Sir Winston Churchill once opined that the outside of a horse is good for the inside of a person. Well, that’s rarely more evident than during the 10 midsummer days that make up the Calgary Stampede.
Equine events constitute an integral part of the fabric of the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth. The Stampede’s Heavy Horse events and trio of Western Performance Horse events – the Team Cattle Penning Competition, the Cutting Horse Competition, and the Working Cow Horse Classic – attract big crowds and draw elite competitors from across the continent, and 2010 was no exception.
“Through all of our events, we presented the best of the best to a Stampede audience,” said Christine Sowiak, chair of the Stampede’s Western Performance Horse committee. “We were fortunate enough to field a very deep pool of competitors, and that included our own regional competitors. We showed that the quality of Canadian trainers and riders, Canadian horses, and Canadian-bred horses is every bit as good as Texas and California, Oklahoma and Montana.”
Brad Pedersen of Lacombe, Alta., emerged as the second winner of the Stampede’s Elite Western Rider Award, introduced in 2009 to honour rider excellence and versatility in the Western Performance Horse arena. All riders who compete in at least two of the three disciplines are eligible for the Elite Western Rider Award, and all competitors earn points toward the title with Top-10 finishes in at least two of the events.
Pedersen posted a seventh-place finish aboard Hicks First Player, owned by Dr. Geoff Thomas of Red Deer, in the Open division of the Cutting Horse Competition on Thursday, July 15. He followed it up with a fifth-overall placement on Have a Drink On Me, owned by Jim Dobler of Delburne, Alta., in the Open Hackamore division of the Working Cow Horse Classic on Sunday, July 18.
“It’s very much an honour to be recognized for competing in both of these events, and doing relatively well in both of them, I’m lucky enough to have some good horses, and that makes a world of difference,” said Pedersen, who’s won the Open Snaffle Bit title 10 times at the Canadian Supreme in Red Deer.
Pedersen’s closest rival in the chase for the Elite Western Rider Award was Les Timmons of Kamloops, B.C., who was Open reserve champion in the cutting, but didn’t place high enough in Open Hackamore during Sunday’s Working Cow Horse Classic to keep pace with Pedersen.
Lindsey Thorlakson of Carstairs, Alta., earned her third Stampede Team Cattle Penning championship in just over a year on Friday, July 9, winning the 14 Class along with Russell Armstrong of Armstrong, B.C., and Pete Molnar of Langley, B.C. The Open Class was won by Lonnie and Skylar Hanson of Calgary, along with Jody Elliott of Lacombe, on Sunday, July 11. Husband-and-wife tandem Steve Sigouin and Deja Iannone of Abbotsford, B.C., along with Katy Kosinski of Williams Lake, B.C., claimed the 10 Class crown on Saturday, July 10, while Ron Vogel of Strathmore, Alta., Denise Guzowski of Millarville, Alta., and Debbie Myslicki of Calgary teamed up to win the 7 Class title on Monday, July 12. In all, 481 teams from across the Western half of North America vied for more than $225,000 in prize money.
The Stampede’s 38th annual cutting competition was, for the second straight year, a participating event in the Mercuria/NCHA World Series of Cutting. Tom Lyons of Grandview, Texas, scored a dramatic win in the Open division, scoring 231 points aboard Thomas E Hughes to edge Timmons and Smart Frele Cat, who’d posted a 230. Dan Hansen of Nampa, Ida., nudged his career earnings above $1 million by winning his second Stampede Non-Pro crown in three years aboard Woody Be Lucky. Calgary’s Andrea Rudkin, riding Anita Steady Date, won her second consecutive Youth crown.
In the Working Cow Horse Classic, John Swales of Millarville, Alta., scored a breathtaking, two-round aggregate score of 301 on Maximum Echo under the Big Top to win his sixth career Stampede Open Bridle title on Sunday, July 18. John’s brother Clint, of HighRiver, Alta., won Open Hackamore on The Mask with a 291 aggregate, while Bart Holowath of Cayley, Alta., took Non-Pro Bridle with a 292.
The Stampede’s Heavy Horse Pull attracted 22 teams from as far away as Michigan, Oregon, and Washington, but it was a local puller who really found his niche under the Big Top. Dennis Weinberger’s Springbank Belgians outfit of Cochrane, Alta., won the lightweight division on Friday, July 16, and followed it up with victory in the middleweight division on Saturday, July 17. Sunday night, Weinberger’s mammoth duo of Dan and Jesse set a new weight record of 13,200 pounds while winning the heavyweight division – allowing Weinberger to sweep all three classes for the first time in Stampede Heavy Horse Pull history.
During the World Champion Six Horse Hitch Competition, the highlight of the Heavy Horse Show, Brian Coleman of Didsbury, Alta., earned his third Stampede driving crown on Sunday, July 11 in the Pengrowth Saddledome, leading the Jackson Fork Ranch outfit ofBondurant, Wyo., to victory. For the first time in recent memory, five wagons were called back for a drive-off, with the Jackson Fork Ranch hitch emerging victorious.
In 2010, heavy horses celebrated their 125th anniversary as part of Calgary’s annual agricultural fair, dating back to the Stampede’s predecessor, the Calgary Industrial Exhibition. As a species, they’re the longest-running agricultural component of the Stampede and its predecessors, and the only livestock class consistently presented throughout that period.
During the 30th annual Canadian National Miniature Horse Show in the Agriculture Barns, FirstKnight’sHotChildintheCity, owned and bred by Calgary’s K.C. Pappas of First Knight Miniatures, was named Supreme Halter Horse, or overall champion, on Tuesday, July 13. Horse Haven, also in the Agriculture Barns, featured 18 breeds of light horses, with 10 days’ worth of exhibitions and presentations.