Nine months off. Nine months without travelling, without rodeos, without the energy of a cheering crowd or a rider on their backs. That’s how the Calgary Stampede’s top bucking horses rolled into the National Finals Rodeo (NFR), December 3 – 12. And night after night, they proved why they were invited to compete among the best-of-the best in the world of rodeo, capturing an incredible 6 go-round wins over the 10 days of competition.

 A record 17 Calgary Stampede horses were invited to compete in 2020. Some, like Stampede Warrior and Special Delivery, were NFR veterans. Two horses were new to the experience, and show the diversity and depth of the Stampede herd. At 15 years old, Redon Acres received his first NFR invite. He was joined by another rookie, seven-year-old Agent Lynx. The young mare, offspring of Stampede superstars Grated Coconut and Lynx Mountain, made a huge impact. After bucking off two riders, she was selected as the Bareback Horse of round 10.

From the beginning of the competition, the safe arrival and participation of the Calgary Stampede team in Arlington, Texas – temporary home of the NFR in 2020 – did not go unnoticed. After a long, quiet year at home on the Stampede Ranch, the horses’ athletic abilities were in top form.

 

Orin Larsen rides Yippee Kibitz for 90 points

“All these Calgary horses that didn’t get a chance to buck this year are really fresh. A lot of them haven’t been bucked since the winter run,” said Canadian competitor Orin Larsen after his round-winning ride on Yippee Kibitz. “Everything here as far as Calgary’s have been really bucking and really performing. I knew when I had a Calgary horse by my name it was going to be good.”

Without a doubt, it has been an unusual year for the horses. With rodeos cancelled throughout the spring and summer months by the global pandemic, they stayed home under the care of a small but skilled team led by Tyler Kraft, manager of the Stampede Ranch and Calgary Stampede stock contracting operations. Their invitation and extremely notable performance at the NFR is a direct reflection of the care they receive.

“It is quite an honour to have an animal selected, as it is based on the opinion of the competitors who will be riding them,” Kynan Vine, Calgary Stampede Manager of Western Events, shared with local media. “Their success is largely to the credit of our ranch and stock contracting manager, Tyler Kraft, who is in charge of the Born to Buck Breeding program and hand-selects each animal to compete at every rodeo throughout the year. In a year where the Stampede has not had animals competing at PRCA events since March, it is even more special to have them considered to compete at the NFR.”

Twice over the 10 days of competition, Stampede horses came up with the win in both the Saddle Bronc and Bareback on the same night. On just the third night of competition, Xplosive Skies topped the eliminator pen – the horses known to be the toughest to ride – teaming up with eventual 2020 Bareback Champion Kaycee Field for a huge 91.5 points. Then Yesterday’s Delivery delivered another incredible ride in the Saddle Bronc, teaming up with Allen Boore for 90.5 points. Later in the week it was Arbitrator Joe in Bareback and Xena Warrior in Saddle Bronc showing off their moves for the double win, both just short of the 90-point mark.

Xplosive Skies carries Kaycee Field to a 91.5 point ride

Of course, rodeo wouldn’t be rodeo without some competitors getting bucked off. Animals that are just too much for a cowboy to handle may still be recognized for their skill with the highest points marked each night, without winning a go-round buckle. Agent Lynx is a great example of that, twice tossing her rider but still being celebrated as the high point marked horse on both the first and final nights of competition.

Calgary Stampede NFR Stock Results:

Round 1

  • Bareback – Agent Lynx, high point marked horse

Round 3

  • Bareback – Xplosive Skies, round win & high point marked horse
  • Saddle Bronc – Yesterday’s Delivery, round win & high point marked horse

Round 4

  • Bareback – Arbitrator Joe, high point marked horse

Round 7

  • Bareback – Yippee Kibitz, round win & high point marked horse

Round 8

  • Bareback – Xplosive Skies, round win & high point marked horse
  • Saddle Bronc – Tiger Warrior, high point marked horse

Round 9

  • Bareback – Arbitrator Joe, round win & high point marked horse
  • Saddle Bronc – Xena Warrior, round win

Round 10

  • Bareback – Agent Lynx, high point marked horse