The 2015 Calgary Stampede opens today with horse (and some dog and donkey) events running throughout the fairgrounds in Calgary, Alberta until July 12. What you might not know is many of the horses participating in events are rescues, some with rags to hopefully victory riches stories including a pair entered in the Heavy Horse Pull.
For three days, under the Stampede’s Big Top, horse teams in three different weight classes pull five times their own body weight for a distance of 14 feet (4.2 metres). This year, a pair of horses found at an Alberta auction will be part of Banff’s first horse-pulling team at the 2015 Calgary Stampede.
Here is the information provided by Banff Trail Riders:
“John” and “Wayne” were dropped off at the auction in 2014. A hand-written note left by their previous owner said that the duo were used as “chore horses,” but hadn’t been put to work for more than two years.
Being idle for so long meant John and Wayne’s hooves had not been properly looked after, which was starting to impact the health of their legs and feet. But James Gaudry, a member of the leadership team at Banff Trail Riders, had a hunch that John and Wayne were special when he spotted them.
“I love horse pulling and when I saw those boys you could see the grit and potential in their hearts,” he says.
Farrier Nolan Neufeld tended to the horses’ unkept hooves while other staff helped them regain their strength through cardio and muscle-growth exercises. Gradually, the animals became healthier and more powerful and accustomed to being around people. In fact, John and Wayne became so strong that Gaudry thought they could even compete in the 2015 Calgary Stampede Heavy Horse Pull – an event that draws from across North America. So he entered.
“I think John and Wayne might surprise people,” says Gaudry. “These horses have a lot of heart and we’re excited for people to see what they can do at the Calgary Stampede.” Gaudry will lead the Banff Trail Riders heavy horse team, which also includes fellow riders Tyler Ritchie and Ryan Rankine.
The Heavy Horse Pull event runs July 10 to 12, 2015 at the Calgary Stampede in Alberta, Canada.
For more history about the Calgary Stampede check out The Calgary Stampede: 100 years of the greatest show on Earth or A Brand of its Own: the 100 Year History of the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede.
If you’re travelling to Calgary, pick up a copy of Moon Spotlight Calgary.
Check out the previous post about the Calgary Stampede Comes to Toronto.