Sam Steele – Legend of the Canadian Frontier BY DEBBIE MACRAE
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An Alberta World Championship Cutting Win BY JENN WEBSTER
Horsemanship • Culture • Style
IN THE HORSE WORLD & What’s Here to Stay
CANADIAN COWGIRL ROPERS
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A look behind the scenes of western weddings of 2020.
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cont e n t s JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2021
Out West 8
An exclusive interview with Albertan, Amanda Smith, following her 2020 National Cutting Horse Association $25,000 Novice Horse Non-Pro World Championship win. Kudos to the country brides and grooms who found a way to make their wedding plans possible in 2020. Princess Louise was an equine inspiration to all who served in World War II. The WHR Facebook audience tells us about their favourite breeds of heavy horses. Austin Seelhof (Cochrane, AB), makes the L3 and L4 Open Futurity Finals at the National Reining Horse Association Futurity.
Western Culture 17
GEAR & STYLE
Equipment and western items that are brilliantly Canadian.
Musician and artist, Dustin Bentall turns his passion for leather into handmade boot company.
An array of appetizers to share with loved ones.
Twisted Tree Photography
6 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW January/February 2021
BAR XP Photography
18 24 Features 24
THE HORSE WORLD IN 2021
Trends to keep an eye towards as the world shifts into a new annual.
ON TOP OF THE WORLD
Highlights from the Women’s Rodeo World Championships and interviews with two Alberta cowgirls who roped their way to the top.
DIVERSITY AND ADAPTABILITY PREVAIL IN TIMES OF ADVERSITY
The innovative agriculture operation of Mark and Tina Stewart raises bison, longhorn cattle and elk, setting themselves apart from “typical” ranching businesses.
THE MOUNTED TROOP THAT COULD NOT RIDE
Sam Steele was a Canadian legend and a Royal Canadian Mounted Police visionary.
Mixing statement pieces with sustainable items, for wearable western warmth and fashion that celebrates a new start.
THE BACK FORTY
Lee McLean shares her wisdom and glimmers of optimism for the future..
o n th e co v e r Beauty in blue.
Photo by Twisted Tree Photography. www.twistedtreephotography.ca
January/February 2021 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW.COM 7
BAR XP Photo
hile I hit the worn-out buttons on my computer keyboard, our pandemic puppy is out on the deck, trying to catch snowflakes on his tongue and the horses are tucked away snugly in the barn. We’re preparing for 40 cms of snow tonight. My kids are in another room playing the infamous Roblox on their tablets. I can’t believe how much our lives have changed in the 365 days. I didn’t even know what Roblox was before 2020… If you’re not familiar, it’s an online game platform and creation system that allows users to program games and play games created by other users. My daughter’s virtual character is currently walking around, asking other players if they have a permit to make a snowman. My son, on the other hand, is having steak, rice and virtual carrots for dinner. He won’t eat carrots in real life. We are all restless right now. Without the ability to go to new places, explore and connect – we’re all getting our “fix” digitally. I’m old school. I like to feel things. I also think it’s my job as a journalist to make others feel something too, via the medium of print. That’s why, we at WHR are constantly experimenting with editorial, page design and layout ideas. We’ve made a few changes in this issue and we hope you’ll like what you’ll see. And if you have any ideas for future editorial, we’re always open to the suggestions of our readership. Western Horse Review is committed to bringing you the stories of our western heritage from around the country. In the January / February 2020 edition, you can find the story of two female Canadian
ropers, by Piper Whelan on page 30. This is an impressive feat by some young Alberta, riders who overcame the odds of 2020 and found their way to the World Championship roping arena. The same goes for Amanda Smith of Wembley, AB, who went to great lengths to get herself and her mare, Emma Rey down to Texas to secure the 2020 National Cutting Horse Association $25,000 Novice Horse NonPro World Championship win. Not easily done in a year in which a global crisis occurred. On page 24, you’ll find an article concerning many topics of interest for the horse community in 2021. While this piece may spawn more questions than answers at this time, it’s important to remember
that a time of crisis is also full of possible opportunities. By pointing out six major trends of the equine industry of the last year, we hope this report will inspire some creative thinking to better our community. In that respect, we’d be hard-pressed to find a more diverse agricultural operation than that of the Stewart family and MSW Farms near Ponoka, AB. By raising bison, longhorn cattle and elk, and expanding into the ever-growing industry of agritourism, MSW Farms is poised to prevail in times of adversity. You can find their story written and photographed by BAR XP PHOTO on page 34. As always, we hope you enjoy the issue! - Jenn Webster
Alberta Amanda Smith and Emma Rey secured the 2020 NCHA $25,000 Novice Horse Non-Pro World Championship, recently in Fort Worth, TX.
Send your comments, questions, letters or story ideas to me at email@example.com. We may include them in an upcoming edition of Western Horse Review. 8 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW January/February 2021
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WHAT IT TAKES AMANDA SMITH OF WEMBLEY, AB, AND EMMA REY had a real shot at major World Championship title and Smith knew it. But early 2020 appeared to have other plans. Determined to take control of their own narrative, Smith assembled a plan powerful enough to shift the stars. As they walked into the herd of their National Cutting Horse Association(NCHA) $25,000 Novice Horse Non-Pro World Finals class on December 5, 2020, the duo were sitting in the top three of the standings. That which separated the top three, were only a slim margin of earnings. 10 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW January/February 2021
“Coming into World Finals, the top three in the standings, were very close,” says Smith. “It was going to come down to who had the best finals. I wouldn’t say I had the best finals, but thankfully I got ‘just’ enough done. I won it by $61.01, talk about close!” Smith relays that her first go didn’t go as well as she would have liked, as the pair earned a score of 209. Her second go, however, went much better as she and Emma Ray marked a 220 to place fifth in the go-round. Emma Rey is a seven-year-old mare sired by Dual Rey, out of Frecklesareinstyle (Docs Stylish Oak).
Seth Petit Photography
Amanda Smith and Emma Rey win the 2020 NCHA $25,000 Novice Horse Non-Pro World Championship.
“I thought I had won reserve, I didn’t realize that I had a high enough aggregate to be in the average standings. I had multiple people tell me that I won it, but I didn’t want to believe it until in was official. And then, even when it was ‘official,’ it was surreal! Dreams come true, my goal came to fruition thanks to an amazing horse! Emma Rey deserves all the credit, she’s the true champion.” With the Canadian border shut down due to Covid and all the other cards 2020 handed us, Smith had to get creative in order to
make her World Champion goals come true. “I spent January, February and part of March in the US, hauling to different shows, pretty much at a different show every week, living on the road in my living quarters,” she tells. “I was on my own the majority of the time. My boyfriend, Darcy, was only able to fly in to a couple of the shows. I would lay over at [trainer] Eric Wisehart’s facility or at a friend’s home when there was any down-time. My initial plan was to stay for January and February. If things were going well, I’d stay until the beginning of April and make my way back home (showing along the way), hit the majority of our shows here in Canada for April, May and June, then head south again for the Colorado run in July.” The duo was doing well in their US shows in January and February, so Smith decided to stay. Unfortunately, that’s when the Covid-pandemic hit, shows were cancelled and plans had to be changed. “I headed home with ‘Emma’ in tow middle of March. Thankfully the Alberta Cutting Horse Association (ACHA) and the British Columbia Cutting Horse Association (BCCHA) were able to have enough shows throughout the summer that I was able to stay in the top three. (I am super grateful to the show producers for making this happen!)” Smith then headed back down south the end of September and stayed there until the World Finals occurred. She went to as many shows as she could and was sitting second going into the World Finals, which happened in Fort Worth, TX on November 28-December 5. “I didn’t work Emma myself very often, I would usually always have a trainer school her for me at shows. Mostly Eric, but if he wasn’t at a particular show he would set me up with another trainer. When I was at home, Dustin Gonnet (who is our trainer here at home) schooled my horse and watched cattle at the shows for me. I would turnback a lot for Eric in the practice pen and at his place, which I feel really helped me. I struggled with a few showmanship issues throughout the year, I felt my cuts were always at the top of the list that needed work, so lots of times I would just practice making cuts on Emma” Smith remarks. “It took the help of a lot of people to make this hefty goal a reality. So many people stepped up to help me get Emma schooled, watch cattle, settle herds, sit in my corner, turnback, farriers, vets, therapy workers, words of wisdom, mental strategy, hauling advice, support from friends and family, friends who let me layover and answers to so many questions asked. My biggest supporter was Darcy. His unwavering love and support made all of this possible, it couldn’t have been accomplished without him! It takes a village – possibly a city!” she laughs. For their World Championship win, Smith and Emma Rey took home a coveted buckle, a Jeff Smith saddle, bronze, pair of Rios of Mercedes boots, a new Western Legacy cowboy hat, plus much more. She says that future plans for Emma Rey include having either her or Darcy show the mare in Canadian Non-Pro events for 2021. “Hopefully we can pull some embryos out of her this spring. I would love to haul again, but for now I want to be close to home.” ~ By Jenn Webster January/February 2021 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW.COM 11
Outwest WHERE THERE’S A WILL, THERE’S A WAY ALICIA HARTZ AND CONNOR MCCOMISH BOTH OF CARSTAIRS, AB, met at a rodeo approximately five years ago. She was a barrel racer and he was a roper. They became engaged in December 2019 and had big plans for a wedding the following year. “Of course, that’s when Covid hit and we had to revamp our ideas,” says Alicia. Instead of a large wedding ceremony and an ensuing reception indoors at the local town hall, both Alicia and Connor decided to scale their guest list back to only 100
guests and hold the entire day at the bride’s, parent’s farm. “We opted for a date in August and we got really lucky with the weather,” tells Alicia. “The day (August 22, 2020) was beautiful and at the time, we were allowed to have 100 people gather outdoors – so it worked out really well.” The couple rented a large tent for the reception and held everything outside, which allowed them to easily include their beloved horses in the events. Additionally, the bride’s mother took charge of all the
wedding planning and found ways to help the new couple create a charming setting, without a hefty price tag. Alicia’s grandfather also pitched in with his talents, offering many home-made elements to the wedding. “With all the Covid restrictions in 2020, we thought about re-scheduling, but I’m really glad we went through with it, especially since things with the pandemic got worse,” says the bride. “The weather was so beautiful! We were so lucky – it was such a special day.” ~ Jenn Webster
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12 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW January/February 2021
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Princess Louise I and foal on parade with Sgt. Gordon Bickerton, Camp Sussex, 1954. (Original photograph submitted courtesy of Gail MacKinnon and LCol R. A. McLeod CD).
