Crying Tiger Steak Dinner BY MIKE EDGAR
Trail Riding Musts
BY MONIQUE NOBLE
Wilf Carter’s Legacy BY DEBBIE MACRAE
Horsemanship • Culture • Style
Why western art is poised for the future.
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Cowboyin’ in Alberta
WESTERN HOMES: + A British Columbia Equestrian Paradise
Searching for the Equestrian Lifestyle?
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PERSONAL REAL ESTATE CORPORATION Little Oak Realty (Langley, BC)
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Horsemanship • Culture • Style
Vol. 28 No. 3 MAY/JUNE 2021
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Try a something new. Get outside. Listen to music. Have a bubble bath. Garden. Pet some horses. Take care of yourself.
Did someone say Tacos? Pretty sure it’s Tuesday somewhere (and you’re going to love this recipe!)
MAY/JUNE 2021 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW.COM 5
Western Culture 17
GEAR & STYLE
Essential gear and goodies to start your summer!
BAR XP PHOTO
Charles McKay is a model slash influencer, slash international horse broker.
A new take on beef – introducing Crying Tiger Steak with Papaya Salad.
20 WESTERN FOODIE
THE TRAILS ARE CALLING AND YOU MUST GO!
Conditioning equines and saddlebag essentials. Here is our top advice for hitting the trails this summer.
Meet the cowboys of the South Sheep Stock Association: The riders who live and breathe cow country.
BOVINES IN THE BACK COUNTRY
34 HOMES OF THE WEST
This turnkey British Columbia equestrian property illustrates how one can truly have it all in the western lifestyle.
COMBINING TWO PASSIONS
When the pandemic forced this rider into lockdown, she had to get creative about expanding her artistic outlets. Then, she was shocked to realize how much her new passion benefited her time in the saddle.
Art is seeing new heights and dynamics following the chaos of 2020. Western art in particular, is poised to benefit from it all.
The life and yodelling times of Canadian music legend, Wilf Carter.
5 THINGS TO COVER BEFORE YOU SWING ONTO YOUR COLT
46 THE HEART OF A COWBOY 51 MAY/JUNE 2021
PUBLISHER’S NOTE A Yukon breeder beats all the odds and a difficult winter to bring a cherished Morgan foal into the world.
A special project about the Calgary Stampede that we, at WHR, have been working on during lockdown.
58 THE BACK FORTY
Columnist Lee McLean, reminisces about an ol’ hound dog with personality plus.
Crying Tiger Steak Dinner BY MIKE EDGAR
Remembering Einar and Donna Brasso, fixtures of the Canadian horse industry. 1 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW MAY/JUNE 2021
6 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW MAY/JUNE 2021
Trail Riding Musts
BY MONIQUE NOBLE
Wilf Carter’s Legacy BY DEBBIE MACRAE
Horsemanship • Culture • Style
Why western art is poised for the future.
Canadian country music artist Mark Parsons, releases a new single. BAR XP Photography
Dale Thompson’s life changed after an encounter with a rogue bull. Thankfully, he had Worker’s Compensation coverage to help him through.
Ontario trainer, Jason Irwin, helps readers with a “pre-flight check” before mounting up on a colt for the first time.
ON THE COVER:
It’s trail riding season! Photo by BAR XP PHOTO MAY/JUNE 2021
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Out West 8 10
WESTERN ART FOR THE SOUL
Cowboyin’ in Alberta
+ WESTERN HOMES: A British Columbia Equestrian Paradise
New Single! Rakin’ Him For 8
Twisted Tree Photography
Now available for streaming on Apple Music, Spotify and Amazon!
Released on April 12 to radio stations across Canada.
Mark’s life has been a tale of horses and the great outdoors. This rancher and rodeo cowboy sings his stories in a neotraditional country style reminiscent of greats Chris Ledoux and George Strait.
MAY/JUNE 2021 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW.COM 7
Tara McKenzie Fotos
Tara McKenzie Fotos
t’s hard to believe it’s already been one year since we had to publish our first-ever online only WHR, due to the pandemic. Here we are, 12 months later and our crew has figured out how to get this magazine back to print form and continue to bring you the western lifestyle topics you love. I’d like to take some space in this Publisher’s Note to thank a very special person on the WHR team, although she is leaving us now and headed towards retirement. Brenda Znack has been a cornerstone of our crew for longer than I can remember. She was with the magazine before even I came onboard as an intern. I will always recall one of the first days I ever worked with her… We were responsible for a large paperwork organizing job that required nearly half the office to assist. As I ran around placing documents in alphabetical order – on markers throughout an entire room – she watched me carefully. I remember being slightly frightened of her (insert nervous chuckle here. Who was to know how things were going to shake out?) Now, when I think of her leaving us, I can feel the tears start to well up. Thank-you Brenda, for everything you’ve done for this publication and for me, personally. You have been my rock in so many ways and although I’m terribly sad to see you go, I know you deserve it. I wish you many wonderful times in your retirement! In this issue we have several unique features for you. Any Dancing With the Stars fans? On page 38 you’ll find the story of an Alberta rider who got creative when it came to lockdowns and found a way to continue on with her passions, despite gathering restrictions. Amanda Bentley of Calgary, AB, was able to join into an online dance class taught by none other than Gleb Savchenko – all the way in Los Angeles, CA. Then, Bentley realized there were many parallels between dancing and riding and many benefits to both. Here’s the story about how she’s combined the two for herself in a pandemic-stricken world. Then on page 28, we have BAR XP PHOTO’s profile about the South Sheep Stock Association and the cowboys who maintain its cattle within 100 square miles of terrain bordering the Sheep River in Alberta. It just goes to show that cowboyin’ is still a way
“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” – Maya Angelou
of life in the Wild Rose province and why a daily job in the saddle is held in high regard. Then on page 51, we travel east and professional horse trainer, Jason Irwin of Port Elgin, ON, offers up some of his best advice for first climbing aboard a colt. Along with his wife Bronwyn, Jason appears on the new television show, The Horse Trainers, as seen on RFD-TV Canada and the Cowboy Channel Canada. As always, we hope you enjoy the issue! - Jenn Webster
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 MAY/JUNE 2021
MAY/JUNE 2021 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW.COM 9
WINTER HELD ON WITH A VENGEANCE this year in the Yukon Territory. With over 80 cms of snow and -47-degree Celsius temperatures for nearly a two-week span, it wasn’t ideal foaling weather. Rita Smith of Whitehorse, YT, always had big dreams of putting together her own Morgan breeding program in the north, but life seemed to throw her curveballs at every opportunity. She had been searching for years for the perfect stud colt and she eventually found him at Mustango Morgans, a ranch in Spring Lake, AB. “My stud colt’s name is Mystiks Smokin Ace,” Smith says. “Both his sire and dam are from rich western working lines including Triple S, and Ramuls Justin. I picked the broodmare up at the same time as my stud colt and I toted the two of them up the Alaska Highway for 24 hours in two feet of snow in a blizzard.” Smith was by herself for that trip and she recalls being in four-wheel drive for almost 10 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW MAY/JUNE 2021
the entire way back to the Yukon, in some very treacherous conditions. Then, the summer following, Smith was hit with a devastating separation. “I almost lost my horses. I pushed through a complete nightmare trying to find a new situation for my family of horses and I, and we just survived the worst winter in Yukon’s history living out of a fifth-wheel,” she tells. “While both of my western working mares were pregnant. Trying to care for them throughout the winter almost killed me.” The dam, Belas “Blue” Curaçao is a gorgeous, sooty palomino. Smith had a camera on the barn and corral that housed her mare and on April 10 she checked, only to see a little black foal laying out in the deep snow in -15, in a blizzard. “[Blue] allowed myself and my new partner, Bryan Dear, to pick up the foal and carry her off to safety in the warm barn. We worked diligently for hours drying them off and getting their temperature back to normal,” Smith explains. “If I had not seen the baby on
the monitor just barely in camera range, she would’ve froze to death.” It dropped to -30 Celsius that evening, but despite all the odds, Smith’s little black filly pulled through. “Bryan was a huge support – ensuring my horses and I had a bright future. He was a huge help in going through a terrible time (separation) himself. He too, lost everything but his fifth-wheel so we have conquered this together. He was the one strong enough to pick the baby up out of the snow and without him, the outcome may not have been as good,” Smith admits. “This is not the first purebred Morgan baby born in the Yukon. But I am the first official registered Morgan breeder in the Yukon under GoldSmith Morgans. So this is the first baby born from a registered breeder in the Yukon with their own prefix,” Smith says. “The Yukon is the last province/territory to have a registered Morgan breeder so I have officially closed the gap between Canada and Alaska.” ~ Jenn Webster
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ELMA STREET • Elma Street Scone • Catering • Cooking Classes • Pre-Made Meals
Elma Street Culinary Collective 403-680-3432 firstname.lastname@example.org Instagram @elmastculinarycollective MAY/JUNE 2021 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW.COM 11
STAMPEDE COLLECTION HERE AT WESTERN HORSE REVIEW, WE TOO HAVE BEEN using lockdown time for some creative projects. We recently commissioned Karen Coe Fine Arts out of Lethbridge, AB, for a series of 26 paintings, all of various scenes from the Calgary Stampede. This project has turned into a labour of love and we 12 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW MAY/JUNE 2021
have big plans for the final result – though we can’t reveal it in its entirety just yet. At this time, we’d like to give a big shout out to the photographers and models who have assisted us with the paintings. We’ve received so much love and encouragement for our project since starting it. Alberta photographers like Bill Marsh, Shellie Scott, Shane Kuhn, Rod Sinclair and Shaun Robinson have all lent their work
to this undertaking and we are deeply appreciative. Models like Astokomii Smith (First Nations Princess), chuckwagon driver Codey McCurrach and even country music artist, Corb Lund have also contributed their images and support. Then of course, there are the animal stars and our concept is sure to deliver a healthy dose of their depictions too, plus a bit of history about the Stampede.
Karen Coe has turned our vision into 26 stunning works of art and each of the originals will be available for purchase. We have something special planned for the entire collection and our hope is that it will be cherished by the young and old alike, for many years to come. Stay tuned! ~ Jenn Webster MAY/JUNE 2021 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW.COM 13
THE AUTHENTIC COWBOY ARTIST
~ By Jenn Webster
Twisted Tree Photography
ONE THING LOCKDOWNS HAS BEEN SUCCESSFUL IN IS allowing artists more time for creative space. With the absence of concerts, tours and events, many artists have found time in the studios to add to their repertoires of music. This certainly was the case for emerging Canadian country music artist, Mark Parsons. Parsons of Longview, AB, used much of the 2020/21 winter to work on a new song called Rakin’ Him for 8, an ode to the rodeo cowboy. The song was written by Parson’s wife, Donna and fellow musician, Aaron Young. It’s an upbeat, toe tapper composed in the neocountry, traditional sound. Rakin’ Him For 8 was released on April 12, 2021 to 22 radio stations across Canada – including five stations in Quebec that have downloaded and added his single. Parsons’ team is also currently working on getting the song onto satellite radio and into the US market as well. Part of the singer’s appeal is the fact that his music carries an authentic 90s country sound, in the same vein as George Strait, Garth Brooks or Chris Ledoux. The other part is the fact that Parsons doesn’t just dress and sound the part of a cowboy. He can actually ride. And rodeo. In fact, it’s rumoured that Parsons would often get off a horse and head to rehearsals straight from the barn, still with his boots and spurs on. The black and white video filmed to compliment Rakin’ Him For 8 speaks to his cowboy lifestyle, time on the road and his respect for his peers also in the industry. Check out Rakin’ Him For 8, now available for streaming on Apple Music, Spotify and Amazon or visit markparsonsmusic.com for more information.
