Born to Buck

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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 smurray@calgarystampede.com.

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

Erin-Shield

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. 

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Photo by Dainya Sapergia

THE NEW FACE OF RODEO

BY TED STOVIN

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 EverythingCowboy.com; a writer, event producer, music director and part-time hat maker for Smithbilt Hats of Calgary.

Calgary Stampede Cutting Futurity

calgaryfuturityFeed your passion for horses with a free weekend of entertainment at the Calgary Stampede Cutting Horse Futurity, presented by Wrangler. Cutting is a sport of speed, agility and cow-sense – the ultimate challenge between horse and cow. You’d be surprised how fast and agile a solo cow can be when trying to get back to its herd, and even more impressed with how these young “futurity” horses can anticipate, out-think and out-maneuver the cow.

Local horses and riders take on the best from across North America, with added prizes and commemorative saddles drawing ever more competitors to the event’s first year in all-new Agrium Western Event Centre at Stampede Park.

The Bill Collins Bridleless Showcase is sure to be a big hit with visitors on the evening of Saturday, October 18. The show features top professional cutting horses that work without reins while wearing novelty costumes, plus silent auctions and more fun to raise funds for youth horsemanship scholarships.

More information and a detailed schedule can be found here.

Grass Roots Finals Success Stories

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Photo by Billie Jean Duff

The inaugural CINCH Grass Roots Pro Rodeo Tour Finals in Calgary was all about second chances. The two-day finals on October 3-4 at the Agrium Western Event Centre at Stampede Park in Calgary provided Pro Rodeo Canada competitors with another opportunity to gain qualification into the 41st Canadian Finals Rodeo at Rexall Place in Edmonton, AB, in November. Four of those contestants seized that opportunity.

Among that quarter earning enough prize money to vault inside the top twelve of the CFR standings was bullrider, Billy West. The 20-year-old, Cadogan, AB, cowboy picked up a cheque worth $3,000 to jump to 10th in the unofficial final CPRA bullriding standings. It was also enough to bump West to the top of the CPRA rookie standings.

“I really wanted to win that award,” say West of the CPRA Rookie of the Year title. “It’s a once in a lifetime thing to win so I’m pretty excited. And my dad (Kevin, 1986) won it when he was riding bulls so I wanted to do the same.”

West’s season hung in the balance heading into Saturday night’s final round in Calgary. After being knocked out the night before after riding John Duffy’s Mardi Gras for 85 points, the 2012 Wildrose Rodeo Association bullriding champion jumped aboard Wild Hogg’s Trendon, a relatively unknown name on the pro rodeo trail.

“I’ve seem him at a lot of PBR’s before in the short rounds. They’ve been 90 on him before. He turned back to the right out of the chute and then jumped back left at about six seconds. He got me a little loosened up, but I made it work.”

The result was a 90-point score and the second round win for West, who finished 6th in the Grass Roots Tour standings. He also won the average with a 175-point total on two head.

“I’m pretty excited. I had my mind set on CFR all year,” offers West, who was $727 out of a Canadian Finals roster spot heading into the Grass Roots Tour finals. “I wasn’t too sure if I would have a shot my first year. I needed these finals to get me in there. One more rodeo made all the difference.”

2008 Canadian saddle bronc champion, Dusty Hausauer was more than $2,200 out of a CFR berth going into the GRTF. But after sweeping both go-rounds and the average to win $4,000, the Dickinson, ND, cowboy easily booked another trip to Edmonton next month. Hausauer won Friday’s opening round with an 83.5-point trip on Frank Wyzykoski’s Mud Pie, then was 86 points on Calgary Stampede’s Twilight Moon the next night to complete the sweep.

Chad Johnson was fighting a different battle heading into the weekend. The 42-year-old, who uses a Del Bonita, AB, address, but is considered an American for CFR qualification purposes, was jockeying for one of the maximum, five non-Canadian berths in the tie-down roping. Johnson won round one with an 8.4-second run, finished second in round two and captured the average title for a $3,750 payday, enough to leave the 20-year pro cowboy 4th in the Canadian standings.

