On Friday night at the rodeo, my daughter and I watched the barrel racing. We had a lot of fun watching these amazing partners tear around the barrels.
Under mild protest my son and I watched the last half of the evening set of the Tsuu T’ina’s 43rd annual rodeo last night. Kian found a few boys to play kendama with so that bought me a little time to photograph. The sun dropped into some wildfire smoke that laid above the horizon which made for dramatic backlighting. I will share more soon but I’m packing my gear and heading over for Sunday’s short go this afternoon. Here a cowboy lifts the calf into position to fix three of the legs with a half hitch knot to complete his run in the tie-down roping event.
The Barrel Racing on the first day of the Calgary Stampede Rodeo was exciting as it always is. The speed the women turn their horses through the course is awesome. I think there should be more women’s events at the Stampede but I’m happy there is at least this one to showcase just how great the cowgirls are!
I was fortunate to be able to join a great group in the infield for the first day of the 2017 Calgary Stampede Rodeo (thanks Todd!). It’s been a couple of years since I had a good opportunity to photograph down there. Our seats were at the top of the infield which afforded a great view from above the chutes. The bareback event was foreshadowed by the novice bareback riders and they had exciting rides. Below, Lane Ferguson from Granum, Alberta rode Xotic Departure to the day win in the novice bareback event.
A little while later, the professional bareback riding got started. Caleb Bennett and Up Ur Alley put up an 85.50 on the first ride.
Cole Goodine on Soap Bubbles went the full time as well but fell a little short of Caleb’s opening mark.
I’m always amazed watching both the cowboys and the horses – balance, power and speed on both sides of the contest. All are world class and they did more than their share to help the Stampede to live up to its name as the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.
Richie Champion astride Twin Cherry won the Day 1 money with a score of 89.00. The first image in this set shows Richie set up well on the horse during the winning ride. Below, the pair explode out of their gate – setting the tone for a great ride.
I started this year’s Calgary Stampede with an afternoon at the rodeo with two good friends. We were part of a larger band of harmless troublemakers so the party started before and continued after the rodeo was over. Photography wasn’t my focus on this visit to the grounds but I did have some good opportunities from the seats in the infield right above the chutes.
It was great to see the cowgirls, cowboys and all of the animals in action. Judging by the capacity crowd and all of their happy faces, I wasn’t alone. Happy Stampede!
The Saddle Bronc was a great event to watch at this year’s Tsuu T’ina Rodeo. The goal is to hang on for 8 seconds during a torturous ride that often finds the horse whipping the cowboy around like a rag doll tied to a rocket. Here are a few images from the finals on July 26th.
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All rodeo cowboys are tough. I particularly admire the steer wrestlers as that is an event that I have a hard time even dreaming of trying out. Leaping off a perfectly good horse onto the back of a small cow with large horns seems a bit too close to the insane end of the scale for me.
I absolutely love watching and photographing this event despite having no interest in doing it myself. The short go of the steer wrestling event at the Tsuu T’ina All Indian Rodeo on July 26th put the top 10 qualifiers in the finals and a shot at the money. Keenan Crane (the image directly above) had a great run and took home the cheque and the hardware – well deserved!
This series of Leon Montour pulling in a steer illustrates a bit of the power, balance and danger of this event.
This weekend was the 41st annual Tsuu T’ina Nation’s Rodeo which draws First Nation people born to the saddle from all over North America. The rodeo is held at the Redwood Meadows Arena which just across Highway 22 from my home. This is one of my favourite rodeos and it was great to be able to be on the rails for the last day.
It was an afternoon that started with sun which gave way to heavy, heavy rain and ended with high clouds towards the end of the night. Dynamic photographic opportunities came with the changing weather which was great for me. Weather doesn’t make too much difference for the people or for the animals – they are all ready to go no matter what is going on above. I have a stack of photographs to look at, and will share more soon, but wanted to get out this first image of one of the high-flying bull riders from a great afternoon in the Bragg Creek area.
