August/September 2011


Old West Meets the Far East

The Bird’s Nest, Beijing National Stadium by night

Photo courtesy Istockphoto/Fototrav

Beijing, China wowed the world during the Olympics with their stunning architectural wonders, and no more so than with the magnificent 80,000-seat National arena, affectionately known as the Birds Nest. It’s the perfect moniker as this fall many of the top rodeo contestants in the world are flying in to the glittering capital to crack open the chutes as the richest rodeo in the world takes wing.

A half-dozen Alberta cowboys, including reigning Canadian champions Dusty LaValley and Dustin Flundra, as well as Luke Butterfield, Justin Berg, Kyle Thomson (and possibly one or two others to be named later) have signed contracts to appear in the invitational rodeo which is offering a whopping $8 million in prize money — the largest purse in the sports history.

The rodeo will take place Oct. 3-0 in Beijing, China.

Twenty to 25 contestants in each of rodeo’s seven traditional events received invitations, but only 15 will actually make the expenses-paid trip. The final selections will be made in consultations with the Chinese, but the promoters are anxious to put together a true international roster.

There will be eight rounds of rodeo action; first in a round will pay $25,000 paid out to eight places. First in the aggregate earns a tidy $75,000.

It’s one thing to fly over a bunch of bronc riders, but what about the rough stock — and the timed event horses and stock?

Turns out Sankey and Sutton Rodeo companies from the U.S., is providing the broncs and Gill Bros. from Australia are providing the bulls.

“We’re sending 72 head of bucking horses,” says Steve Sutton of Sutton Rodeo. “Thirty-six bares and 36 broncs.” The horses, of which many are currently in quarantine here in Canada, will be flown over — but they aren’t coming home. “Rodeo China bought the stock outright from us,” explains Sutton. “They’re planning on running another rodeo sometime after this one.”

The timed-event competitors were given the option of having their own mounts flown over, however the length of time the horses would have to spend in quarantine before — and after — the rodeo would have them sidelined for over six months.

The roping and dogging horses will be supplied,” explains Sutton. “They’ll draw for their mounts the same as the cowboys draw for their broncs.”

For more information on this event, visit



World’s Largest Rodeo

Congratulations to Kashley Seitz of High River, Alta., who earned All-Around Cowgirl honours with her 9th place finish in barrel racing and winning the Pole Bending. Canadians made their mark in a field of 907 competitors including barrel racer Susan Gulick of Wetaskiwin, Alta., (16th place), Jenna Dallyn of Nanton, Alta., who finished 20th in Girls Goat Tying, Kennedy Smith of Rimbey, Alta., who earned 9th place in Pole Bending and Riley Hayes of Val Marie, Sask., and Tyce McLeod of Waldeck, Sask., who finished 6th in team roping.

Photo courtesy NHSRA/David Jennings Photography

The National High School Finals Rodeo (NHSRA), known as “the world’s largest outdoor rodeo,” took place in Gillette, Wyoming July 17-23, 2011. Over 1,500 contestants and their families from 41 states, five Canadian provinces and Australia descended upon this small western city.

The student athletes range in age from 14 to 20 and have spent the year vying for the honour to compete in the Finals.  This is competition at its best, but it also offers the students a unique opportunity to meet other high school students from all walks of life and establish lifelong friendships.

The NHSRA is one of the fastest growing youth organizations in the nation, with an annual membership of over 10,500 students from the aforementioned countries. The Association, which sanctions over 1,100 rodeos each year, is governed by a national board of directors.

For more information on the NHSFR visit




Rodeo Royal!

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge officially opening the Calgary Stampede

Photo by Chris Bolin/The Calgary Stampede

The eyes of the world were on Calgary as Prince William and his bride Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were honoured guests at this year’s Calgary Stampede Parade. The route was jammed to the sky with onlookers hoping to glimpse the world’s most famous newlyweds.

The Royals travelled the parade route in reverse in an imposing motorcade and were welcomed at the official start by a phalanx of Stampede officials, Prime Minister Harper and the parade’s Grand Marshall, Rick Hansen, who earned international fame for his Man In Motion Tour. The young couple, wearing jeans, boots and custom hats kicked off the parade when they joined hands and pressed the official button, launching a cascade of fireworks accompanied by a youth dance troupe performing the official song of The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.

Interestingly, the Royal couple stood when this year’s Calgary Stampede Queen and Princesses and the Indian Princess passed by on horseback.

They were also treated to a private rodeo that included a chuckwagon demonstration, sheep riding and bull riding with Prince William helping set 2010 Canadian Champion Jesse Torkelson’s bull rope.




On With the Show!

Photo by Andrew Bako

The 37th annual Alberta Film & Television Awards, celebrating excellence and outstanding achievement in Albertan film, television and new media, were handed out May 28 in Edmonton.

It was a very good night for Heartland as five statuettes, known as the “Rosie”, were awarded to the hit show for Best Dramatic Series among a list of awards and another six statuettes were presented to the Alberta producers from SEVEN/24 Films.