PRINCESS LOUISE WORLD WAR II, IN THE HILLS OF Coriano, Italy, September 15, 1944. The night was shattered by yet another round of shelling, as the 8th Princess Louise’s (New Brunswick) Hussars worked feverishly to repair their damaged tanks. Another barrage and in the night, above the cacophony, rose an unmistakable scream of terror and pain. She was just a baby. Maybe three months at most; trotting circles in a wellworn path around her mother’s lifeless body. The filly was traumatized, bleeding and in pain with pieces of hot shrapnel embedded in her tiny frame. She hadn’t eaten for several days. Terrified, hungry, 14 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW January/February 2021
and thirsty, her cries were heard amidst the guns and the shelling and it didn’t take long for them to resonate in the hearts of this historic cavalry regiment. The earliest beginnings of the longestserving Canadian armoured regiment can be traced to the Colony of Virginia in 1775. They were mounted troops fighting for the British Crown as Loyalists against Colonial rebels. Captain John Saunders financed his own cavalry, including riflemen, artillery, and foot soldiers – and it was never defeated during the American Revolutionary War. In 1783 the entire Regiment sailed for New Brunswick, settling in the Saint John area and by 1848 there were 11 cavalry troops mobilized for service. On April 4, 1848 by authority of
Militia General Order No 1, they were united to form the Regiment that would eventually come to be recognized as the 8th Canadian Hussars (Princess Louise’s). To their roots they were horsemen, and they could not ignore the cry of an animal in pain. Recognizing that the filly needed immediate attention, she was loaded onto a truck nearby and driven away from the battlefield for medical care. Leading the sick parade every morning, she was treated routinely by the medical officer who cleaned and bandaged her wounds, all the while proclaiming loudly that he wasn’t in service to be a “horse doctor.” To this point, she still didn’t have a name. The Royal Patron of the 8th Canadian
Hussars was the sixth child and fourth daughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, born Louisa Caroline Alberta, on March 18, 1848. She gave the last of her given names, ‘Alberta,’ to the western province to honour the memory of her late father, and her first unofficial name ‘Louise’ was bestowed upon the beautiful lake and Chateau at the foot of the glacier named after her mother; Victoria Glacier. Louisa’s birth coincided with the revolutions sweeping across the European continent. Her mother, Queen Victoria remarked that she would be ‘peculiar’ or unusual. In 1882, as the consort of the Governor General of Canada, she consented to honour the Regiment with her name. In 1884, the 8th Canadian Hussars were re-designated as the 8th Princess Louise’s New Brunswick Regiment of Cavalry. It was only fitting that a filly surviving the global revolution in the hills of Italy should be similarly christened with the name of her Royal patron. She was crowned Princess Louise. The filly’s notoriety spread, and it wasn’t long before someone claimed to be the rightful owner of the horse. Knowing that she had been at least three or four days without any attention, her rescuers demanded proof of ownership. None was forthcoming and in the ensuing calm before the storm, Princess Louise was hidden. A man returned with a local Carabinieri (police constable), to settle the dispute. Having no proof of ownership, and no tangible horse, the constable threw up his hands in frustration when counter charges of theft were levied against the accuser. He was ultimately escorted ungracefully out of camp and Princess Louise officially joined the ranks of her rescuers. The rescue of Princess Louise served two purposes. Her future, as it was, would likely have ended in tragedy. Not only was she spared the pain and agonies she would have suffered, she inspired the Hussars with a new mission. The troop protected her and redirected their attention to her care and development as a celebrated mascot. When she was on parade, she marched at the head of the column. In early 1945, when the Hussars moved from the Adriatic coast to the opposite side of Italy, they did so with a great deal of secrecy. Badges and shoulder flashes were removed from uniforms. All the identity markings were removed from vehicles, and they built a specialized
horse stall in a three-ton truck, with army kit, baggage and supplies packed all around. It was completely camouflaged to hide Princess Louise as they moved into France. They had been given restrictions from taking animals of any kind out of Italy. When the troops boarded the ship, the truck driver, Felix Boudreau, and horse handler, Arnold Jackson, were recorded as AWL (absent without leave). They had stayed behind with the filly to ensure her truck was in the correct place in the lineup to be stowed on deck, and not in the hold (largely for Princess Louise’s protection). When they later mysteriously rejoined the rest of the Regiment, the AWL charges were dropped.
The filly’s notoriety spread, and it wasn’t long before someone claimed to be the rightful owner of the horse. Generally, vehicles were lifted aboard ship by slings. In the moments just preceding the boarding of Louise’s mobile stall, a water truck, hoisted minutes before, plummeted out of the sling into the harbor below. A harrowing near miss, but fortunate for Princess Louise and her humans. Landing in Marseilles, the regiment moved north through France, Belgium and on to Holland, where they took part in the final victory of the war. Princess Louise was not yet a yearling. After spending several months in Holland delivering mail, and reestablishing a military presence, the Hussars returned home – without vehicles. Princess Louise remained behind in the care of the British Army’s Royal Army Veterinarian Corps, while she awaited appropriate shipping space to Canada. At a time when the vast majority of horses engaged in the war never left the European continent, Princess Louise sailed aboard the Dutch liner “Leerdam” arriving in New York and then travelling to Saint John, NB, by train. She was welcomed by a band, a guard of honour and a special greeting by Brigadier D. R. Agnew. She was awarded full regalia; 8th Hussars badges and flashes, 5th Canadian Armoured Division maroon patch, campaign medals, 1939-1945 Star, Italy Star, France-Germany Star, Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and three wound stripes. She was welcomed by the Brigadier-General, the District Officer Commanding Military District 7, the Mayor and crowds of adults and school-children who had been let out of school to greet her. She was allowed to roam freely, and became a member of Hampton Branch #28 of the Royal Canadian Legion, complete with hoof-
print on the application form. Princess Louise was adored and first on the invitation list for innumerable parades and military festivities. On one occasion, the inspection was being broadcast on radio. General Frank Worthington demonstrated an old cavalry tradition, leaping on to the back of Princess Louise on completion of the inspection, and riding off the parade square. The excited radio announcer declared that the General was riding off parade on the back of Princess Louise, shocking listeners who didn’t realize she was a horse! Princess Louise was a celebrity. She met the Duchess of Kent and Princess Alexandra in Moncton, NB, Governor General Vincent Massey in Sackville, NB, the Dutch Ambassador to Canada, the Honourable Brooke Claxton, Minister of National Defense, General Worthington, and even Her Royal Highness Princess Margaret at Camp Gagetown, NB, in 1958. She had three foals; two colts, Hussar and Prince, and one filly, Princess Louise II, who would later become the mascot of the Regular Force Regiment. She too would have a daughter; Princess Louise III. Princess Louise moved into her next pasture at the age of 30 years, and her daughter Princess Louise II followed her in 1981. A memorial erected by the Hampton Branch 28 of the Royal Canadian Legion honours their service with a headstone near the Cenotaph at Hampton, NB. Held in the highest esteem by her Regiment, Princess Louise has been immortalized with a model on display at the 8th Canadian Hussars (Princess Louise’s) Museum at CFB Gagetown, NB. The autobiography of Princess Louise was penned in a booklet complete with numerous pictures and certificates by LieutenantColonel R.S. McLeod ED after his retirement from the military. His library of copious notes, scrapbook articles, photographs and references is enviable and his pride in his subject, obvious. Many thanks to his family for sharing his memoirs and bringing this delightful story to our attention. Sergeant Gordon Bickerton (shown in photo) turned an ageless 100 years young in June 2020, and resides at the Ridgewood Veterans Health Wing in Saint John, NB. We are grateful for his service. Princess Louise was more than an orphaned filly. She was a boost to the morale of the Canadian troops. She was an inspiration to all who served, and to all who continue to serve with the 8th Canadian Hussars (Princess Louise’s) past and present. ~ By Debbie MacRae
January/February 2021 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW.COM 15
We asked WHR readers – What is your favourite breed of heavy horse and why? Here’s what you told us: Twisted Tree Photography
Clydes, they pull the Budweiser wagon, beer horses best horses!” ~ Robert Klein
American spotted draft Belgium Quarter Horse-cross beautiful easy team. Can leave them for months, hook up and go! We love them.” ~ Val Hildebrandt
Percherons – my friend had a mare and she was the sweetest horse. They are elegant and beautiful.”~Mary Sell
All draft horses are my favorite. I can’t choose just one.” ~ Lindsay Thomas
Belgians! We had a mule out of a Belgian mare what a sweetie!” ~ Denise Henson
“Brabants and Belgians.”~
Suffolk Punch, though they are hard to find.” ~ Candace Herrington
16 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW January/February 2021
ALBERTA TRAINER MAKES NRHA FINALS AUSTIN SEELHOF OF COCHRANE, AB and Gunner In The Nite owned by Outrider Ranch Ltd., recently travelled to Oklahoma City, OK, to compete in the National Reining Horse Association Futurity and had an outstanding show. The duo made the Level Three (L3) and Four (L4) finals in the Open Futurity, placing 11th in L3 and 21st in the L4, winning approximately $19,000. “It was pretty cool to go down with one horse and come out that high in the placings, out of 345 horses entered,” Seelhof says. Gunner In The Nite is sired by Gunners Special Nite and out of Chic Olena Whiz. The horse better known as “Archie” was bred and is owned by Outrider Ranch Ltd. “Our assistant Desiree Kelts started him for us. He has been a great horse to train, he won the Reining Alberta Fall Classic Futurity and the Low Roller Futurity in Idaho before going to Oklahoma,” the trainer remarks.
