Kynan Vine. Photo by Covy Moore.
CALGARY, Alberta — This is the second piece of a series this winter, presented by COWBOY SH*T™️, transitioning out of 2020 and into 2021. It features a number of the key players in western sports in Canada and beyond, looking forward through the Covid-19 pandemic and a hopeful return to normalcy in the coming months.
Ted Stovin, (@TedStovin) creator of Everything Cowboy Inc. and host of COWBOY SH*T™️ the podcast, hosts this segment with Kynan Vine (@KynanVine), Rodeo and Chuckwagon Manager of the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, the Calgary Stampede. Vine has been a guest of COWBOY SH*T, the Podcast on Episodes No. 18 and 60.
TED STOVIN: What are the plans at this point for the 2021 Calgary Stampede?
KYNAN VINE: At this point like many other events and rodeos, we are planning Stampede for 2021 with optimism. Of course we are looking at all the factors but planning is underway for 2021.
TS: What might the Stampede look like in 2021 if some restrictions remain in place?
KV: Planning is currently underway for the 2021 Calgary Stampede. With the health and safety of our community a top priority, we are planning and preparing to adapt to all public health orders.
TS: Without having the 2020 Stampede, the addition of Team Roping and the PRCA sanctioning agreement still stands, correct?
KV: Correct. We plan to continue our partnership with the PRCA and are excited to get back on track.
TS: What other changes might be in store for the Stampede in the years to come?
KV: At this point we are focused on executing a Stampede in 2021. There is always possible changes and innovation but as of right now there would be no specific details in that regard.
TS: Tell us about the process involved in the changes brought forward to the GMC Rangeland derby. Who was involved, what were the expectations from those in charge?
KV: The Stampede is extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to engage leading experts, including veterinarians, retired/current drivers and industry leaders to help further enhance safety. The expectation is that overall safety and horse health will be improved.
In 2021, changes are focusing on two primary areas – overall horse health and track safety
- Overall horse health:
- Enhanced pre-race inspections take Fitness to Compete to another level.
- Troponin testing brings groundbreaking research to the Calgary Stampede.
- Track Safety
- Change from four wagons to three per heat
- Custom built delineator arms have been added to the inside of the track, creating a buffer zone between the wagons and rail.
- Testing on the track running surface is aimed at taking it from good to great.
TS: Should we expect to see any more changes moving forward with the rodeo or chuckwagon races pertaining to safety and animal welfare?
KV: Safety and Animal care is a top priority for the Calgary Stampede. We are always looking at ways to improve and innovate when it comes to caring for our animals.
TS: Breakaway roping was included during the Wrangler NFR, is this something that may also be a part of future Calgary Stampede festivities?
KV: Breakaway roping is an exciting event and is gaining in popularity within the industry. The Stampede is always looking at our programming and what we offer our guests. We have had some good conversations with the WPRA in regard to their plans for Breakaway in the future and we are always open to the possibility of expanding our partnership with the WPRA.
TS: Talk about the rule changes brought into place in the tie-down roping at the Calgary Stampede and how those have changed the event.
KV: The tie-down roping is a cornerstone event for the Stampede Rodeo. It is part of our history and like all of our events we will continue to look at ways to make the events more understandable, exciting and of course keep animal care top of mind. The tie-down rules that we have created and implemented over the past number of years have significantly helped in regard to the care of the animals and I believe make the event even more exciting as it comes down to who can rope and tie the fastest.
The Stampede has a number of different stats and records that are kept which would support these changes as a positive. These rules have been adopted by some of the largest rodeos in North America such as Houston and Salt Lake City. They have also been adopted by the WCRA. This is a great sign that the industry considers these as progressive rules and hopefully will help us to promote and sustain the event well into the future.
TS: What did it mean to the Calgary Stampede to not have the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth in 2020?
KV: Like many other events across North America and around the world, it was a tough year for Stampede. Not only did we cancel the Calgary Stampede but also hundreds of other events that would take place throughout the year. It has been a difficult year to say the least.
TS: Let’s talk about Filipe Masetti Leite, he’s one of only a few people to ever ride across the Americas on horseback, less people have walked on the moon than accomplished this feat. Will we see him back in 2021? How does Filipe embody the spirit of the Stampede even though the mayor of Calgary completely missed the mark in his speech this past year when Filipe arrived and completed the journey?
KV: Filipe is an amazing cowboy. I am personally a huge fan of his and think what he did is incredibly underrated. I hope to see him back as a guest of the Stampede in 2021 and think that he is an incredible spokesperson for the western way of life. Filipe is an example of the Stampede Spirit in so many ways. He is a true cowboy, he has perseverance, cares about our animals and the land, exhibits western hospitality and embodies the authentic western spirit.
TS: What are your thoughts on the PRCA counting the money from the Calgary Stampede towards the World Championship titles at the end of the season? How much should count or should the standings be based on points?