Another big winner that night was the cast and crew of Alberta’s latest new television drama, Blackstone. The show’s executive producer is Ron E. Scott, who, by the way, was one of the producers of Cowboy Country TV. Blackstone received three of the coveted awards, including Best Alberta Actress for Roseanne Supernault and Best Screenwriter Drama for Scott.

Blackstone was also a hit at the 2011 Leo Awards, which took place June 11 in Vancouver where the searing, uncompromising show took home two more awards.

Congratulations everyone!


Stocking the Herd

Ridge David James Flundra

Photo by Niki Cammaert Flundra

Ridge David James Flundra
Congratulations to Dustin Flundra and Niki Cammaert Flundra on the birth of their son, Ridge David James Flundra on March 19. He tipped the scales at a healthy 6 lbs 7 oz.

Ridge’s dad, Dustin, is a three-time Canadian Saddle Bronc Champion and two-time NFR qualifier; his mom, Niki, is a multi-award winning, internationally renowned trick rider, stunt woman, liberty horse trainer and pyrotechnics coordinator.

The young family make their home on the ranch near Pincher Creek, Alta.



Stocking the Herd

Chet Gordon James Richards and his big brother, Colt

Photo by Lindsey German

Chet Gordon James Richards
Congratulations to Billy Richards and his wife Lindsey German on the birth of their second son, Chet Gordon James Richards on Feb. 21. He weighed in at 6 lbs even.

Chet’s father, saddle bronc rider Billy Richards, was named PRCA Rookie of the Year in 2001 and so far has made seven trips to the Canadian Finals Rodeo. He also raises bucking horses. His mom is in the construction business.

The young family make their home near Crossfield, Alta.


Alberta Rancher Awarded Patriot Medal

Skyline Ranch’s Reid Moynihan receives the Montana National Guard Patriot Medal from Montana adjutant general Brigadier General John Walsh during a ceremony at the Bomber Command Museum of Canada in Nanton June 22

Photo by Sheena Reid

For 34 years, Reid Moynihan has kept a monument at the site of a jet crash site on the ranch lease land in the Porcupine Hills where on June 9, 1977, a F106 Delta Dart crashed in the Porcupine Hills during mock attack manoeuvres.

The pilot, Lt. David L. Denning, 28, was killed when the plane hit the ridge. The jet was loaded with four live sidewinder air-to-air missiles.

It was in the ‘70s, during the Cold War and American and Canadian forces trained for the possibility of a Russian attack coming from over the North Pole. The pilot was ordered to drop altitude and although he questioned the order, he complied and moments later his jet slammed into the hillside.

Moynihan, who was seven at the time of the crash, searched for years for more information on the crash, and searched for the pilot’s name. Finally in 2008, he found a newspaper from the Lethbridge Herald, naming Denning. Moynihan eventually located members of Denning’s family. Last year, they visited the Skyline Ranch to see the crash site and monument.

“It’s truly an honour to have someone who would take the step forward, to remember,” said Walsh, and to bring closure to the Denning family.

The crash site will be remembered as a site of friendship between two families, between Alberta and Montana, and between Canada and the U.S.



Where in the World is Canadian Cowboy?

Photo courtesy Shelley Repka-Willard

The Great Wall of China is a series of stone and earthen fortifications in northern China, built originally to protect the northern borders of the Chinese Empire against intrusions by various nomadic groups. Several walls have been built since the 5th century BC that are referred to collectively as the Great Wall, which has been rebuilt and maintained from the 5th century BC through the 16th century. The majority of the existing wall was built during the Ming Dynasty.

The entire Great Wall, with all of its branches, stretches for 8,851.8 km (5,500.3 mi) of actual wall, trenches and natural defensive barriers such as hills and rivers.

The Great Wall is visited by hundreds of thousands of people every year, including Shelley Repka-Willard and Blake Willard of Calgary, Alta.



Michelle Wright Heading to Hall of Fame

Michelle Wright

Photo by Rob Waymen

The Canadian Country Music Association recently announced Michelle Wright will be inducted for her outstanding contributions to Canada’s country music landscape.

As well, Bill Langstroth, the host of one of Canada’s first talent showcases, “Singalong Jubilee,” will have his outstanding achievements in television production celebrated in the Industry Builder category.

“What a tremendous honour. I deeply appreciate this recognition and am so very proud to have had the opportunity to represent Canada across the globe through my music,” said Michelle Wright of her upcoming induction. “I have been blessed, and continue to be blessed, with a wonderful career.”

The Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame inductions will take place during a private industry event to be held during Country Music Week. After their induction, Michelle and Bill will have their official plaques displayed at the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame located in Merritt, B.C. They will also be acknowledged within the collections of the National Music Centre, which is to be opened in Calgary, Alta., in 2014.

