Driving’s Team Bowman are to be the first ever European’s to take part in the Calgary Stampede.
The legendary driving family will be taking part in chuckwagon racing during the event known as The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, which opens on 8 July.
George,75, his brother Robert and sons Barnaby and George left for the Grand Prairie on Wednesday (18 May) to begin their training with 11-times World Champion chuckwagon racing family the Sutherlands.
Each racing team is comprised of a driver driving a team of horses pulling a chuckwagon, followed by four outriders.
The race begins by ‘breaking camp’ as the outriders toss two tent poles and a stove into the chuckwagon before mounting up and following it as it completes a figure of eight.
There are normally four teams racing at the same time and they then continue around a racetrack with the first across the line winning if they are not given any time penalties.
The Bowmans will go head to head in a demonstration race over ‘The Half Mile of Hell’ against the clock just before the Rangemaster Derby.
The winner will be presented with a trophy in front of the estimated 30,000 strong crowd.
The family was invited to take part by the Calgary Stampede and the World Professional Chuckwagon Association.
Robert Bowman said: “I have always dreamt about attending the Stampede in Calgary, Alberta, but to be invited to actually be part of the extravaganza is a dream come true.”
The Sutherlands, who currently have three members in the top 20 chuckwagon rankings, will fly to the UK to take part in the National Horse Driving Trails at Windsor Castle in September.
They will also drive a traditional 10-seater stagecoach from Newcastle to Carlisle following the line of Hadrian’s Wall
Mark Sutherland said: “As soon as we heard about the idea we were so excited to be involved.
“It’s a unique opportunity for us as a family and the sport we love and have enjoyed for generations to get European exposure.”
Last year’s prize purse at the Stampede was $1.15 million, but the sport is controversial following injuries and fatalities to horses in previous years.
A spokesman from the Canadian Tourism Commission, which is supporting the family swap, said: “It’s a great opportunity to showcase Canada, the province of Alberta’s cowboy traditions and the upcoming Calgary Stampedes’ 100th Anniversary year in 2012, whilst fostering the great ties that bind Canada and the UK.
“Both families are sure of a warm welcome in the respective host destinations as they learn the horse riding skills and heritage of each other.”
The whole process is being filmed and will be aired later this year although the channel is yet to be confirmed.
More details about Chuckwagon racing can be found at www.wpca.com
More details about the Sutherland’s can be found at www.sutherlandracing.ca