Legendary carriage driving team, the Bowman family, are set to change reins with Canadian cowboy family, the Sutherlands, as they prepare to take on the challenges of the Calgary Stampede in a brand new two-part series Changing Reins: Calgary Stampede.
The programme, which premieres on Horse & Country TV on Monday 10th September at 9pm, follows 76-year-old George Bowman, his brother Robert and George’s two sons Young George and Barnaby, as they make plans to fulfil a life-long ambition to race chuckwagons at the greatest outdoor show on earth.
Cowboy family the Sutherlands, who will be handing over the reins to the Bowmans, are chuckwagon racing’s royalty. You’ll meet King Kelly, who is 12 times World Champion, his son Mark, Kelly’s brother Kirk and his son Mitch, who are all highly competitive with plenty of personality.
Chris Hillman, Executive Producer, says: “Young George approached me with the idea, and at that time I had no knowledge of chuckwagon racing or even whether the Calgary Stampede and the Sutherland family would have any interest in taking part. However, following a few transatlantic phone calls and a quick trip to Canada, everyone involved was on side.”
Episode one shows the Bowmans heading to Calgary to get their first look at the Stampede Park and receive a VIP tour of the site. Next they fly up to Grande Prairie to meet the Sutherlands at their pre-season training ranch, and an overwhelming sense of apprehension takes over as they realise the enormity of the Stampede and the challenges they are about to undertake.
While both families have mutual respect for each other, realising that they are all great horsemen, the Bowmans quickly learn that chuckwagon racing is a very different discipline to their own and needs a complete change of rein handling. They head home to the UK with plenty to think about.
Episode two and the time has arrived – the Bowmans arrive at Mark Sutherland’s ranch for some training before the main event. When father George enters the track at the Calgary stampede, 20,000 spectators cheer him on as the horn sounds and he’s off.
One by one, the Bowmans take their turn, and afterwards young George described the experience: “It was like being tied to a spaceship with a piece of string,” he said, after his successful round.
Now it’s the Sutherland family’s turn. Kelly and Mark arrive at Windsor Great Park in the UK, to watch the Bowmans compete at the National Carriage Driving Championships. The tables are turned and it’s time for the Sutherlands to feel like ducks out of water as they attempt to master the British way of driving four horses.
After the Championships, the families travel north to the Bowman’s Cumbrian home where the Sutherlands are faced with another challenge – driving a 120-year-old stagecoach along the roads of Cumbria as a warm up before embarking on a Newcastle to Carlisle stagecoach journey along Hadrian’s Wall. “That’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done with four horses,” says Kelly, whose average speed on the chuckwagon circuit is a blood curdling 45-mile an hour.
Jonathan Rippon, Head of Programming for Horse & Country TV, adds: “What makes this programme such compelling viewing is the uniqueness of the situation. Two world-class sporting families, who compete in adrenaline-pumping sports, display their fascinating personalities and an incredible in-built desire to win.”
For more information on times of all Horse & Country TV programmes visit www.horseandcountry.tv Horse & Country TV – Sky Channel 280.