The duo marked a 219.5 in the first go, a 219 in the second go and a 215.5 in the finals. “It was the silver lining to such an odd year. Archie has been a dream for 4 years now, from breeding him, to anxiously awaiting his birth, to the first ride and then to the show pen. He is a phenomenal horse to work with, everything is easy for him and he is always calm.”
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Hand-made charcuterie and cutting boards are what’s trending at all dinner parties these days. Impress guests with a one-of-kind design, made by Tyler Herbert from his Nanton, AB, company, Trail’s End Beef. Available in poplar, spruce and black ash woods. $75 www.trailsendbeef.com
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Frankie Pedersen of Cochrane, AB. In her shop, she features her hand-made sterling silver turquoise jewelry and horse hair jewelry. Pictured is the Turquoise Ring Minimalist in Ocean Blue. $50. Find her on Facebook and Instagram. January/February 2021 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW.COM 17
Leatherwork, which was originally a hobby for Bentall when not touring as a musician, has evolved into an exciting, creative business.
Made for the Long Haul Canadian musician and artist Dustin Bentall begins a new chapter in the story of his handmade boot company, Dust Leather Co. By PIPER WHELAN â€˘ Photos supplied by DUST LEATHER CO. 18 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW January/February 2021
hile many artists excel in creative fields outside of their chosen profession, it’s a special thing when you’re able to leverage different pursuits into your livelihood. For singer-songwriter Dustin Bentall, leather work was originally a hobby to enjoy when he wasn’t touring. “I’ve been a professional musician for almost 15 years, and that’s always kept me very busy,” Bentall explained. “I started working with leather when I was off the road, sort of something to do on the side.” Bentall, whose creativity extends beyond the musical realm, has turned his interest in leather work into an exciting business that’s starting a new chapter. Specializing in handmade boots and leather accessories, Dust Leather Co. is based in Clinton, B.C., and after years of studying the art of boot making and honing his skills, Bentall is ready to take his company to the next level. Bentall, the son of musician Barney Bentall, first became interested in working with leather at a young age, when he developed an appreciation for well-made tack. “My mom was into horses and my sisters both rode horses, and I loved the way leather is used in horse tack and how it’s built to last a really long time,” he said. “I love how leather ages. It just seems to get more beautiful and supple with use.” Around six years ago, Bentall partnered with a friend to start a leather-ware company in Vancouver, and after a while they decided to learn how to make boots. “Things would always slow down in January after the Christmas season, so in January we set aside two weeks and very meticulously went through the process of making a pair of boots,” he explained. “I really fell in love with that process and steered my focus toward boot making from that point on.” He made boots sporadically for a couple years before deciding to pursue this craft on a more regular basis by moving to Toronto for a new opportunity. Friends at the Toronto-based hat maker Coup de Tête were looking to incorporate leatherwork into their company and brought in larger equipment specific to boot making. “We talked and wanted to collaborate, and I went out there for a month to just see if things would work out, and it went really well,” he said. ‘They have a really cool shop that they share with a great denim maker, and it’s quite a busy hub of activity and creation, and I came in there to teach them how to make boots and was able to use that machinery…I got to make boots full time for that time that I was there, so I really got to hone my skills.” After a year, Bentall and his partner moved back to B.C. to start a family, and this was an opportunity, as he explained, to “start a shop to really pursue boot making on a whole new level.” Before heading west, he was able to obtain some boot making machinery in Toronto
Bentall recently set up shop in a 100-year-old building with a retail space, and is enjoying customizing his own boot making workshop.
from someone who was moving, and he brought it out to B.C. for his own shop. After working out of someone else’s shop and then renting a space for eight months, Dust Leather Co. is now moving to a more permanent home. Bentall and his partner recently purchased a building with a storefront and upstairs apartment, and they’re in the process of customizing the space. Having his own shop in this 100-yearold building, which he describes as having plenty of character, will be a game changer. “This is an enormous step for us,” he said. “We’re still quite in our infancy with this company.” The building features a 2,500-square foot shop and retail space on the ground floor. “It’s right on Main Street in this town, so we can now display our products so easily. It’s all in house,” he said. “My partner teaches music, so there’ll be music lessons happening in here.” Bentall particularly enjoys the design process and is continuing to expand his techniques. When he designs a boot, he covers the shoe last in masking tape, then draws the design onto the tape. Then, he cuts on the lines and transfers the pieces onto pattern paper. “That process I really love because you can hold the last in your hand and look from all the different angles and get your lines just where you want it. And then you transfer that to pattern paper and then to leather, and you put it all together and you end up holding a finished boot at the end of it that looks just like you had planned it.” Each customer is different, he explained, and he’s always up for a challenge when creating a custom pair of boots. “I really like when somebody says to me, ‘Hey, this is my vibe, this is what I’m into, I want you to make me a pair of boots,’” he said. “If I know the person or even just from a conversation or they might send me some inspiration pictures, I can wrap my head around what their essence is, and I love to just create something for them.” Creating top-quality footwear that lasts for years is key to his design process, a contrast to the production methods for many items today that are thrown away and replaced frequently. “I
think it’s really worthwhile to spend more money on really high-quality products that will save you money in the long run,” he said. “You end up with something that somebody’s hands have been all over and it’s been poured over every detail, and the quality is just something that you cannot get from a product that’s manufactured en masse.” For Bentall, creating something by hand that a customer will appreciate for years to come is very meaningful. It matters even more when it supports a small, Canadian business and, in turn, the wider community. “That means everything to me,” he said. “When you spend your money on a smaller family business from the community or city or even country that you live in, it brings some vitality on the ground level to a local community and a local economy, and I think that’s really crucial.” Thanks to his new shop and now being able to focus more on boot making, Bentall plans to significantly increase boot production in the next few years, with new designs on the horizon as well as continuing with custom projects. “The goal is to expand and define my product line, and then really start to go full bore with boots and start being able to produce more. I’ve recently learned a new method of designing and laying out shoes that has opened things up for me a lot,” he said. “It’s been a bit of a part-time thing because we’ve been wrangling so many things in our lives to get to where we want to be, but this space is permanent. We’re going to be able to set up shop exactly how I want it to get more efficient and just continue to get better.” As he embarks on the next stage of his boot making career, Bentall appreciates the generous nature of Canada’s small boot making community, which he’s gotten to know and learned from. “It’s a really nice community where everybody’s available to ask questions and to share knowledge, and that’s just a nice aspect of the craft, that people are very willing to offer tips and help,” he said. “They like to see each other’s progress and have success.” WHR
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This year, we’re getting dressed up, staying in and celebrating our loved ones. Feasts that can be served as individual portions and without cutlery are where it’s at – and are the best way to let your family graze, while you all share in game night or a round of good stories. By MIKE EDGAR Photos By TWISTED TREE PHOTOGRAPHY
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NECTARINE & TOMATO CAPRESE SALAD
2 lbs. Assorted Color Cocktail Tomatoes, Cut into Halves 4 Balls Buffalo Mozzarella, Cut into Quarters 5 Fresh Figs, Cut in Half 4 Ripe Nectarines, Cut into Wedges 10 Slices of Prosciutto Aged Balsamic Vinegar or a Balsamic Glaze A High Quality Olive Oil 15 Basil Leaves, Fresh Kosher Salt Fresh Ground Black Pepper METHOD On a serving platter randomly arrange your tomato, cheese, figs and nectarines. Fill in any gaps with thinly sliced prosciutto. Lastly, randomly place your basil leaves on top. Season the entire platter with salt and pepper. Drizzle on the olive oil and vinegar.
January/February 2021 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW.COM 21
CHEESE ARANCINI WITH BASIL PESTO 4 Cups Chicken Stock 1 3/4 Cup Arborio Rice 2 Cloves Chopped Garlic 4 Tbsp. Butter 1/4 Cup Grated Pecorino Romano 1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan Reggiano 1 Cup Shredded Mozzarella 1 Tsp. Salt 1 Tbsp. Black Pepper 1/4 Cup White Wine 1/4 Cup Brandy 1/4 Cup Chopped Chives 1/4 Cup Chopped Parsley For the Breading 1/2 Cup Flour 3 Eggs, Whisked 2 Cups Breadcrumbs 1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan Vegetable Oil for Frying METHOD In a heavy bottom pot, melt half the butter, add the rice and garlic. Stir the rice around the pot for about three minutes. This is called toasting the rice. Add brandy and white wine and allow the alcohol to burn off. Now this is the important part. Add the chicken stock a little bit
at a time (one cup at a time). While continuously stirring the rice allow the stock to be absorbed one cup at at time. This allows the starches of the rice to be released slowly. When all the stock is absorbed by the rice, stir in all the cheese and the final two tablespoons of butter and the herbs. Allow risotto to cool in the fridge overnight. Scoop out approximately one-anda-half ounces of the cooled risotto and roll in your hands until you have a nice uniform ball. Repeat until all rice has been rolled. Coat each ball in the flour, then in the egg wash and finish in the bread crumbs. Heat oil in a pot or deep fryer to 350-degrees Fahrenheit. Place arancini in oil and fry until a crispy, golden brown
CHICKEN SCHNITZEL SLIDER
color is reached. Be sure not to overcrowd your fryer. If the oil cools down, you will not get a golden crispy crust. Drain arancini on a paper towel and sprinkle with any leftover parmesan, garnish with pesto. Basil Pesto 2 Cups Fresh Basil Leaves 1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan 1/2 Extra Virgin Olive Oil 1/3 Cup Toasted Pine Nuts 3 Garlic Cloves 1/4 Tsp. Salt 1/4 Tsp. Black Pepper Place all ingredients in food processor and blend until smooth.
2 lbs. Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast 1 Cup Flour 3 Large Eggs, Whisked 1 Cup Panko Bread Crumbs 1/2 Cup Parmesan, Grated Canola Oil for Frying Place chicken between two pieces of plastic wrap. Use a mallet to pound the meat until it’s under half-an-inch thick. Add the cheese to the bread crumbs and set up your breading station. Dredge the chicken in the flour, then coat in the egg wash and finish in the breadcrumbs. Heat oil to 375-degrees Fahrenheit. Fry schnitzel until crispy and golden brown. You will notice that the pieces of chicken are far too big to put on a slider bun. So at this point, cut the schnitzel into smaller pieces. For this recipe we used a pretzel slider bun. However, any slider bun will work if you cannot find a pretzel bun.
