Saturday Morning and we got to sleep in a bit, had breakfast downstairs in the breakfast room here at the hotel. They have a nice big breakfast room and a wide selection of food.
We walked from the hotel to the C-Train for our ride into the Stampede Grounds. Along our walk this Magpie was playing hide and seek with us and just as I was ready to take a photo, it would fly away, these are the only two shots I could get.
We arrived on the Stampede grounds around noon and posed for our photos.
This is a big “to do” for Calgary and it is even bigger and better because this is the 100th Anniversary.
That is where we are headed, to the Grand Stand for the afternoon rodeo show.
We decided that we had some time to kill so we headed for the Indian Village where Karen spotted a vendor selling bannock, so she had to buy some of that and then we entered the Indian Village.
While we were in the village we ran into our friends Don and Shirley, we knew they were on the grounds, but hadn’t planned on meeting them today as they are sticking close to their motorhome travel group. They have grandstand tickets, but not near where Karen and I have our tickets. What are the chances of running into them without pre planning. We wandered around the Indian Village some more.
After leaving the village, we showed Don and Shirley where to get their photo taken, by this time a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer was joining in on the photo op.
We wandered through the concession and midway area, bought an $8.00 slice of pizza, possibly the worst pizza I have ever had, but we knew to expect astronomical rip off pricing here on the grounds.
Karen had been looking for cotton candy on a stick, but it seems that these days, it only comes in bags. We asked at a few places if they could put it on a stick, but no one would. Well luckily for Karen we found a concession in the Grandstand near our seats that sold cotton candy on a stick. She was in heaven as seen in this photo.
The show starts off with the Calgary Stampede Show Band playing some tunes.
After the show band, they brought out the RCMP Musical Ride. These are very talented and skilled riders and horses to perform the intricate manoeuvres. I took videos and still photos..it really slows down the blog if I insert videos though, so I will just tell you that you can find the videos on FLICKR when I get a chance to upload them.
The show started off with the Novice Bareback Riders. The Novices are under 20 years old, but the rules are the same. Here is a description I got from the Calgary Stampede website about Bareback Riders.
Bareback has been a part of the Stampede since 1912.
In this event, the cowboy holds onto a leather rigging with a snug custom fit handhold that is cinched with a single girth around the horse — during a particularly exciting bareback ride, a rider can feel as if he’s being pulled through a tornado. Although bull riding looks more dangerous, bareback riding is more physically demanding of a cowboy’s strength. The riding arm absorbs most of the horse’s power. Horse and rider combine for a total score out of 100 possible points. The rider is judged on his control during the ride and on his spurring technique. The bareback rider tries to reach as far forward as he can with his feet, then rolls his spurs back up towards the rigging. At the same time, he must keep from being pulled away from his handhold. Higher marks are awarded to the rider who is best able to coordinate his spurring with the bronc’s action. A cowboy will be disqualified in bareback riding for failing to make the eight-second horn, or for touching his horse, himself or his equipment with his free hand.
I got some great action shots. I will uploaded videos of these riders as time permits. You will always find all of our photos and videos on FLICKR.
Next up was the Novice Saddle Bronc riding.
Here is a description of what Saddle Bronc riding is all about.
Rodeo’s Classic event has been a part of the Calgary Stampede since 1912. Style, grace and rhythm define rodeo’s "classic" event. Saddle Bronc riding is a true test of balance. It has been compared to competing on a balance beam, except the "apparatus" in rodeo is a bucking bronc. A saddle bronc rider uses a rein attached to the horse’s halter to help maintain his seat and balance. The length of rein a rider takes will vary on the bucking style of the horse he is riding – too short a rein and the cowboy can get pulled down over the horse’s head. Of a possible 100 points, half of the points are awarded to the cowboy for his ride and spurring action. The other half of the points come from how the bronc bucks and its athletic ability. The spurring motion begins with the cowboy’s feet over the points of the bronc’s shoulders and as the horse bucks, the rider draws his feet back to the "cantle," or back of the saddle in an arc, then he snaps his feet back to the horse’s shoulders just before the animal’s front feet hit the ground again. A bronc rider will receive no score if he is bucked off; if he touches his equipment, himself or the horse with his free hand; or loses a stirrup during the ride.
Some photos of the Saddle Bronc portion of the show.
Next up was Tie Down Roping… a brief description follows.
