Harry the Horse made his first public appearance on March 14, 1985 at Rodeo Royal, and he has been charming Stampede audiences ever since. During Stampede time, Harry makes about 100 appearances every day. He spends the rest of the year attending events all over Alberta and throughout the world.
Harry posing in a jet outside the Scotiabank Saddledome
Harry’s Predecessors: Jim Dandy and Nellie
The Stampede’s first mascots were Jim Dandy and Nellie, an old-timer riding his trusty mare with a bushy tail. One year, Jim and Nellie attended the President’s Ball of the Pacific National Exhibition in Vancouver. They gave the event some much-needed western spirit.
Unfortunately when Jim and Nellie turned to leave, Nellie’s bushy tail knocked right through a table, sending wine and more onto guests! Poor Jim and Nellie were put out to pasture shortly thereafter, and Harry the Horse was called to step in and take over.
Jim Dandy and Nellie entertaining the crowd
The first sketches for Harry the Horse were drawn by Wendy Isaacs, Calgary artist and wife of Promotion committee chairman James Isaacs. Her sketches depicted a cute horse with big chaps. However, the Promotion committee initially believed her idea looked too similar to the popular character, “Quick Draw McGraw.”
So the committee sought out help from the world’s leader in mascots: Disney! They flew to Hollywood and met with Rochu International (who built the Disney mascots) and representatives from Disney, itself. The consultants ended up loving Wendy’s original designs! So, as the Promotion committee writes, “The stud fees were paid (Harry was ordered) and Harry arrived a couple of months later.”
Harry has travelled the world as the face of the Calgary Stampede, including to Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, China, Belgium and the United Kingdom. He has charmed countless VIPs, including Muhammad Ali, Prince Rainier of Monaco, the Jamaican Bobsled Team and numerous Canadian Prime Ministers… just to name a few. Wearing his iconic vest and size 40 boots, Harry never leaves the barn without his cowbell and his crowd-pleasing YA-HOO Signs.
Harry with Bonhomme, the Quebec Winter Carnival mascot
Come wish Harry a Happy Birthday at:
- Aggie Days, April 8-12, Stampede Park
Harry hugging an admiring guest
Harry, Howdy and Heidi (the Calgary 1988 Olympic mascots)
 “Quick Draw McGraw” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Quick_Draw_McGraw.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Quick_Draw_McGraw.jpg
*Thanks to the Historical and Promotion committees for their assistance with information and photographs for this post