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.