Open Bridle Champion Suzon Schaal
Open Bridle Champion Suzon Schaal

Schaal Wins Calgary Stampede Working Cow Horse Open

Calgary – Usually Calgary veterinarian Suzon Schaal rides in the Non-Pro Bridle class of the Stampede’s Working Cow Horse Classic. She rides pretty well, too. Schaal and her 12-year old mare, Genuine Brown Girl, have a fistful of Stampede Grand Champion’s buckles to their credit.

This year, Schaal wanted to try another horse in the Non-Pro class, so she entered Genuine Brown Girl in the Open class. Most of the riders who contest the Open division are professional horse trainers, but it is an Open class, after all. When the first go in Open Bridle on Thursday was done, a dozen entries had been narrowed down to five finalists. Schaal was one and ace trainer John Swales had no fewer than three different horses qualified.

“There are some good riders here, but she’s a good horse, so I thought she’d fit in,” Schaal said. “I was just hoping to make the finals. That was kind of my goal. Whatever happened after that, I was happy with. Any horse in the final has a shot at it and you never know in Cow Horse – it totally depends on what you draw for a cow. You’re never safe.”

Sure enough, several competitors drew cows that either didn’t perform well, or were too rambunctious for the horses to display their talent.

The Stampede’s Working Cow Horse Classic continues a tradition of skilled horsemanship dating back to the earliest days of working stock from horseback.  Horse-and-rider teams are judged on their authority, discipline and precision in two distinct areas – reined work, or dry work, and cow work, also known as fence work. Reined work, labeled “Western dressage” by some, is based on a predetermined pattern of manoeuvres, including figure-eights, straight runs, sliding stops and 360-degree spins. Cow work, the exciting, action-packed portion of the show, sees the horse-and-rider team first box a steer, then send it at full tilt along the fence, heading it off and turning it both ways, before finally circling it once in each direction in the centre of the arena.

The Stampede’s Working Cow Horse Classic hosts bridle and hackamore divisions for fully-trained horses and four- and five-year-olds, respectively, with open, non-pro and novice designations for various levels of rider experience. Six championships were up for grabs — Open Bridle, Open Hackamore, Non-Pro Bridle, Limited Open Bridle, Limited Open Hackamore, and Novice Non-Pro Bridle.

“It’s kind of a kick to beat the trainer,” Schaal said of Swales. “Big thanks to him because he’s got us to where we are today.” Swales, for his part, didn’t seem to mind losing to a Non-Pro. “It’s kind of cool,” he admitted with a smile. In addition to his Reserve title in Open Bridle, Swales scored a big win in Open Hackamore, earning over ten points more than Reserve Champion Chance Harman of Okotoks.


Calgary Stampede Working Cow Horse Classic Results:

Open Bridle

Grand Champion –  Genuine Brown Gal, Owned and ridden by Suzon Schaal, Calgary, AB

Reserve Champion – Smart Marina, Owner Jim Baird, ridden by John Swales, Millarville, AB

Limited Champion – Festinas Dual Lena, Owned and ridden by Mark Parsons, Nanton, AB

Limited Reserve Champion:  Smart Lil Boonlight, Owned and ridden by Kent Williamson, Bragg Creek, AB


Open Hackamore

Champion -   SLR Won Smart Wolf, Owner Keri Hudson-Reykdal, ridden by John Swales

Reserve Champion -  Metallic Cat Rose, Owners Jerry & Nicole Myer, ridden by Chance Harman

Limited Champion -  Metallic Cat Rose, Owners Jerry & Nicole Myer, ridden by Chance Harman   

Limited Reserve Champion – Nitros Coquette, Owned and ridden by Seth Abrahamson, Broderick, SK


Non-Pro Bridle

Champion - Pepto Peppermint, Owners Eugene & Maria Murphy ridden by John Murphy

Reserve Champion -  Don Quejana, Owned and ridden by Keri Hudson-Reykdal

Novice Champion -  Don Quejana, Owned and ridden by Keri Hudson-Reykdal

Novice Reserve Champion - Hick A Cat, Owned by Bev & Claire MacMillan, ridden by Claire Macmillan


About the Calgary Stampede

The Calgary Stampede celebrates the people, the animals, the land, the traditions and the values that make up the unique spirit of the west. The Calgary Stampede contributes to the quality of life in Calgary and southern Alberta through our world-renowned 10-day Stampede, year-round facilities, western events and several youth and agriculture programs. Exemplifying the theme We’re Greatest Together, we are a volunteer-supported, not-for-profit community organization that preserves and celebrates our western heritage, cultures and community spirit. All revenue is reinvested into Calgary Stampede programs and facilities.


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Nicole Henson                                                 Jennifer Munro
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