The Tsuu T’ina Nation’s Indian Rodeo is a grand event, as I have written about and shared photographs from for the past few years. This year I was able to watch most of the Sunday Finals and the performances met all expectations. Last week, I shared a few photos from the Saddle Bronc final. Here are a few favourites from the other events on July 27th.
These last two images are from Marlon Williams’s ride on Big Carl. Marlon had a great ride and only came off the back after he’d logged the full 8 seconds and the bell had been rung. This earned him the championship for the Bull Riding event which was the last one on the evening.
The finals of the 40th annual Tsuu T’ina Nation Indian Rodeo were held on July 27th. This rodeo is a favourite of mine as the competitors, the stock and the atmosphere are all excellent. This year was no exception and I had a great afternoon photographing the cowgirls and cowboys in their respective riding, racing and roping events. The Saddle Bronc is always exciting as these horses get charged up and it is incredibly hard for anyone to hang on for the required 8 seconds. Seth Fenner walked away as the champion with a memorable ride on Cowboy Casanova that earned him 76.5 points (the photograph above is from that ride; the one below is at the end of the ride when the pickup men come in to assist the cowboy’s dismount).
The high quality of the stock contributed to a great final and the cowboys met the challenge. The cowboys in this event always amaze me – it’s like riding a rocket while wrestling an angry crocodile. There were a couple of qualified a number of exciting rides with a couple full times and a couple buck offs. It’s fun to watch and I’m always impressed how skilled and committed all of the supporting cast are (the pick up men, rodeo clowns, officials and beyond). The Tsuu T’ina Rodeo is on the same level as much larger rodeos and I’m already looking forward to next year’s event.
Here are a few more photos from the Saddle Bronc event. I will share more from the other events soon.
This boy had the far off gaze that I see on many of the cowboys and cowgirls faces as they get set for their turn at the rodeo. This little cowboy was competing in the mutton busting event where young boys and girls ride out of the gate on the back of a spirited sheep. As with the senior riding events, the goal is to stay on which is no easy task no matter what you are on the back of.
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 500mm lens: 1/2500th of a second at f/4 on ISO 800
The Tsuu T’ina Nation’s 39th Annual Open All Indian Rodeo ran from July 26-28 this year. I went over several times and had a great time on the Redwood Fair Grounds watching the rodeo and the Pow Wow which combine to form the backbone of the Tsuu T’ina’s Annual Indian Days Celebration. The rodeo finals on Sunday got started under dark skies but the rain never fell and the sun drifted in and out of the clouds throughout the afternoon.
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 500mm lens: 1/6400th of a second at f/4 on ISO 800
It was a perfect afternoon for rodeo and judging by the full grandstand, there were many people who agreed. We were rewarded with a lot of top shelf performances by the cowgirls, cowboys and animals who were competing. Here is a collection of a few of my images from this year’s finals.
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 500mm lens: 1/2500th of a second at f/4 on ISO 1600
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 500mm lens: 1/1000th of a second at f/8 on ISO 800
Canon 5DII camera with a Canon 70-200mm lens + a 1.4X extender at 235mm: 1/1250th of a second at f/6.3 on ISO 400
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 500mm lens: 1/1250th of a second at f/4 on ISO 800
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 500mm lens: 1/2000th of a second at f/4 on ISO 800
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 500mm lens: 1/1000th of a second at f/11 on ISO 1600
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 500mm lens: 1/1000th of a second at f/11 on ISO 1600
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 500mm lens: 1/2000th of a second at f/5.6 on ISO 1600
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 500mm lens: 1/2500th of a second at f/4 on ISO 400
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 500mm lens: 1/2500th of a second at f/4 on ISO 1600
The steer wrestler above is Virgil Jacobs. He came out guns blazing and beat all the other cowboys to win the event this year. My hat is off to you sir!
