Ethan Evans, left, Carter Shideler, centre, Griffin Purdy, right, are gearing up for the Calgary Stampede this week.
It’s not often the highlight of a young kid’s summer – to soak up the hot July sun at the Calgary Stampede.
But for Griffin Purdy, 10, Carter Shideler, 11, and Ethan Evans, 11, it’s a reality. And they’re in the field competing, too.
These three local youngsters are competing today, tomorrow, and Wednesday at the Calgary Stampede in the Wild Pony Race. They earned the right to go after strong performances last year at the Wainwright Stampede and K-Days in Edmonton. They will square off against fellow 8-12 year olds in what is often described as a crowd favourite at the Stampede.
The team has been together for two years. Griffin is the mugger.
“When the pony is in the chute I’m closest to its head. When it comes out, I’m trying to slow it down by grabbing its head and turning it in,” said Purdy.
Carter is the rider. “I’m supposed to get on the pony as soon as I can.”
Ethan is the anchor. “I hold on to the end of the rope and I pretty much control the pony.”
The event is a race against the clock. Griffin waits for the pony to come out of the chute and Ethan holds onto the lead shank attached to the pony’s halter. Then the clock starts and the pony is released. It stops as soon as Carter mounts the pony for at least two jumps.
The stakes, while not that high, still mean a lot to the young crew. If they are at the top of the heap after Wednesday they could be coming home with a cool thirty bucks.
While the boys are there, Ethan says he is watching the bronc riding. Ritchie Champion, who they met last year at Wainwright Stampede, is competing in that event.
Griffin has his eyes on steer wrestling, since it was exciting to watch last year.
Carter is excited for the bull riding. He fancies himself as a bull rider in the future.
Above all, these boys are most looking forward to is the experience. And who knows? It might just be their first Stampede of many.