KV: $1 million of the total prize money will count toward the PRCA standings so essentially it will be much like the WPRA and barrel racing with only $50,000 of the $100,000 counting and the rest of the monies won all counting. We are excited to offer this opportunity to the competitors. With so much to be won at the NFR and rodeos such as Houston, San Antonio, Fort Worth and the American all bringing so much money to the table it has really created a level of rodeo with large payouts and having it all count toward the World Standings makes things that much more exciting for the fans and the competitors.
With Calgary counting towards the world standings along with now Houston and The American and with Fort Worth coming up with significant dollars it’s has created an elite level of rodeo within the PRCA which is very exciting for the sport. There is almost $9 million added between those five major rodeos. That’s pretty awesome.
TS: Rodeo’s Triple Crown. What’s the story there? The WCRA made a triple crown this year but you had an idea a little ahead of it’s time a year or two ago.
KV: The idea of a Triple Crown or a Grand Slam in sports is not a new one by any means. Horse jumping has had a million dollar Grand Slam for years, horse racing does it and even surfing does it. The Stampede and several other rodeo stakeholders have talked about the possibilities for something like that in rodeo for a number of years now. I think the concept is great and in any case it’s marketable, exciting and can be easily told as a great story line in the media and on broadcast. I am optimistic that in the future there will be more and more incentive based programs like that created and it can only help to grow the sport.
TS: You’ve been doing some fishing this year with the absence of rodeo, what have you enjoyed the most about the time and what has changed since March? What has been the most unexpected surprise?
KV: I have been involved with rodeo my entire life. For 35 years there has not been a summer that I was not at a rodeo almost every single weekend and even most week days, all summer long. This summer gave me the opportunity to spend a lot of time with my family and new baby Isla and do things like go camping, hiking and of course fishing. I love fishing probably as much as I do rodeo and have had the opportunity to cast a line in some cool places even in Brazil. But, for some reason, I never fished for sturgeon in my home town of Medicine Hat. My good friend Jay Hogg took me out this fall and it was the best fishing experience of my life. I am as they would say “hooked.”
One other very exciting development that happened this year was the launch of the Ultimate Rodeo Bull Fighting Experience. This is something that Brett Monea and I have talked about for years and just never really had the time to launch it. We ended up hosting three of the Experiences which we were able to do under the AHS guidelines and they were a hit. It was exciting for everyone involved to say the least and just felt good to be a part of something even with everything going on.
TS: Your wife Megan is a frontline worker as a nurse, what can you share about her journey through this global pandemic? What advice can you give to those in our circles?
KV: Megan has gone back to work after her maternity leave ended in December. She says it’s worse than anyone can even imagine and her ICU is actually double the capacity. Doctors and nurses are working more than they ever have because they can’t keep up with the numbers. She also has not been vaccinated because they ran out before her appointment. It’s a scary situation for everyone, and our family, as we have someone working directly with covid patients and she hasn’t even been vaccinated.
I also have a cousin who is a Doctor and she has been working in the ER up in Edmonton. What I can say is that this thing is real and it is affecting real people every day. We can all have our opinions on the situation but one thing I will say is we need to be kind to each other, have patience with your friends and family and don’t let this situation divide us.
TS: What did you miss most about a normal summer that you didn’t get to do this year?
KV: I miss putting on rodeos and events. I love first of all to see people enjoying the entertainment that we provide and putting a smile on their faces. I miss getting to watch talented people do what they are best at and seeing them in their element from the competitors to the production personnel and everyone in between. I missed standing in the rodeo arena on Showdown Sunday watching what I consider the best performance of rodeo in the world and most of all I missed spending time with all our friends. I was supposed to go to North Queensland Elite Rodeo and work with Quentin Kersh and his team on that rodeo in Australia as well as possibly going to Barretos, Brazil for their event. So I was disappointed that I didn’t get to do that this year but am hopeful that next year we will get to go.
TS: To wrap things up and create some more conversation, we get a lot of old re-ride stories from back in the day about how great things used to be. Is our sport so stuck in the past that it’s become a hindrance to moving forward?
KV: It’s stupid, rodeo is the only sport I know that would rather say the best was 40 years ago. All other sports are promoting their athletes as the best best there ever has been. Bigger, faster, record-breaking and here we are getting mad when a guy gets too high of mark because it can’t be better than a ride from years ago. We should be happy to say that Jose Vitor Leme could be the best bull rider of all time rather than saying no one will ever be better than someone from 30 years ago.
It’s pretty bad if we have put millions of dollars and a half a century into specialized breeding and no one can admit there is a bull or horse in the last decade that’s better than some herd bull from 1975.
Our sport needs to advocate for the future. We need to be excited and promote that it can be better than ever. Otherwise, what are we doing here? We should want bulls that bucks harder, guys that tie faster, horses that run harder. It’s what grows the sport and keeps it sustainable.
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