Premier Equestrian Properties Close to Calgary, AB!
You won’t find anything else like it! This is a must see… $2,795,000 MLS # A1098259 This property currently has almost 70 acres of hay land and 50 acres of pasture, (which could be registered as organic, as there have been no pesticides or herbicides utilized for 25 years.) It comes with a private entrance from the paved road, with security gates at the front. Large, rancher-style home with defined, rustic style. Every inch of it embraces rugged, natural beauty and nature-inspired textures. Take for instance the wood ceilings of the living room, or the rock-face bathtub and fireplace of the master bedroom. Keep your horses close in the luxurious 5-stall barn with adjoining tack room and enjoy riding in your own outdoor arena this summer!
Other amenities include:
- Hot and cold running water to the barn. - Wash bay, which can be converted to a stall. - Shower and a bathroom in the barn. - 5 existing stalls (with potential to convert the wash bay and the storage room into stalls.) - Large tack room. - Storage room which houses a fridge / freezer / pantry area (which could be converted to a stall as mentioned above.) - Outdoor arena with clay bed. - Large chicken run. - Dog run. Located on a paved road, 10 minutes from Turner Valley or Black Diamond, and 20 minutes from Okotoks, AB. Also located in the Foothills of Southern Alberta in Kananaskis Country.
FANTASTIC EQUESTRIAN SET UP for Horse RACING and/or BOARDING on 40 ACRES! $2,250,000 Agri-Business MLS # A1031383 Sub-dividable, 1.5 storey home, additional Mobile home, track, breeding centre, 29 heated stalls, barn office, shelters, paddocks, machine shed, 2 powerful wells, paved driveway, and volleyball court! 4533 sq ft of DEVELOPED living space withins 2 HOMES: Main house is 1.5 storey FULLY DEVELOPED w/5 bedrooms, 3.5 baths, neutral decor + FRESHLY painted SIDING + WINDOWS, HEATED + Oversized attached GARAGE w/LOFT! LEGENDARY home of the CANADIAN HORSE RACING HALL of FAME “HORSEMAN,” this ONE of a KIND property is the REAL DEAL!
SIMON D. HUNT
MAY/JUNE 2021 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW.COM 15
Einar Christian & Donna Kathleen Brasso BRASSO, Einar Christian – February 5, 1937 – April 21, 2021 BRASSO, Donna Kathleen – April 30, 1943 – April 21, 2021
Donna Brasso is surrounded by family here, as she was the parade marshal for the Black Diamond, AB, parade. Her “Queen of Hearts” saddle was one-of-akind. ABOVE: Einar and Donna Brasso were fixtures in the Canadian western performance horse industry and inseparable to the end. BELOW: Donna Brasso as the Calgary Stampede Queen, 1962.
THE CANADIAN PERFORMANCE HORSE world mourns the loss of Einar and Donna Brasso of Okotoks, AB, who left this world only 11 hours apart of each other on April 21, 2021. The Brassos were fixtures in the Canadian western performance horse world, active in many aspects of it and passionate about the western lifestyle on many levels. Both Einar and Donna were instrumental in the development of the cutting futurity – which is now hosted by the Calgary Stampede. The couple devoted countless hours in the event’s infancy. Donna acted as show secretary managing the details and Einar was a sponsor, as well as a dedicated volunteer. Einar was eventually made an Honorary Life Member of the Calgary Stampede for his contributions. Donna had a long history with the Stampede. In 1962, the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth celebrated its Golden Jubilee and Donna was crowned Stampede Queen that year. She was iconically captured on parade morning in her gold vest and gold leather pants, mounted on a palomino atop her white “Queen of Hearts” saddle. Later, Donna was asked to represent Canada at the Miss Rodeo 16 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW MAY/JUNE 2021
America pageant in Las Vegas, NV. She was also one of the founding members of the Stampede Queen’s Alumni Association back in 1972. Her legacy is deeply rooted with the Alumni as she liaised alongside fellow alumnus Merle Stier and the very first Queen, Patsy Henderson Rodgers, and the Queen Committee to establish contact with and gather many past royals. Additionally, both Einar and Donna were financial supports of the Stampede’s Giddy Up Gala for special needs kids and many community projects in the area. The Brassos were very active in the Canadian Cutting Horse Association (CCHA) in the 80s and 90s. They owned a horse named Dry Kitten, which won the 1982 CCHA Futurity for four-year-olds (as there was no three-year-old futurity at that time) when ridden by Eddie Murphy – she went on with Einar himself to qualify for the 1985 Canadian Finals (then held at the Edmonton Coliseum in conjunction with the Canadian Finals Rodeo.) Dry Kitten finished the year in the top five standings for Canada. The Brassos founded Brasso Nissan in Calgary, AB, the longest-serving Nissan car dealership in the city.
The couple was inseparable and each fought a valiant fight in the past several years against Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Sadly, both suffered a COPD exacerbation neither could overcome, at home and surrounded by their children. Rest in peace Einar and Donna.
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The Keewatin half-mukluk from Manitobah Mukluks is now available in a waterproof suede version. With a sheepskin-lined footbed and unmatched versatility, you’ll reach for this beauty—rated to -32C—in sleet, snow or rain. $149. www.manitobah.ca
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Keeping it 100
This model slash influencer, slash broker and barrel racer has an impressive list of credentials on his resume. His positive attitude and continued conversation around inclusivity in barrel racing makes him a game-changer for the ages. By ALEESHA HARRIS • Photos supplied by LESLIE HARDY
harles McKay of Vancouver, BC, recalls with a laugh, the transaction that garnered him his first horse. “My mom traded our neighbour up the street a case of beer for this 26-yearold, half-dead horse that they had,” McKay says. “Her name was Shelly.” 18 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW MAY/JUNE 2021
Introduced to horses by his aunt and uncle, Sandy Douglas, an avid barrel racer and her husband, Lincoln Douglas, a professional chuckwagon racer, McKay and his sister Megan fell in love with horseback riding. Eventually they tagged along with their aunt and uncle to ride at the variety of events throughout British Columbia they hauled to.
“We travelled to all the Little Britches rodeos and my aunt and uncle took us all over BC, wherever my uncle was competing at the time with the chuckwagons” McKay recalls of his introduction to rodeo and gymkhana events. Noting the siblings’ horse hobby wasn’t likely to lessen any time soon, the horses were moved from the Douglas’ farm to the McKay family home in Chilliwack, BC, so the kids could focus even more on their horsemanship. “It kind of just took off from there,” McKay says of his involvement in the horse industry. “I’ve never really looked back since.” McKay got Shelly when he was in the third grade. He’s 33 now. Safe to say, his horsepower has evolved from that first, senior-aged mare, though. “Quite a bit,” McKay confirms with a laugh. Like many young riders, McKay’s evolution in horsepower was a gradual one. From that bought-for-a-beer sorrel Appaloosa mare, he was given an old Arabian show horse by long-time Chilliwack horse trainer and family friend, Tom Berry. “He was super broke,” McKay recalls of the gelding. “And I ended up training that horse for all the gymkhana events. I won all the year-end high points and whatever there was to win in the Chilliwack Riding Club.” It was at that point that McKay says “the bug for barrel racing” was firmly seeded. When McKay’s sister Megan briefly stepped away from riding, McKay began riding a horse that she had named CJ. “I jumped on CJ and started competing,” McKay says.” I won a saddle and buckles and everything on him. He took me pretty far. I went to the BRN4D Finals on him. And that’s kind of how it all evolved for me.” While the speed and level of competition in the sport of barrel racing, which sees a horse and rider run a pattern around three barrels set up in a cloverleaf pattern, is enticing, McKay says he’s always been more drawn to the development of young horses — and the incommunicable bond that comes with. “I love training horses and I love bringing a young horse along and seeing them progress,” McKay says. “And seeing what they’re learning and how far they come in the time that you work with them. Becoming a team with your horse, that’s really what I’ve always loved.” Being a man in barrel racing, McKay admits he feels there’s a “bit of a stigma” that lingers around male competitors in the sport. “I think it stems from the rodeo world, where only women are allowed to compete at the professional level and go to the National Finals Rodeo (NFR),” McKay says. “When you’re a fan and you’re watching rodeo, whether it’s the National Finals Rodeo or
the Calgary Stampede, it’s referred to as Ladies Barrel Racing.” That designation has to do with the fact that barrel racing in Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) events is run by the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association (WPRA). Riders competing in PRCA barrel racing events must also be a WPRA membership permit holder. While McKay acknowledges the significance of the history and triumphs of the WPRA, which began in 1948 as the Girl’s Rodeo Association before becoming the WPRA in 1981, he says it’s important to continue evolving the conversation around inclusivity in barrel racing as a professional sport. “I understand why it has been preserved that way,” McKay says. “But I feel like some of the best barrel racers in the world are, in fact, men. There are many male barrel racers. Lance Graves, Troy Crumrine and Brandon Cullins, they’ve won millions of dollars in futurities and derbies barrel racing. “I think that men should be given a shot to compete at the highest level of barrel racing.” The topic, of course, isn’t new. In fact, in a 1989 lawsuit, Graves v. Women’s Professional Rodeo Ass’n, Inc., barrel racer Lance Graves challenged the inclusivity standards of the WPRA, stating the rules “discriminated against him by reason of his sex.” He lost the case. Men are allowed to compete in the various association open 4D races, slot races, futurities and derbies. Some barrel racing associations have also amended the membership eligibility criteria in order to embrace all riders. McKay points to Valley Girls Barrel Racing Association in the U.S. as an example of a group within the sport that has “evolved” beyond gender restrictions, allowing everyone to compete. The well-known The American rodeo holds qualifiers throughout North America, which are also open to both men and women. “Many men have qualified and made it to the final round. No man has won it yet,” McKay says of the competition. “But I think it has been received really well, having men compete in that. So, I don’t know why it should be any different for the rest of the pro rodeos.” The seasoned barrel racer also points to the apparent double standard in professional rodeo, which sees women allowed to compete alongside men in roughstock and roping events at PRCA rodeos, pointing to Chilliwack saddle bronc rider Kaila Mussell as a prime example. “Men are competing alongside women at the professional level in almost every other equestrian event, so why not the barrel racing?” McKay says. “Let’s not limit the sport to just one gender. Let’s have inclusivity for everyone.” Being one of the only male barrel racers in his area, McKay says people often look to him as a kind of “influencer” in the sport. His presence on social media platforms including Instagram
Charles McKay believes it’s important to continue evolving the conversation around inclusivity in barrel racing as a professional sport.
