Under bright blue skies, dozens of Calgary Stampede horses enjoy some rest and relaxation after a night at the rodeo. It’s life on the road. And judging by the recent run of success at rodeos south of the border, it’s a lifestyle that definitely agrees with them.
Many of the top bucking horses in the Calgary Stampede herd are travelling through Oregon and Washington right now. This past weekend the top rides at the Kitsap Stampede in Bremerton, Washington were on Stampede stock. Soap Bubbles carried Kaycee Feild to a high scoring ride of 85 points in Bareback. In Saddlebronc, Joe Harper rode Utica Jilt for an 86. Earlier rodeos in Hermiston and Canby, Oregon saw the top scores put up by cowboys on our Lynx Mountain, Special Delivery, Reckless Margie and Simply Marvellous.
Keith Marrington, Gary Rempel and Ken ‘Goose’ Rehill are travelling with the 47 Stampede horses in the U.S. right now, working to ensure they are at the top of their game. Marrington schedules when each horse will compete. “We’ve got quality stock, and the guys know they’ve got an opportunity to win every time they draw a Calgary horse.” Marrington believes lots of rest and care on the road is extremely important. “We try to put these horses in a situation so they will be successful, keeping them fresh and putting them in the right spot.”
A big part of keeping the horses fresh and feeling good is how they travel. “We try to keep them as relaxed as possible, stopping frequently so they can rest and short hauls,” says Marrington, adding the hot weather often has them hitting the road in the early morning hours before it heats up. Another key is finding good places to stay along the way. During the rodeo in Canby, the best option was nearly 50 kilometres away in St. Paul. While the drive time was a bit inconvenient, the big pasture, shade trees and abundance of fresh water more than made up for it.
The next stop along the rodeo trail for the team travelling through the U.S. is Ellensburg, Washington. At the same time, a separate group of Calgary Stampede rodeo staff, Stampede Ranch team members and dozens more horses and bulls are on their way to Armstrong, BC for the upcoming Interior Provincial Exhibition and Stampede this coming long weekend. Along the way, you can be sure both groups will give the animals many chances to stop for a rest and a run through an open field. “That’s the secret to success,” Marrington says, “keeping them fresh and healthy and eager to go to work.”