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Braised Red Cabbage 1 Tbsp. Butter 1 Apple Halved, Cored and Sliced 1 Onion, Sliced 1 Head Red Cabbage Cored, Quartered and Sliced Coarse Salt and Ground Pepper 3 Tbsp. Cider Vinegar 4 Tsp. Sugar 1/2 Cup Water
In a large pot, melt the butter. Add the apple and onion. Cook the onion, stirring until it softens. Stir in the cabbage and season with salt and pepper. Add vinegar, sugar and water. Cook covered for 20 to 25 minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally.
Dill Remoulade Sauce 1 Cup Mayonnaise 1 Cup Cornichon, Chopped 1 Bunch Fresh Dill, Finely Chopped 3 Tbsp. Chopped Capers Juice of 1 Lemon 1 Tbsp. Grainy Mustard 1 Pinch Smoked Paprika Mix all ingredients together.
The Slider Cut buns in half, lightly toast. Spread remoulade on both the top and bottom bun. Place the chicken down first and top with cabbage. Place the top bun on, push a toothpick straight through the top bun all the way down to hold the slider together and enjoy!
SMOKED SALMON SLIDER The Bun Any slider bun will do, or an open-face on a mini bagel, or even just toasted crostini. We choose to use charcoalcolored specialty buns, to really set this recipe apart from the other sliders on the table. Salmon Any store bought, cold-smoked sliced salmon will do, or if you are feeling brave, go ahead and smoke your own. Pickled Red Onion 1 Red Onion, Thinly Sliced 1/2 Cup Cider Vinegar 1 Tbsp. Sugar 1 1/2 Tsp. Salt 1 Cup Hot Water Slice the onions as thin as you can and place them in a jar or a bowl. In a separate mixing bowl combine salt, sugar, vinegar and water. Stir until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Pour this mixture over the onions, ensuring they are submerged. Let them set for an hour. After that, they can be covered and kept in the fridge.
Horseradish Cream 1/2 Cup Crème Fraîche or Sour Cream 1/2 Cup 35% Cream, Whipped to Stiff Peaks 2 Tbsp. Prepared Horseradish Juice of 1 Lemon 1/2 Tsp. Salt 1/2 Tsp.Black Pepper 3 Tbsp. Chopped Chives
The Sandwich Cut bun in half and toast lightly. Place one to two pieces of salmon down, then add a dollop of cream and top with the onion. At this point, you can leave the sandwich open-faced or finish with the top bun. WHR
Mix all ingredients together.
About the Chef: Mike Edgar graduated from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in the Culinary Arts. He stayed in Calgary, AB working at some of the city’s top restaurants. In 2007, he opened his own restaurant in Calgary’s east end. After eight years of being a chef there, Edgar decided to take a step back and left the industry to spend more time with his son. His son has now expressed an interest in learning his father’s skills and in horses simultaneously. January/February 2021 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW.COM 23
THE HORSE WORLD IN 2021 Whatever emerges from the global crisis, may the odds be in the equine industry’s favour.
By Jenn Webster
any of us have been waiting with bated breath, for the clock to strike midnight on December 31 – in glorious fashion – and propel our world into 2021. With nearly a year of economic volatility behind us and ever-changing protocols as we all struggle to get the coronavirus pandemic under control, it’s natural to think the annual changeover will have something better in store. If there’s one thing certain about the upcoming year, however, it’s that nothing is certain.
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Twisted Tree Photography
Hanging out with horses is good for body, mind and spirit, and we might facilitate that more with people who don’t typically have horses in their lives.
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In the future, is it only the disciplines that are already “socially distanced” by their nature, that will survive?
The horse industry saw its fair share of changes in 2020 and thankfully, not all of them were adjustments filled with despair. As we begin 2021, here are six trends on our radar for the new year.
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No matter how we look at it, going forward we all must adapt to a Covid-19 world. The disease is not going away. It’s something we must instead, learn how to coincide with and in business, only the innovative and the creative will survive. In 2020, we saw some horse show associations shift to virtual events temporarily, as a means to keep membership active. It was also a way to keep riders learning and social, whilst keeping horses fit during quarantine. Backed by the additional bonus of low costs to enter classes and no travel required, many riders found the experience very enjoyable.
“I absolutely loved the virtual reining show because I could submit my video entry when it was convenient for me,” Dixie Vancak of Calgary, AB.
“The cost was very low, no trailering, no hotels and the show still gave out prize money and buckles. I learned a lot watching other people’s virtual submissions because you could hear the coach talking while the student was riding. I hope virtual shows will continue to be offered because everyone around the world can enter them.” Vonnie Peters of Rocky Mountain House, AB, echoed those sentiments. “I was in one in July 2020 and it was really neat! It was an open breed show so we filmed our runs and sent them in, both my horses Jaggers Got Swagger and Mia Mobster did really well. I am actually looking forward to the next one. The pros to
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BOTTOM LEFT: If there’s one thing certain about the upcoming year, it’s that nothing is certain. BELOW: As economic recovery continues to be turbulent in Canada, equine welfare should be top of mind for everyone who owns and enjoys horses.
Twisted Tree Photography
them – you’re at home. The cons to them –you’re at home and you still get nervous,” she laughed. When restrictions in Canada began to lift in 2020, we did see real events come back to life, with social distance policies in mind. Many of them even witnessed record entry numbers, proving that much of the horse industry is based on “real experiences” and our community was craving them. Still, virtual show associations and events might be a thing of the future.
The great shift to technology helped the entire world navigate 2020. However, as Sandy Bell, President Elect of the Alberta Equestrian Federation (AEF) and Jason Edworthy, AEF Board director and Recreation Committee Chair point out, not all equestrian folk are tech savvy. “As people who are experienced with equines, but not [necessarily] experienced with communications technologies, where do we go to find clear information and useful help about integrating these technologies with our equine activities and businesses?” they comment. We think this will be a major topic of interest to the Alberta equine community in 2021.” Both Bell and Edworthy relay that ways equestrians can find reputable sources for online learning and training related to equine ownership, care and training is something
else we should keep an eye towards in the future. “The use of communication technologies on the internet has really taken off in 2020 for the equestrian community. This will probably continue into the future, with a wide variety of uses even after the pandemic is considered over. It’s proving to be a great way to connect with your particular audiences and it’s not limited to geography.” They say that due to the advantages of the world wide web, educators, clinicians, trainers and others in the equine world are reaching out successfully despite social distancing restrictions, weather or time of year. Many creative approaches have emerged in the equestrian community, as a result of not being able to be together in person. “Businesses and associations without a current online presence need to decide if they should have one, and if not, consider how they’ll achieve it as part of their yearly planning,” Bell and Edworthy say.
Equestrian activities are naturally, or easily designed to be mindful of social distancing, especially in the outdoors. “Because of that, trail riding seems to have taken off,” says Edworthy. “We saw a lot of new trail riders in 2020 with folks who were limited in their ability to use arenas during the shutdowns, so they found new ways to get out with their horses. Even this winter, we are seeing more new riders out there.” January/February 2021 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW.COM 27
Twisted Tree Photography As we’ve seen over the past year, outside equine activities seem to have fewer restrictions overall than indoor activities.
Bell and Edworthy believe this trend is an on uphill climb. Along with that will be opportunities to learn the skills for safe trail riding, more about navigating back country trails, bear sense, different shoeing/booting needs and what gear to carry/take.
indoor activities. Bearing that in mind, plan for what you will do with your event if restrictions prevent it from moving inside, like you might have normally done in bad weather. Or, if you typically hold it inside, can you move it outside?” suggests Bell.
“Trail riding and driving groups are well positioned to recruit new members and reach out to riders and drivers in other areas of the province. There may be some educational and training opportunities in this area.”
They also advise that as a community, we should not overlook drivers and their annual activities, such as sleigh and cutter rallies. There may be different ways for members of these groups to organize their events so that social distancing is respected not only on the trail, but also at the start, break points and end of the events. Perhaps there are even opportunities here for experienced teamsters or drivers to branch into agri-tourism, as the general public in Canada are constantly looking for ways to “staycation.” The great outdoors might also be the answer for the future planning of competitions and events. “As we’ve seen over the past year, outside equine activities seem to have fewer restrictions overall than 28 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW January/February 2021
As economic recovery in Canada continues to bounce up and down, equine welfare is a topic our entire community needs to be mindful of. “What do we need to know about the economics of horse ownership if we continue to have shutdowns, layoffs and restricted horse use?” Edworthy and Bell ask. “And how do we build and support our equestrian community, so we can continue to help each other during tough times?” If we as the horse industry don’t have the answers to these very important questions, someone else will come up with them. And that’s not a risk horse owners and enthusiasts should be willing to take. Protests of all kinds were rampant in 2020, including those organized by animal activists. “We believe that the care of our horses, donkeys and mules must be a priority, even if we’re not using them as much as we might normally do,” says Bell. “This means more than good feed, minerals, salt and water – it also means exercising them to keep them healthy, fit and from getting rusty (unsafe).” As an equestrian community, we should devise ways that can be there for each other to achieve these priorities over the coming year.
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Perhaps the coming year will offer opportunities to teamsters and drivers, as Canadians are constantly on the lookout for new ways to “staycation.”
Some equine disciplines naturally lend themselves better to social distancing than others do. For instance, many equine sports occur in competition form as one rider in the arena at a time, such as reining, show jumping or gymkhana events. Disciplines like cutting or western pleasure often see more horses and riders in the same riding space at once. Depending on the circumstances, certain arenas or barns are also more conducive to one-on-one lessons than are others. Therefore, does this mean the way we ride our horses will be forever changed? What sorts of clinics, lessons or competitions will be allowed? Is it only those disciplines that are already “socially distanced” by their very nature, that will survive? Or will the other sports evolve? When it comes to the potential 2021 rollercoaster that faces our equestrian sports, only one thing is clear: There are more questions than answers. There’s no one-size-fits-all policy.
