We Had a Crazy Idea – to Compete at the Calgary Stampede

I grew up as a "horse crazy" kid in a small village in the North of England. I learned to ride on an English saddle jumped, hunted and did kids gymkhana. In England we thought that wearing a cowboy hat and the cowboy way of life was just something in the movies.

I moved to Eastern Ontario in 1986 and married a man who was born in Alberta .We ranched and farmed and he taught me that horses could do so much more than I ever imagined. I got rid of my English saddle and learned to ride Western and we used our horses to work cattle on our ranch. We started Team Cattle Penning in 2000 and competed all over Ontario.

In 2006 we had a crazy idea, and after planning for months, we loaded up our horses and drove for 43 hrs from Ontario to try to COMPETE at the Stampede! The qualifying rounds are held out of town and there were 450 teams trying to qualify for 60 spots at the Saddledome .We had a goal to finish in the top 20 with all of our team members competing. Not only did we achieve our goal; my husband Dave, our friend Bob Kennedy and I placed 4th overall out of 160 teams in the Open class taking home a cool $10,000 in prize money. Friend Wael Yassein, Dave and myself also finished in the top 20 in the #7 class out of 120 teams. We were the first Team Penners from Ontario to compete in the prestigious $250,000 Team Penning event at the Calgary Stampede.

From a little English saddle and a black felt hat to a Western saddle and a cowboy hat I have come such a long way!

The Stampede experience is something to watch but competing there is surreal. We were welcomed and supported by so many people and experienced western hospitality at its best.  That is, and will remain one of the most memorable moments in all of our lives.

Sandra Dalzell