It’s time to Cowboy Up.

A big hit on RFD-TV in the United States, the Extreme Cowboy Race will be making its debut in Canada at the 2010 Calgary Stampede.

Originally created by Craig Cameron, the Extreme Cowboy Race is a timed and judged race through an obstacle course that is designed not only to push horse and riders out of their traditional comfort zones, but also test the communication between horse and rider and the horsemanship skills and athletic abilities of each competitor.

A multi-faceted equestrian sporting event, just some of the obstacles that have been featured in previous races have included barrel jumps, log pulls, water crossings, archery shoots, and balloon shooting with pistols or rifles.

A customized version of the Extreme Cowboy Race sanctioned by the Extreme Cowboy Association (EXCA) will be held at this year’s Stampede.

Known as the Calgary Stampede Cowboy Up Challenge, it will be designed to take advantage of the audio, video, and other various capabilities of the Saddledome to create a customized race course never seen before, and you can catch it there at 3 p.m. daily between July 10-12.

The Extreme Cowboy Race is a timed event where the performance of each horse and rider team are judged on each obstacle for quality of horsemanship. Points are awarded by judges on a set of five criteria: Horsemanship, cadence, control, horse’s attitude, and overall execution. The teams are required to complete each obstacle within a certain time to get the points, and the teams are flagged and must move on to the next obstacle if they cannot. Race times are then translated into points, and the team with the highest score wins.

This year’s Cowboy Up Challenge will feature 20 horse and rider teams, with no divisions based on gender or age. All competitors will be competing for a share of over $14,000 in cash and other prizes.

To give you a taste of what an Extreme Cowboy Race is like, here’s a video of an EXCA World Championship run by competitor Lee Hart:

This promises to be an interesting event. Craig Cameron performed an Extreme Cowboy Race Clinic & Demonstration in the Stampede Corral at this year’s Aggie Days in April, and spectators there got a small taste of what to expect at this year’s Cowboy Up Challenge in the Saddledome. And like with all agricultural themed events taking place in the Saddledome at this year’s Stampede, admission to this event is free with Park admission.

The Saddledome is a much bigger venue than the Corral; one of the bigger indoor venues that have ever had the privilege of hosting an Extreme Cowboy Race competition. I remember watching the clinic/demonstration in April and recall Craig being very excited about the venue and the potential it has to host a great show after witnessing a Calgary Hitmen hockey game. The Saddledome has great audio and visual capabilities, a good lighting system, can seat thousands of people, and it has the ability to display pyrotechnics. So I’m not exactly sure what to expect from the this year’s Cowboy Up Challenge, but whatever it is, it should be a unique experience.

If you’re trying to plan your Stampede in advance and are looking for something different to experience this year that no one yet in Canada has seen live, make sure to pencil in the Calgary Stampede Cowboy Up Challenge, taking place in the Saddledome daily at 3 p.m. between July 10-12.