(he goes by the handle @_cowboyken), where he shares many images running the barrel pattern, also undoubtedly helps with that. “I want to be able to use my voice for good,” McKay says. “And I really want to see this sport grow and evolve.” On his social media channels, McKay also offers a glimpse into his other resumé-padding project: modelling. “With any of the modelling stuff too, you never know who is looking,” McKay says of the fashionable photography on his feeds. “I’m always on the lookout for different work with that, too.” McKay started modelling in 2016, after a breakup saw him step away from horses in order to leave the Fraser Valley in an attempt to start fresh in Vancouver. “Being single and young and having these horses, I kept finding myself looking for more and wanting to make more friends. I was at a bit of a crossroads where I loved the horses so much, but I wanted to travel and do other things,” McKay recalls. Not long after that transition was made, McKay packed up and moved to Australia, where he lived for about a year. Upon his return to BC, McKay moved back to downtown Vancouver, taking over as a manager at Joey Restaurants. Through the company, he was transferred to Los Angeles. And that’s where he was living before the pandemic hit. “I was on a five-year work visa. I would have probably stayed on that career path with the company, because we were so rapidly growing,” McKay says. “But, once the pandemic hit, it changed the course of my life and I realized how much I missed having horses.” McKay moved back to Canada and bought a few young horses. While his travels and career had taken him away from horses physically, McKay had maintained a connection within the industry through his business Horse Brokers International (www.facebook.com/ Horsebrokersint), which sees him curate a vir-
tual sale feed of barrel racing horses for buyers throughout North America. “I had a friend of mine who had this really nice horse that she just couldn’t seem to click with. She said, why don’t you just take him and ride him and see how he is?” McKays says of his first foray into brokering. “So, I brought him to my barn in Langley at the time and started riding him and he was awesome.” He helped his friend sell the horse by posting him on his personal Facebook page. The horse sold within an hour. Seeing how quickly the horse sold, another friend approached McKay to help sell her horse. It also sold in the same day. “It kind of just snowballed from there. I just happened to have a lot of great connections on my Facebook through friends and I ended up selling a whole bunch of horses,” McKay recalls. “Before long, I was busy full-time selling horses.” He focuses on offering performance prospects or proven competition horses that he can personally vouch for. “I want to be known for representing quality animals,” McKay says. “That’s my primary focus.” McKay also recently purchased a stallion prospect out of Texas to add to his growing program. “He’s by Epic Leader, out of a daughter of Darkelly that sired Paige (CP Dark Moon), the horse of Amber Moore’s that she went to the NFR multiple times on,” McKay says of the horse, named Epic Ruler, that he purchased from barrel futurity trainer Kassie Mowry. “The bloodlines are amazing on this stallion. And I’m really excited to have him in Canada.” This new direction of his horse business, will soon see ‘breeder’ added to his already unique resume. “I guess I’m a model, a horse broker, a barrel racer, and an influencer in the horse world, as well,” McKay summarizes with a laugh. “I’m all of the above.” WHR MAY/JUNE 2021 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW.COM 19
Crying Tiger Steak with Papaya Salad If you love beef, here’s an alternative to the typical steak. This dish makes a fantastic appetizer to wow your friends, or add cooked rice as a base to make it a meal! By MIKE EDGAR Photos By TWISTED TREE PHOTOGRAPHY
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ender, juicy morsels of steak are always a hit around the tables of western lifestyle families. Sometimes however, it’s nice to flip a traditional dish on its head. Paired with a unique dipping sauce, this unrivalled take on beef is a wonderful combination of sweet, sour and spicy. With a tender center that offers hints of sweet and tangy flavors from an Asian-inspired marinade, this dish is followed by a bright, cool, refreshing papaya salad that will cleanse your palate – before you head back for seconds. Use whatever cut of steak you prefer. For this recipe, we chose a ribeye. Cooked to perfection, you’ll enjoy cutting through these rich, buttery slices of steak complimented with the ultimate in a savoury and sweet dipping sauce. With the versatility of being an appetizer, or served upon a bed of rice as full meal – this recipe gives you so many options.
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MARINADE 1/4 Cup Soy Sauce 2 Tbsp Fish Sauce Juice of 1 Lime 2 Tbsp Olive Oil 1/4 Cup Brown Sugar Pinch of Ground Black Pepper 1/4 Cup of Freshly Chopped Lemongrass METHOD Mix all the marinade ingredients until sugar is dissolved. Place the beef in a large zip lock bag and pour marinade on top. Remove as much air as possible, seal the bag and massage until marinade is distributed over all the beef. Let stand in refrigerator for four hours.
CRYING TIGER DIPPING SAUCE
4 Tbsp Fish Sauce Juice of 2 Limes 2 Tbsp Brown Sugar 1 Tbsp Tamarind Concentrate 2 Sliced Fresh Red Thai Chili 1 Tbsp Toasted Rice Powder 1 Shallot, Finely Chopped 1/4 Cup Chopped Cilantro METHOD For the dipping sauce, mix all ingredients together, except for the rice powder. That will be added just before serving. You can buy or make your own toasted rice powder. If you choose to make it yourself, place uncooked, white rice (we used sushi rice), in a frying pan on medium heat, stirring constantly until all rice is a nice, golden brown. You don’t have to cook the rice in any oil or water. Simply place the rice in a skillet and shake the pan over medium heat, to distribute the grains evenly. This is not something you can place on the stove and walk away from – stand overtop of it and observe. Do not let it burn.
Once the rice is golden brown, let it cool. Place the cooked, cooled, dry rice in a coffeegrinder or pepper-grinder and grind to a powder. Rice powder adds a crunchy texture
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and nutty flavour to the sauce. Add the rice powder to the dipping sauce, just prior to serving.
PAPAYA SALAD 4 Tbsp Roasted Peanuts 3 Sliced, Red Thai Chilies 1 Minced Garlic Clove 1 Tbsp Minced Ginger 2 Tbsp Brown Sugar 5 Sliced Cherry Tomatoes Juice of 2 Limes 1/2 a Green Papaya peeled, and shredded 1 Orange Carrot, Shredded Handful Thai Basil Leaves 1/2 Cup Chopped Cilantro METHOD Mix all ingredients in a large bowl, except for the peanuts (obviously, omit these if nut allergies are of concern). Let ingredients marinade in fridge for at least an hour before serving. If desired, add the peanuts just before serving.
DISH METHOD Remove the beef from the marinade and pat dry, any leftover marinade can be discarded. Cook your steaks on your desired surface, to your desired doneness. We used a cast iron pan and cooked to medium rare. Do remember that the sugar content of the marinade could burn if the temperature gets too high. Rest your steaks for 10 minutes.
After the steaks have rested, slice your steak into strips and layer onto a serving dish. Pile the papaya salad next to the meat or in a separate serving dish. Spoon some of the dipping sauce over the meat and serve the rest on the side for added dipping. Enjoy!
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.
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The Trails Are Calling and You Must Go! Plan for your summer adventures! There is much fun to be had with a horse in the Alberta backcountry – just keep some of these trail riding considerations in mind to ensure everyone enjoys the time out. STORY & PHOTOS BY MONIQUE
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Trail riding is a healthy way to disconnect from your woes and clock in some “Me” time with your horse.
TRAIL PRE-CHECK AND PACKING
Alberta is blessed with hundreds of equestrian trails, offering everything from cactus-strewn deserts and riverside hoodoos, to mountain top vistas. We are all chomping at the bit to hit the trail with our horses so now is a great time to chat about how we can ensure we are all happy on the trails.
HORSE AND RIDER FITNESS Who doesn’t love long day trips and new trails? Everyone does however, the first few rides of the season should reflect the fitness levels of both you and your horse. A horse and rider team that rides three to five times a week will have a much higher fitness level than a team that rides once a week (or not at all over the winter) and these are things you should consider when you start planning your rides. One to two-hour “there and back” trails you have done before are perfect for conditioning both you and your horse. The familiar terrain will allow you to assess your team’s fitness levels and create a conditioning plan, while also giving you both a boost of confidence and strong start to the trail season. Ideally the trail will have mild terrain that will allow for plenty of walking, trotting and if your horse’s fitness allows for it – long trotting. If your fitness allows for it do some posting-trot. Plan to take breaks along the trail. When your horse’s breathing (or yours) gets heavy or rapid, rest until your mount is breathing normally again. Recovery time will shorten as fitness levels improve. Loping and large steep hills are fun; but should be avoided on your first few trails. Spring trail conditions can
be treacherous as ice can be hidden underneath ground-cover. It’s also important to remember that a horse’s muscles can easily be strained when asked to travel at speed and/or over uneven ground before they are physically fit to do so. While the strain may not manifest in an immediate lameness, it may show up in other ways such as undesirable behaviours or irritability. You want to work your horse but not overwork your horse. A good mantra to remember when conditioning both of you for the trails is, “Stress, not distress.” Stretch! Always remember to stretch yourself and your horse, before and after your ride! A vigorous grooming with a rubber curry après ride with some carrot stretches may make your horse feel appreciated and more comfortable. Lastly, consider the condition of your horse’s feet when choosing your trails. Have your hoof care specialist out and ask their opinion. Some horses have soft feet in the spring because of mud and moisture; they may need extra protection like shoes or boots. There are many topical agents that can help harden feet as well. Until your horse’s feet are a little broken into the new terrain and workload, it is kind of you take less rocky
Before you hit the trail, it is always a good idea to clean your tack and check for needed repairs. A few things to check are your latigos, billets, keepers – if you use back cinches and breast collars (always recommended on the trail) – and saddle bag ties. Retighten all of your conchos, Chicago screws, lacings and stirrup bolts. Check the flocking of your saddle to see if it is clean and wearing evenly.If it isn’t, find out why – saddle fit is important. Check your saddle pad and cinch for the same thing. Are they still doing their job well or is it time to replace them? One last check to make is to run your hands over your saddle and bridle to ensure there are no sharp edges and nothing is sticking out. Your horse’s comfort is important for everyone’s safety and enjoyment. The last thing you want to be on the trail is unprepared. Check the weather and dress in layers. Always have a sharp knife, means to start a fire and extra food on your person, in the event you get separated from your horse. It’s also wise to have a small reflective emergency blanket. It will help keep you warm and make you easy to spot in an emergency. Some riders pack their halters and leads in their saddle bags, others ride their horses with their halter underneath the bridle and the lead wrapped around the horn, with enough length that the horse can reach water but not trip or catch a leg. Having a web halter underneath a bridle is perfectly comfortable for your horse, as long as the bridle is not too tight and nothing interferes with the chin strap or bit. It is important to have a means of tying your horse while on the trail. Never tie a horse with the reins. Tie your horse to a solid object or live tree and if you don’t have a way to tie your horse, hang onto it. Hobbles are an option, if your horse is trained for them. No matter how well your horse ground ties at home, do not ground tie on the trail. MAY/JUNE 2021 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW.COM 25
Most trails in Alberta are well maintained with environment and erosion control in mind.
