Ranch Rodeo Ramblings and Photos from Southern Alberta

For the cowboys and cowgirls competing in ranch rodeo events across southern Alberta this summer, my hats go off to them. Have you ever heard the term, “This ain’t my first rodeo?” People often say it sarcastically when describing something they do often, or referring to something that comes very easy to them.  It definitely wasn’t their ‘first rodeo’! I left each event in awe of the raw talent that the exhibitors and their horses shared competing for buckles, prizes, and most importantly bragging rights amongst their friends and neighboring ranches.

At a ranch rodeo, you can expect to see high quality horses, lots of western gear, and exceptional horsemanship skills. Combined together, it’s the best recipe for an enjoyable day of spectating in a laid-back environment where no one thinks they are better than the other. A refreshing change from other equine events.

Ranch Horses

A good ranch horse does not come cheap. When cowboys and cowgirls are out on the range working cattle, doctoring a sick yearling, or branding calves they depend on their horse. If you want to see some of the best equine mounts, go to a ranch rodeo. Not only are these horses extremely talented athletes, but they are also beautiful to watch and look at.

Ranch Rodeo - Image of young ranch horse
Paint Horse waiting to work cattle at the Bar U Ranch Rodeo
Geoff Hoar from San Emideo Ranch sorting cattle at Nanton Ranch Rodeo on Little Shufly High
Horse and rider move a cow down the fence in the Working Ranch Horse Competition at the Nanton Ranch Rodeo
Cowboy Gear

Every cowboy wants reliable gear to help them do their jobs daily. It needs to be practical, work well with the horse, and yes beauty is always a nice bonus. There’s never a shortage of custom crafted gear at a ranch rodeo that a spectator can feast their eyes on. From sterling silver to leather, there’s examples of true craftsmanship everywhere.

Little Shufly High shows off a bridle with a sterling silver bit and bosal at the Bar U Ranch Rodeo
Cowboy gear being displayed at the Nanton Ranch Rodeo
Horsemanship Skills

Ranch rodeos exhibit the work cowboys do on a daily basis. The events chronicle the diverse list of tasks they complete throughout the year in rain, snow and heat. A good horseman can stay on a young colt that decides to buck, will calmly sort cattle easily, and rope a bovine of any size. Their skill set is vast, and learned over a lifetime. Many were almost born in a saddle following their father’s footsteps learning about horses, cows, and living the western lifestyle.

Jared Sherman from Soderglen Ranches in the Team Sorting at the Bar U Ranch Rodeo
A cowboy quietly warms his horse up before competing at the Bar U Ranch Rodeo
A young cowboy collects his rope on a quiet ranch horse during a ranch rodeo


I hope you’ve enjoyed these photos from both the Nanton and Bar U Ranch Rodeos. If you have never attended one of these, I strongly recommend it. It’s important for the ranching industry to share their lives with the public. We need to do a better job of showcasing ‘best practices’ and what goes into raising high quality, safe beef for consumers. Congrats to all of the cowboys and cowgirls who won awards and accomplished personal bests. You have the bragging rights now for another year!

  1. John Finn
    | Reply

    Beautiful Photos Holly. I’m glad you came down to the Nanton Ranch Rodeo to document and then relay what you saw in this blog.

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