Meet the Calgary Stampede Parade Horses (They Are Also Movie Stars)

Every year, hundreds of horses parade through downtown Calgary for the annual Calgary Stampede Parade. The rest of the year, you’ll find many of them on John Scott’s ranch, where they await casting in film productions.

Two of the almost 200 horses from John Scott Productions that will participate in the 2015 Calgary Stampede Parade. Scott has worked on Academy Award-winning productions as the head wrangler, horse stunt co-ordinator and more, while his horses can be seen in films and TV series like The Revenant, Hell on Wheels and Heartland. Photograph by Jared Sych.

Tonto, a 20-year-old draft-quarter horse cross, is the same horse actor Robin Williams rode while filming the 2014 comedy Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb. Calgary Stampede president and chairman of the board of directors Bill Gray will ride Tonto in the parade this year. Photograph by Jared Sych.

Scott’s ranch, located just outside of Longview, is also home to 70 buffalo, which are sometimes used in the films he works on. Photograph by Jared Sych.

The company has a warehouse full of period props – think furniture, books, trunks and more – dating from the 1800s to the early 1900s. Photograph by Jared Sych.

Scott got his own start with the Stampede Parade over 50 years ago, when the now-renowned chuckwagon driver Ronnie Glass asked him to pull his wagon. Photograph by Jared Sych.

Harlan is a quarter horse gelding. Actress Michelle Morgan, who plays Samantha Louise “Lou” Fleming, rode Harlen in the TV series Heartland. Photograph by Jared Sych.

According to Scott, good parade horses have to be “bomb proof.” They need to have the right attitude to put up with the noise, crowds and potential distractions that can happen during the parade. All the horses are trained on Scott’s ranch, where they’re exposed to elements like smoke, fire and noise before joining a film or the parade. Photograph by Jared Sych.

Mark Nugent is one of the extra 20 to 30 people hired specifically to handle parade business during Stampede week. He was also brought on as captain for the recently completed filming of The Revenant, which Scott’s team worked on. Photograph by Jared Sych.

Getting ready for the Stampede is a year-long process, some of which takes place in this office on Scott’s ranch. Come June, it takes a solid two weeks of preparation to get the horses and their equipment ready for transport on the day before the parade. Photograph by Jared Sych.

Scott will provide 10 to 12 buggies and wagons for the parade this year. Photograph by Jared Sych.

Rob Hitchner of Highwood Farrier Service fits a horse for a new set of shoes. All the parade horses will receive new shoes by the time the big event come around. Photograph by Jared Sych.

Every horse has its own saddle and equipment, which are transported to the parade in trailers the day before the event. Having the correct saddle on the right horse is critical for the comfort of both the horse and the rider. Photograph by Jared Sych.

The ranch dog, Bud, a border collie, keeps a watchful eye on parade preparations at the ranch. Photograph by Jared Sych.

Want more suggestions for the best things to do in Calgary? Sign up for our Weekender Newsletter.

Related posts

Experience the Mountains on Horseback at Thanksgiving Ranch

Michaela Ream

Local Podcast Spotlight: The Calgary Sessions

Tsering Asha

Quiz: Which Upcoming Calgary Festival Should You Check Out?

Chris Landry

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Privacy Policy

Privacy & Cookies Policy
Avenue Calgary