Kezia and I went to the first night of the Tsuu T’ina Nation Annual Celebration’s 43rd Annual Rodeo. Kezia’s friend was dancing in the Pow Wow so we did not stay too long. Definitely looking forward to getting back tonight.
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 found this ice rink in a park near Marda Loop. There were a few people playing hockey under the night lights. I stopped for a few minutes to play with the patterns of the trees and lights against the rink. I loved the setting and that everyone was out to enjoy this most traditional of Canadian pastimes.
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.
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!
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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!
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!
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.
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.
I was working on some images of the active lifestyle in the Rockies for a client and thought the summer set would be fun to post. With fall ready to give way to winter any day it was nice to recall the summer before the snow flies.
In July Jeff and I met a kayak team on the Kananaskis River during one of their training sessions. We definitely had the easier work scurrying over the rocks photographing compared to waging war against and conspiring with the water.
When I was in the Tonquin Valley with Art Wolfe and Gavriel Jecan, I had a minute to photograph Gav as he was bouldering. That ended when we noticed a grizzly bear among the rocks a stone’s throw away.
This guy, Chris as coincidence had it, was visiting friends in Jasper and came to Horseshoe Lake for one purpose: to hurl himself off this cliff about seventy feet above the lake. I remember doing some decent jumps but shooting him descending was a different perspective. I was impressed with his lack of hesitation and the nonchalance displayed when he swam back to the shore afterwards. It wasn’t enough to convince me to follow suit though.
I photographed a group of para-gliders, hang-gliders and other fliers from their launch at the top of a ridge above Golden in British Columbia. Watching them spiraling upwards on thermals, as this lady was doing in the image above, was amazing. I came away with a profound appreciation for the grace and the silence of these engine free forms of flight.
We went into the Tonquin Valley in August along a trail that started in forest, came up above the treeline and then slowly descended towards Amethyst Lake. In the image above, our guide Sarah is leading our group out of the valley. Seemingly not as adventurous as some of the other images, throw in a trailside bee hive and a six hour trek through rain and sleet, and I think it belongs.
Kayaking is a sport I’ve always been interested in. On the weekend, my friend Jeff and I met up with a team of kayakers at Canoe Meadows on the Kananaskis River. We had arranged with their coach to meet the team during one of their training sessions and photograph them while they practiced on the water.
The fast pace of the downstream sections provided a nice opportunity to drag the shutter and abstract the action a little.
Cody Cover Chuck during his championship ride in the bull riding event at the 2011 Tsuu T’ina Rodeo on July 24th. Cody’s young, just in the tail end of his teens, but has a long string of championships through youth and junior rodeos. The way he rides, there would be no surprise if he earns a spot on the pro circuit sooner than later.
This year’s edition of the Tsuu T’ina Rodeo was great fun. With people attending from across North America, this rodeo has a great breadth of people involved in competing, organizing and enjoying. The level of competition was really high this year with some cowboys making some impressive rides. The finals were on Sunday and I was able to work with some of the guys managing the chutes to get great access. Some of the resulting images are from quite a different perspective from where I normally shoot the rodeo.
The athletes, competitors and visiting people are very friendly and this is the second year in a row where I have made a couple of great new friends. Robert and Dave, I hope you like these images as you guys helped me so much by allowing me to stand on top of the gates and letting me know when the bulls were moving up – thanks!
This fellow was a funny guy and a very good rodeo clown. The clowns are some of the hardest workers in the corral – this guy was no exception.
I love watching the barrel racing teams sprint towards the line after the last barrel. It provides a great opportunity to capture the motion of the rider and horse, especially when they are both leaning into it.
This cowboy had a really good ride. When the bulls get out of the gate and then start jumping and spinning, there is every chance of a great score… if the rider can stay onboard.
Another great rodeo at the Tsuu T’ina First Nation near Bragg Creek. Thank you to all of the cowboys, cowgirls, horses and bulls who put on a great show.
Wild Card Saturday on July 16th was the last day of the competition before the Calgary Stampede Rodeo Finals. Billed “Rodeo’s Richest Afternoon”, Showdown Sunday is the day all of the athletes were gunning for throughout the event.
The top four money winners in each pool leading up to the weekend had their ticket to the Finals in hand so they had the day off. For the rest, this was their last shot to qualify for the finals. There were two wild card spots in each event so getting to Sunday was no easy task. Here are some images from the rail.
Bell Dinger bucked Chad Besplug of Claresholm, Alberta off just after the gate was opened ending this cowboy’s run to the Finals for 2011. Chad had a good ride on Monday with an 84, I hope he gets invited back next year.
Seven Persons, Alberta bareback rider, Reid Rowan, in the middle of a battle of wills with Gorgeous Connie. Reid won with a full time ride but scored 80 and missed the Final.
Sierra Stoney from DeWinton, Alberta bares down on the second barrel. Sierra’s horse knocked this barrel down while exiting the turn and she finished outside of the top two spots.
Despite appearances, Tyler Corrington rode Awesome for the full 8 seconds. He scored 83.50 and missed the Finals by half a point. The Wild Card saddle bronc event had a two point spread between the top spot and 6th place. Very tough to sit out Sunday when you’re that close to being in.
Ryan MacKenzie of Jordan Valley, Oregon stares down the neck of Gross Beetle during a 79.50 point ride in the Saddle Bronc event during Wild Card Saturday at the 2011 Calgary Stampede Rodeo in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
A final one from Reid Rowan, well known for his curly mane and his exuberant flair, here disappears altogether to suggest that the Invisible Man has taken up rodeo – for one kick anyways.
This is a visual story detailing one cowboy’s 8 second battle with a horse named Buck Wheat on Thursday afternoon at the Calgary Stampede.