Taking place September 9-12, 2011, in Hamilton, Ontario, Country Music Week culminates in the live broadcast of the Canadian Country Music Awards, Monday, Sept. 12, 2011. For more information please visit


Loyalty Rewards

Sundre Pro Rodeo Committee members, from left; VP Scott Smith, President Linda Burrell, Gordon Crouch, Past President Les Crouch, 2011 Sundre Pro Rodeo Queen Bronwyn Bowhay, a very happy Shane Franklin and 2011 Sundre Pro Rodeo Princess Chelsea Mather moments after Shane received a silver buckle commemorating 30 years of Franklin Rodeo supplying stock to Sundre

Photo by Mike Copeman

Two of the most important components of a successful rodeo year after year are good stock and a good committee. Both breed customer and client loyalty and Sundre Pro Rodeo has earned the rep as one of the best.

At their sun-kissed rodeo held towards the end of June the committee chose to commemorate “brand loyalty” with a gift to their stock contractor of 30 years — Franklin Rodeo.

As rodeo announcer Wes Cummings called Shane Franklin out from behind the bucking chutes and into the arena for the presentation, he rolled out the credits of Franklin’s great rodeo stock that has graced the arena (and Hall of Fame) that slammed many good cowboys into the dirt.

The normally not-at-a-loss-for-words Franklin gave a brief thank you, expressing his appreciation to the “Go West Go Wild” committee and capacity crowd.



More than a Tack Store!

Photos by Kristy McArthur

There aren’t too many tack stores that also offer free camping with your horse and the use of their arena — but they do at Irvine Tack & Trailers.

That’s not all that’s new. Scott Irvine recently added another addition onto the already humungous 50,000 sq. ft. store.

“We’ve added on about 5,000 sq. ft. for home decor, and now we’ve added a cafe,” said Scott in a recent interview. “We’ve also got everything for kids such as clothing and boots in one area,” he added.

Famous for their amazing selection of saddles, Irvine’s also offers a huge inventory for the timey and rough stock rodeo competitor, packing and hunting supplies, ranch equipment, farrier supplies — the list is endless.

On the sports end of the outfit, they hold a barrel racing jackpot every Thursday night and in August they will be welcoming back another perf of Senior Pro Rodeo. “We’ll have the date posted on our website,” says Scott.

Irvine’s is located just a few minutes north of Crossfield along Hwy 2 (watch for Irvine signs). For more information, please visit



New Family Ranch Rodeo

Four-year-old Coulson (C.W.) Stauffer was one of the many competitors in the new Family Ranch Rodeo held Father’s Day weekend in Pincher Creek. The rodeo was held in conjunction with the annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

Photo by Stephanie Hardy

The Pincher Creek Cowboy Poetry Gathering was the birthplace of yet another ranch-style rodeo and this one definitely involves the whole family.

Organized by area rancher Dick Hardy, the new event offers many of the traditional ranch rodeo events with a few more added in to make for some wild rides for the little ones.

“The Pincher Ranch Rodeo just got too big and it outgrew the facilities,” says Hardy in a recent interview. “They had to move it to a larger venue.”

But Hardy likes rodeo — especially ranch rodeo — and he came up with the idea to involve the whole family.
No matter the age, the ‘young ‘uns’ joined mom or dad or another family member in the arena to take part in the horse catch, ranch roping, sorting, the wild hide race and the added feature of young children’s goat tying.

Some of the rules were a tiny bit different from traditional ranch rodeo and were geared towards confidence-building success; after all, cowboys aren’t born — they’re trained. The teams entered included the Delinte, Kennedy, Kirby, McGlynn, Mitchell and Stauffer families. Hardy was the arena director, assisted by CoBie Herr.

“Everyone had a lot of fun,” says Hardy with a chuckle. “We’ll be doing it again next year.”


In Memoriam

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Cameron Daniel Cooper
1970 – 2011
Wade James Cooper
1967 – 2011
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Glenice and Cam with their  children Sandy, Ruben and Maggy Wade and Nadine with their children Sam, Grace and Bryn

Wade and Cam Cooper were many things to many people. On one hand, they were rambunctious and fun-loving practical jokers and the life of the party. On the other, they were men who valued quiet time. Cam liked to be alone with his horse or a book. Wade enjoyed the stillness of a northern lake. They were loving, exasperating, devoted husbands and their children were their pride and joy. They understood that family history is preserved by stories and that laughter holds a family together, easing the bad times and making the good times better.

Wherever they are now, they are not far away. They are in the wind that blows through the grass and the leaves of the silver willow. Their voices are present in the stories we tell and in the echo of our laughter. They live on in the faces of their beautiful children and in the hearts of those who love them.

Memorial donations can be made to the Wade Cooper Children’s Trust Fund or the Cam Cooper Children’s Trust Fund, Unity Credit Union, Box 370, Unity SK, S0K 4L0

Wade and Cam were brothers of six-time Contract Act of the Year and Canadian Cowboy Country magazine cartoonist Ash Cooper.

Photos courtesy Cooper Family