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Pick N' Ride stompin' into Horse Country

By Celina Ip

Calgary Stampede reserve champion David Cowley with his horse Fancy. Cowley is teaching horsemanship clinics from Aug. 10 to 13 at the Pick N' Ride Festival.

Calgary Stampede reserve champion David Cowley with his horse Fancy. Cowley is teaching horsemanship clinics from Aug. 10 to 13 at the Pick N' Ride Festival.

FORESTERS FALLS – The second annual Pick N’ Ride Festival will be rocking the Horse Country Campground from Aug. 10 to 13.


Expected to be much bigger than last year’s ‘pilot’ festival, organizer Walter Willett says that he hopes to see at least 500 attendees and as many as 1000.

“This year we've really taken it up quite a few notches and we’ve already sold about 300 tickets which is more than last year’s 200. We also still have many more booked and coming in, let alone what we'll do at the gate – so we're hoping for a crowd between 500 and 1000,” said Willett.

Not only will attendees be able to enjoy the sounds of bluegrass music but they will also be able to participate in instrument workshops, one-mic nights and campfire jamming.

“We’ll have musical workshops, so people can learn all about bluegrass music and how to play the various instruments like guitar, banjo, mandolin and fiddle,”

Aside from the music component, spectators will have the chance to try their hand at archery practice, enjoy an Anishinaabe dancing experience and participate in horsemanship clinics with Calgary Stampede reserve champion David Cowley.

“David is from Canmore (Alberta) and he’s an extreme cowboy champion who won the Reserve Champ at the Calgary Stampede. So he’ll be teaching clinics and anybody can come and watch as spectators or they can take part in the clinics with their horses to learn tips from a real professional cowboy,” said Willett.

Each day will kick off with David Cowley’s clinics that include a ‘Two-Way Trust’ workshop and ‘Advanced Extreme Cowboy Racing’ workshop.

“Two Way Trust is really about building a strong relationship between you and your horse. Extreme Cowboy Racing is really about the partnership between you and your horse when it comes to obstacles and racing,” said Cowley. I mainly do these clinics for the benefit of the horses. I find I’m helping more horses by helping more people just to understand simple horsemanship – by building trust and building relationships. So for me, it's really rewarding to see a lot of people take a lot out of it and I get a lot of people who keep coming back for clinic after clinic.”

This will be Cowley’s third time visiting the Horse Country Campground to teach clinics and he said that it’s one of his favourite places to visit in the summertime.

“I really enjoy coming down here because it’s a really fun place everyone is really friendly. I really like the facility as well, especially with the new sand ring that’s great for teaching and a lot of the stuff that I do,” said Cowley.

From the horsemanship clinics, from 4:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. from Friday through Sunday, spectators will be entertained by eight different bluegrass bands coming from all across Ontario and some from the United States.

Grammy-nominated act Special Consensus, based out of Chicago, will be headlining on Friday night.

“They’ve been together for almost 26 years, so they're one of the very popular bluegrass bands that are touring North America at different festivals right now,” said Willett.

The night will also feature sets by Ontario-based bands Alicia Robicheau & Lonesome, Darwin Thom/Gilles Leclerc, CR5 Bluegrass, Concession 23 and Dusty Drifters.

On Saturday night, guests will enjoy music by the same local acts as well as the award-winning Kevin Prater Band.

“They’re a five-piece band and they play a real traditional bluegrass style with an awesome fiddle player. Kevin himself is a very accomplished mandolin player and he plays all bluegrass instruments and has been up for different awards too. His nickname is The Machine-Gun Madolin Player because he plays it pretty fast,” said Willett. “They’ll also be headlining the stage on Sunday when they put on a gospel show, because along with bluegrass they’ve also recorded several gospel albums.”

Tickets can be purchased online at or at the gate of the event itself.

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