The Calgary Stampede purchased its ranch in 1961. The property covers a total of 22,000 acres and provides the Stampede with a beautiful natural environment for its renowned “Born to Buck” breeding program. The elite animals of the rodeo world share the pastureland with indigenous species such as white tail and mule deer, pronghorn antelope, and many species of birds and small mammals. Bullpound Creek meanders through 10 km of the ranchland, and there are six types of native and tame grass for grazing.
Care and Breeding
In 1961, 50 mares formed the foundation of the Stampede Ranch breeding program. Today, about 450 horses live at the ranch, including 70 brood mares. Horses obtained privately or through sales go through a month-long health regimen before being integrated into the Stampede home herd. This ensures they are disease-free and strong.
The herd is fed a diet of free-range grass, oats and hay. In addition to medical checkups, the horses’ hair and feet are carefully groomed before ‘going to town.’ Only 200 horses from the herd are called to compete. The busiest will only buck 15 times in a year, spending just 30 days away from the ranch. Each bucking horse represents an investment of $10,000 from date of birth to the age of five. A top rodeo horse can be worth as much as $50,000 – a literal example of ‘value for the buck.’
Born to Buck Program
The Stampede’s Born to Buck breeding program has become one of the premier producers of rodeo stock. The Stampede Ranch has 400 horses and 80 bulls. Many make regular appearances at some of North America’s biggest and best rodeos.
The Calgary Stampede Rodeo Division oversees a sophisticated breeding program, pairing proven mares with stallions selected from all over the continent. Every spring brings new foals. The newcomers are all named with the same first letter, depending on the year. Colts born in 1996 all had a first name beginning with “F”, including French Wake, Flavoured Cherry and Fearless Warrior. The 2010 colts’ names begin with ‘X’; the 2011 colts all had names beginning with ‘Y.’
Meticulous performance records have been kept for more than three decades. The accolades are a testament to the success of the program. Here is a partial list of past, present and future Stampede superstars.
Ranch Raised Broncs
Hells Half Acre
I See You
Down & Out
I See You
Ready to Rodeo
The horses for the Calgary Stampede are switched to a diet of oats and hay about six weeks before the event. During the 10 days of Stampede, horses are shuttled between the ranch and the Rodeo pens at Stampede Park to minimize the pen time. The best horses will be bucked a maximum of three times (24 seconds total). Many will only compete once or twice.
Because of the quality and reputation of its breeding program, Stampede Ranch provides horses for roughly 20 rodeos, including Jack Daine’s ranch rodeo, the Ponoka Stampede, and other events throughout Western Canada and the United States. The Ranch’s younger stock is provided to rodeo schools and college rodeos.
The Calgary Stampede is one of the few rodeos in the world with its own registered brand, the distinctive C lazy S on the left shoulder. To maintain its reputation and ensure its standards of care are met, the Stampede does not sell the horses carrying its brand.