Known simply as Goose, he’s a man with classic cowboy looks and an immense love of horses.
“I travel a lot of miles and see a lot of country. I really enjoy it. I enjoy the contractors, the committee people. They’re like family, welcoming you into their home,” he says. But while life on the road seems to suit Goose to a T, as the Stampede’s livestock coordinator he makes his travelling companions the number one priority. The goal is always to keep the horses comfortable, happy and relaxed.
“Wherever we I go, I have it stepped out where we stop. They are athletes. You try to do your best so they perform their best.”
At home on the Stampede Ranch, more than 600 horses live in a beautiful natural environment spread out over 23,000 acres. On the road, Goose always attempts to find them a place to stay as much like home as possible. Describing this spring’s stop in San Antonio, he says “It’s a big, beautiful 120 acre piece of land with grassy nine acre pens,” adding “the horses just enjoy their time in such a quiet relaxing place.” In any given year as many as 200 Calgary Stampede horses will travel the amateur and professional rodeo circuits from January to December.
Travelling with dozens of horses involves much more than a good place to stay and a truck full of gas. Crossing the border requires each of the horses to have proper paperwork indicating up-to-date medical records. If the intention is to stay more than 30 days, each horse also needs to be individually vet checked at the border. If a horse needs medical attention, Goose has a list of veterinarians on the road. Their regular care provider at home, Dr. Greg Evans, can also be consulted by phone.
Time on the truck must also be taken into consideration, with the amount of driving time limited.
“They handle it pretty well,” says Goose, adding “you treat the horses just like you’d treat your kids. And just like travelling with small children, frequent stops are required. The horses will not urinate when the truck is in motion. To keep them comfortable and prevent what could become a potentially serious medical condition, a 15 – 20 minute stop is required every two hours or so.
Goose chuckles, “I need that stop too, and it gives me a chance to get a refill on my coffee.”
Wary of strangers, the Calgary Stampede’s top bucking horses have grown to trust their long-time caregiver. And Goose says he can’t imagine living a different life, without the animals he has come to love.
“We have a good relationship. Some keep their distance, but some of them are my buddy. They come over and just start rubbing on my shoulder, so I scratch and pet them. I really enjoy being around the horses, they’re like my extended family.”
Right now Goose is with 46 of the Stampede’s top horses in the United States as they compete on a circuit that began in Denver in January. They’re now settled in their home-away-from-home in Houston, ready to show rodeo fans there just why they are considered among the best bucking horses in the world.