July was the time for something which I'd been looking forward to since deciding on staying in Alberta, The Calgary Stampede .  The...

The Calgary Stampede 2015

July was the time for something which I'd been looking forward to since deciding on staying in Alberta, The Calgary Stampede
The Stampede began in 1912 when Guy Weadick came to Calgary with a 6-day event involving roping, bronc riding and a celebration of the Old West. He'd envisioned a world class annual rodeo event, but these hopes were dashed due to an economic depression and the start of the First World War. In 1919, Weadick was invited back to Calgary to organise the Victory Stampede, which celebrated the end of the war. Finally in 1923, the Stampede merged with the Calgary Industrial Exhibition and became an annual event, now lasting 10 days.

Stampede kicked off with the Parade through the city. I'm not really sure what the aim of the parade is, it just seemed like a strange mix of businesses, societies and... cowboys. But it was fun to watch nonetheless.

 For as long as I've been in Canada, I've searched for Mounties with absolutely no luck. Call me ignorant, but I thought I'd see them everywhere, or at least at Parliament Hill in Ottawa. So when I saw these two riding down the street I felt a sense of Canadian pride.
I know I'm not Canadian, but being in this country it's hard not to feel patriotic about it. Everywhere you go there are Canadian flags flying. On the 1st of July we celebrated Canada Day, a prime example of why this country is so bloody good. There were parties in the parks, and firework displays, and everyone was wearing t-shirts emblazoned with maple leaves. Canada loves Canada. And unlike Britain, Canada has mastered the art of being fiercely loyal and patriotic without it turning racist.

More Mounties than you could shake a stick at.

If I remember correctly these were British troops who are currently training in Alberta.

One day we decided to get tickets to the rodeo in the grandstand. Having never been to a rodeo I wasn't really sure what to expect or what the rules for the events were, but after a while it was pretty easy to pick up.

Saddle Bronc Riding

 Tie-down Roping
There's quite a lot of controversy surrounding the calf roping. There were a few posters and writing on the streets in chalk suggesting that it's cruel and it should be banned. I'm not too sure about it myself, but I think it probably looks a lot worse than it is.

Bareback Riding

Ladies Barrel Racing
When I watched the barrel racing on tv I thought it was a bit boring, but seeing it live is a whole different ball game. I quickly fell in love with this lady here, Fallon Taylor, and her horse Babyflo. With bright red hair and colourful clothes, she's one of the only people advocating the importance of wearing a helmet, after suffering a near fatal head injury where she had to learn to walk again.
'If you're cool enough to go that fast, you're cool enough to protect your noggin'.

Steer/Bull Riding

Kids Wild Pony Race
In teams of 3, the objective is to get the rider on the wild pony. Usually you have a kid that holds the rope, another that covers the pony's eyes, and then the rider jumps on.
This is one of the funniest things I have ever watched, purely because of the sheer amount of children that face plant into the sand, and then get dragged around by the pony.

And the second funniest thing I've ever watched. A tiny little kid comes out on the smallest pony I have ever seen and rounds up all the other ponies. Hilarious.

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