OCT 29 - NOV 3 -2019 WESTERNER PARK, RED DEER, Alberta

Saddle Bronc & Bareback Stock Awards

Saddle Bronc

Bareback

horse of the year

horse of the year

S-66 Stampede Warrior

F 13 Virgil

Owned by Calgary Stampede, Hanna, Alta.

Owned by Vern McDonald, C5 Rodeo Company, Lac La Biche, Alta.

At 12 years old, Stampede Warrior is in her prime, and her fame for tough but honest trips proves she is a chip off not just one, not two, but three champion blocks. Her father is Grated Coconut, the multi-award-winning stud sired by another great, the late Harvey Northcott’s Wyatt Earp. Her mother is Fearless Warrior, a Stampede mare whose versatility saw her chosen by the competitors to compete at the Canadian Finals and the National Finals — morphing from a great bareback horse to a great saddle bronc. Tyler Kraft, the Stampede Ranch Manager, has been there since her first trip, and so far, she is following in her mother’s hoofprints — starting her career as a championship-winning bareback horse (they won $100,000 at Calgary on her twice) and then making the switch to saddle bronc, where they won $100,000 at Calgary on her twice more — and counting. Of course, who could forget one of her more memorable trips when she set a new arena record of an astounding 94 points with Cody DeMoss at Rodeo Houston in 2014? Her fame has reached epic heights. When the dust cleared from the frenzied calcutta bidding at the HardGrass Bronc Match at Pollockville, the top bidder was asked who he wanted. He didn’t name the rider — he simply said, “Stampede Warrior.” This is what I’m saying: to get championship-winning scores once or twice could have been a gift — but these many times it is undeniable — Stampede Warrior has earned her place alongside the greats. Needless to say, there are a lot of terrific saddle broncs in Canada, and the competition is fierce. “They’ve won over $500,000 on her,” confirms Kraft. “It’s surprising this is the first time she has won Saddle Bronc of the Year. It’s been seven years in the making, but it means a lot.” Keep watch for the blaze-faced mare coming out of a lefthand delivery chute and, like Tyler Kraft, you will be witnessing history. -TM The massive grey towers over the chutes, standing immobile as one of the best bareback riders in the world squeaks his hand into the rigging. The gelding barely has to lift his chin to swing his immense head over the gate to stare out at his dirt-filled stage. When the chute gate swings open, he instantly transforms from statue to exploding fireworks of awe-inspiring bucking, his luxurious mane and tail emphasizing his every move. “He’s just been a good horse,” understates Vern McDonald. Virgil is a statistician’s dream. Not including his previous years of records, his high score for 2018 was 91.25 (out of a possible 100), 90 points is his average score (out of a possible 100) and 45 is his average stock score (out of a possible 50). That’s about as close to perfect as it gets. Now 10 years old, the 1,600 lb grey is a product of either pure luck or savvy breeding on the part of North Dakota rodeo stock contractor Dale Kling. He is an unlikely cross between an 1,800-lb. Percheron-cross and a tiny, 900-lb appaloosa mare, once owned by Hall of Fame stock contractor, the late Verne Franklin. As a youngster, it wasn’t long before he was on McDonald’s radar — he was looking for a superstar, and Virgil fit the bill. “I paid a lot of money for him, but he got me a lot of rodeos,” admits McDonald. Add to that list a World Bareback Horse Award, a fleet of trucks, and now, a second Canadian Bareback Horse of the Year award. But the awards and fame have also created a problem — finding time to rest the phenom. “If I don’t bring him, then a rodeo committee gets really upset,” explains McDonald. “Everybody wants him at their rodeo, and I understand it, but he also needs to rest, and I just can’t buck him four times in ten days,” he explains. “We’re considering cloning him, but we’ll see.” — TM

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