TRAIL TIPS AND ETIQUETTE While there are no hard and fast rules, there are a few guidelines that help everyone have a great time on the trail. For the most part whenever I have come across Off Highway Vehicles (OHV) users, hikers and cyclists on the trail, they are happy to see us and while they admire our horses they don’t always know a lot about them. Therefore, these people tend to look to the riders for guidance. Ideally they should give us the right-of-way, but if you can give them the right-of-way it’s nice of you to do so. If you can’t, ask them to go to the lower side of the trail as horses are more comfortable with “stranger danger” below them, rather than above. There is a bit of seasonal overlap with skiers on some multi-use trails. If you encounter these kinds of backcountry guests, please give them the right-of-way. Please do not ride on designated ski only trails. Ride to accommodate the least comfortable or novice team in your 26 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW MAY/JUNE 2021
group. Leave no person or horse behind, if you lose sight of a horse-and-rider team yell, “Marco!” every now and then if you don’t hear, “Polo!” in response turn back and look for your lost explorer. If you get separated from your group or your horse stay where you are until someone finds you. Let someone know when and where you are going, when you plan to get back and when you do get back. Communicate with your group; make sure everyone is comfortable with increasing speed before doing so. If anyone appears the slightest bit uncomfortable, do not increase your speed. If you are going to lope on the trail and others in your group have chosen not to but don’t mind if you do, the safest way to do so is to trot a short distance ahead, look back to make sure everyone is comfortable with the separation and then go for a short controlled rip. Then stop and wait for the rest of the group to
catch up to you at their pace or walk/trot back to them. Oh and hey to the people who like to dawdle and then “run to catch up…” We know what you’re doing. Stop it! It’s dangerous and it stresses the horses. When passing another rider, let them know your intention and pass at the same gait they are travelling in. Never pass another rider while going up or down a hill. Travel in single file most of the time. Try not to tail-gate the horse in front of you. No one wants to get kicked or nipped. Think “teeth and toes” – if either are in range of your horse, adjust your position. If your horse is a kicker, inform your companions and put a red ribbon in their tail. If your horse is new to you or new to the trails, inform your companions and put a green ribbon in their tail. Stay on designated trails. Most trails in Alberta are well maintained with environment and erosion control in mind. When “pushing” bush, lift it above you
THINGS YOU SHOULD HAVE IN YOUR SADDLE BAGS:
Still waters run deep. Typically when crossing water, the more babbling it is, the shallower it is.
so it swings down, rather than back into the next rider. When crossing water let your horse drink and when they are done, move to the other side of the crossing. Wait for your group so their horses may also drink. Continuing down the trail ahead of the others will discourage the other horses from drinking. Still waters run deep – when crossing water the more babbling it is, the shallower it is. (My Dad always said this applies to people too, but seeing as I’m chatty, I never quite knew how to take that.) If your horse refuses an obstacle such as water (look past the obstacle, not at it) or a gate, try three times then let another team try. While patience is a virtue when working our horses through challenges, we also must recognize when it’s time to take a break. Try again on the way back. If you need to dismount to navigate the obstacle, cross ahead of your horse then move to the side before encouraging your mount to follow you – or your horse may end up in your arms. Always close gates after you have gone through them. If you hear a strange noise on the trail,
turn your horse towards it. This will make the noise easier to identify and discourage your horse from bolting. If your horse loses a shoe you can ride it out at a walk, as long as your horse isn’t lame. Don’t pull the corresponding shoe off you will only annoy your farrier. Having one shoe on for the short time it will take to return will not “unbalance” or bother your horse. I’ve discussed this at length with both farriers and vets. Know what’s happening in the area – is there a fire ban? Have there been bear, wildfire sightings etc.? Share this information with others you meet on the trail. If you have a campfire – never leave it unattended and make sure it is extinguished before leaving. Relax and have fun but have an “active seat,” you never know when a scary rock will jump out at you. Take all your garbage out with you and if you see garbage pick it up. Clean up your horse’s manure from parking lots and staging areas. Take everything you brought in with you, out with you. Leave only hoof prints. WHR
• A safety kit with antihistamines and pain killer of your choice (liquor does not count). • Vet wrap. • Three bottles of water. • Food for the day plus a little extra. • A lighter (I wrap mine in duct tape, it keeps it water-proof and you have tape). • Waterproof matches. • Toilet paper. • Feminine supplies – they are good for wound dressing and fire starter on a wet day. (If using a pad for wound dressing, attach the adhesive side to the vet wrap, voila, a bandage!). • Small foldable saw. • Hoof pick. • Halter and lead rope. • Gloves. • Bug spray. • Sunscreen. • A compass and map of the area – because batteries die. • GPS and/or spot device if you have one. • Baler twine (It was duct tape before duct tape was duct tape.) • Duct tape – In a pinch it can secure a loose shoe or protect a hoof that’s lost one. • A full length rain slicker rolled and tied behind the cantle (some of the items listed above are in the slickers pockets to make room for beverages in my saddle bags). Bear spray; this should be on your person not in your saddle bags. On a side note, my husband won’t let me carry the bear spray because he doesn’t trust me not to spray him. He’s not wrong.
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BOVINES IN THE BACK COUNTRY SOUTH SHEEP STOCK ASSOCIATION KIRK PRESCOTT – BAR XP PHOTO
or more than 100 years, the South Sheep Stock Association (SSSA) has served its agricultural members in the pristine foothills of southern Alberta. Covering a vast, 100 square miles of terrain bordering the majestic Sheep River, the association operates in community with outdoor enthusiasts and horsemen, alike. While several attributes challenge the association’s primary goal of livestock forage, hired cowboys work tirelessly to maintain livestock wellness, environmental efficiency and user harmony in this pristine backcountry. Once known as the South Sheep Creek Cattleman’s Association, a dedicated group of ranchers and hired cowboys/cowgirls have grazed cattle in the Sheep River region for more than 104 years. In his book, Men of the Saddle, Andy Russell describes the rugged yet radiant terrain perfectly, “This is cow country… Too high and rough to be grain country, it is largely grasslands, where men still ride horses in their work and play.” 28 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW MAY/JUNE 2021
For generations, ranchers have turned-out an allocated number of cattle to graze the region. While this opportunity presents many benefits, it’s also laden with risk and comes at a cost. At the heart of the grazing association is the iconic ‘cow-camp’ where members unload cattle in June and later collect them, in the fall. The rustic, log corrals and the sturdy structures are tucked away in the forestry and serve the association members and working-cowboys well. Built in 1943, the barn was one of the first larger, on-site structures. The bunkhouse was added in 1947 and the cookhouse hauled in from Turner Valley in 1973. With traditions and cowboylogic in place, the bunkhouse remains ‘home’ to the cowboys and the various outbuildings stand strong in the changing elements. While the cost of grazing has increased and allotted cattle numbers decreased, the staples of the association remain consistent. The hub of the cowboy, forestry-frontier also remains the same and so do the association’s goals. Currently, the SSSA consists of three cowboys who monitor livestock daily and 14 title holders who own ongoing, forage permits. Members pay an annual fee to the government, per animal. In addition, the ranchers pay the association twice a year to cover the rider’s salary, who tend the stock, salt and veterinary/fencing supplies. Grazing permits, designated by Animal Units Monthly (AUM’s) are in place to ensure that proper forage management is upheld and appropriate herd health is maintained. An AUM consists of one cow/calf pair. Each individual with a grazing permit has an allocated number
SSSA Rider, Luke Morrison monitoring a watering hole.
of AUM’s. Depending on the lease holder, AUM’s vary. Some members have been with the association for generations and others are fresh on the frontier, often turning-out a smaller group. The only way to gain access to grazing rights is to purchase AUM’s from an existing member if he/she decides to sell all or a portion of his/her lease. As noted, the number of available AUM’s have decreased, since the association began, by order of the government. Sadly, the likelihood of them being rejuvenated is very low. Annually, the SSSA region hosts approximately 1,450 cow/calf pairs and each group of cattle is designated its own grazing area. A benefit to grazing cattle in their original herd is a minimized health-risk, ease of movement and quick identification of a “stray.” The chosen bovine groups arrive in the backcountry around the 15th of June, each year. Cattle are either trucked-in or trailed-in, the ‘old-fashioned’ way, depending on distance, weather conditions and overall herd numbers. With a staggered entry, cowboys and cowgirls of all ages assist in pushing each herd to their assigned area. While there are primary riders, delegated to ensure that the association’s goals are met, cattle owners themselves and family/friends lend a hand when larger moves take place. A highlight for all those linked to the association is a weeklong, fall-gather that takes place before the 15 of October. SSSA rider, Kendall Miller (Longview, AB), stated that “… MAY/JUNE 2021 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW.COM 29
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Cattle Owner, Jeff Davies closing a gate along-side the highway.
SSSA Rider, Luke Morrison moving a stray cow.
fall-gather is one heck of a good-time with family and friends. We ride in all kinds of weather and work long hours to make sure everyone’s cattle are gathered and shipped out, on time.” Miller reminisced that, “It’s a great time to catch up with all of the cattle owners. Most of the crew stays out in ‘cow-camp,’ the whole time. We ride all-day and play card games all-night. It’s five days of gathering and two days of sorting and shipping, done entirely on horseback. Sometimes it’s sunny and sometimes it’s 20-below!”
Without doubt, our backcountry has seen an explosion of visitors and with that comes increased concerns and complaints. The cowboys who oversee the livestock of the SSSA often arrive home late, following a busy day in the saddle. While they benefit from conditioning/training their horses in beautiful yet rugged terrain, their shifts are not defined by a clock and they ride daily, regardless of the weather. Their equine and canine team-mates are continually put to task. Everyone earns their keep wholeheartedly. Luke Morrison, who’s ridden in the Sheep River basin since birth, recognizes the benefits of his four-legged companions. He
remarked, “As far as horses go, working in the forestry creates a place for horses that wouldn’t have one otherwise, due to their spooky nature or reactivity. It gives them a job and a purpose. Eventually, we make them a more usable horse for the general public. Riding the forestry also gives a job to cowboys who do not play so well with others. We rope and doctor sick animals and work dogs. Due to their size, the dogs have the ability to get into places that are difficult or dangerous for a horse and rider. One good dog is worth five cowboys.” These rugged cowboys are tasked with herd-health, forage management, fencing and salt delivery, among other duties. Given the terrain, they are often accompanied by working dogs, who have unique permission to be ‘off-leash.’ It’s important to note that other dogs, ‘off-leash,’ in the area, are subject to a fine of $120. This regulation is in-place to minimize displacement of livestock and negate wildlife harassment. The SSSA cowboys often keep trails open for recreational riders and work in conjunction with Parks Canada staff to ensure the safety of livestock and outdoor enthusiasts, alike. At times, Park Rangers coordinate communication between recreational users and the association, when concerns arrive. Should someone discover a carcass, rangers will mark the area and notify the association. In turn, SSSA riders identify the loss and take appropriate measures to ensure that the owner is compensated, if possible. Parks staff also grant permission to the association for additional fencing and access with motorized vehicles, when necessary. MAY/JUNE 2021 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW.COM 31
ABOVE: Ongoing studies monitor the impact and benefits of grazing. RIGHT: Cattle grazing the region improve the nutrition for local wildlife.
Understandably, the cowboys who ride the forestry face numerous obstacles and assume a degree of risk, as do the cattle owners. Grazing permit holders can attest to the fact that all good things come with a cost. While there are certain benefits to grazing forestry, inherent risks exist and loss is common. Jeff Davies is 34-years-old and one of the youngest permit holders, “There have been some unlucky losses, like having a calf fall off the river bank and a few being struck by lightning.” Predators and uncertain terrain are an inevitable force that deter many from grazing cattle in the backcountry. Each year, cattle owners face loss with respect to injury, animal attack and vehicle encounters. Doug Broomfield, a third-generation association member, notes that loss can vary greatly, depending on the grazing area and the ever-increasing predatory threat.