Barrel racer, Nancy Csabay also used her second chance at the GRTF to qualify for her 5th Canadian Finals Rodeo. Csabay won $1,750 to slip into the number 11 spot in the CFR standings. Fellow barrel racer, Sarah Gerard won $1,000 in Calgary but still finished $342 out of a CFR spot.

While Jake Vold of Ponoka, AB, and Curtis Cassidy of Donalda, AB, already had their CFR hotel rooms booked before traveling to Calgary, they used the extra weekend to accomplish some other goals. Vold won $1,000 to eclipse the $40,000 plateau in the bareback riding while Cassidy won $2,500 to win the steer wrestling season leader award.

While the competitors were more than happy to have an extra opportunity to increase their earnings, the CPRA believes it accomplished what it set out to do with the introduction of the Grass Roots Tour.

“We wanted to highlight the lesser known stock contractors and they showcased some great stock,” begins CPRA Interim General Manager, Jeff Robson. “We also wanted to give the competitors who supported rodeos all year long a big boost. And the smaller committees benefited from larger entries they don’t usually get.”

Next up is the 41st Canadian Finals Rodeo at Rexall Place, Edmonton (Nov. 5-9).

Calgary Stampede 10-Day Highlights

Photo By Kelsey Simpson

A beautiful horse rode in the RCMP Musical Ride Sunday afternoon. Photo By Kelsey Simpson

Calgary – There’s a reason why the Calgary Stampede’s posters usually depicts a horse, or horses. Simply put, the Stampede has its origins in the horse-powered agricultural world of over a century ago and it remains the world’s greatest celebration of the Western horse culture.

There has always been an unbreakable bond between cowboys and their horses. This year, in the annual Cowboy Up Challenge, the Extreme Cowboy Association’s annual big Canadian event, it was a cowgirl who won the big buckle. Kateri Cowley of Exshaw, AB, and her faithful steed Kokanee demonstrated the combination of trust and training that is the only formula for success in this most-challenging competition. Kateri, a former Stampede princess, was among the first competitors when extreme cowboy racing came to Canada and her victory came over a very strong group of riders, including some former World Champions.

The Working Cow Horse Classic is another test of the partnership between horse and rider. In the 15 classics to date, the name of John Swales of Millarville is listed as the winner of the Open Bridle Class an amazing ten times. This year Swales rode Maximum Echo, owned by Flo Houlton of Caroline, AB. Longview, AB.’s Clint Swales, John’s brother and perhaps his closest competitor, won Open Hackamore riding HR Chic Nic, owned by Bruce Bamford of Calgary. Another Calgarian, Suzon Schaal, rode her mare Genuine Brown Gal to the Non-Pro Bridle title for the fifth time.

When it comes to hard work for both horse and rider, there’s nothing quite like Team Cattle Penning. Finding three cows in a herd of thirty and then persuading them to move downfield and into a pen, when they don’t really want to go, makes for a real challenge, and some great entertainment. In the super-competitive 10 class, the Millet, AB father and daughter combination of Brian and Paige Cardinal teamed with Calgary’s Alex Hansen to take the buckle. In the 14 class, the multi-generational team of Pat Bolin from Stettler, AB, Lesley Marsh of Arrowwood, AB, and Josie Abraham of Carstairs, AB combined for the win. The top-ranked riders compete in the Open class, and it was Donna O’Reilly of Millarville, AB, Kirk Cottrell, also of Millarville, and Devin Antony of Calgary, AB, beating the best of the best. In the 7 class, Mason Cockx of Millarville, AB, Bruce Stewart of Canmore, AB and Mike Street of Penticton, BC, finished on top.

Stampede visitors wanting a little closer look at light horses were welcomed to Horse Haven presented by TAQA. There were 17 different breeds of light horse on hand, along with their passionate owners. There were also demonstrations of the capabilities of these remarkable animals in a Wild West Show format, presented four times during the Stampede.

Not too far from Horse Haven was Draft Horse Town, where the heavy horses hung out. There was more than horses there, however, as equipment from the age of horse-power was on display to illustrate the technology of days gone by. Each day in Draft Horse Town, Lady – the beautiful Belgian mare whose visage graced this year’s Stampede poster – made an appearance in Draft Horse Town to meet her public.

