Ready to release your inner cowboy? Why the heck not! It’s easy in Canada. Here are seven ways to get ‘er on.
1. Attend The Calgary Stampede
This one is obvious. This is Calgary, Alberta’s world-famous event and hands-down the best place to show off your new boots. Expect rodeos, bronc riding and steer wrestling, concerts, line dancing, chuck wagon races, a huge parade and general wildness Western-style. Oh, and the pancakes — Stampeders consumer thousands at the public breakfast, along with five tonnes of baked beans every year.
2. Buy a Pair of Leather Boots
You can’t be a cowboy without a bona fide pair of leather boots. No problem in Cowtown. Calgary has numerous boots specialists — Alberta Boot Co., for one — from fancy to functional, and pros who can help you find the right fit.
3. Spend a Week at a Cattle Ranch
Ride off into the sunset at La Reata Ranch in the undulating Saskatchewan River Valley. Spend a hands-on week at a 5,000-acre working cattle ranch. Learn how to rope, saddle and herd. Gallop across the prairie and camp out under the stars.
4. Try Your Hand at Bronc Riding
Bronc riding is a core to rodeo culture. You might not want to hop onto a bucking bronco yet. Instead, try the mechanical bull. You’ll find these at the Stampede and at bars around Calgary. And dance — Calgary is filled with hopping cowboy-theme bars. Put on your boots and hat and hit the dance floor at a honky tonk.
5. Take a Two Day Frontier Cattle Drive
Get the hang of the lasso with the pros at Alberta’s Sierra West Cabins and Ranch Vacations. You can also join the two-day frontier cattle drive, herding 100 yearlings through backcountry to new pastures.
6. Take an RV Roadtrip
Take an RV road trip from Alberta to Saskatchewan. You’ll travel some 1,400 kilometres, passing through 8,000 years of plains history. Stop for horseback riding at Boundary Ranch, Alberta. Along the way you might meet Mounties, hike desert hoodoos and learn about Blackfoot heritage.
7. Learn to Saddle and Bridle Horses
Learn to saddle and bridle horses from authentic cowboys at five-generation, century-old Reeser Ranch, Saskatchewan. These folks have been ranching in the Cypress Hills since 1904. You can join the cattle drive, traditional branding and calving, plus try grass-fed beef or a “prairie oyster.”