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SAIT supplies “hitches” and hurdles for popular Stampede event

SAIT supplies "hitches" and hurdles for popular Stampede event

The Stetsons are donned, boots polished, horses raring to go. It's time for a showdown.

Through a partnership between SAIT's School of Manufacturing and Automation and the Calgary Stampede, this year's Cowboy Up Challenge will have a fresh edge. In the competition, riders wind through, around and over a set of obstacles designed to challenge even the most-skilled equestrian — at top speed. This time, one of those hurdles was manufactured at SAIT.

"We're over the moon with this partnership," says Tammy Botsford, Programming Manager, Western Events and Agriculture, Calgary Stampede. "Each year we look for new and interesting obstacles and we need them to be light, easily portable and strong — and SAIT delivered."

An elite group of 10 cowboys and cowgirls are selected to participate in the competition each year, and the stakes are high — with a $30,000 prize for the top rider. While making it over and around the innovative obstacles is part of the challenge, the cowboys are also clocked for speed. The faster you go, the higher the points, says Botsford.

"It's an amazing bunch of equestrians and a very exciting show. We have smoke, music ... it's really fun stuff!" she says.

Off to the races

When the Calgary Stampede reached out to SAIT about the project, Jim Szautner, Dean, School of Manufacturing and Automation was ready to climb in the saddle. The opportunity offered students the chance to be a part of designing and building a real-world venture with the world-famous Calgary Stampede.

"This has been incredible for us and our students," he says. "The Stampede is an integral part of our community and we were very excited to be able to partner on the Cowboy Up Challenge to bring a new state-of-the-art obstacle to the race."

With the design kept tightly under wraps, a team of instructors and students have been working on the obstacle since February. Plans were shared back and forth between the team and expert consultants Peter Fraser and Kim Hazlett, two of the top judges in the world for cowboy racing.

"We've been working with the best in the business to manufacture this new hurdle," says Szautner. "We can't wait to see it in action."

Giddy up

Catch the Cowboy Up Challenge on July 11 and 12 from 7 to 9 pm in the Nutrien Western Event Centre. Entry is included in your gate ticket. Can't make it down to the grounds? Get in on the action with a live stream of the event - and the new SAIT-made obstacle — on the Calgary Stampede's website.

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