The Stampede’s oldest event, the Heavy Horse Show and World Championship 6-Horse Hitch happened for the 128th time. The Eaglesfield Percherons of Brian and Randi Thiel of Didsbury, AB won their fifth World Championship 6-Horse Hitch title as the musicians of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra played in the background. Y.E.S. Mystique, a Percheron belonging to Chad Munns of Garland, UT, won the class and was also Best of Show.

For those who like to watch the powerful heavy horses in action, the Heavy Horse Pull is a must-see. On Friday night, Randy Dodge of Albany, OR, drove Belgians Bud and Red to the Lightweight crown. The team is co-owned by Stan Grad of Airdrie, and was sponsored by Calmont Leasing. On Saturday night, it was another Dodge/Grad outfit winning the buckle. It took a pull of 11,500 pounds and 11 rounds of competition for Simon and Mike to take the win for New West Truck Centres. It was the same sponsor, but a different team that topped the nine-horse Heavyweight class. Martin Howard brought Joker and Sandy, the two biggest horses in the Stampede pull this year, down from Rocky Mountain House and took them home as the Stampede heavyweight champions on Sunday night after outpulling the outfit of Randy Dodge and Stan Grad by all of a foot.

For those who like their equine entertainment in smaller doses, there’s the Canadian National Miniature Horse Show and the miniature donkey exhibit. They may be little, but these little animals will really perform for their owners and never fail to win the hearts of visitors.

From cow ponies to draft horses, fans of horsemanship and horseflesh got a full helping of both at this year’s Stampede. The cowboys and teamsters have packed up for another year, but they’ll be back with their beautiful horses in less than 51 weeks.

Experience Pays Off in Cow Horse Classic

CALGARY STAMPEDE WORKING COW HORSE CLASSIC

Open Bridle Champion – Maximum Echo, Owner Flo Houlton, ridden by John Swales

Reserve Champion – Pure Latigo, Owner Bob O’Callaghan, ridden by Clint Swales

Limited Champion –Smart L’il Boonlight, Owned and ridden by Kent Williamson

Open Hackamore Champion – HR Chic Nic, Owner Bruce Bamford, ridden by Clint Swales

Reserve Champion – Red Hot Jade, Owners Bart & Terri Holowath, ridden by Cody McArthur

Limited Champion – Annies Playin Cat, Owned and ridden by Veronica Swales

Limited Reserve Champion – Me and Lena, Owned by Sanford Big Plume, ridden by Kent Williamson

Non-Pro Bridle Champion – Genuine Brown Gal, Owned and ridden by Suzon Schaal, Calgary, AB

Reserve Champion – Pickachiclet, Owned and ridden by Terri Holowath, Cayley, AB

Novice Champion – Smart Sassy Date, Owned and ridden by Greg Gartner, Sherwood Park, AB

Novice Reserve Champion – Mates Irish Hickory, Owned and ridden by Lorne Bodell, Cremona, AB

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Photo by The Calgary Stampede

Calgary – Two volunteers, members of the Calgary Stampede Western Performance Horse Committee, watching from the sidelines in the Agrium Western Event Centre, summed up the domination shown by the Swales family in the Working Cow Horse Classic. “They really set the benchmark,” said one. “They sure do,” replied the other.

In the Open Bridle class, John Swales of Millarville won his ninth of the 14 Classics he’s entered, riding Maximum Echo, owned by Flo Houlton of Caroline, AB. More remarkably, Swales also qualified another mount for the five-horse final and had to ride them one right after the other. “You don’t have long to prepare the second horse,” he commented. There isn’t much time for the rider to reset for the different qualities of the next horse, either. “They all have their own strengths and weaknesses,” Swales observed. It was on his second ride, though, that the multi-time champion scored a remarkable 299 to take the buckle and $5,440. The Reserve Champion, just four points in arrears, was John’s younger brother, Clint, from Longview, AB, who earned a cheque for $4,080.