HOLDING FAST TO OUR PASSIONS
Despite the current financial instability many Canadians are facing, it’s wonderful to note that many people are choosing to hang on tight to their horses right now. Vanessa Zuzak, a Registered Psychologist and the owner of Solace Psychology in Edmonton, AB points out that this is likely due to the scientifically-proven fact that horses (as do many pets,) help release oxytocin in humans. Oxytocin is a hormone responsible for easing stress, which is why even just the simple act of petting a horse may make you feel happy or more secure in the world.
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Being with horses helps us get through stressful issues.
“When we do the things that we love to do, dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin are released. These are what we call ‘happy hormones,’” Zuzak states. “People with depression have reduced levels of these hormones / neurotransmitters. Research shows that coping with depression means to have a mix of therapy, medication and exercise! Any kind of movement releases dopamine and serotonin. We get an endorphin rush from it, we feel productive and accomplished. And it helps with fatigue and motivation,” she says. Conversely, we feel less motivated and more fatigued with depression. This is why our hobbies and doing things we love to do is so important. “If a person is struggling with anxiety or depression, they need a healthy way to cope. It’s unfortunate that depression is so common among Canadians and what’s worse is how often it gets overlooked. So I always ask my clients about their coping strategies. How do they unwind? How do they deal with stress? How do they engage in the things they love to do? “Getting sunshine, being active, connecting with horses and animals – those things can be really healing,” Zuzak says. Bell and Edworthy echo these sentiments. “The folks who work in equine assisted learning or equine facilitated personal development, are showing us all the time about how being with horses helps us get through stressful issues,” they state. “Research in the area demonstrates that horses lessen our blood pressure, reduce our anxieties and help us manage depression. Our worries are temporarily forgotten and our moods are uplifted – both excellent things while living in the Covid-19 reality. Hanging out with horses is good for body, mind and spirit, and we might facilitate that more with people who don’t typically have horses in their lives.” WHR January/February 2021 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW.COM 29
ON TOP OF THE WORLD Canadian team ropers shine at the Womenâ€™s Rodeo World Championship. Alberta cowgirls rise to the occasion in ground-breaking opportunity for female rodeo athletes. By PIPER WHELAN Photos By BULL STOCK MEDIA 30 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW January/February 2021
s opportunities for women to compete in more events for professional-level money continue to surge, more cowgirls are seeing their dreams of rodeo glory become possible. The inaugural Women’s Rodeo World Championship, with $750,000 up for grabs in team roping, breakaway roping and barrel racing, set a new precedent for women in rodeo, with two young Canadian team ropers in the spotlight. “I’m very thankful for the opportunities coming our way. It gives me so much motivation to keep working at this sport, and I believe a lot of other women feel the same way,” said Jenna Dallyn, who won the event’s first round of team roping with Taylor Schmidt. “I cannot thank the ladies that came before me enough who competed for so many years and eventually got us to this point where we have more of a stage.” Hosted by the World Champions Rodeo Alliance (WCRA) in November, the championship was open to any female athlete, with contestants qualifying through the WCRA’s nomination system. The first round saw 24 contestants per event compete in Fort Worth, TX, with the 12 fastest times advancing to the second round. The top six from a two-head aggregate went on to the championship round, held at Arlington’s AT&T Stadium. Competing at this level was the logical trajectory for Schmidt and Dallyn, who both have deep roots in rodeo. Schmidt, from Barrhead, AB, has several team ropers in her family, including older brother Kolton, who has roped at the National Finals Rodeo twice. “My grandfather, Leonard Schmidt, got us involved in the sport, and I hope we all carry out his legacy,” said the 21-year-old header.
Both Schmidt and Dallyn are also accomplished breakaway ropers and plan to continue competing in both events in college rodeos and jackpots.
[ ] After qualifying for this new event through the World Champions Rodeo Alliance’s nomination system, Schmidt and Dallyn came to the top among the 24 teams who advanced to the main event in Fort Worth, Texas.
Dallyn, whose father is team roper Rocky Dallyn, has a similar family connection to the sport. The 22-year-old heeler from Nanton, AB, began roping steers around the age of nine. “I’m a third-generation roper, and my dad has team roped professionally most of his life, so I grew up in this lifestyle and stuck to it,” she said. Both Dallyn and Schmidt, who are also active in breakaway roping, qualified for the championship through the WCRA’s nomination system. This format allows contestants to nominate different rodeos and have their results tracked to earn cash bonuses and qualify for major events. Dallyn nominated a number of jackpots she entered in Alberta last summer and competed in a WCRA-sanctioned jackpot in Decatur, TX, in the fall to be eligible. Schmidt also qualified through the Decatur jackpot, where she placed second and earned the points needed to secure a spot in the fast-track round leading up to the main event. January/February 2021 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW.COM 31
Schmidt and Dallyn in action. bought her, so I didn’t start entering on her until this fall, and she has been so good for me.” Winning the first round against a tough field of ropers was incredibly exciting for the team, who had nothing but praise for each other’s performances. “Jenna roped great all week, so I knew if I just did my job, she was going to complete the run and get us to AT&T,” said Schmidt. “The first-round steer felt really good. Taylor did a great job, and we were able to make a solid run like we’ve done in the practice pen so many times,” said Dallyn, adding that winning the first round helped to relieve some of the pressure for the second round. “I knew we already made the finals before we rode in the box, and I think that made me more anxious than on our first steer.”
Winning the Round One in the team roping at the Women’s Rodeo World Championship advanced Taylor Schmidt and Jenna Dallyn to the top six competing for $60,000. Both cowgirls had impressive horsepower on their side heading into this competition. Schmidt rode her brother’s horse, Ottis, during the competition. “He is a nine-year-old gelding that he bought in Canada a couple of years ago. I did use him throughout the whole competition and cannot thank Kolton enough for giving me an opportunity to ride his horses,” she said. Dallyn rode Nugget, a six-year-old buckskin mare at the championship. “I bought her a year ago from some good friends at Buffalo Hills Quarter Horses. She is a Tuf N Busy on the top side and has lots of siblings that have proved to be good rope horses,” she said, noting how thankful she is for this mare. “She was a little green when I 32 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW January/February 2021
Although the final round didn’t end up the way they’d hoped, it proved to be an unforgettable experience for these young ropers. “It was a long week but definitely worth it. I thought WCRA did a great job giving ladies the opportunity to showcase their talent in rodeo and to win good money throughout the week,” said Dallyn, who appreciated the work of WCRA president and world champion bareback rider Bobby Mote to ensure equal money for the team roping. “Having the chance to run a steer in the Dallas Cowboys Stadium for $60k was unreal—that will be something I’ll never forget.” As there have been few opportunities in the past for women competing in events other than barrel racing to earn the kind of money necessary to making a living in rodeo, to see such strides made in
Taylor Schmidt (L) and Jenna Dallyn (R) breakaway and team roping is worth celebrating. “As women team ropers, we have not been able to rope for equal money at that high of a dollar, so that was amazing to be a part of in itself,” said Schmidt. “Breakaway roping is booming and is only going to go up from here, as well as the other women’s events. Rodeo committees are recognizing the events for women and they only continue to grow, which we are super thankful for.” Being able to represent Canada made the experience more meaningful, and they were encouraged by the outpouring of support from friends and fans back home. “Taylor and I had so many people from home reach out to us, wish us good luck, and ask where they could log in and watch,” said Dallyn. “I hope we showed girls at home that they need to try and be part of this event in the following years.” Schmidt added, “I know we are nothing but proud and honored to be representing our home country. We would all like to say thank you to everyone who was supporting us and cheering us on from home.”
Both ropers are in their final year at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, TX, and are set to graduate this spring. Dallyn, who is studying animal science, aims to rope at larger jackpots in Texas before competing in Canada during the summer. Schmidt, who is majoring in marketing, has her sights set on making the College National Finals Rodeo, and she and Dallyn are focusing on making it back to this championship in 2021. “We will continue to jackpot and practice every day as we have big plans of coming back and redeeming ourselves next year,” she explained. Also representing Canada at the Women’s Rodeo World Championship were Shelby, Makayla and Marissa Boisjoli, who all competed in Round One of the team roping. Originally from Langdon, AB, the Boisjoli sisters are now based in Texas and are becoming stars in the world of breakaway roping. Shelby and Makayla made headlines when they took first and second, respectively, at the WCRA’s $1 million Titletown Stampede in 2019. WHR January/February 2021 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW.COM 33
Diversity and Adaptability Prevail in Times of Adversity Introducing the unique agriculture operation of MSW Farms, owned by Mark and Tina Stewart. Story & Photos by BAR XP PHOTO
My entire life is agriculture. It’s our family business and my 9-5 job. We eat, sleep, and breathe agriculture, 24/7, 365 days of the year.
~ Tina Stewart.
