Stampede 101 with the Ranch Girls!
Yep, after trying out in April and shockingly getting in, it was finally time for me to strut my stuff and carry some flags in front of thousands, upon thousands, of people..
I'm pretty sure that's Tuf Cooper by the chute gate... casual, youngest millionaire in rodeo...
Stampede was INSANE. The first few days my nerves got the total best of me. I think it kind of shocked my body into some weird state because I am never really "nervous". Sure, I get butterflies and a tossy stomach every once in awhile, but this was a whole new level of nerves for me. Like, feeling like I was going to puke and pee my pants as the gate opened for grand entry. After three days of feeling like I was seriously going to die, my body finally calmed down, and I started having fun.
Here we are! Find me... i'm the blonde.. (haha), we got to use Stampede horses, all sorrels, all with socks and blazes.
For the most part, between our rides we sat on the fence of the chutes and got to watch the rodeo up close and personal, it was so cool. I don't barrel race, and although i've attended plenty of rodeos in my life.. I don't "rodeo", and so I don't really know much about that world. This was like a crash course in rodeo behind the scenes... and high caliber rodeo while we're at it.
There I am, carrying the Plains Midstream flag during one of our Sponsor laps.
Sparkly shirts and lots of blondes!
Duke and I, unimpressed because it was POURING rain that day and we were suppose to get on and head out there. Whyyyyyy.
My Horses name was Duke, he was wonderful. A bit of a firecracker and really fast, a little too fast at times. Once I finally calmed down and started actually riding him and stopped caring what I looked like, we figured each other out and i'm sure I started looking better. Throughout the year they use him as a heeling horse and a pickup horse, he's a pretty solid boy. My favourite quirk of his was how much he LOVED rodeo. The minute the announcer would pick up, and we'd get ready to enter the infield, he would stand straight up, ears forward and his heart would pound so hard in his chest I could feel it in my legs. Pretty cool feeling, but in the beginning it felt like I was riding a powder keg. It took a bit of getting used too.
Rainy day at the rodeo.
The Stampede provided us with awesome long slicker style rainjackets, perfect for rainy days.
The very flooded saddledome in the sunset... my poor city.
Each day we had a companion pass, so our companions could basically go anywhere we went, infield, around the chutes, the grounds for free... it was awesome. My mom, and my friends Sarah and Jess took advantage of them, and it was really wonderful of the Stampede and the Rodeo to allow us them.
We got to watch the Cowboy Challenge Finals, Jim Anderson won, he's the three time world champion or something crazy like that. I wish I had gotten more photos, one of the obstacles was a huge three-step bridge, and another was a sprinkler box, the horses were calm, cool and collected. That level of training is just ridiculous, one day Jingle and I will get there.
My mom and I have been going to the Stampede every year since I was 2, so this was year 19. It is one of our most favourite, and memorable traditions, and this year was a lot of fun to experience all the behind the scene stuff with her.
Because I'm always out of town, and the chucks are quite expensive, I've never seen them in person, this year I went twice, once for the finals! So awesome. I want to outride one day, bucket list item for sure.
Mom and I watched the fireworks from the track this year, so we got to see where they were actually releasing the fireworks. It was SO COOL. I love this photo of mama, she looks like a little kid watching them.
For two days I was also on stage presentations, which meant that we carried flags onto the stage when the winners of the days events got presented with their bronzes. Pretty cool area to watch the barrel racing from!
Quite a few friends came by to see me, wave to me and cheer me on - I loved it! This is Whitney and Amery who worked with me at the ranch, how cute are their little cowgirl outfits?! Love them.
A couple shots of the whole 19 of us!
Jason Glass, winning the Stampede Rangeland Derby Finals.
I carried the City of Calgary flag for grand entry!
Duke... Levitating as per usual.
So there's my update on my ten days, I'm sure there is more I could talk about and looking back now I wish I had blogged each day. Perhaps as memories come back to me I'll blog a bit more about it. However, I will say that it was an absolutely amazing experience and I can't thank the Stampede, Rodeo Committee and our coordinators and organizers enough for letting me be part of this group of girls. I'm still in shock that I was one of the Calgary Stampede Ranch Girls, it was one of those dream come true experiences. Plus, if any of you need tips on how to keep your hat on while flying around a huge arena... i'm your girl.