Despite signage, livestock are often injured or killed by traffic. This is an increasing concern, given the influx of traffic in our backcountry region. Broomfield, whose family has been with the SSSA since 1930, added that his family, “Lost 23 calves in three years.” Davies supported Broomfield’s comment and noted that, “The biggest risk we have had to deal with is predators. I don’t think we have come home with a full count, yet. We have also had a few animals hit by cars on the road.” Last year, within the SSSA alone, there were approximately ten animals lost to predators and four to vehicle incident. With an increased presence in our parkland, motor vehicle operators present a liability and must exercise EXTREME caution when travelling on the roadways that intersect grazing land. While these numbers may seem low, 32 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW MAY/JUNE 2021
each animal plays an integral role in the financial portfolio of the family who owns it. Across southern Alberta, cattle owners have seen an increase in vehicle related injury and death, as more people escape the city and flock to the beautiful backcountry. Even though signage exists, to warn motorists, it’s crucial to spread word and educate our communities on the reality of this growing, fatal trend. Without doubt, our backcountry has seen an explosion of visitors and with that comes increased concerns and complaints. Larger numbers of people hiking and biking in the forestry have caused more livestock disruption as well as more litter and vandalism. While the actions of a few do not speak to the intentions of everyone, it’s integral that everyone is mindful of their surroundings. The most common complaint of the association is the fact that gates are left open and livestock find their way onto busy roadways. Even though most fencing in the backcountry is not connected or fully enclosed, it separates herds accordingly. These barriers, either natural or wire, mitigate risk of livestock injury and minimize public interaction. Moving forward, the association encourages everyone to do their part in picking-up after themselves, reporting accidents and ensuring that all gates remain closed. The SSSA aims to exist in harmony with everyone who enjoys the forestry. Together, we can ensure that this relationship is beneficial for all. In short, the SSSA benefits the landscape, the general public, the permit holders and the livestock that graze the Sheep River basin. As noted, the hardworking cowboys ensure proper foraging with cattle rotation. Morrison, an SSSA employee of three years, remarked, “The intention of grazing cattle in forestry is to manage the grass for wildfires as well as the wildlife. By grazing in the midsummer months and late fall, we hit the grass when it has had the opportunity to develop deep-roots and the sugar/protein levels are at their peak. This translates to better
nutrition for cattle and wildlife. Also in doing so, we keep the grass from burning itself out, keep it stronger and green (less flammable) and allow it to sequester more carbon into the ground and improve soil-quality. We rotate the cows to avoid overgrazing, leaving the easiest, higher-protein grass for the wildlife’s winter grazing.” Morrison added that, “There are even government grass counts done yearly, on every part of the Forestry, to ensure proper grazing.” Echoing Morrison’s sentiments, Doug Broomfield noted that aside from overgrowth being a fire-hazard, many wildlife species dislike to forage an area when it’s left un-grazed. Broomfield also commended the cowboys in stating, “They do a good job of doctoring and checking our cattle.” The humble super-punchers gain miles on their horses and hone their ‘cowboyin’ skills in the backcountry. They work tirelessly to ensure that environmental sustainability and herd-health are top priority. The arrangement is a win-win for everyone. On a final note, cattle owners with grazing permits, gain access to feed that in-turn allows them to run larger herds and save
some of their ‘home-grass’ for late season use. Jeff Davies stated, “It is relatively inexpensive grass, compared to deeded land. It also gives us an opportunity to run more cattle and save some of our own pasture for winter grazing. That also helps us with winter feeding costs.” While there are risks associated with turn-out of livestock in the forestry, the benefits often remain appealing. Doug Broomfield added, “It’s good grass, compared to home sometimes, especially when it’s a dry year.” Broomfield agreed that forestry grazing prolongs their available home pasture and benefits the local wildlife population in conjunction with their family farm. Despite the challenges that face the SSSA, the noted benefits ensure that members work tirelessly to maintain livestock wellness, environmental efficiency and user harmony in the area. The next time you visit the backcountry, for recreation of any variety, take note of your surroundings. Be mindful of the livestock and the gates that help contain them. Tip your hat to a cowboy who’s out doing his job and enjoy the beauty that surrounds us all. Together, we can ensure that a long and prosperous backcountry exists for everyone. WHR MAY/JUNE 2021 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW.COM 33
Homes West e
Equestrian Dreams Start Here The western lifestyle is not measured in square-footage of indoor space. Yet if it were, the design and floor plan of the buildings in this picturesque British Columbia abode would easily relay how one can truly have it all. Situated on 6.45 acres near Abbotsford, BC, this equestrian property illustrates how style, grace and the rugged outdoors can all come together.
f a passion for the west is what you’re hankering for, this Abbotsford, BC, property is the ideal set-up to fulfill your dreams. With a complete equine training set-up and cattle handling system in the back, and a cozy, welcoming abode in the front, it’s the perfect place to raise a family. Positioned on a long, slender parcel of land, this property gives the impression of wide, open spaces, even though it’s all situated on only 6.45 acres. That’s how well this acreage is planned out – every inch of space is maximized, all the while maintaining an air of western grace. Plus, with town being only a short drive away, home owners truly have the best of both worlds in this residence. Both the urban and rural lifestyle are at their fingertips. 34 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW MAY/JUNE 2021
HUMBLE ABODE WITH MAXIMUM IMPACT At the heart of this homestead is a 1,911 square-foot rancher-style house that has been completely renovated and has a floor plan ideal for family, or for entertaining guests. With three bedrooms and two bathrooms, there’s plenty of space for a growing family and / or a work-from-home scenario. Upon first glance, one will notice the many large windows of the house. In fact, there are 15 and each is nearly brand new, with the recent renovation of the home. They allow for the rural views of the land to be observed at every turn. The hub-of-the-house kitchen features granite countertops, white cupboards and a modern gray-tone, tile back-
splash. All appliances are stainless-steel and a vented hood stove ensures cooking odours are easily removed and the kitchen stays clean. A breakfast countertop island in the centre continues on with the granite counter look and is generous enough for three people to sit. A large open window opening up to the back of the property brings in plenty of natural light to the cuisine area, while a sliding barn-wood door allows it be closed off from the back entrance to the house. The kitchen also features beautiful tile flooring to match the ambience, which extends into the spacious laundry and mud room (and the back entrance). Off the kitchen to the north is an open concept dining room, large enough to support a colossal slab, western table
ABOVE: For maximum impart, the kitchen was renovated to a bold white hue, with grey backsplash and granite countertops.
with chairs for adults and bench seating for the kidlets. This area stretches out to a 17’-11” x 13’5” living room which house a luxurious, brown leather couch and arm chairs, another big window and a television. Off the kitchen to the east is a surprisingly fancy bathroom with a freestanding tub and an off-white tile feature wall. The foyer extending off the living room greets the front entrance, which then leads into an excellent little nook for a small office space. Adjacent to this desk is a welcoming old fashioned brick hearth, which can provide warmth while the owner looks after paperwork. Another spacious family or sitting room sits to the east side of the house here, giving the little ones more space to play with toys, or just a quiet place to enjoy some reading near the balcony French doors that open up to the back patio. The last third of the house, located on the south side, encompasses the Master Bedroom and Master bath. His-and-her closets give the owners plenty of storage
Clean-lined elegance graces every part of this newly renovated home. A white interior complimented by some feature walls give it a fresh, crisp look.
space for clothing and windows grace every other wall, bringing in as much of the beautiful British Columbia sunlight as one desires. Two other bedrooms can also be found on this end of the house and may be used as child or guest bedrooms. Finally, the back deck located off the east side of the house is the perfect
place to bask on warm weather days. With a large overhang, the patio is a great place to BBQ (even if it’s raining), or observe the horses in their paddocks. Plus, an expansive backyard leading off from here is an ideal outdoor space for a kid-approved adventure space, hot tub or even an above-ground pool. The potential for this area is unlimited. MAY/JUNE 2021 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW.COM 35
A large living room is one of two sitting areas in the home.
From the front view, it’s hard to imagine all this property offers but upon a glance to the back, it’s clear this is a equestrian paradise and a personal, outdoor oasis all in one.
The front house on this acreage provides a respite and hub for family however, the back portion of this residence is an outdoor playground for equestrians. Featuring a 72 x 220-foot indoor riding ring with a heated viewing stand, the arena can accommodate any kind of discipline. The footing inside was carefully curated for working horses with cattle and equipped with special fencing, can easily move cattle in and out of the building. There is also ample space for hay storage and with a completely enclosed entrance to the barn, it’s easy to 36 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW MAY/JUNE 2021
A partially enclosed patio offers the perfect place for family picnics, or for BBQing, no matter the weather.
bring horses in to ride, even in the winter. Lined with translucent panels in the roof, the arena brings in a lot of natural light cutting down costs on electricity. The stable boasts 11 stalls, each with their own “window” to allow barn horses the opportunity to look outside. An additional group of 11 shed row stalls run the length of the indoor arena, permitting the property the advantage of housing numerous equines – which is ideal should the owner choose to operate a business venture here. More horses can typically equal more revenue. Additionally, there is large tack room, a
125 x 295-foot outdoor riding ring, a 55foot round pen and four cattle pens with a return alley. Altogether the facility has 18 outdoor shelters and recently added Pro Panel corner feeders. The entire property is fully fenced and a paved road allows guests or clients to come and go as they please, without the wear and tear a gravel road would usually cause to vehicles. Unique to this acreage is a 1,225 square-foot suite livable space that can be utilized in a variety of configurations. It has the option to give the property two additional bedrooms, plus a downstairs washroom – which is a huge bonus if
This indoor arena is a grand 72 x 220-foot riding space, with translucent panelling all across the top to allow for natural lighting. below: Each of the 11 stalls in the main barn feature a window for stabled horses to look out.
ABOVE: Located above the barn is a beautiful suite, designed to accommodate an assistant or even to be used as an extra entertaining area after riding. below: A neatly organized tack room adds to the already ample storage space of the property.
an assistant or hired hand is necessary for running the daily operations. The suite comes with a small outdoor balcony, a large living room area, and a spacious kitchen with modern, dark wood cupboards and a breakfast bar. Down below there are laundry amenities and another kitchen, making it possible for tenants to live upstairs and down. This exceptional parcel of land makes it achievable for the owners to have their own personal, outdoor oasis. Complete with city water, natural gas and the option for RV parking, it has everything a person might want to cultivate their western lifestyle – right in your own backyard. The horses will love it, you can ride to your heart’s content, and later observe the stars on the back patio. This property is essentially its own staycation and equestrian paradise in one. WHR MAY/JUNE 2021 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW.COM 37
COMBINING TWO PASSIONS BY AMANDA BENTLEY & JENN WEBSTER PHOTOS BY BAR XP PHOTO
It took a pandemic for this Alberta rider to challenge herself to take up a new art form. Little did she know, combining the two art forms of dance and riding proved to be more similar than one would think.
