Did you know that the last three Calgary Stampede Queens have all been members of the Calgary Stampede Showriders? I met with previous Stampede Queens, Maggie Shortt (2016), and Meagan Peters (2017) to discuss the connection between involvement with the Showriders and success with the Calgary Stampede Royalty and what future contestants can learn from past Stampede Royalty. Both Stampede Queens emphasized how the teamwork and public interaction of the Showriders gave them the skills to achieve Stampede Royalty.
Why did you get involved with the Showriders initially?
Maggie: I joined in 2008. I had been previously involved with show jumping but had a friend who rode western, who I would ride with and pick up a few skills from. Her mom found an ad in the newspaper for the Showriders and suggested my friend and I tryout together.
Meagan: I had been involved with 4-H for four years, which was an extracurricular. My friend had joined the Showriders the year before me and I borrowed one of her horses.
What made you decide to work towards becoming Stampede Queen?
Maggie: It felt like a natural progression from the Showriders. I saw older girls on the team who were getting involved in the Royalty. They were all such positive role models. One girl on the team became Medicine Hat Queen. Our coach also really emphasized our role in the Showriders as representing the Stampede organization as a whole. I really appreciated this emphasis. I grew up in the Showriders and felt connected to representing Stampede.
Meagan: It really just seemed like the next step along the way. In the Showriders you’re really building that teamwork along with the horse and rider experience. This is where my passion for Stampede started. I noticed the older girls who got into the Stampede Royalty and this total transformation that they experienced. They became so confident talking to so many people they didn’t know. They were role models to me. I really admired that personal growth.
What did you learn while being in the Showriders?
Maggie: I learned a lot from working with this group of women. It really was a team-building experience. Show jumping was an individualistic sport, so I valued the opportunity to work as part of a team. We also spent the duration of the Stampede festival really socializing.
Meagan: I learned about teamwork. There were 12 riders and 12 horses, and that’s quite a lot! Our coach was like a second-mom to me. She taught us how to represent the Stampede in public.
How did being a part of the Showriders help you become Stampede Queen?
Maggie: As a member of the Showriders we interacted a lot with people who came into Stampede Park. We did a lot of interviews, rode in parades and were in the public eye quite often. We learned to get comfortable talking to all sorts of different people in different types of settings. This kind of interaction has a lot of overlap with the Royalty’s responsibilities.
Meagan: In the Royalty, you deal a lot with different types of people. You get a lot of public interaction during the Showriders. You meet a lot of people during Stampede time who weren’t familiar with Stampede and the Showriders before. Representing what the Showriders is all about was an important skill that I think helped during the Royalty competition.
What would you say to people who are interesting in pursuing Stampede Royalty?
Maggie: Absolutely to do it! It pushes you outside your comfort zone in such an amazing way. You get so comfortable public speaking and learn to mix and mingle. It’s an opportunity for growth that you can carry into all your life experiences.
Meagan: I would encourage anyone would go for it! I auditioned three times and the competition itself is so fun. You meet a lot of amazing people develop enduring friendships. Stampede will always be a passion for me. People thinking of trying out should remember that it is a huge commitment during the year. The Royalty attends and prepares for over 400 events each year.
Both Stampede Queens now work hard in the community to continue to represent the Stampede, maintain their connections and help others. Maggie is pursuing a business degree with an accounting major at the University of Calgary. She volunteers with the Stampede on the Queens Alumni Committee and also wishes volunteer with the Showriders in the future. After her reign, Meagan returned to work as a hair stylist at Hedkandi salon in Bankers Hall. She is now a part of the Queens Alumni and hopes to give more of her time volunteering for the Stampede in 2018. She has aspirations to join the Equestrian Sub-Committee for the Royalty program and train to compete in the Extreme Cowboy Challenge Race in the future.
The Stampede Showriders are a group of youthful equestrians performing widely across southern Alberta and also travelling as far as the United States and Europe. The Showriders bring a Western flare to a wide range of performances and activities. Showrider auditions occur every fall.
The Calgary Stampede Royalty are official ambassadors of the Calgary Stampede. Throughout their reign, the Royalty make more than 400 appearances as they promote western values in Calgary and beyond. Applications for Stampede Royalty happen open every summer.