My First Touch of Stampede

I think my first brush with the Calgary Stampede might be different then most. Our family moved from the inner city (Elbow Park) when I was 10, and we lived on a modest farm. I became good friends with Neil Campbell, whom invited me to ride ponies one weekend. I discovered a love for riding. Shortly thereafter, my father brought home a tall gelding “Speedy Prince” that was previously owned by the Calgary Stampede. I assumed I could ride the beast and intended to impress my parents. All saddled up, I jumped on, began to display my riding prowess through a trot and then right through to a gallop.

Things rapidly went out of control and I found myself hanging from one stirrup doing the equivalent of a trick riders “death drag” across a quarter section of pasture. Welcome to Stampede stock!

Having ignored this early lesson in life, I later joined the Stampede Rodeo Committee and in 1991, entered a camel race on the infield against two competitors – one being HLD (Honouree Life Director) - Gord Burrell. We put on Saudi Prince outfits, mounted these large beasts and proceeded to race wildly out of control in front of a packed rodeo crowd. Gord flew off, ensuring I won the secret betting pool. I attributed my successful camel race to the early experience with Stampede stock! While less physically taxing, my involvement as vice-chairman of the board, still provides for some interesting rides as the Stampede continues its march as a legendary western institution.

Bob Thompson
Vice-chairman of the board