Maple Creek Ranch Rodeo

Posted by on 31. July 2012 in Blog / Journal, Ranching | 2 comments

I enjoy visiting and photographing rodeos in smaller centres throughout Saskatchewan. My favourites are rodeos taking place in Maple Creek and Wood Mountain. The Wood Mountain Stampede is Canada’s longest continuously running rodeo, this year entering its’ 123rd season. Much longer than a better-advertised Calgary Stampede.

This year I decided to try something different. I went to see the 25th Annual Ranch Rodeo in Maple Creek. The Ranch Rodeo is slightly different than your average rodeo. It is designed to replicate the usual activities and duties cowboys have to perform while working out on the range. Eight teams of five riders compete “for pride and a buckle”. There is a lot of rivalry going on as riders know each other well, and often work together as ranch hands.There are several timed events that challenge the skills of a cowboys both individually and through team work:

Penning – a team has to separate three marked cows from the herd and drive them into a holding pen on the other side of the arena

Doctoring – this event involves separating marked animals, team roping, symbolically tagging the animal and then releasing it – all timed

Maple Creek Ranch Rodeo - calf doctoring


Maple Creek Ranch Rodeo - calf doctoring

Branding – a team of cowboys captures and secures a calf, paints the brand (no burning iron involved) and then releases the animal

Wild cow milking – this is a crazy one. All of the teams are positioned on one side of the arena. On mark, they gallop to the other side where where each team has to capture an adult cow (not your docile barn variety), milk it, run back with a bottle of milk and give it to the judges. The official rules call for a “bottle” to be used, but I saw milk being carried in plastic glasses, beer cans and other rather innovative types of containers

Horse catching – a team member has to rope, saddle and remount one of their team’s horses

Bronc riding – a traditional rodeo event, where individual team members have to ride a bronc for a 6 second time period. Judges decide on a winner. Although this is a “traditional” rodeo event, there wasn’t much of a tradition in the outfits these cowboys were wearing. Check out the guy with a black hat

Maple Creek Ranch Rodeo - bronc riding


Maple Creek Ranch Rodeo - bronc riding

At the end, two teams were tied for the first place based on collected points. The winner was decided by a team race on the track circling the arena. It was a relay race – riders had to pass on a saddle bag and cross the finish line carrying the bag. You drop it and your team is disqualified. After a dramatic race, the team wearing navy blue wests – the Bar T Welding team – crossed the finish line before everyone else.

Maple Creek Ranch Rodeo final race

The Ranch Rodeo was a great fun to watch and photograph. I am glad that I went to see it instead of the Calgary Stampede. And I believe that I would not be allowed in Calgary to hang out so close to the action.



  1. Cool images. The photo of the Bronc rider in the shute, that appears to be wearing a bra, also appears to have a black rectangular box, covering his eyes (like identity protected photos of old). I realized after taking a good look that it was just the angle of the image and the brim of his hat.

    It is a nice, close, image and I like it. Makes me feel like I am right there in the action!

  2. It’s good to get exclusive photo access to an event like this. Much less hassle than the Calgary Stampede.

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