Clint’s Stampede was somewhat redeemed by his Open Hackamore win astride HR Chic Nic, owned by Calgary’s Bruce Bamford, earning $4,620 in the process. John had two horses in this class, too, but difficult cows sabotaged his runs. Cody McArthur of Strathmore, AB, rode Red Hot Jade, owned by Bart and Terri Holowath of Cayley to a $3,850 payday.

You don’t have to be named Swales to dominate a class in the Working Cow Horse Classic. Calgary equine veterinarian Suzon Schaal proved that when she rode her mare Genuine Brown Gal to earn her fifth Stampede buckle and $3,164. Every one of Schaal’s victories has been on the same mount. “She’s my first cow horse,” said Schaal, who has only been competing for seven years. “I was very fortunate to luck into a good one right off the bat.” Terri Holowath added another Reserve Champion title to her collection, taking home $2,486.

The Stampede’s Working Cow Horse Classic continues a tradition of skilled horsemanship dating back to the earliest days of working stock from horseback. Horse-and-rider teams are judged on their authority, discipline and precision in two distinct areas – reined work, or dry work, and cow work, also known as fence work. Reined work, labeled “Western dressage” by some, is based on a predetermined pattern of manoeuvres, including figure-eights, straight runs, sliding stops and 360-degree spins. Cow work, the exciting, action-packed portion of the show, sees the horse-and-rider team first box a steer, then send it at full tilt along the fence, heading it off and turning it both ways, before finally circling it once in each direction in the centre of the arena.

The Stampede’s Working Cow Horse Classic hosts bridle and hackamore divisions for fully-trained horses and four- and five-year-olds, respectively, with open, non-pro and novice designations for various levels of rider experience. Six championships were up for grabs — Open Bridle, Open

Dodge Makes it Two for Two

RESULTS: HEAVY HORSE PULL – Middleweight Class

Champion – Simon & Mike, Randy Dodge, Albany, OR/Stan Grad, Airdrie, AB for New West Truck Centres

Reserve – Bob & Dan, Kevin Danyluk, Edmonton, AB for Eau Claire Distillery

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Calgary – On Saturday night the Middleweight teams, each weighing in at a combined 3,000 to 3,499 pounds, were hard at it in the second of three evenings of the Stampede Heavy Horse Pull. After eleven rounds of progressively-increasing weight on the sled, Randy Dodge, driving Simon and Mike, was the winner. It was Dodge’s fourth victory in a row with Mike, and Simon’s third.

Dodge is co-owner of the team with Airdrie’s Stan Grad. “Stan’s a good man and he’s done a lot for me over the years,” said Dodge, who has been competing at the Stampede for most of a decade. The Albany, OR puller also made a point of giving credit to another vital member of the team. “My wife Stacy is the backbone of the operation,” he said.

It took until the sixth pull, with 9,000 pounds on the sled, before any of the ten teams entered fell out. By round ten, the weight was up to 11,000 pounds and there were only two teams left. Simon and Mike put their heads down and managed a full pull of 14 feet. Kevin Danyluk and his team did their best, but could only drag the sled to the halfway point – 84 inches.

Cameron Witman put on an impressive display of horsemanship to finish third. His two The Catalyst Group-backed horses, Tom and Tickle, got out of sync on pulls seven and eight when they were only partway down the course. With only two attempts allowed, the Ferndale, WA, teamster halted the team, settled them down and got all the way to the finish. Witman and his team were eliminated in round nine, just 33 inches short of a full pull.

According to Dodge, everyone feels the pressure as the number of pulls increases. “They know it’s getting heavier,” he said. “They’re old veterans so they get worked up for it. When you get wound up, you fight the ground more – then you slip more. If you hold onto the reins a little tighter, you can keep them on their feet.”

The Agrium Western Event Centre is a good place for heavy horse pulling, according to Dodge. “I’ve never pulled in an air-conditioned facility,” he noted. “It was really refreshing when we came into it.”

The Heavy Horse Pull concludes Sunday evening at 7pm in the Agrium Western Event Centre with the Heavyweight class for teams tipping the scales at 3,500 pounds and over.