This summer, a dream came true for 16 year old Taylor Holt. “I’ve always watched the Calgary Stampede and it was so cool to compete there,” she said of taking part in the Stampede 4-H Rodeo. Holt is one of nearly 70 young athletes from 37 4-H clubs across Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia who came to Calgary for the annual event on August 22and 23.

“This is such a great event, 4-H is so amazing.” Holt said, after returning back home to British Columbia from the competition. Wins in the Senior Breakaway Roping and Goat Tying events, along with strong performances in three other events earned her the Senior High Point Championship. “I didn’t think I would win all-around, that was a bit of a surprise,” she admits, but adds it was well worth the drive to Calgary from Cranbrook, BC.

4-H1 4-H member competing in the Pole Bending

Many more competitors from the three age classes are now showing off new Calgary Stampede 4-H Championship belt buckles to their friends and fellow 4-H members after topping a tough field of competitors. “Over the years, there has definitely been an improvement in the quality of horses and level of competition, leading to some great runs made in the barrels, breakaway roping, steer daubing and goat tying, “ says Lindsay Miller, chair of the Calgary Stampede 4-H Rodeo committee.

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4-H member competing in Breakaway Roping

The weekend of activities, sponsored by Westcan Bulk Transport, Bayer CropScience and Lammle’s Western Wear and Tack, included clinics offered to help the 4-H members learn more about proper rodeo and animal care techniques. “I thought the clinics were awesome,” says Taylor Holt, “and it was so neat to meet people with similar interests to you.” Seeing the kids interact and enjoy themselves is also a highlight for Miller, “not only are they eager to learn and improve their skills but they also make sure to let the clinicians, hosting volunteers and sponsors know just how much they appreciate everyone’s efforts.”

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4-H member competing in Cow Riding

For the second year in a row, intermediate and senior 4-H members were also able to volunteer as a ‘cowboy buddy’ at the Giddy-Up Rodeo for special needs kids. Smiles were easy to find at the Agrium Western Event Centre during the event on Saturday morning, with more than 200 kids taking part in the event put on by the Stampede Queens’ Alumni committee and sponsored by Maxim Power Corp.

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Giddy Up participant meeting 4-H a competitor’s horse

Ponies, donkeys and sheep could be brushed and petted, and the kids also got a chance to try roping and riding and chuckwagon driving. For those really brave cowboys and cowgirls, there was also the opportunity to climb on board a massive but extremely gentle steer.

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A brave cowboy climbs on board the massive steer

Many of the 4-H competitors who volunteered at the Giddy-Up Rodeo say it’s a fun and rewarding experience. Lindsay Miller from the 4-H Rodeo committee believes it’s also become a unique partnership where both sides benefit, “it not only puts more fans in the stands during competition for our 4-H kids, but also gives the Giddy-Up kids the chance to cheer on their buddies they worked with earlier in the day.” Both the Giddy-Up participants and the 4-H competitors now have next year’s excitement to look forward to. Asked if she’ll be back to defend her Senior High Point title, Taylor Holt’s answer is, “absolutely!”