The cowboy’s name is Matt Lait and he hails from just north of Calgary in Balzac, Alberta. He rode the beast for full time and scored in the middle of the pack on the day. However, the expressions by both the man and the horse throughout the ride made for an entertaining series. Matt’s face displays how demanding this event is on concentration and how punishing it is on the human body. Click on each to see a frozen moment within that 8 second ride.
I spent the afternoon back at the Calgary Stampede Rodeo on Sunday. Some great rides across all events matched with fine weather made for a great afternoon. The rain came with a fury later during the chuck wagon races but left us alone for the rodeo.
As is the custom all of the day’s competitors come out at the beginning to tip their hats to the crowd and stand for the national anthem.
Here one of the mares, Lush Margie, launches Jim Berry of Rocky Mountain House, Alberta on a short-lived flight.
Wade Sumpter of Fowler, Colorado leaps on a mini bull before trying to wrestle it to the ground.
Leaping out of the chute like a beast on a mission, Broken Lady gave Ryan Gray of Petersburg, Texas a pretty entertaining ride.
Joe Gunderson of Agar, South Dakota pulls free of his ride, Kalispell Whiskey, as the horse runs along the rails sending the cowboys up the rails to get out of the way.
Kelly Timberman of Mills, Wyoming in the middle of a good test with Jay Bar Nine.
A break in the action for the Red and White
Clint Cooper leaps while his horse stands on the brakes during the tie-down roping event.
Mid-flight after being flung well clear of the saddle during the saddle bronc event.
Lane Stuckey of Rocky Mountain House, Alberta competing in the novice saddle bronc event gets bucked off Tough Alloy.
Cory Hines from Rocky Rapids, Alberta as he and Super Nest leap out of the gate during the novice saddle bronc event shortly before parting ways as seen below.
I had a full day along the rails down at the Stampede yesterday. Here are a few photographs I liked from the quick scan of the wagon load I took yesterday.
The rodeo is a great event and I’m amazed by the performances of both the athletes and the animals. Huge helpings of strength, balance and sheer will on both sides. And, a lot of fun to watch.
I’m just heading down for today’s rodeo, can’t wait to get back down there.
On Monday, I went down to the Lion’s 44th Annual Labour Day Rodeo for the finals of the weekend long event. This was my third rodeo that I have attended this summer and I joined my parents, aunt and uncle, and my wife’s parents. It was fun to enjoy a bit of time together down at the grounds.
I can’t say enough good things about this event. A large portion of the townspeople of Cochrane were down on the grounds. The banter between the announcer and the lead rodeo clown throughout the afternoon was fun and held the crowd’s interest between rides. The cowgirls and cowboys were impressive as they competed in their specialties. There were more than a few outstanding rides. I am always impressed by the level of skill on display at all of the rodeos, big and small, throughout Alberta.
I wasn’t at the rodeo on Sunday, so I missed seeing Darwin Wiggett and Wayne Simpson there. They both posted images from their time on the grounds – great work by both. The event drew a fair number of photographers but there was plenty of room to set up and move around the gates.
On Sunday afternoon, I was down at the Calgary Stampede photographing the rodeo finals.
Thanks to a conversation with the media accreditation manager at the Stampede along with a call to, and a letter from, Roy Anstey, I was able to get media credentials for the event. Roy is the editor of the Bragg About the Creek magazine that I have been working with for a few issues now. Armed with the media pass, I was able to tour the stocks before the rodeo started where the animals were waiting to march into the fray.
When the rodeo got underway, the events came shotgun style as the cowboys and cowgirls competed to get into the final round. The action was incredible and I have to say no one takes a bigger beating in sports than the bull and bareback riders.
Fred Whitfield as he jumps off his horse to pick up the calf and time it up. Whitfield, a Texan from Hockley, tied Matt Shiozawa in the final with a 7.4 second run. They rode one more time to determine the winner with Shiozawa taking this hotly contested tie down roping event.
Jim Berry from Rocky Mountain House, AB riding Knife Money in the qualifying round. Berry placed 3rd overall.
Lindsay Sears riding hard for the finish line. The Nanton, Alberta barrel racer finished 2nd with a 17.31 second ride, missing 1st by 0.06 seconds!
After a couple of hours of hard riding, the finals were set for what the announcer billed as the “Richest Hour in Rodeo”. As each winner of the saddle bronc, barrel racing, bareback, bullriding, steer wrestling and tie down roping takes home $100,000. Second nabs $25,000 with third at $15,000 and fourth walking (or limping) away with $10,000 . The crowd was roaring, thunder clouds were looming off to the south and the animals were fired up. When the men and women started performing the energy in the whole place exploded. Every event was close and they kept coming with only a short break for the winner before the next group got started. It might have been a bit longer than an hour when it was all over but it felt like five minutes.
Boxholm, Iowa’s Wade Sundell rode Lynx Mountain for a 90.50 in the qualifier. Here Sundell is just out of the gate riding Mata Fact to an 88.50 and title in the championship round of the Saddle Bronc event.
Savannah Reeves of Dublin, Texas posted consecutive rides of 17.25 seconds to win the Barrel Racing event. She beat Lindsay Sears whose home she was staying at during the Stampede – nice house guest 🙂
Here Duncan Douglas “dismounts” from Wranglers Deja Vue after completing 8 seconds astride the beast. Douglas, hailing from Alvin, Texas, won the Bull Riding event by one point over Beau Hill with an 88.0 on this ride.
What a great event! I will be going to some of the local, feeder rodeos around Southern Alberta through the summer and I can’t wait for next year’s Stampede. I had a great time working at this event and can’t believe how much fun it is shooting from the rails.