“Officer,” is an impressive six by seven-point elk. He’s the son of the great Marshall from Shooting Star Ranch and his unique antlers measure 435”.
uality grass-fed Texas Longhorn beef takes ex-
tra time to grow in order to get the results we are looking for. Grass-fed beef is grown slowly and naturally. The result is top quality, lean beef with a deep rich flavor and a nutritional profile liked by healthy minded individuals. Texas Longhorn beef, bison and elk are not in every grocery store but we are proud to be a source of this healthy and tasty product,” commented Mark Stewart. Bordering the Battle River, MSW farms, owned by Mark and Tina Stewart, is home to a unique population of livestock and a dedicated, charismatic family. Mark and Tina Stewart, along with their children, Jenalee (13), Owen (12), and Erik (9) farm approximately 2,000 acres, West of Ponoka, AB. This hardworking and entertaining bunch, run grass-fed and finished livestock with organic principles. They have an eye for quality and continually strive for diversity. Mark,
an Olds College and NAIT graduate, grew up in a ranching environment. With a welding ticket, in hand, Mark knew that diversification was key in navigating the modern ranching world. Much like her handy husband, Tina grew-up on a mixed farming operation, near Bashaw, AB. She too has a well-rounded background. With a University of Alberta degree in Animal Sciences and a Diversified Livestock diploma from Lakeland College, Tina’s education and experience greatly supports their endeavors. Tina is also a project manager for Alberta Agriculture in the traceability division and works out of the provincial building in Ponoka, AB. The daily operation of this incredible farm, along with homeschooling three children, managing product sales, organizing on-site events and attending off-site markets are no match for the dedication and determination of this hardworking pair. January/February 2021 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW.COM 35
Where It All Began
Travel trailer in tow, Mark and Tina moved to the bare quarter section, that the family now calls home, in 1999. The journey to their current living space was nothing short of eventful but their focus remained on putting money into their livestock and improving their genetics, from day one. Their busy farm yard boasts a 4,000 square foot “shouse” that serves as their shop, home and sales area, in one. Much like Rome, their “shouse” wasn’t built in a day. Should you attend an on-site event or stop in to purchase some delectable eats, Tina will happily share the trials and tribulations of the building’s development. Their home is filled with accolades of accomplishment and any visitor can attest to the stories that accompany each conversation piece.
Trigger, three-years-old, was obtained in a select sale at a bison conference in Ponoka, AB. He was a hefty yet healthy purchase from Backwoods Bison.
the Livestock The Stewart’s take diversity to heart and their livestock base is a testament to that principle. The family runs over 500 Texas longhorn cattle, 200 elk, bison, goats, pigs, ducks, and free range chickens. It’s interesting to note that many of their base herd have names and each of their background stories are inspiring. The Stewart’s aim to raise quality, lean beef while adding large horn characteristics to their herd. They’ve obtained cattle from breeders in Alberta, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Montana, Wyoming, Oklahoma, and even Texas. Their herd is top-shelf and they have won many titles both locally and internationally. A crowning moment for Mark and Tina was in 2010 when they exported 24 Longhorns to Germany, as breeding stock. This was no simple feat and ultimately an accomplishment that denotes their stature in the world market. The care and attention that is given to the entire production is highly visible. It’s not often that you can walk out in a group of cattle and have them calmly interact with you, without 36 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW January/February 2021
hesitation. The entire MSW operation runs with a calm, cool approach and the behavior of their stock showcases this feature. In 2014, along with well-known producer Jeff Jespersen, MSW Farms organized the first Canadian, satellite, Texas Longhorn measuring event for the Texas Longhorn Breeders Association of America (TLBAA). A sale was held, in conjunction with the event and the Calnash Trucking Ag Event Centre, Annual Texas Longhorn Sale began. In conjunction with Westerner Days, Red Deer, AB, has also hosted an annual Texas Longhorn show. In 2018, when the Westerner Park was under construction and could not host the event, MSW Farms held it in their outdoor event area. Mark and Tina hold many Texas longhorn records. Their show steer, KC Admiral Blade, brought a milestone achievement as the largest longhorn steer in Canada, measuring 102.125 inches from tip to tip. “Blade” was a Grand Champion at Westerner Days multiple times. He brought home multiple buckles and was
showcased at the Calgary Stampede and Ponoka Stampede respectively. Another notable prizewinner is the Stewart’s 2019 Grand Champion Female, MSW Believe It. “We are very proud of this cow. When we first had the opportunity to send Texas longhorns to Germany she was on the list to sell, but even as a calf she was one of Mark’s favourites and he was asking a large amount for her. We were not able to show her in her younger days as we had a leucosis-free herd. In order to send animals into Europe, they had to remain as a closed herd and could not travel to shows. There was a case of blue tongue detected in Canada shutting the borders to Europe but allowing us the take MSW Believe It, to the 2019 show. She brought home the Grand Champion trophy,”commented Tina. MSW – Game On – Son of Monopoly, is another claim to fame for the Stewarts. He was awarded second place in the TLBAA Affiliate Prince Competition and serves as a significant herd contribution with this designation. More
recently, MSW Mr. McGee, has taken over as the largest steer, on-site. Originally a bottle fed calf, Mr. McGee has a special bond with the family. His quiet, playful nature still shines through. As a youngster, he could often be seen playing with the children. Given the opportunity, McGee will still try and sneak into the “shouse.” He was the Grand Champion at the Alberta Texas Longhorn Association (ATLA) show in 2018. In short, the Stewart’s have made their mark in the Longhorn community and continue to diversify their herd. Recently, the family began crossing some of their base-herd with Limousine bulls, purchased from Diamond C Ranches. This started out as an initiative to produce quality 4-H calves for their children and has since opened other market streams and added more beef to Stewart’s butcher steers. Aside from their majestic, Texas Longhorns, MSW farms also boasts some impressive elk and bison. Here too, the animals are of superior
quality and prime genetics are of the utmost importance. While the market for elk meat is strong, there are many other opportunities that MSW Farms have explored. “Elk offer us many market opportunities. Male elk grow antler that can be taken in the velvet stage to be used in capsules that promotes a strong immune system and work great for arthritis in humans and pets. Elk lose their antlers each spring, before they grow a new set. Those shed antlers are sold to furniture makers or artists as well as cut up to sell as dog chews. They don’t splinter and break and are full of great vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Elk also have two ivory teeth that are used in jewelry making,” noted Mark. Aside from the marketable options noted above, MSW farms also sell breeding stock to other elk operations. Ensuring the genetic diversion of a herd is equally as crucial as seeking quality. Export of big, hard-antler bulls to the United States has been a dominant
source of income for MSW Farms and many loads have travelled south. While the MSW bison herd is smaller than their cattle and elk population, the quality remains parallel. These magnificent creatures aren’t easily contained. It takes both knowledge and skill to raise them efficiently. In any event, each animal is carefully considered and marketed with the same mind-set. “It seems like whenever life throws us some adversity we find new ways around it. When the sale of elk breeding stock was lower than desired, we started selling elk meat. It wasn’t long before we branched out and were supplying several convenience stores with our pepperoni, garlic rings and jerky. As more people shopped from our on-farm location, they requested new items and we eventually increased our products to include elk, bison, Longhorn beef, pork and chicken, all raised outdoors and grass finished,” commented Tina.
Products MSW is well known for their quality pepperoni, jerky, smokies, breakfast sausages, patties, steaks, roasts and salamis. The products are marketed through their on-farm store, farmers markets and online. The Stewart’s also supply meat product to Cilantro & Chive (Lacombe and Red Deer, AB,) Hawk Tail Brewery (Rimbey, AB,) and Sinnott’s Independent Grocers (Red Deer, AB). MSW pastures also house a local producer’s bee hives and they sell some of the honey produced. “The on-farm store works well for the growing interest in our campground, horse trails and cabin rentals. People have even called their meat orders in, before they arrive for the weekend, so they can make sure they get their favorite steaks, smokies, patties or pepperoni,” Tina added.
It seems like whenever life throws us some adversity we find new ways around it.
January/February 2021 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW.COM 37
Adapting in Times of Adversity MSW Farms is a shining example of a multifaceted approach to sustainable farming. Not only do they offer a diverse selection of quality products, they have also expanded to include agri-tourism and operate as an event venue, year-round. As a family, they take great pride in helping others appreciate their home and livestock. “That’s where our kids really shine. When they’re telling other people about the farm,” noted Mark. “The Battle River valley is beautiful and we thought of ways we could share that with others, while adding another income stream to the farm. Over the last few years, we have added four rustic cabins, walking trails, horse-back riding trails, horse pens and watering systems to our large campground and event area. The cabins have been rented for family reunions, weddings, fitness retreats and company BBQs. Forty kilometers of trails wind through forested areas of the ranch. They attract a variety of horse enthusiasts. We host our own MSW Poker Rally on the third weekend of September, annually. This year, with Covid and a lot of events being cancelled or on hold, our horse pens and horse riding trails were busier than ever. People could get away but still comply with the Covid restrictions in place,” noted Tina. The MSW outdoor event area has become 38 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW January/February 2021
LEFT: Mr. McGee was born in November so he lived in the shop and was bottle-fed all winter. He would lay by the door like a guard dog.
home to the infamous Freezer Burn event, held each June. This year (2020) would have been the tenth year that it was held at MSW. Sadly, it was cancelled, due to Covid restrictions. “There is the occasional noise complaint, but they leave it as clean and they found it and are very respectful and appreciative of the land. Their motto is leave no trace, which we’ve borrowed for people coming to camp,” commented Mark. Aside from organic farming principles, the Stewarts practice conservancy of the Battle River. They’ve fenced off livestock access to the river and use solar panel stock-waterers to pump water instead. In addition, the family has planted about 10,000 trees along the riverbanks. Aside from the aesthetic appeal to visitors, the trees provide many benefits: improved fish and wildlife habitat, slower rainwater runoff, reduced flooding and erosion and a more stable riverbank. As members of the Battle River Watershed Alliance, Mark and Tina received an Outstanding in Stewardship award on World Water Day, March 22, as part of the Ponoka Riparian Restoration Program. MSW Farms participates in various agricultural internship programs like the Agricultural Youth Green Jobs Initiative and the World Wide Opportunities On Organic Farms Program (WWOOFers). Mark and
PICTURED HERE: MSW farms also boasts some impressive elk and bison herds.
Tina have housed many people from all over the world, while educating them on their farming practices and the Canadian way of life. COVID brought new challenges to the Stewart family farm. With restrictions, many of their events took on new-shape or had to be cancelled. In order to support their customer base, Mark and Tina offered noncontact pick-up and delivery. The Stewarts are a great example of a true farm family. They have worked vigorously to uphold their standards, made sacrifices where necessary and have diversified, without hesitation. Facing challenges of their own, they approach each day with a smile and continue to farm with great expectations for the future. “Farm and multi business ventures are demanding both physically and with paper work, but we also make time for fun. In winter, the kids toboggan on the hills and skate on the river. In summer, they swim or float down the river, fish at the crossing and sit around campfires by the cabins. We all like to ride horses and spend time, as a family, cutting new riding trails or chopping fire wood. Instead of going on vacation, why not build a life you don’t need to escape from? We have everything we need right here for our own staycations,” remarked Tina. WHR
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NOMINATED IN January/February 2021 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW.COM 39
THE MOUNTED TROOP THAT COULD NOT RIDE Y
Sam Steele was a lion of the early Canadian frontier.