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n a time when we all moved on the US version of Dancing to a virtual world of endless with the Stars (and also on the possibilities, rider Amanda United Kingdom, Australian, Bentley (Calgary, AB) and Russian versions of the never thought she’d be able show,) to name a few of his to keep up with her two passions credentials. of riding and ball room dancing, “I asked Gleb if he thought let alone combine them. But his class would be okay for a thanks to the global pandemic, she beginner like me and he said had to start looking beyond the ‘Absolutely!’ and to follow impossible to find some happiness, along the best I could, but the hope, and something to look main thing was to have fun.” forward to – in the most unlikely Before having her children, of places. Bentley was a full-time riding COVID-19 came on like a instructor and Savchenko’s freight train in March 2020 and concept is something she agrees as we all know, was successful in with whole-heartedly. She was isolating families and friends. always preaching the same to It forced people to open up to her riding students. alternative ideas and out-of-the“Much like many people box methods for coping with the Rider Amanda Bentley says she was surprised to learn how many similarities when they have a wonderful there were between dance and riding and says the skills she’s gained from new way of life. first lesson – no matter the sport dance have positively benefitted her equestrian goals. “Like many, I’m a mom of – I was hooked and couldn’t wait two young children and this new for the next one,” she says. normal was a bit much to take at times,” says Bentley. “So I In contrast to the fast-paced world of Hollywood life and found myself getting creative in terms of having ‘Mom time- watching him on television, Bentley says Savchenko’s online outs’ or finding some outlets to help reset myself.” students get to observe him in a very real, down-to-earth She relays that in the beginning of adjusting to life with manner. Covid, even her beloved barn was limited to capacity and she “We see that he has the purest of hearts, while highlighting was not able to see her horses for weeks on end. the passion he has for dance and teaching it to his eager online “My creative outlets had to expand and they did into a world students. Many of whom who are dancing in their living rooms of beauty, awareness and connection that ultimately collided and kitchens.” my two worlds. Both hold a special place in my heart. It has Savchenko is a busy man and a dedicated father to his two been a year this April since I started my online dance journey daughters Olivia (10) and Zlata (3). He doesn’t have to teach of expression and self-discovery.” the online group of personalized zoom lessons, but he loves Bentley says she has always enjoyed watching the television to and has told the group on more than one occasion that he show, Dancing with the Stars and dreamed about dancing admires the dedication, and effort they put into their online on a grand stage looking beautiful in a stunning outfit with lessons. a professional dancer – but like many, she figured it was “He absolutely loves to see how we are improving and impossible. progressing,” Bentley relays. “One day on Instagram, I saw that my favourite professional As her online lessons continued a few days per week in dancer Gleb Savchenko, was teaching an online Zoom class, 2020, Bentley noticed other online dancers were joining direct from Los Angeles, CA. So I decided to sign up and in from around the world. They lived in Dubai, the United found the courage to put myself out there – or should I say on Kingdom, Florida, Chicago, Toronto, etc. Together, the group screen in front of a handsome celebrity dancer that I admire…” worked on Rumba, Jive, Pasodoble, Cha Cha Cha, and Samba she laughed. arrangements. “I mean, after all ‘…He wouldn’t really see me, would he?’ “Our online group has developed into a loyal, close-knit I said to myself. I figured the class would be full of regular LA group of dancers who regularly stay in touch throughout students and I would fade into the background. He came on the week even in between our classes! We all have a common screen and was super nice and friendly. He even made a point bond of dance and are all very appreciative to have Gleb as of talking to this Canadian horse girl.” our instructor. He has an incredible ability to be able to see us Savchenko is a multi award-winning international through a small screen and still be able to correct the slightest professional dancer and has been a long-standing pro dancer of details with us as well as lift us up when we are struggling. MAY/JUNE 2021 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW.COM 39
Bentley says that dancing has made her more conditioned and the body awareness she’s gained and knowing how to engage her muscles when needed, has helped with overall strength and posture in her riding.
He has helped us in many ways that go beyond just dancing and for that, we are forever grateful,” Bentley admits. She explains that for her, dance – much like riding – takes her away from the stresses of the world and forces her to focus on being in the moment. Be present. “Riding has always reminded me of dancing as in both there is a partnership, connection, body awareness, and teamwork,” she says. “If one component is off, then the feel is different and just not right. The more I continued with my online lessons I realized that both my passions are both different, but also very similar.” Bentley believes she has always had a good sense of body awareness and would often try and explain the concept to her students when she was teaching riding lessons, pre-covid. “I always described how some movements with our horses and are like a dance. However I can honestly say my level of body awareness for movement has grown so much through Gleb’s teaching, that it has me looking at our beautiful equine friends in a new light.” There’s also a new level of fitness that Bentley is taking from her dance classes that is proving beneficial to her riding time. Savchenko has done fitness classes for his group and they include a lot of squats, lunges, planks, hip engagement exercises and core work. However, Bentley circles back to the body awareness and engagement she’s learned in her dance classes as being the biggest benefit to her riding. “Tightening your core muscles properly to maintain balance, lifting your shoulders up, back and down to help with 40 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW MAY/JUNE 2021
posture – we have to hold posture a lot in dance, so I find it’s strengthened me and made me more flexible. It’s helped me to hold a backbend or a press-line pose and not become exhausted,” she states. “It’s definitely helped my endurance which helps with riding, because then I can work harder if my horse and I are struggling to achieve something. And also having the strength and flexibility I get from dance can help with my overall fitness so I don’t get sore from riding,” Bentley explains. She says that dance has additionally helped her with ankle and foot flexibility. Riders are constantly having to point their toes, drop their heels or engage their legs. “I think it all starts with our feet. In my opinion, I find that stronger and more flexible ankles can help with how we are able to keep our feet in our stirrups. Or equally, if we lose our stirrup with ankle/foot strength and flexibility we are more likely to find our stirrups quicker.” Bentley says that dancing has made her more conditioned and the body awareness and knowing how to engage her muscles when needed, has helped with overall strength and posture in her riding. “I find that without even having to think about it, I’m able to use my body properly when I’m on my horse – if that makes sense,” she tells. She believes that anyone with a higher level of body awareness and fitness will likely be more centred and balanced – even if trying riding for the first time. “Recently, my long time riding coach and mentor was getting me to work on teaching my three-year-old mare to move her hips, separate from the front end of her body. She
The synchronicity and beauty of a perfectly timed side or half-pass can be compared to a weight ball change in dance was struggling with it, trying her heart out no doubt but it was hard for her, as this is a new move that she has never done before,” Bentley mentions. While working their way through it, Bentley reflected back to a few days earlier when she was taking an online lesson. “Gleb was teaching us part of a rumba routine and taking us through us a few different steps. He was teaching us to move, rotate our hips, and engage our bodies – and I realized, this was also what I was trying to do with my young mare.” All of a sudden Bentley became aware that everything she was trying to accomplish in the rumba were smaller moves, but with a big effect they could give off a mood evoking look in dance. They could also help with the functionality and willingness of moving and guiding her horse. “It definitely was a small, challenging movement much like it was for my young horse. I thought I had rotated my hips as much as I could, but no! My Russian instructor corrected me and I’ve learned they can rotate way more than I thought they can,” she says.
With a background in a multitude of disciplines, Bentley is regularly surprised to discover the parallels between dancing and riding. Particular moves like a spin or sliding stop in reining, for instance, can be compared to several moves in dance. “The spin or stop – which involves the rider to focus and engage connection and rhythm with the horse – requires trust in the partnership,” she begins. “To complete the maneuvers, balance and trust is needed to successfully execute proper timing of rotation in a spin, or a fast dramatic sliding stop. Equally can be said for dance and the confident connection needed to either glide across the dance floor in an elegant waltz, or to march your way through an intense and dramatic pasodoble. The synchronicity and beauty of a perfectly timed side or half-pass can be compared to a weight ball change.” A ball change is a dance move that consists of two steps: a partial weight transfer on the ball of a foot, followed by a step on the other foot. Working the flag or demonstrating cutting moves on a horse can be compared to Cuban breaks. Cuban breaks are short, sharp syncopated steps diagonally to the side, alternating from one side to the other. “Independent hip movement in our horses can be related to a lock step. The possibility of parallel movements is uncanny and I find fun to compare,” she says.
IT ONLY TOOK A LOCKDOWN
Bentley says her online lessons with Savchenko have enriched her life and the lives of the other online students he teaches. Had it not been for the pandemic, she may have never come across the chance to expand her artistic outlet.
“We are privileged to have the opportunity to learn from the best and have the best want to wholeheartedly teach us,” she states. “Not only has Gleb and our online group given me a sense of purpose and belonging, but he has enhanced my love and passion for my horses and opened my mind to endless possibilities in the realm and artistry of dance and riding.” Whether it’s dancing or horses, finding the right coach and mentor for yourself can be the most uplifting feeling – and the difference in taking your skills to the next level. Bentley concludes, “People like Gleb have that special talent to push, motivate and inspire in ways others cannot. We are forever grateful for what he has taught us, for his time, his effort and the fact he has helped many people on their journey of selfdiscovery through dance.” WHR
Gleb Savchenko is a multi awardwinning, international professional dancer and has been a longstanding pro dancer on the US version of Dancing with the Stars (and also on the United Kingdom, Australian, and Russian versions of the show,) to name a few of his credentials. MAY/JUNE 2021 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW.COM 41
WESTERN ART FOR THE SOUL BY JENN WEBSTER AND BAR XP PHOTO
BAR XP PHOTO
In 2021, the world wants their individual spaces to reflect solace and help them escape to the great outdoors. Featuring open prairies, a cowboy’s life in the saddle or the ever majestic equine – the world of western art is perfectly poised to satisfy all these cravings.
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An intricate spade, created for Richard Brooks’ application to the Traditional Cowboy Arts Association (TCAA). The ferrules and cricket are Mokume (basically Damascus made from copper and silver). The flowers are done in an ancient Korean technique called Keumboo (24 karat gold bonded to silver). It boasts highly sculpted steel scrolls and silver inlays.
he world of art saw its fair share of changes as the events of the global pandemic unfolded. From the challenges faced by small art galleries, to the cancellation of exhibits and public displays, the art world had to take on a number of transformations. Many artists transitioned to marketing their own work in online sales, galleries moved to virtual exhibits, while sales too found ways to hold auctions with absentee bidding options available. Then there were the ultrasavvy – the artists who discovered the world of non-fungible tokens, better known as NFTs. (Welcome to the portal of digital art – a form of cryptocurrency that involves knowing many other newfangled words like Ethereum blockchain. Don’t worry we’re still wrapping our heads around it too…) The art world shifted greatly in the last 12 months for both artists and collectors. People who are seasoned collectors had more time in the last year to focus on their passions and virtual new-comers to it had the income to spend. Many large auction house saw record sales in the last year for high-value art in digital / virtual sales. Additionally, the events of 2020 like protests, racism awareness and freedom rallies shaped the focus of many creative expressions. Political themes were prevalent in murals
and many other mediums, while street art across the globe depicting images of George Floyd became part of the call for solidarity in the Black Lives Matter movement. On the flip side, artwork featuring nature works after a year of chaos has also become a big trend. It seems that having to stay at home means people are becoming more aware of what is on their walls. They want their spaces to reflect solace and help them escape to the great outdoors. Featuring open prairies, a cowboy’s life in the saddle or the ever majestic equine – the world of western art is perfectly poised to satisfy all these cravings. There has also been a surge in younger western art collectors too (aged 45 and younger) to acquire personalized, commissioned items that range in a variety of mediums. From treasured silver work displaying one’s brand, to a picturesque wild rag, to a painting featuring a beloved equine, or a one-of-a-kind, deck of cards – one thing is certain, western art should grasp hold of the unpredictability of 2020. The benefits of western art serve more than therapeutic purposes, although, those yearning for spiritual inspiration from nature will achieve that too. With all that in mind, here are a few local western artists to which you should be paying attention…
BROOKS custom spurs. Sculpted steel with fine silver inlays.