Tie-down roping is the most technical event in rodeo. It requires a unique partnership with a working horse and excellent hand eye coordination on the part of the cowboy. The calf is always given a head start and releases the barrier with a breakaway cord when it reaches the end of that head start. If the roper leaves the box too early, he breaks the barrier and will be assessed a ten second penalty. Once the calf is roped, the contestant relies on his horse to stop in a stride as he dismounts on the run to reach the animal, flank and tie three legs in a cross-bone tie. While the roper makes the tie, his horse works independently to keep the rope taught. Time is called when the roper throws his hands into the air signaling he is finished. The calf remains tied while the roper re-mounts his horse and the time becomes official. A great run is a well choreographed ballet. Any unnecessary roughness will result in disqualification. The Calgary Stampede does not require the calf to stay tied for 6 seconds – only until the cowboy regains his seat in the saddle.
The next event was the Bareback Riders, these guys are the more senior to the earlier novices.
Next up was the Steer Wrestling. Here is a description of what Steer Wrestling is all about.
Timing, co-ordination and strength make for a successful steer wrestler. The steer is given a head start and must cross the score line before the wrestler leaves the box or the barrier will be broken and a ten second penalty assessed. Although Steer Wrestling is not a team event; the contestant relies heavily on his hazer - another rider tasked with keeping the steer running in a straight line. During the run the contestant rides along side the steer and eases off his horse and reaches for the steer’s head. He catches the right horn in the crook of his right arm and reaches under the jaw of the steer with his left. As his feet hit the ground he uses them to dig into the dirt and slow the steer’s momentum enough to turn the steer as he wrestles the animal to its side. Time is called when the steer is on its side with all four feet extending in one direction. Contestants are disqualified at Calgary for a dog fall. This is the fastest of the timed events – so don’t blink.
Next up was the Saddle Bronc Riders, once again, these guys are older and more experienced than the earlier show with the novices.
Ladies Barrel Racing was next… a description follows.
The Ladies Barrel Racing is a horse race timed to the 1/100th of a second using an electronic eye. In turn, each rider circles three barrels in a cloverleaf pattern. The tighter the turns on the barrels the faster the time, but be careful – if a barrel is knocked over a five second penalty is added to the running time – virtual elimination. If a contestant breaks the pattern a no-time is awarded. The partnership between horse and rider is just as key as having a fast horse. The Quarter horse is the preferred breed, but any horse that excels at fast speed in the short term and sharp turns can make a good barrel horse. The difference between winning and losing is in tight turns that almost graze the barrel.
The big event of the day was the Bull Riding… a brief description, then the photos.
Originally called Steer Riding at the 1923 Stampede – this event has always tested cowboys against bucking and spinning bulls since very early on. Holding on to only a braided rope looped around the bull’s girth and held tight by the rider’s hand, the contestant tries to stay aboard an animal weighing roughly ten times more than he does. A cowbell attached to the rope serves as a weight that pulls the rope free once the rider has released his grip. Bull riding requires exceptional balance, upper body strength and strong legs. There is no requirement to spur as staying on top and close to his head is challenge enough for the ride on these loose-hided animals. A bull rider will be disqualified if he is thrown before the eight-second whistle or if he touches his equipment, the bull or himself with his free hand during the ride. Bull riding is the adrenaline rush of rodeo excitement.
The last event of the day was the Wild Pony Race. A brief description…
Hold on to your hats – this fun event will get you caught up in the excitement. Teams of three youngsters ages 8 to 12 try to tame a wild pony long enough to get a rider aboard for a two jump ride. The team with the fastest time wins. These gritty competitors don’t give up easily – so get your cheering voice ready!
After the days events we met up with Don and Shirley and they invited us to come for dinner and drinks at their Motorhome. They are with a large group of RV’ers who are taking in the sights and sounds of the Calgary Stampede. All the RV’s are parked at McMahon Stadium just to the North of the downtown core. It is an easy spot to get to on the C-Train.
We stayed and visited with Don, Shirley and their many friends and acquaintances till after 9pm and then we boarded the C-Train for our ride back to our hotel room. Too bad we don’t have an RV, everyone was so friendly and sociable and they sure do love that RV lifestyle. It would have been great to just walk to our RV next door instead of the 45 minute C-Train ride back to our hotel.
What a great day, and I got some fantastic photos and videos, they are here on my FLICKR site.