24 March 2016
By Kynan Vine
Around the Calgary Stampede you will often here the phrase “Born to Buck,” and justifiably the organization is proud to lay claim to the breeding program that has produced some of history’s greatest bucking horses.
When watching the rodeo from your seats at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, Rodeo Houston or the Calgary Stampede you will witness the top horses that carry the banner of the Stampede all over North America. These horses have climbed their way up the ranks to be known as the elite in the rodeo industry. Horses such as Special Delivery, Stampede Warrior, Trail Dust, Tiger Warrior and of course the most famous of them all Grated Coconut have all put the “Born to Buck” program on the map.
What some may not know is that while the horses are born to buck they are not instantly bucking horses. Much like any athlete they must learn the skills and train for many years to become an elite competitor. It all starts on the 25,000 acre ranch in Hanna, Alberta which is home to almost 600 head of bucking horses and bulls.
Tyler Kraft, Stampede Ranch Manager, and his highly skilled team of experts in animal care and handling spend countless hours caring for, training and preparing the horses to become rodeo athletes. The ranch oversees the sophisticated breeding program that breeds some of the Stampede’s best mares with great sires like Grated Coconut, or leased sire’s like Lunatic Fringe, to produce foals each year that will begin their journey towards the rodeo arena.
Tyler and his team work with the young horses on a regular basis. Contrary to the belief that bucking horses are wild animals, these horses are actually tamed down and trained in certain ways to ensure they will be safe and ready when they arrive at the rodeo arena. From halter breaking to hoof trimming, the foals are all treated much like a regular saddle horse would be. From there it’s time to progress to the arena and see what they can do.
For the last ten years the Silver Sage arena in Brooks, Alberta has played host to the annual Stampede Colt Bucking Jackpot. This is here where the Stampede and the rest of the rodeo community get to see what the future has in store for the “Born to Buck” program and it is here where many of today’s champion horses got their start. Each year about 60 young horses will match up against eager cowboy competitors for the chance at a $3,000 prize to the winning combination.
Many of Canada’s great Saddle Bronc and Bareback riders like Calgary Stampede Champion Dustin Flundra flock to Brooks for this event just to get a sneak peek at their future competition. With the addition of some of our sports young cowboys this event makes for some spectacular riding and of course even more spectacular buck offs.
This is the first time a lot of the horses will see the sights and sounds of a crowd and people all around so they are wide eyed and excited with anticipation. Just like their human jockeys the horses get their adrenaline pumping and try their very best to prove themselves. This will be the first of many opportunities for the horses to buck and for the ranch crew to decide which ones will compete at the coming rodeos like Hand Hills, Innisfail, Strathmore, Armstrong and the Calgary Stampede in the Novice events and which ones might need some more training. The air is always filled with anticipation and excitement inside the Silver Sage.
It is all part of the training process for the horses and the process is a slow one but it ensures the horses are well looked after and doing what they love. If you are in the area on Friday April 1st at 7:00pm, be sure not to miss your chance to see some our tomorrow’s animal athletes in action. You will not be disappointed.
This year is also offering a second day of action with the Big Stone Rodeo Company hosting a bucking horse jackpot on the following Saturday at 2:00pm. The weekend is filled with great bucking horses and great rides, don’t miss it.