We went to the Ponoka Stampede Friday night. In the 12 years we lived 1-2 hours away from Houston, we never felt the need to go to the big Houston Rodeo. But because we're in Canada, we had to go to the stampede! This is a smaller version of the Calgary Stampede which is next week. From what Otto heard at work, this is the warm-up event for all the cowboys and cowgirls that will be competing in the big event next week.
The first event was, well we didn't get a program so I'm not sure what it's officially called. Let's call it the watch-the-children-get-dragged-around-by-a-wild-pony event! There are three kids to a team (looks like they ranged in age from 8-11). It seems that sole purpose of one of the lucky team members is that when the pony is let out of the chute, they are to grab on to the end of the rope that is attached to the bridle and hang on for dear life. This kid acts as extra weight to slow the pony down while the other two try to hang on to the pony's neck and wrestle their way onto the pony's back. Once on the pony they must stay on for a small amount of time before jumping off. It was quite a stitch to watch!
The next event was the chariot racing. Pretty much what you remember from Greco-Roman history, except with different hats and less armor. As the riders come down the home stretch, everyone starts stomping their feet on the aluminum bleacher floor. Much of the time the boys sat on Otto's lap while he stomped his feet, so they got a bumpy ride!
Then they started the pony chuck wagon races. After six heats, the kiddos were getting pretty restless, so we headed for the carnival rides.
After an hour of carnival rides, the stampede was still going on, so we thought we'd go back and catch a few more races. Turns out we missed most of the main event! (Note to self: next time buy a program, especially if it's only $1!) So we saw the last two heats of the REAL chuck wagon races. Bigger horses, and lots more people involved. In this event, there is chuck wagon with still four, but larger, horses, and in addition, there are three riders at the back of the wagon that are holding their horses in one hand, and each have a pole in the other, and then there is a barrel on the ground (that I think the poles were attached to). When the horn is blown, as the driver of the wagon gets the horses in front going, the people in the rear have to lift the barrel and get it and the poles stuffed into back of the wagon, then mount their horses and start running after the wagon. There are four teams at a time, so imagine the chariot race picture above, completely filled with horses and people on horses and wagons. Now that's a stampede! It was awesome. All the mayhem at the beginning of the race and all the people charging around the track together looked like a lot of fun. I've been trying to figure out a good hobby to pursue while I'm here. Hmmmmm....