By DEBBIE MACRAE
E WAS A CHILD SOLDIER at the age of 14; born into a military family where his predecessors had soldiered at the Plains of Abraham before Quebec in 1759, again in 1805 at the Battle of Trafalgar, and at Waterloo in 1815. This fair-haired, slender youngster would convince authorities that he was 16 – old enough to enlist, and old enough to defend Canada as an ensign in the Simcoe Foresters Battalion of Infantry against the Fenian raids of 1866. He would join the 1st Ontario Battalion of Rifles during the Red River Rebellion. At 19 years of age he would be one of the first to enlist in the A Battery of the newly formed Royal Canadian Artillery, and then leave the 40 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW January/February 2021
army to join the North-West Mounted Police as a staff constable by the age of 22. An expert rider and marksman, he had been orphaned at the age of 13, and trained under the watchful eye of his half-brother. He had a solid military record under his wiry stature – so slight he had to bulk up his build by wearing a sash under his jacket. This young man would go on to become the most famous Mounted Police Officer in Canadian history, and would attend many, if not most, of early Canada’s most important historic occasions. The events of his legacy were monumental. Meet the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Visionary of the West – Sir Sam Steele.
COL. S.B. STEELE ON A HORSE, CA. 1903. Bruce Peel Special Collections Library, University of Alberta.
FROM THE ARCHIVES
Samuel Benfield Steele was born in Upper Canada, in what would become Orillia, Ontario, in January of 1849. He was the son of a Royal Navy Captain, a veteran of the Napoleonic Wars, having served in the British Armed forces. His father had lost his first wife, remarried, and started a second family. Steele’s mother died when he was 11, and his father took him to live with his eldest half-brother. By the age of 13, Steele was orphaned. Steele loved the outdoors, wildlife, and adventure, and his brother recognized his intelligence, athleticism, and natural curiosity. Training the young man to ride and shoot, contributed to his natural abilities, and with his tall stature and accomplished riding and marksmanship, his age was never questioned when he enlisted to defend Canada against the Fenian raiders, the year before Canadian Confederation. He was a private during Canadian Confederation in 1867. During Canada’s first real crisis, the Louis Riel uprising, Steele would volunteer for the Red River Expedition to suppress the provisional government established by Riel in 1869. He joined the 1st Ontario Battalion of Rifles on May 1, 1870, to retake Fort Garry from the rebellious Metis. Then in 1871, the first unit of the new Canadian Permanent Force was established, and this new event Steel wasAfter one ofqualifying the first to for enlist. When the North-West Mounted Police (NWMP) were newly through the World Champions formed in Rodeo 1873, Steele’s love ofnomination horsemanship and adventure Alliance’s was stimulated. He wanted to join the NWMP but first he had system, Schmidt and Dallyn came to quit the army and the decision to change was supported by to the top among the 24 teams who his commanding officer. advanced to the main event in Police as a staff Steele left the army and joined the “Mounted” Fort Worth, Texas. constable – in a troop that couldn’t ride. Steel was assigned to teach horsemanship. He was known for his tough approach and
unyielding hard line. He had been a soldier for eight years by the age of 22, and he realized that it would take strength and endurance to qualify for the job they had ahead of them. He was determined they would not fail. Saddle sores were remedied by rubbing salt in the wound to create calluses and toughen the hide; one recruit related, “We became so tough I could sit on a prickly pear.” The Cypress Hills Massacre of 1873 prompted the recruitment and deployment of the NWMP to the Cypress Hills District in what is now southern Saskatchewan. The insurgence of American bison hunters, wolf hunters and illegal whiskey traders had encroached on the livelihood of the Assiniboine people and escalated to the point of mass murder on June 1, 1873. The force was tasked with halting the whiskey trade and restoring law and order. The NWMP began what came to be known as the Great March, on June 8, 1874, with 275 men, 310 horses, 20 Metis scouts, 143 draught oxen and two nine-pounder cannons accompanying 187 Red River carts full of goods for settlement. Massive grasshopper infestations had left the prairies devoid of grass or fodder for the horses; torrential rains created quicksand, mudholes, and hordes of mosquitoes; and the need to arrive as expeditiously as possible brought a directive from the government to travel a more northerly route, away from Sioux attacks from across the border. This route eliminated travel along the well-established boundary route with known water supplies. The shortage of food and water weakened the men and their mounts. The troops split into two columns – the weakest would march northwest to the Hudson Bay Company’s Fort Edmonton under the command of Inspector Jarvis and Constable Steele, via January/February 2021 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW.COM 41
STEELE ON BLACK PRINCE AT FORT MACLEOD, AB, 1894
Bruce Peel Special Collections Library, University of Alberta. an established route. The other column would continue westward, to establish Fort Macleod. It would be the first police outpost in Canadaâ€™s far west. During their march, both men and mount were sorely tried. Had it not been for the brute strength of Constable Steele on several occasions, several horses, including his own, would have died in the quicksand. At times, men would cover their horses with their own blankets to keep them warm during the night. They would alternate 42 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW January/February 2021
assisting horses to walk â€“ using a pole under their bodies, encouraging them a few yards at a time. Some of the men carried their exhausted horses into Fort Edmonton, supporting them with their own bodies. There were significant losses, cruel to both man and beast, but the Great March would come to be remembered by the force, as one of the most epic displays of courage, endurance and determination due largely to the efforts of Constable Steele and his commanding officers, French and Jarvis.
In 1877, Steele would be present at Fort Walsh when US General Terry met Lakota Sioux Chief Sitting Bull with his promise of “lasting peace,” encouraging Sitting Bull to return to the US. During the construction of the Canadian transcontinental railway between 1881 and 1885, Sam Steele was personally commissioned by Sir John A. MacDonald, Prime Minister of Canada, to ensure the policing of the railway completion. It would serve as the greatest challenge of his many-faceted career. With thousands of men flooding north to work on Canada’s first transcontinental railroad, policing became more than just protecting the railway. Saloons and brothels followed the labourers, and construction camps were rife with drinking, gambling, whiskey trading, prostitution and its resulting turbulence. Preservation of peace was precarious between members of the Blackfoot Confederacy and railway workers. Inspector Steele was the law, order, judge and jury, administering justice wherever and whenever necessary, from a Red River cart in the prairies to a construction tent in the mountains. Although he was sympathetic to the discontent of unpaid labourers on the railway, he was determined to uphold his duty to protect the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR). At one point, an armed mob of over 1,200 construction men swarmed up the line toward the Beaver railhead, interfering with non-striking crews – at a time when Sam Steele was bedridden with a virulent fever. Steele directed his second-incommand to, “Take five men and stop them!” And stop them they did, at a small gorge, not much wider than the tracks. The small group of men faced the enraged strikers with only their scarlet coats, their Winchesters and their lion hearts. However, the mob’s agitation sparked anew and they were determined to attack the Mountie barracks. Believing that Steele was dying, the mob was stunned to see the legendary Mountie rising from his deathbed. Shouting in a loud voice, he commanded their attention, ordering the local Magistrate to read them the Riot Act, accompanied to the sound of cartridges being loaded into police-issued Winchesters. Advising them he would mow them down if he found more than 12 standing together, a solemn group of law-abiding citizens and merchants, slowly began to assemble behind his line. From a stronghold of Steele with his eight-man detachment, the assembly grew to a small army estimated at 700 citizens, bringing the Mounties much-needed reinforcements. The altercation served its purpose. The workers received their pay, and the Mounties earned their respect. In addition, the Canadian Pacific Railroad earned its place in history as it served the needs of the military during the Northwest Rebellion. In recognition of Sam Steel’s role in resolving the rebellion, and his actions at the Beaver railhead, he was promoted to Superintendent in August 1885. Two years later, he led 75 Mounties to British Columbia to settle a dispute in the Kootenay region. They built a post which still carries his name (Fort Steele), and after staying a year, moved on to Fort McLeod. Then during the Klondike gold rush, Sam Steel was in charge of the NWMP posts on the White and Chilkoot passes. He would direct that in order to ascend the Chilkoot Pass, each man must carry a year’s supply of goods (approximately one ton) in order to ensure their survival in the wilderness. In an area unfamiliar to those accessing the Yukon Territory, a year’s supply of goods was intended to prevent mass starvation. If they were purchased on the US side, those goods became subject to the
duty tax, and the NWMP collected the equivalent of almost $5 Million dollars today. Sam Steele also required that the Yukon detachments at Bennett and Tagish register all small boats and their passengers in order that they might be able to track or respond to inquiries regarding those passengers. As a further measure to save lives, Steele decreed that any man building a boat to cross Miles Canyon and the White Horse Rapids, in Whitehorse, Yukon, must hire the services of a pilot, most of whom were Mounties. That decree alone, saved the lives of thousands of goldseekers. Sam Steele was a Canadian hero – of whom most of us know very little. He replaced the unserviceable NWMP pillbox hat, implementing the iconic RCMP Stetson – which proved itself over and over in terms of protection from the elements, sturdiness, identification, and recognition.His son would follow his father’s footsteps into the Mounties and would later author several books, including Policing the Arctic (1935) and novels based on the exploits of the RCMP. His policing jurisdiction would be extended to all of the Yukon and British Columbia by the end of the century. Returning to military service during the Boer War, he would command Lord Strathcona’s Horse and then stay to command the Transvaal Division of the South African Constabulary. By the time of the First World War, he had risen to the rank of major general and was made inspector general for western Canada. Then, in 1915, he trained the 2nd Canadian Division, taking them to England where he stayed until his death in 1919 at the age of 68. In his 68-year lifespan from 1851 to 1919, his military presence flanked every significant event in Canada, from Confederation to formation of the NWMP, the Northwest Rebellion and the Klondike Gold rush. Steele leaves a legacy of namesakes from schools to heritage parks. He would become immortalized throughout North America in the 1955 television series, as the renowned Sergeant Preston of the Yukon. On January 5, 2021, we recognize his 170th birthday, in a land which very well might now be American territory had it not been defended by the legendary Sam Steele. WHR January/February 2021 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW.COM 43
FINDING HOPE Western fashion in 2021 is all about statement pieces mixed with sustainable garments and the things we already have in our wardrobes. As we make the most of our time staying in and enjoy the company of family, here are a few ways to celebrate the new year in style.
