against all the other schools. Only four people win.

My next adventure has already begun with further studies in the field of Equine Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation. I am enrolled in graduate studies through the UCVM and Moore Equine, and hope to be one of very few individuals to become boarded under the newly formed American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation through a local residency program – one of only three programs in the world.

My mother gave me a custom-made, felt cowboy hat when I graduated as a veterinarian. Inside the headband she had it embroidered to read, “I can do this…”

I work with Moore Equine Veterinary Centre in Balzac, Alberta, and honestly, this is my dream job. I am in horse heaven. It is the busiest equine referral hospital in Canada. With events such as Spruce Meadows and the Calgary Stampede, we’re really in the heart of the most elite performance horses in the world.

In 1998, I was a Calgary Stampede princess. Last summer, I was honored to serve as a Stampede veterinarian on the sideline. I estimate there to be 400+ horses there this year. Vets at the Stampede do everything from drug testing to caring for parade horses, to colics, minor lacerations and lameness exams. We’re also intimately involved in the Stampede’s Animal Care Advisory Panel, overseeing all animal welfare policies and codes of practice. They were long days but I loved every second of it.

Children are not in my plans for the immediate future but Moore is very supportive of women in veterinary medicine. If Dave and I do decide to have kids it’s nice to know I am in an environment where I can balance a family life and my career.

Surfing is my passion outside of veterinary medicine. Whenever my husband and I go on a holiday, it must include a surfing destination.

The logistics of stopping what you are currently doing and spending money to pursue a dream means a lot of people can’t do it. I feel very lucky to have been able to change career paths. I worked my butt off because I knew I was lucky to be given another chance.

The New Face of Rodeo

Big reveal.

Western Horse Review writer and The Lovely, Rugged Road blogger, Katy Lucas is working on a piece for our next issue, the core of which is close to her heart – rodeo. It’s a story that couldn’t have come at a better time. My social media feed fills up daily with rodeo talk, and lately, specifically, how, and why, what we define as “rodeo” needs to change.

It reminded me of a piece Ted Stovin did for us last year. Originally printed in the July/August, 2014 issue, he too, in collusion with several rodeo players, pondered the changing world of the sport and what would need to happen for it thrive. One theme prevailed – rodeo is in the entertainment business.

Here’s a look back at that piece, and it’s little gems of wisdom. Watch for Lucas’ piece, including an interview with new Canadian Professional Rodeo Association General Manager, Dan Eddy, in the next issue of the magazine. 


Photo by Dainya Sapergia



When siting in the stands of a rodeo performance at the Calgary Stampede, it is apparent what is being showcased; the rodeo, the stock and experience all adding up to the Greatest Outdoor Show on earth.

The shows are run quickly and smoothly with every detail down to the raking of the inside of the bucking chutes taken care of.

“We have great support from our volunteer base and they work tireless hours on production to make sure the show is down to the two-and-a-half or two hours and 40 minutes we need it to be,” says Keith Marrington, Rodeo and Chuckwagon Manager, when speaking of July’s rodeo. “It’s a snappy production with many entertaining elements.”

Within this equation for success, format makes a difference as well.

“A lot of rodeos are going to different formats because they can control what contestants come there and they are getting on the top stock. When you get that combination of quality contestants and stock, it puts on a great production.”

Having a winner each day of any event is the key in keeping the attention of the crowd and having them understand the show.

“We have a winner every day, that’s what people want to see,” says Marrington. “We are a 10-day show, we have people that come on day one that aren’t going to be back on day 10. For our fan base it’s a lot easier for them to understand. Our audiences are from all over, domestic and overseas, and they are coming to the Calgary Stampede to be entertained.

“I think the face of rodeo is changing, in the sense that people want to control their own destiny a little more on what events they have, what contestants come there and to offer something unique.”

RFD-TV’s The American did exactly that this spring with it’s inaugural event held in Arlington, Texas, and with great enough success to announce the second edition of the event on March 1st, 2015.

Randy Bernard, the leader behind The American is a former intern of the Calgary Stampede.

“It was the most defining thing I’ve ever done in my life. I knew after my internship exactly what I wanted to do with my life,” says Bernard. “The entire experience was life changing for me. I went back and worked for a fair and knew I wanted to be in western sports, and the western lifestyle and that’s what I did.”

Bernard led the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) as their CEO to pay their World Champion $1,000,000 for the first time in 2003 among many other groundbreaking moves. He also headed up IndyCar until coming on as the CEO of RFD-TV.

“Our biggest message is that RFD-TV is a friend of rodeo. We want to grow the sport by doing everything we can do to help, that’s one of our top priorities,” says Bernard. “The American is where we put our staple and I think it brought us tremendous credibility.”

