Experience Pays Off in 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


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


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