By Jenn Webster
Hair & Make-up by Michelle Suffolk. Photos by Twisted Tree Photography. On location at Hartell Homestead.
Park City Blanket Coat by Tasha Polizzi, $344.95 from Cody & Sioux www.codyandsioux.com Open Crown hat with rolled brim and conchos in Mesa Tan from Smithbilt Hats $375 www.smithbilt.com THIS PAGE:
Boys George Strait jeans by Wrangler $29.95 Gray Vest by Cowboy Hardware $49.95 Red Plaid Boys shirt by Wrangler $39.95 all from Lammleâ€™s Western Wear www.lammles.com Hat from Smithbilt Hats $300 www.smithbilt.com
January/February 2021 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW.COM 45
Hat from Smithbilt Hats, beaded by The Chief’s Daughter (Custom Job) www.smithbilt.com
Orange and purple flower wild rag 44” $75 Brown Creek Wild Rags www.browncreekwildrags.com
Blue three-piece Full Quill Ostrich boots Alberta Boot Co. $900 www.albertaboot.com
46 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW January/February 2021
Men’s Wool Plaid jacket by CINCH $199.95 from Lammle’s Western Wear www.lammles.com Blue/Gray paisley wild rag 44” $75 from Brown Creek Wild Rags www.browncreekwildrags.com
Sky Blue hat with snake leather band, from Smithbilt Hats $340 www.smithbilt.com. Blue three-piece Full Quill Ostrich boots from Alberta Boot Co. $900 www.albertaboot.com. Dress found at a second-hand store.
48 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW January/February 2021
Coffin Crown 6X hat with turquoise jewel in Rust from Smithbilt Hats $380 www.smithbilt.com
Horses on Black 44â€? wild rag $75 from Brown Creek Wild Rags www.browncreekwildrags.com
Repurposed jean jacket with Pendleton by Hitch N Stitch www.hitchnstitchdesign.net Red Cowhide boots $395 from Alberta Boot Co. www.albertaboot.com Buffalo Nickel belt $89.99 from Classic Rodeo Find them on Facebook. Red top found at second-hand store.
January/February 2021 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW.COM 49
Bucking Horse scarf, by Shannon Lawlor (available in two sizes and three fabric choices) $80-$100 www.shannonlawlor.com
ON HIM: Men’s Wool Plaid jacket by CINCH $199.95
from Lammle’s Western Wear, www.lammles.com Dirty Dan 100X hat in Pecan from Smithbilt Hats $1,100, www.smithbilt.com
ON HER: Brown Papillion long sweater $135.99; Double D leather clutch $350 M&R Calladitte Navajo ring, $380 all from Classic Rodeo, Find them on Facebook Taupe cowhide boots $395 from Alberta Boot Co., www.albertaboot.com. 50 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW January/February 2021
Turquoise squash blossom necklace (reversible to red) $1,650 from Classic Rodeo Find them on Facebook. Borrowed blue dress.
January/February 2021 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW.COM 51
Hang In There... Story By Lee McLean Photo By BAR XP PHOTO While so much of our horsemanship seems random and overwhelming – and it’s true that we’ll never learn it all – most of it is incremental. Piece by piece, like building a huge jigsaw puzzle. Often, one little thing that we’ve been struggling with will improve, then before we know it, everything else about riding a particular horse does, as well. We’ll have a horse who is resistant whenever we so much as touch the reins. This is not fun to ride – not for us and taking a wild guess here, probably not fun for the horse. Every single thing we do with this horse is tinged with tension. Impatience. Maybe even a little fear. Is it him, is he bad-minded? Is it his teeth? Perhaps the bit is to blame? Or worse, is it us?! We lie awake nights and wrestle with these unanswered questions, along with the prospect of spending even more time and money. When is enough, enough?
Just when we’re ready to quit entirely, to hang up our spurs and take up knitting, we see a glimmer of hope. One day, we pick up a rein and wait quietly. The horse softens and turns his head. We release. We try the other rein, with the same result. This is encouraging! We pick up both reins and slowly, quietly walk the horse ahead – all the while, yearning for some sign that tells us we’re on the right track. He softens, so minutely and we’ve just found our first corner piece of the puzzle.
not fit. What started off with a messy heap when we dumped out the box, is now making sense. The soft and round feeling at the walk becomes shared euphoria for the first time. It becomes a horse who wants to be caught. Who stands still for grooming and is happier to be saddled up. He waits for us when we reach for the stirrup. He moves off when we ask, relaxed and listening. He starts to learn a little bend. Our riding grows rhythmic and swingy. We sweat together, from correct work now and not from nerves. We go looking for a piece that will fit All of a sudden, our legs mean somein with that one. Then, we do it all thing beyond ‘checking out of Dodge’. again. We can softly rein back. Side pass, work Over time, we have fit in so many with the rope, open our own gates. pieces that we’ve lost count. But we Loping, collected and then fast and know we’re getting somewhere because well-balanced, in the arena and out over suddenly, all we want to do is enjoy the pastures, hunting cows. Adding to working on our puzzle. It just feels good. our tool box, learning, learning. Joy and The puzzle represents a victory of sorts, partnership. Trust. Just one person and with its pieces lying snug and flat, no one horse, hoping for this thing called missing holes or ones forced in that do connection, every single time we meet. Continued on page 54
52 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW January/February 2021
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Riding, just knowing horses and yearning to be better, is turning out to be a lot like life. We put the work in, all our available time and money and then, we can only hope for the best. I’ve been thinking about this a lot, with the dawn of the new year. Those of us who talk a good game are being pressed into actually walking and living it. Lately, I’ve been having to protect my fragile hope by turning off the news, limiting the time spent with certain people and getting original with that elusive thing called self-care. I’m riding as much as I can, spending time outdoors. I’m reading favourite books and eating homemade meals that are made with real ingredients and on the cheap. More and more, I’m starting to live as did my forebears. The effects of the lockdown are starting to be felt closer to home. Our small towns are sitting quieter, looking more like ghost towns, as the little Ma and Pa shops close their doors. The winners in all of this seem to be the big businesses. In answer to this, I, for one, am happy to stand at curbside and wait for help from the independent shops found off the main drags. My town needs me and it helps my morale, in some small way, to stand fast and do what I can to breathe life into it. Our extended family is learning that we are not immune to the ravages of layoffs, illness and depression. Nerves are feeling stretched and money is tight. The holidays were challenging with older members afraid to see us and the younger ones unable to travel. We phoned, Facebooked, texted and did our best. We are learning that this
lockdown is going to be our generation’s Great Depression. Some of us have had to say goodbye to loved ones, without actually having had the chance to say goodbye. Those of us who survive will be forever changed. We will remember and reminisce in years to come, what we had to do collectively to pull through. Days are still spent doing the ordinary everyday chores, seeing to all the details, lending a sympathetic ear to those who need someone to listen. Then, it becomes our challenge to go forward, living without that insidious affliction I’m starting to recognize as survivor’s guilt. If not us, then, what of them? We give to charity – or, we receive – and pray that it will be enough. We do the work, one day at a time… and at the end of the day, we can only hope. Some days, I am saddened by how our unwavering resolve is starting to chip away at our kindness. Political discussion has gone beyond debate into a stark war of right and wrong. We grow short with our loved ones, whether our neighbours, our spouses or the animals in our care. We know this and yet, what can one do when the well is running dry? We conserve, we scrimp and we hope we’ll have enough to get by. More and more, I am being reminded that my horsemanship has been a practice in teaching me how to live, as much as in my learning how to ride. A few times, I have had to stop and ask for help. A few times, I have been the one to lend a hand to someone who needs me. A few times, I have
PROMOTE YOUR STALLIAN IN THE NEXT EDITION OF WESTERN HORSE REVIEW A Charitable Equine Organization funding: veterinary colleges and students and other worthwhile equine causes. www.equinefoundation.ca Bob Watson, President 403.378.4323 firstname.lastname@example.org 54 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW January/February 2021
had the feeling that everything I have known thus far to be true, is in fact, a big lie. Turning one’s back on one’s dreams, going back to work in a minimum wage part-time job, feels a lot like going home from the big show in disgrace and going back to trotting wobbly circles. We’re learning, even at an age when we were beginning to think we knew it all, that there is really no such thing as disgrace. We are learning that no matter what, no matter how old we are, we can only do our best. As trite as this sounds, we are learning that right now, somebody is having it easier and somebody having it harder, than you or I. In the words of my friend Dori, we can only “… keep fighting, be kind and continue to love…” So, hang in there. It’s all about finding one little piece, then another. Slowly, slowly, our puzzle will evolve. Lee McLean is best known for the storytelling on her Facebook page, Keystone Equine, and for her good ponies. One of eight women to race, sidesaddle, at the Calgary Stampede, Lee is resolved to write for, teach and represent other ordinary riders… the people who ride despite illness, injury, fear and changed plans! Her first book, HORSE WOMAN: Notes on Living Well & Riding Better, was just published and is available on Amazon. Lee lives with her husband, Mike, in the rolling hills of southwestern Alberta.
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6 IMMINENT TRENDS IN THE HORSE WORLD & What’s Here to Stay INNOVATIVE AGRICULTURE STORY CANADIAN COWGIRL ROPERS at the Women’s Rodeo World C...
Published on Dec 31, 2020
6 IMMINENT TRENDS IN THE HORSE WORLD & What’s Here to Stay INNOVATIVE AGRICULTURE STORY CANADIAN COWGIRL ROPERS at the Women’s Rodeo World C...