In 1912, Guy Weadick organized and produced an event that was the precursor to today’s Calgary Stampede. Over the years, the event grew into one of Canada’s most noteworthy events and one of rodeo’s most prestigious.
Fifty years after its inception, the directors had a vision to be their own supplier of bucking stock—mostly to maintain a level of quality at their show. That decision led to the purchase of what’s now known as the Stampede Ranch near Hanna, Alberta; a dozen mares; and a couple of studs.
Now, the ranch covers a total of 23,000 acres and runs somewhere around 700 horses. No other rodeo has its own string of bucking horses and bulls.
“We produce or co-produce 150 performances a year,” says Keith Marrington, Stock Contracting Manager for the Calgary Stampede. “Our own 10-day show is actually a small part of what we do.”
Calgary Stampede stock is on hand in the United States everywhere from Denver to Houston to Red Bluff, Calif., and, of course, the Wrangler National Finals in Las Vegas.
“We take the latter part of April and May off because that’s when we foal,” Marrington says. “We breed 70–80 mares every year, so that’s a busy time for us.”
When colts are weaned, they’re halter trained and made to feel comfortable in the chute—increasing the safety for both themselves and the cowboys who will ride them.
All the horses in the string are freeze branded with a standing CS brand. Look closely, and it’s a different brand than the Stampede’s logo, which is a C Lazy S.
“The C Lazy S is the bull brand,” Marrington explains. “The upright S is the horse brand.”
The stock is also branded with a letter of the alphabet corresponding to what year they were born (G was 1997, for example) and a number. Once they’ve earned the right to go on the professional circuit, they’re given a name beginning with the letter of they year they were born.
“We don’t use [the letter] I because it looks like one, or O because it looks like a zero, but we do use X, Y, and Z,” Marrington says. “It’s pretty challenging coming up with names for those horses.”
The signature horse for the Stampede’s bucking program is a 1997 stallion named Grated Coconut. He was a six-time Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Bareback Horse of the Year. Though retired in 2010, the ranch still breeds him and, most recently, four of his offspring competed at the 2016 WNFR.