By Tracy Pinson

When Skyjacker’s Mountain High and I received the invitation to compete in the Cowboy Up Challenge at the famed Calgary Stampede, my first instinct was to respectfully decline.  After all, it is about 5,700 miles round trip from Bushnell, FL to Calgary, Alberta, Canada.  Crazy, right?  Well, I guess we proved that horse people really are crazy!  After much discussion about cost, time and how the horse would handle the trip, Wayne Conkle and I decided to accept the invitation and work out the details.  Everything fell together and Wayne found a great traveling partner in Melissa Bailey.  They made the long journey through a lot of beautiful country, stopping to enjoy some great hospitality and literally crossing the whole country……for an Extreme Cowboy Race! 



Lisa Steinbach, Diane McMurtrey, Rebecca Adams and I made the long flights from Florida to Calgary.  Off to show the world that a Tennessee Walking Horse may not be the “traditional” cowboy horse, but we can hang with the best of them. 

The Stampede folks made sure we had access to all of the activities, including the rodeo, chuck wagon races, agriculture exhibits, etc.  It was an experience of a lifetime!  For those not familiar with the Calgary Stampede, it is 10 days of animal and agricultural activities with over 150,000 people A DAY passing through the gates! 

Ordinarily, the Cowboy Up Challenge is held in the Saddle Dome on the Stampede grounds, however, due the major flooding experienced by the area just two weeks before the event, we were moved into the Big Top Arena which was much smaller.  There was standing room only in the audience and Tuff loved to hear the roar of the crowd when we made our way through the courses consisting of running, roping, jumping, VERY tall bridges, water, ground ties, standing in the saddle, spinning and lots of other fun obstacles.

Just being able to compete against all of the professionals was so special.  Tuff and I usually compete in the Non Pro division of the EXCA, however, at the Stampede Cowboy Up Challenge, we had to compete against the professionals.  There were only a few of us that weren’t pros, so to finish fifth among the most elite of the sport…..Well, we were thrilled, to say the least!  I’m still smiling!

Thanks to everyone that came to our obstacle schooling days, which funded the fuel for the trip.  Also, to the sponsors that gave so generously to help us get to Calgary and to everyone that stayed home and took care of the farm while we were gone.  All of the great comments on Facebook, live stream, You Tube, email, etc. from those that watched the event from home, made it even more special.   We rode every step with you guys!

We may not get to do it again, but not everyone can say they competed at the Calgary Stampede!!  Tuff is now enjoying a semi-retirement…..munching grass, giving a few riding lessons and eating a lot of treats and carrots!