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 500mm lens: 1/640th of a second at f/11 on ISO 1600
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 500mm lens: 1/2000th of a second at f/4 on ISO 400
Mutton busting is an event often held during the half-time of rodeos. The Tsuu T’ina Nation’s rodeo finals on Sunday had a very enthusiastic group of cowkids participating in this super fun event. This young girl, flanked by her father and one of the rodeo clowns, had an iron grip on the rope around the sheep’s back. The little steed jerked her off-centre as the gate opened but she hung on for a great ride. A very tough little girl!
On Friday night the kids and I went across the road to the Tsuu T’ina Nation Rodeo that runs July 26th to 28th this year. It was a warm, sunny evening and it was great to see the stands pretty close to full. With a good crowd on hand, the riders were fired up and there were some great performances. This cowboy had a wild ride that ended up with him earning a free flight. I will be heading back for the finals on Sunday – I’m looking forward to another great day.
The new Bragg About the Creek magazine has just been published. My article, The Spirit of a Nation, about the Tsuu T’ina First Nation’s Annual Pow Wow and Rodeo is included in this issue. The article, more a photo essay, presents images and some of my thoughts from the past three celebrations. If you are interested in viewing the article with text and high-resolution images, please click this link (note – the file is a 2.3 MB PDF).
I live in Redwood Meadows on Tsuu T’ina land and the Beaver Dome (where the Pow Wow takes place) and the rodeo grounds are just across the road. My neighbours put on a collection of great events for young, old and everyone in-between. I have always had a fantastic time and, if you have an opportunity to visit Bragg Creek this summer, consider checking out this year’s celebration which runs from July 26th to the 28th.
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The finals of the Calgary Stampede’s Centennial Rodeo were a wet, muddy affair this afternoon. It was awesome! The last event was the Bull Riding Final. Earlier in the day, the rain and mud seemed to work in the bull’s favour and of the ten cowboys that qualified for last day, only three of the four places in the final four were filled. The other men were bucked off and did not get a shot at the $100,000. In the final, luck stayed with the bulls and all three riders were thrown. That meant another round of rides but adrenaline took over and you wouldn’t have known that these guys were each on their third bull of the day! Shane Proctor, the 2011 Stampede Champion from Mooresville, North Carolina, got started and hung on from the side of the bull for the last two seconds to make full-time and earned a score of 66.50. With the wet conditions and the ferocity of the animals, no one ruled out that as the winning ride even though the cowboy himself would have liked more.
Next up was Aaron Roy from Yellow Grass, Saskatchewan. He rode beautifully aboard Risky Remedy and scored an 86.0. He had great control and it was a ride worthy of a champion.
The final ride, barring a tie, was Chad Besplug riding on Kish This. When the gate swung open, they came out like a huge whirling dervish.
Mud flying, cow jumping and spinning while the cowboy stayed balanced and rode out the madness.
Chad won the battle and remained firmly in place past the horn. He did end up getting thrown and went flying in the air a couple of seconds after time.
However, you have to get off a bull somehow and as long as you don’t get hurt doing it then it’s a good dismount.
The crowd knew it was a great ride but it was not clear where his score would land. Later, when he was being interviewed he said neither him or Aaron Roy were sure who won. They had a minute to share a couple of words while the judges confirmed the score and shook hands agreeing that either one was deserving. The score was an 87.0 and Chad Besplug earned the title of Calgary Stampede Bull Riding Champion for 2012.
The three rodeo clowns, who practice their craft of keeping the bull riders safe exceptionally well, were the first to congratulate the winner.
Then, as he crossed the infield, they tackled him into the muddy bog created by the rain that had just ended. That was almost as much fun as the winning ride itself.
Congratulations Chad – well-earned and it is fantastic to have a Canadian champion on the 100th anniversary of the Calgary Stampede!
Saturday was the last chance for competitors in the rodeo events to qualify for finals. A lot of fun watching these athletes (people and animals) perform. I’m heading down to the Stampede for the finals now but wanted to share some of the moments from the day of wildcards.
Sunday’s Finals should be the exclamation mark to end a great rodeo over the past 10 days. Good luck to all the competitors!
