Canada & Alaska

Michele & Stephen's trip in 2013

Sundre Rodeo

The next paragraph was not brought to you by Al Saunders Contracting & Consulting nor by Mountain View Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram.

We did consider trying to go to the Calgary Stampede (a very very large Rodeo) but luckily we ended up at a much smaller event at Sundre. The Calgary Stampede lasts ten days and attracts over one million visitors, the Sundre Rodeo last three days and attracts a few thousand. However Sundre does attract world class contestants, and you can park your RV/motorhome for free, less than 100 metres from the action!

People who go to rodeos drive trucks like this. This photograph was not brought to you by Murfs Outdoor Equipment/Husquavarna nor by Red River Industries Inc. nor by Sobeys (Sundre).

It is important to wear a hat whilst attending a rodeo.

This advice was not brought to you by Sundre Trappers Association nor by Swamp Donkeys Pub nor by Tanas Concrete nor by The Sundre Roundup nor even by Zip Excavating and Septic.

One class of rodeo event consists of sitting on a wild[ish] animal for eight seconds.

The animals are, of course, not wild but "bred to buck". Each participant, assuming he stays on for eight seconds, and does not violate a whole range of rules receives a score in two parts. The first part relates to how well the animal performed and the second part how well the contestant performed. Both are doing well below.

If the bull (or horse) does not put up a sufficiently energetic performance the competitor may be offered a chance of a re-ride. Both the bulls and the horses are known by name and reputation and are chosen by lottery. Some competitors will have ridden the same animal several times before. Below the bull is doing better than the (ex-)rider

During the two days we watched, one contestant was injured (broken/sprained ankle?) but none of the animals appeared to be harmed significantly.

The potential for serious or even fatal injury is obvious. The man in red's job is to distract the bull before it has time to gore the fallen contestant! He was remarkably good at it.

A second class of event involves catching a calf from horse back. The calf is given a small start. In one version the contestant must lasso the calf...

...dismount (leaving the lasso attached to the now stationary horse)...

...upend the calf and tie at least three legs together in a way that immobilizes the calf for six seconds.

In the second version of "catch the calf" (known as bull-dogging for reason too complicated to repeat) the lasso is dispensed with. The rider on the left merely keeps the calf running in a straight line. The rider on the right charges passed the calf...

...and at the appropriate moment leaps from his horse and grabs the calf by the horns...

...and wrestles it to the ground in the prescribed way.

The entire operation from the release of the calf to its immobilization has taken 3.9 seconds!

Other less serious events included dressage...

...side saddle...

...wild cow milking and my favorite...

...tandem child towing.

If you are in Canada in rodeo territory I strongly recommend finding a local rodeo. If you chose Sundre then I also suggest you visit their museum, which in addition to good pioneer and local history stuff also has an awful lot of stuffed animals.

Now stuffed animals does not sound very exciting but Sundre's World of (Dead) Wildlife is remarkably impressive once you get over the unease that somebody (Chester Mjolsness) devoted several decades of their life to shooting most of them.