BROOKS BITS, SPURS & SILVER Brooks Bits, Spurs and Silver is a family venture that began in the late 1940’s. Generations later, the Brooks family continues to hone their craft and customers remain captivated by their raw talent and pristine quality. In the early days, Roy Brooks Sr. of Cochrane, AB, forged his steel over a coal fire. Each silver adornment was painstakingly hand-cut, soldered and push engraved. At an early age, Richard Brooks watched his grandfather Roy with intrigue and soon embarked on
the journey of becoming a well-respected creator, himself. Richard notes that, “In 1991, I began building a few pieces and this continued as a serious hobby ‘til I started a career in 2005.” Richard was first a partner with Olson Silver Co. Here, he began building buckles and continued to build his bit and spur business, in the evenings. Richard ventured alone in 2012. He lamented, “I kept very busy with custom pieces for a few years and my son Leighton, who
pretty much grew up in the shop, started full-time when he graduated from high school in 2017.” Today, Brooks Bits, Spurs and Silver continues to operate from their ranch near Cayley, AB. Richard completes the design work and engraving, while Leighton focuses on steel fabrication and leatherwork. Silver fabrication is split between father and son, depending on the complexity of the project. As with most family run operations, the ladies play an
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ger accept custom spur/bit orders, those available are truly works of art. In past, custom bits were marked R. BROOKS (Richard) but the “stamp” has been adapted to credit both father and son, who now build together. On average, the timeline for bit completion is roughly two to three months. Unique, Brooks leather stamps are stocked in variety and custom tools are available on request. Custom leather stamps are usually available in one to two weeks. Other custom pieces, such as jewelry and buckles, typically run about four to six weeks. When discussing what he enjoys most about being a silversmith, Richard commented, “I really love building things and working with my hands. It really suits me and our lifestyle – the connection to our western heritage and most of the people we deal with.” Aside from the flexibility in his schedule, he also noted that having his shop right at home is unbeatable! Not surprising, one of the biggest challenges that he and his son face is knowing when to say “No.” Richard noted that scheduling and telling a customer that they can’t or won’t build something is truly difficult. A significant highlight in Brooks’ career
KARMIN BURTON ART This young, rural Alberta artist specializes in western art and pet portraits, however, it was her deck of cards that caught our eye. Back in February of 2021, Burton stated on her Facebook page, “These cards just started as a way for me to learn to paint.” No one could’ve known much interest she would garner in the hand-painted deck of 52 playing cards (each with differ44 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW MAY/JUNE 2021
ent design), in only the few short months she started revealing her project on social media. Burton would go on to state, “I am just blown away by all the support I’ve gotten for this project. Thanks to all my new followers!” She admits it was a challenging project, but says it was all worth it, “It was definitely a challenging project, both with the scale of them and just the number, it was
was being accepted into the Traditional Cowboy Arts Association (TCAA). In 2013-2014, Richard constructed several pieces, as part of his application, that were likely the most technically challenging pieces he has constructed, to date. If you are looking for a quality-crafted, functional work-of-art, you can find more at: www.brookswesterngear.com
Quality leather headstalls constructed by Leighton Brooks, adorned with stylish, silver accents.
BAR XP PHOTO
integral role in keeping things running smoothly. Richard joked, “Someone has to feed the cows while us guys are in the shop.” Although the father and son team has adopted modern technologies, such as milling machines, welders and a water jet, they still honor the craft of a one-man blacksmith/silversmith shop. Each piece is handmade, individually. Richard and Leighton both have incredible attention to detail. Above all, they understand the purpose of the products they construct. Each piece operates with superior function and still serves as a work of art. The on-site shop currently focuses on BROOKS marked bridle bits, leather stamps, and some spurs. In house, you will also find a unique sampling of handmade jewelry and assorted accessories, available for purchase. Truly, the timeline for each piece varies, depending on ranch demands and product specifications. Richard commented, “We farm and run cattle too, so customer expectations have to be a little flexible, as unexpected things outside of the shop can wreak havoc on trying to schedule anything.” While Brooks Bits, Spurs and Silver no lon-
Karmin Burton’s artistic deck of cards.
a lot of work to paint them all.” Burton was primarily a colour pencil artist before this, but always wanted to take up painting. “I did one card, and someone saw it on my social media and asked if I would do a few for them for gifts. I finished those ones and just loved them, and decided to go ahead and paint the whole deck. I made a couple posts on social media
asking for photo contributions and got a huge response, all of the paintings are done from reference photos sent to me from people all over Alberta.” Each card features a different western scene. There are horses, coyotes, cowboys and cattle roundup images.
Sam Anderson creates one-of-a-kind commissioned wreaths for her clients, featuring their beloved animals.
The joker proved way trickier than I expected, which seems fitting for the subject. -Karmin Burton “I really tried to pick the right photo for every card to give them all some meaning, and it’s just been an amazing experience, honestly. Getting to connect with so many people and putting something together that everyone is so excited about is pretty mind-blowing for me!” she says. You can find more about Burton’s art at: www.karminburtonart.com.
The wreaths can be decorated with any kind of embellishments , to reflect any time of year.
CUSTOM ART BY SAM They are especially striking when complimented with bells, pine or red and green colours for Christmas. Like so many other people, Sandra (Sam) Anderson’s job as an industrial sewer ended near the start of the pandemic. Fortunately, she was able to turn to her two passions in life, art and horses, to generate some income. Anderson produces custom 3-D animal portraits – usually horses, but also mules, donkeys, dogs, cattle, and birds – out of her Turner Valley, AB, home. Her other projects have included First Nations headdresses, feathers, free-standing animal
heads, custom rocking horses, and many other unique items. For custom pieces, an owner-supplies Anderson with a photo which is then blown up and projected onto mediumdensity fibreboard (MDF).Then the shape is cut out, carved, sanded, and painted to reflect an individual animal. The head plaques are circled by a lariat and other seasonal embellishments if requested, for a total diameter of about 22”. Anderson’s work is incredibly lifelike and the final result is a lasting 3-D memento for individual owners.
Anderson comes from an artistic family, but has no formal training and was self-taught. She has an incredible background with horses, working on the Thoroughbred racing circuit for years and was Groom of the Year many times. She then went on to work for breeding and training farms and managed a show jumping facility for five years. Her most ambitious projects to date have been a life-size zebra, moose, elk, and bear, made from paper-mache. You can find more about Anderson’s work on Facebook. MAY/JUNE 2021 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW.COM 45
THE HEART OF A COWBOY By DEBBIE MACRAE
He was 10-years-old, driving a team of oxen and hauling apples through the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia. “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” had come to town, so he stole away on his bicycle – a two-mile trip – to watch. When he got back, his momma was waitin’ with her old slipper to give him a whuppin’… He stood for a week to eat, but that event would become the catalyst for a career that would make him one of Canada’s Country music grandfathers. 46 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW MAY/JUNE 2021
Uncle Tom’s Cabin didn’t mean anything to him, a boy of ten; but the closing act sang a lullaby; “Sleep little one sleep… ”and the performer yodelled it. Wilfred Arthur Charles Carter had never heard a yodeller. He was captivated. He yodelled the entire two miles on the way home – and then he got the whuppin’. Not only for sneaking off without permission, but also for taking the cost of admission without permission.
Still that didn’t stop him harvest the crop. Carter eagerly responded, with his knapsack and his music, although he’d never from yodelling.
Carter was the son of a strict Baptist Minister, raising a family of nine, in modest rural Nova Scotia. Yodelling was not well-received as fitting for a minister’s son – and his father did not appreciate his son’s rebellious willfulness. By 12, all the children were expected to work and contribute to the family. Carter’s persistent yodelling and independent nature grated on his father until he was asked to leave at the age of 15. Sleeping in ditches or barns to keep warm, grovelling for food, and fighting the long, lonely nights without the comfort of family, he eventually secured a job milking cows for 25 cents a day. He continued to yodel. As in Switzerland, where the yodelling tradition was established to call in their stock, Carter yodelled to the cows as he worked. He moved on to logging, working as a lumberjack, and continued to sing and refine his yodelling skills. The call to the West came in the early 1920’s when he saw a poster in the Canning train station, advertising a harvest excursion to stook grain in Alberta. The Canadian Pacific Railroad (CPR) was sponsoring trainloads of men to
taken a lesson. He rode the rails west, stooking, hauling grain, and driving horses, in fields so large, with a freedom so wide, his enthusiasm and his energy were unleashed. His daughter, Carol Cooper, remembers him as a big man, with big hands; incredibly strong from the work and hours of laboring outdoors with the horses. He “preferred cowboy work,” riding horses, bucking broncs, and entertaining the cowboys. He thrived on the bunkhouse life, and in 1927 attended his first Calgary Stampede. The official poster for that year was printed in shades of butter, with a bucking bronc depicted in the foreground and the Lucky Stars Ranch stencilled in the background. It was an appropriate calling card for the heart of a cowboy. Carter participated in saddling, wild cow milking, wild horse racing, chuckwagons, and bucking broncs, riding out a time or two to be unloaded in the dirt. In between rodeos, Carter would work as a cowboy. He traveled out toward Drumheller and Carbon, AB, living in an abandoned shack, working the harvest and breaking horses. He and his friend, Charlie Gwynn, travelled all around breaking broncs, saddle horses, and team horses. Carter took part in the Calgary Stampede and worked with the arena director, Dick Cosgrave, his son Bobby Cosgrave, and Bob’s son, Richard. He wrote the song, “Bouncin’ Bobby” MAY/JUNE 2021 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW.COM 47
for Bobby and Richard because they’d start bouncing up and down on the old spring seat on the chuckwagon when they raced around the track. Then he wrote a song for the Calgary Stampede called “Dynamite Trail,” alluding to riding a bronc and coming out of the chute on Dynamite Trail – or being in the chuckwagon.
