The Mini Thni Blue Feather relay team is making its first-ever appearance at the Calgary Stampede for the Indian Relay event.

They're also been chosen to open the Stampede rodeo.

The team owned by Stoney Elder Watson Kaquitts is one of only 10 invited to compete. They will be racing eight of the 10 days of the Stampede against four teams from Montana, three from Siksika First Nation, and one from both the Saddle Lake First Nation and Whitefish First Nation (SK).

As a former champion team roper and steer wrestler, Stoney elder Watson Kaquitts, knows his way around the rodeo. This is their fifth year competing in this sport that has a 300-year-old history. Each team is formed of four people, each of whom must use precision in completing their task. 

"It's a highly extreme sport," says team manager Kimberly Crow. "It's the most dangerous sport in the world. It's so unpredictable anything can happen."

The team is comprised of a jockey (warrior), catcher, holder, and back holder.

On a thoroughbred, the warrior laps the arena, comes in at full speed, then jumps off and onto another horse. That makes the role of the catcher especially challenging.

"There's a catcher who stops the charging horse, and that takes plenty of experience," she explains. "If they don't, the horse simply won't stop, and the team is disqualified."

Thoroughbreds are known to have superb agility, fantastic speed, and an exceptional spirit. They're also known for not having brakes.

This is a colourful sport that requires plenty of preparation. Big Crow is preparing the team jerseys for their Stampede appearance that will be blue to coordinate with colours of the Stoney Nakoda First Nation. Kaquitts will be wearing a matching vest, and she'll be wearing a matching ribbon dress.

She also paints the horses, a challenging task, especially with a thoroughbred, that takes about three hours to complete.

They hope to have small Mini Thni flags and team photos to hand out at the races.

Big Crow says they've been informed the Stampede will present jackets specially made for the participating teams at the Indian Village during the Stampede.

The team was formed in 2018 and started as the Nakoda Warriors. Their jockey, Travis Maguire, was named jockey of the year at Walla Walla, Washington.

The Blue Feather team will be racing July 8 to 11 and July 13 to 16.