The American is a stand-alone event with qualifying events in which anyone can compete. Legends were invited as exemptions in the first year, along with the top contestants in the world.

“I’m in the television business and I believe I can make a difference in the rodeo and western sports world by creating heroes and giving exposure to athletes and why they should be great role models,” reveals Bernard.

The Canadian Professional Rodeo Association (CPRA) has less control over each event compared to stand-alone rodeos such as the Calgary Stampede or The American, however, they do have the power to improve the sport by putting on events like the Grassroots Finals or Wrangler Tour Shootout in conjunction with the IPE and Armstrong Stampede.

“It’s a great way to put an exclamation point on a tour. It gives the tour a good purpose but it also starts to line us up to promote rodeo that’s exciting, that’s understandable,” says CPRA Rodeo Administrator Kynan Vine about the Wrangler Tour Shootout in Armstrong. “It’s a one-day, one head shoot out. It’s easy for television, it’s easy for people to understand and there’s a winner, that’s where rodeo needs to be.”

Vine further explains his thoughts on the future of professional rodeo in Canada and the production involved with each individual event.

“That’s the thing about our sport, it’s entertaining to watch, but it being entertaining and it being easily understood is another thing, those two have to tie together and that’s where you’re going to get real entertainment value out of rodeo.

“We are a sporting industry so we have to obviously cater to our fans. Making rodeo easy to understand, making it entertaining means putting it in a format that is super accessible, it leads us to formats like PGA Golf where only the best end up in front of the crowd and on TV,” says Vine.

Vine continues, noting that there are many parties to please in our industry.

“There are many different stakeholders and each one has different needs. You have the committees, contractors, and contestants, which are a large portion of the stakeholders. They all want something out of rodeo but what we have to remember is that we are here to entertain our fans. We are in the entertainment industry. We are a sport.”

Entertainment means examining formats that work for the fans first.

“We have to build our sport and we have to progress it so when someone wants to watch a rodeo whether it’s on television or they want to come and watch it, they know exactly what they are watching,” says Vine, going back to golf and it’s format. “You take a sport like golf and they figure out how to make a sport like golf, which most people wouldn’t consider really entertaining to watch but they’ve made it entertaining by bringing the best golfers in the world together.”

In rodeo, this captivating element is translated into showdowns and shootouts, which are popping up more and more.

“That’s why showdowns, shootouts, short rounds and championships in rodeo are well attended and exciting. The crowd knows at the end of they day there is going to be a winner,” says Vine.

“You see it in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and it’s coming in the CPRA, we are moving more towards that, building rodeo and getting everyone on the same page moving toward that and it’s becoming more of the culture of rodeo.”

Events such as the Grassroots Finals work towards developing the sports future elite.

“The reason we have rodeos like the Grassroots Finals is to make sure in the process of highlighting the top in the world we also highlight and promote our future superstars in an exciting format,” says Vine. “The future of the sport isn’t going to rest on promoting only the top we have to develop our future as well.”

CPRA General Manager, and current contestant, Jeff Robson, concurs.

“I think the best guys deserve a chance to compete with the best guys at the best venues in front of the best crowds where the people are paying,” he notes. “We are a professional sport in the entertainment business, if we can’t do that we won’t survive.

“It’s got to be sellable. It’s got to be a viable,”

Two-time Canadian Bull Riding Champion and former (Editor’s Note: please remember this was written in the spring of 2014) Calgary Stampede Champion Scott Schiffner echoes the same thoughts.

“The biggest thing I think is that the high profile contestants should only go to the top events,” says Schiffner. “In my opinion, the biggest rodeos don’t need 120 entries. They need the elite and that’s it. For example, the best 25 contestants in the world should go to 24 to 30 event tops. By having everyone go everywhere it waters down the product to where we have nothing to sell.”

Schiffner himself has been to the Canadian Finals Rodeo more than any other bull rider in the past decade. However, he thinks this format would motivate the top bracket to improve their riding even more.

“I’ve done well in Canada, but I might not have been one of those top 25. That might have given me more desire to go there (to that top level), though,” he says.

As we move forward, there are new events and people on the horizon in our country and abroad that look to better this sport. The future of rodeo hints at higher-level production of events with different formats, which are more entertaining and easily watched by fans.

At this crossroads, there is a choice to make. Do we keep doing the same things we’ve done to keep getting the same results? Or make some changes to further our sport and keep it around for future generations to participate in and enjoy.

Either way, the choice is ours, and the future looks bright.

Former bull rider Ted Stovin of Calgary, Alberta is the creator of; a writer, event producer, music director and part-time hat maker for Smithbilt Hats of Calgary.