Lindsay Sears is a local barrel racer from Nanton, Alberta. She won the Barrel Racing event at the 2008 Calgary Stampede as well as being a two-time Barrel Racing World Champion (2008 and 2011). The crowd went crazy when she raced today and it was well deserved. She is the best in the sport right now and is rightfully the hometown favourite.
She has been getting faster with each day through the qualifiers at the 100th Calgary Stampede Rodeo this year. She won the Thursday Group B qualifier, with a time of 17.62 seconds. She is currently tied for 4th place in Group B with the last qualifier on Friday. I would expect she will keep getting faster and should earn her spot in the Sunday finals without rolling the dice in the Wildcard Saturday event. When the finals are run on the 15th, her track record would suggest it might be foolish to bet against her walking away the centennial champion. I can’t wait for that race – good luck Lindsay!
Bradley Harter had a good ride at the rodeo on Thursday. The Loranger, Louisiana native was riding Spring Planting and the pairing earned a score of 81.50. Which was good for fourth place on the day’s Saddle Bronc event.
I really like this cowboy’s riding style – nice straight lines due to great balance in the saddle and on the stirrups. I’m hoping he can turn in a score in the high 80’s and qualify for the Finals on Sunday directly. If not, he’ll be fighting for one of two wildcard spots up for grabs on Saturday. Good luck Bradley!
The rodeo down at the Calgary Stampede today was great today. It was Day One for the Group B competitors and it seemed obvious that they were ready to get started.
Here, Cody Cassidy has just left a perfectly comfortable horse to dive onto the back of a slightly ornery cow. The Donalda, Alberta cowboy did a great job with this ride pulling the steer down in 4.5 seconds which was good for second place on the day.
Blake Knowles, from Heppner, Oregon, digs boots into the dirt as he drags the steer to a stop.
Clint Cannon had a wild ride on Coal Black with the horse winning today’s round. It was a good Bareback event matchup and I would like to see Clint turn in some good scores and get into the final.
In the same event, Jake Vold drew Witch Doctor. The horse lived up to its name and was a tricky ride. One that the Bareback rider from Ponoka, Alberta was up to the challenge for. Together, the pairing won the day with an 86.0 ride.
Savannah Reeves, a perennial contender from Cross Plains, Texas who won the 2010 Ladies Barrel Racing event rounds the first barrel during her run.
I can’t wait for the weekend. The performances have already been great and I am excited about what we will see for the finals.
Chet Johnson from Douglas, Wyoming had a spirited ride on Alley Lights on Friday during the first day.
He was bucked off just before time. With the heavy downpour adding to the atmosphere, I thought the horse and the cowboy put on a great performance.
Jake Reinhart is a steer wrestler from Highmore in South Dakota. He competed at the 100th Calgary Stampede Rodeo yesterday and turned in a 4.6 second run. Enough to put him in the day money and move him closer to the finals on the last day of Stampede.
He also ran a nice line to keep the steer on course for Wade Sumpter (wrestling in the image above) who placed one spot ahead of Jake with a 4.4 second finish good for $2500.
Day one at the Calgary Stampede Rodeo was fantastic. A number of really great rides on the bulls and the horses throughout the afternoon. The ropers had a bit of trouble, several cowboys missed with the rope. But the wrestlers threw themselves at the steers with high enthusiasm. All the events were exciting, I’m looking forward to the rest of the competition.
Here, Dean Gorsuch from Gering, Nebraska hits the brakes sliding to a stop with the cow on his way to winning the day’s event in a time of 3.8 seconds.
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Only 67 days to the start of the 100th Calgary Stampede. With this year being the centennial anniversary for the Stampede, the rodeo, and all of the events in general, should be fantastic. I have a lot of fun as a spectator, a fan and a photographer at the rodeo. Great action and amazing performances by the animals and the athletes. I’m already getting excited about getting down to the grounds and covering the Stampede again this year.
These images are from the past couple of years and include a selection of my favourites. You can click on this link or any of the images to go to the full gallery.
I will be displaying a couple of prints in the Western Showcase again this year and am planning to shoot the rodeo for the third straight year. I hope to add a few to this collection this year.