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Calgary Stampede Ranch Girls - Gritty & Pretty

If you want to experience 10 days drag on, and fly by, all at the same time... I suggest you attend the world famous, greatest outdoor show on earth, The Calgary Stampede.

If you want to experience that same feeling, but on the top of a horse, going as fast as you can, while 50,000 people cheer you on... I suggest you become one of the Calgary Stampede Ranch Girls.

Which is what I did, and have done, for the last three years.

Photo thanks to Sarah Mckenzie

The Calgary Stampede Ranch Girls, are the girls you see flying the rodeo's flags, as well as corporate sponsor flags, during the rodeo itself. We work only at the rodeo, performing during Grand Entry, The Salute to Sponsors, On Stage, Chase Out, Victory Laps and also for Happy Trails, where we get to say goodbye and thanks to everyone that came and watched that day.

The group of girls is handpicked from try-outs that happen in the spring, as well as girls that have been asked back from previous years. We come from all over Alberta, with many of the girls not living in the city - they camp, find places to crash, etc. so that they can participate.

& yes, we are pretty, and we sure are flashy. Dressed in glittery, sparkling shirts, white Smithbilt hats, black wranglers, and custom CS chaps, we ride all sorrel (and sometimes sorrel paint) horses from the Stampede Ranch, who are adorned with custom CS tack and saddles.

& while, a lot of the people at the Stampede, focus on the glamorous aspect of what we do - I assure you, we are much more than that.

The girls that I have the pleasure of riding alongside, are horsewomen, to the core. One of our rules is, "Your horse comes first", and I believe each one of us thinks that each and everyday. We are so thankful to the Calgary Stampede, and the Stampede Ranch, for providing us with the horses that they do. My first two years, I had the absolute pleasure of riding "Duke", who kept me safe (but at a wicked fast pace), and guided me along. This year, I was lucky to ride "Two Spots", who was a truly wonderful horse to be around - whether in the saddle or on the ground. I think, if he would have fit, I would have snuck him home in my truck with me. He was that great.

Photo thanks to Sarah Mckenzie

However, although I have had a lot of consistency with my equine partners in my years, some girls had to jump from horse to horse for different jobs and duties. For example, some girls had to switch onto new-to-them horses to lead... to be the very first person people see out of the gate!... and what did they do? They did it with a smile. Because, yes, we are pretty.. but we sure are gritty too.

You can't forget about the grit it takes to do something like this. It is nerve-wracking, thrilling, exciting, and scary, all bundled up into one. It's a whole lot of fun, but it's a lot of responsibility too, and you can never forget that when you are out there.

Photo thanks to Peggy Sue Moffat (@Reddevilrodeo)

This year, during our first grand entry, I found myself coming off of my horse after having to swerve to avoid two girls who had also fallen off. I found out pretty quickly I had pulled right, right into the big flaming CS, when I opened my eyes, the first thing I saw was fire. Then, I jumped up, and the second thing I saw was the crowd.... you know, thousands of people, and you are on camera... Thankfully, everyone was fine, and the Grand Entry the next day went smoothly.

But, again, gritty.

Photo thanks to Deanna Kristensen (@cowgirlcalamity)

& Canadian Cowboy Country Magazine

This year, I had the opportunity to run the American Flag during the American Anthem on July 4th. It was a pretty cool feeling to be running around the arena, solo, in front of all those people. But, more importantly, to be doing it in front of all the rodeo contestants, many of who are American, that were choosing to celebrate their nations birthday, on Canadian soil!

Photo thanks to Sarah Mckenzie

I also led stage presentations everyday, meaning I was the first girl on stage leading out the rest of the flags, with the honour of carrying the Calgary Stampede flag. It was so cool to be a small part of all those amazing celebrations that the rodeo contestants got to enjoy on the days they won.

The 2015 CS Ranch Girls

Photo thanks to Mike Copeman

I, of course, have to say my thank you's.

To the Calgary Stampede for allowing me to be part of such an amazing event. Ten days of the greatest outdoor show on earth is no small feat, and thousands of people are there, every minute of every day, to make sure it goes smoothly. I am definitely indebted to them.

To our managers (and professional girl-wranglers) Peggy-Sue, and Gail, that somehow manage to keep sane and smiling, while making sure we are where we need to be at all times.

To the barn staff who handles our horses with more love and care than I can put into words, and still manages to laugh at our jokes, after working from sunup to sundown, and then some.

& finally, to my glamorous, pretty but so, so, gritty Ranch Girls - another great year. Couldn't do it without you - but wouldn't dream of doing it without you guys either.

See you next year Calgary. <3

Photo thanks to Lexi Courtney/Calgary Stampede

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