CALGARY STAMPEDE RANCH
Inducted in 2013
The Calgary Stampede Ranch has been providing stock for the biggest rodeos in the country, as well as college rodeos and rodeo schools since 1961. Their aim then was to provide quality stock for the Calgary Stampede, but they soon helped revolutionize bucking stock business. Instead of using rough stock off ranches in the rodeos, they created a program called “Born to Buck” with the intent of breeding high octane animal athletes whose job it was to compete with high octane human athletes. They are bred to buck harder and higher, which means high scores if the stock gets ridden and good entertainment value for the fans.
The Born to Buck program pairs very successful bucking mares with equally successful stallions, often using the fertilized eggs of a champion mare in several surrogate or “recipient” mothers. The horses go through a rigorous health and safety procedure. For example, new stock goes through a month of observation and maintenance before they join the herd to make sure they are healthy and fit. Spokesmen for the ranch state, “In addition to medical checkups, the horses’ hair and feet are carefully groomed before ‘going to town.’ Only 200 horses from the herd are called to compete in pro rodeos. The busiest will only buck 15 times in a year, spending just 30 days away from the ranch. Each bucking horse represents an investment of $10,000 from date of birth to the age of five.”
The Calgary Stampede Ranch has been extremely successful, and more than a dozen horses have become superstars, including Coconut Roll, Moon Rocket, Lawsuit, Kloud Grey, Guilty Cat, Outlawbull, and Grated Coconut. Grated Coconut, the bareback bronc also inducted into the Ellensburg Rodeo Hall of Fame, has won an unprecedented six world titles and six Canadian titles before early retirement.
For the first three years, the horses roam freely over the ranch, and usually after they turn four their conditioning begins. They get used to chutes, pens, and arenas. No horse naturally likes to be ridden, and these horses are allowed to buck off a 40 pound dummy, then young light cowboys, then heavier adults, so their bucking is reinforced: they successfully eject that weight on their backs. The Ranch cowboys use older horses to calm them when they learn to trailer, and they start with short distances, usually from one part of the ranch to the other. When they are fully mature and have developed their bucking techniques, the Ranch staff trucks them to rodeos.
The ranch itself covers thirty-four sections of land, nearly 22,000 acres near Hanna, Alberta, also home to mule deer, antelope, and white tail deer. The ranch has over 500 horses, including 70 brood mares, and they have over 80 bulls. Of that 500, only 45 are saddle horses. Their signature brand is a “C” over an “S” in a vertical line high on the left shoulder. They don’t sell horses with their brand on them. According to the Ranch’s website, when the horses have completed their bucking careers at pro rodeos, they “retire” on the ranch where “they live out their days roaming the pastures or being part of the Born to Buck breeding programs as brood mares, recipient mares, or stallions.”