“Cut, cut the barrel, and then you all hit for the rail and again, you’re on Dynamite Trail,” go the lyrics. It was a handshake with Pete Knight that ended Carter’s rodeo career, sometime in 1935. After seeing Carter saddle and prepare to ride a horse that was too much for him, Knight approached him behind the chutes and said, “Promise me if you come out of this today, you’ll never go in again.” They had talked about his future as an entertainer, and the risks involved with rodeo. They shook on that promise and, in a twist of fate on May 23, 1937, it would be Pete Knight who took his last ride in Hayward, California. His would be the honour, as Carter memorialized his friend in a song called, “King of the Cowboys.” As he worked and lived the life of the cowboy, Carter wrote songs about the lifestyle. In rural Alberta, we often take for granted that cowboyin’ is a way of life. Coming from rural Nova Scotia, Carter revered the regime and became grounded in that reality. He penned Alberta’s first “cowboy songs” and, in the words of Brian Dunsmore, from CKUA Radio, “…[Carter] spent a few years becoming that true persona.” He became the positive figure of a cowpoke in popular imagination. Later, he started adding love songs to his repertoire – like “Beautiful Girl of the Prairie, She’s a Girl I’m Going to Marry.” Musician Gordon Lightfoot spoke of Carter’s influence as a folk artist, and a balladeer. He wrote songs about the cowboy culture; the lifestyle. His stories influenced songwriters because of the simple way he sang and portrayed everyday life on a ranch or the prairie. He was Canada’s first Country music star, and is recognized by the Canadian Music Hall of Fame as the “father of Canadian country music,” influencing multiple generations of Canadian musicians. His unusual style of singing was self-developed, with a “three-in-one echo” yodel that was not well-received in his initial auditions. He persevered, and auditioned for different radio stations. In 1930, a Calgary radio station, CFCN hired him for five dollars a week working for one night every week. CFCN was then known as the Voice of the Prairies, the biggest broadcaster in western Canada. As he became more popular, he started working in a weekly spot for five dollars a night and the fan mail started pouring in. Back then, radio and phonographs were the only medium they had. In 1932, the Brewster Transport Company recognized a unique tourism opportunity for their Canadian Pacific 48 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW MAY/JUNE 2021
Railway trail rides through the Rockies. They invited Carter to entertain as part of their package. Not only could he ride, he could provide entertainment through song and story in traditional cowboy fashion – adding to the whimsy and romance of the experience. He reflected the “ethos of the cowboy” – that basic philosophy that tourists envisioned in the quintessential cowboy. He wrote “My Swiss Moonlight Lullaby” sitting around the campfire. He had to borrow clothing from the workers to stay warm at night, but for one enchanted summer, he lived his dream of a lifetime. Then in 1933, reality came crashing in. Grain prices fell to less than 35 cents a bushel. Where the railway had always been perceived to be the lifeline to freedom, that perception changed. The railway became the instrument of oppression as transportation prices climbed and grain markets plummeted. Carter’s father died, bringing home another cruel reality. He had once longed for a reconciliation, but the hope of that was now lost. He sunk to a new low. Carter’s other daughter, Sheila Carter Dukarm, recounts stories of him busking on corners in downtown Calgary with his hat beside him, trying to make a few dollars to eat, and sometimes, when he was less than successful, mixing ketchup in hot water for a makeshift cup of soup. Canada’s first cowboy record was produced in 1933, when he received a CPR cable requesting that he go to Montreal for an audition with RCA Victor. They had been trying to reach him, but he had been sleeping under the Fourth Street Bridge with no fixed address and no one knew where to find him. The CPR paid for his way east, and he auditioned in an old church which had been renovated. He recorded, “My Swiss Moonlight Lullaby” and they needed a second song for the flip side. Carter had written a ballad about the manhunt of the Rat River Trapper, Albert Johnson, in February of 1932, and he called it the “Capture of Albert Johnson.” The ballad recounts the story of trapper complaints about a man who was releasing their traps. When the RCMP went to investigate, the man who would become known as the Mad Trapper, was less than cooperative and killed one of the officers. The ensuing manhunt would last for over a month, over the course of 150 miles, through the Yukon and Northwest Territories, and over a 7,000 peak in the Richardson Mountains. Carter had
written his ballad during his campfire nights in the Rocky Mountains, and he offered this song for the recording on the flip side.
Canada’s first cowboy record was born.
From there, Carter was invited to entertain on the Canadian Pacific Cruise ship, the Empress of Britain. He left for the West Indies. As an entertainer on the cruiseline, for a short while Carter enjoyed benefits diametrically opposite to the cowboy lifestyle he portrayed. Singing in the elegant ballroom/dining room, he was a popular entertainer, elevated to a new status. When he returned to New York, RCA Victor sent a limousine to meet him. He didn’t understand they were actually coming to meet him, and didn’t want anything to do with it! His first recording had been made with voice to wax. After that, he signed his first contract, with the stipulation that he return to Banff, AB, to continue to write songs. It was now the fifth year of the Depression. It was often said, that Wilf Carter held RCA together. If it hadn’t been for him, it’s likely the company would have gone under. According to the documentary, The Canadians, The Last Round-Up: Wilf Carter, from HistoricaCanada, fellow muscian and country music icon, Ian Tyson commented that, “… his records were everywhere. 90% of the old 78’s out there were by Wilf Carter.” He had a huge influence on Canadian artists. He was now recognized on both sides of the border. In 1937, CBS radio in New York wanted him to sign a contract for their morning show, but he had to get to New York again to sign the contract. He borrowed the money from Gordon V. Thompson, his music publisher at the Heintzmann Building on Yonge Street in Toronto. He went to CBS, to sign, and was told they didn’t like the name, Wilf Carter. Overnight, on the flip side south of the border Carter became known as “Montana Slim.” He spent the next couple of years promoting Lucky Strike cigarettes, even though he’d never smoked – and brought the CBS morning show from the last place ranking to first. He didn’t like to rehearse. Just like his bronc riding, he preferred to ride it out for the full eight seconds, record and go home. He’d go into a recording studio with 12 songs, take as long as it took to record them once, and then go home. He stayed with CBS until 1940. Carter married a Pennsylvanian-born nurse by the name of Bobbie Bryan, and with the profits of his Americanbased radio broadcasts, which paid commensurately better than the Canadian side, he was able to secure enough
funding to purchase a ranch in the southern Alberta foothills. Destiny would turn his hand, however, when Carter was hit by a truck near Shelby, Montana, on the way back to Alberta. He almost died, and many of his fans thought he had. It would be four long years before he would return to recording, and another five before he resumed his performances to any degree. However, he had stockpiled so many recordings, that RCA just kept releasing albums, as if they were new. After several operations, and time spent in a back brace, Carter travelled a slow road to recovery. They returned to their big ranch in the foothills with Bobby carrying significant responsibility raising two girls, and feeding family and ranch hands. They were two hours from the city, but Wilf made sure she had a weekly visit to Calgary to fulfill her personal desires. They sold their ranch in 1949. It’s said that imitation is the highest form of flattery, and during his hiatus, his absence spawned numerous imitators. CBS dropped his contract in 1940, and Carter determined to take matters into his own hands. With his family by his side, they went back on the road in 1949. Carter dubbed his tour, “The Family Show with the Folks You Know,” and Carol and Sheila sang with him while Bobbie collected money, passed out tickets, and spoke to fans. At the Canadian National Exhibition bandstand in Toronto, in 1950, he attracted over 50,000 people to his show. During one venue, when she was about five or six, Carol recalled that while they were singing, she looked up at her Daddy, tugging on his pants. Wilf kept singing, so she did it again. He stopped singing into the mic and asked her what was wrong, and she said, “You made a mistake, Daddy…” So they started over. She didn’t realize the impact of what she was doing but the crowd laughed and clapped, and they carried on. The family later drove into a tiny little town called Minden, Ontario, population 260, and Ken Reynolds, Ottawa Promotions, recalled that Carter was concerned about the small venue. Reynolds said, “Even though I was paying him, he was wondering what he’d gotten himself into. But people started coming out.” At that show, they figured they had somewhere between 1,600-1,800 people. There were so many people at the back, they had to raise the speaker twice, so people could hear him. According to the documentary, The Canadians, The Last Round-Up: Wilf Carter, from HistoricaCanada, Bobby was tearing off tickets and collecting money, and she was concerned because money was falling everywhere. She looked up at two Mounties who were standing close, and the policeman said, “Don’t worry. Nobody will ever touch that money.” And they didn’t. Wilf related during one venue, there were so many people they couldn’t see him, so he belted himself onto a telephone pole and sang from there. His signature song, was one he wrote himself; “There’s a Love Knot in my Lariat.” MAY/JUNE 2021 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW.COM 49
Wilf Carter. CREDIT: Stampede Archives
Carter’s achievements were many:
• Between 1935 and 1940, he was one of the biggest stars on CBS radio. The syndication for his daily program, spanned 250 radio stations across North America. • He made his Grand Ole Opry debut in 1949, although it would be the only time he would grace their circle. • In 1964, Carter performed at the Calgary Stampede for the first time, and became legendary for 33 years as the Balladeer of the Golden West; an honour for which he received a special trophy from the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede. • He was made an Honorary Chief of the Stony Indian Tribe. • In 1971, he was inducted into the Nashville Songwriter’s Hall of Fame. • 1975 rewarded him with a plaque from RCA Records for career sales of over five million albums. • The Calgary Stampede invited him to be their Parade Marshall in 1979. • In 1981, he toured with his fellow Nova Scotian, Hank Snow and received the Martin Guitar Entertainer of the Year Award, recognized for being the Canadian artist who contributed the most to Canada’s country music. • The Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame inducted him in 1984. • Followed one year later in 1985 by the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. • He received a Juno the same year. 50 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW MAY/JUNE 2021
• Throughout, he was one of the most requested guests on Canada’s Tommy Hunter Show. He was so dedicated to his fans he would hand-write a response to his mail on the same day he received it. • Before he died he would write over 500 songs His final performance, appropriately called the “Last Round-Up Tour,” took place in the small rural community of Trochu, Alberta in 1992. Carter ended where he started; in a one-horse town in rural Alberta. Population 907. People came in droves to see him, as Ian Tyson remarked, “…to reach out and touch the legend.” Carol’s daughter Bobby, was just a child - (named after her grandmother) and was flown in to see Carter as a surprise, as she had never seen him perform on stage. When they announced that Bobby was Wilf’s grand-daughter, he broke down sobbing; tears running down his face. His grand-daughter was sobbing. His manager Brian Edwards remarked, “We were all sobbing. It was all I could do to keep his attention on what he needed to do.” (HistoricaCanada documentary.) Carter sang one last song; “Have a Nice Day” and as the tears rolled down his cheeks, he said, “I’m going to unstring my guitar.” He never picked up a guitar again. Wilf Carter was diagnosed with stomach cancer in October of 1996. Two months later, on December 7, 1996, he followed his sweetheart to “Canary Heaven”, at the age of 91. WHR
Things To Cover Before You Swing Onto Your Colt BY JASON IRWIN
get asked a lot of questions about starting young horses under saddle and what to do to get them ready. As a colt starter, my main priority is keeping myself and the colt safe while providing the best training experience for the horse. I’m going to list a few of the things (in no particular order) that I would like in place before I step onto a young horse for its first ride. This is not meant to be a complete list but more a set of priorities. Also, a lot of these points are just as valid when it comes to getting on a trained or partially trained horse that is new to you. The idea here is to have the horse as ready as possible to make the first ride as easy and safe as it can be. Here are my five essential training tips to check off before you swing onto a colt for its first ride. MAY/JUNE 2021 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW.COM 51
Yielding the colt’s hindquarters.
Make sure your colt is comfortable carrying a saddle. If you see someone getting on a colt for the first ride and that horse is already tight and locked up, or still has a hump in its back things sure aren’t going to get any better when the rider is added to the mix. It’s a good idea to get the horse moving out, carrying the saddle and ensure he will carry it comfortably at all three gaits. If you’re using a roundpen it’s quite a bit easier to do this. I tend to keep most horses on a line when I saddle them for the first time and do my best to keep them from bucking at all. However, if they really want to buck, I would rather they got it out of their system without me on their back. Be aware that some colts will appear to loosen up after they’ve moved around the pen, will seem calm, and then will blow up again a few minutes later. To try to get this ironed out I will often move one around saddled up 52 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW MAY/JUNE 2021
and then I will leave the pen for 5 or 10 minutes and just let him carry the saddle around at his own pace. I stay nearby in case he rolls with the saddle, or gets into trouble but I don’t ask anything of him. Then I’ll re-enter the pen and move him around again. If he moves out calmly– I’m happy. If he blows up again after his little break, then I’ll move him through all the gaits both ways and I’ll leave him again and repeat the process. I want to see that he’s not acting up just because he’s a little winded, but because he truly has accepted the saddle. Once I can re-enter the pen and have him move around right away with no hump in his back at all then I feel he’s fairly comfortable carrying the saddle. Do some prior desensitization work. Personally, I will first rub my hand over the horse’s body if he’s quiet enough, then I will rub him over with a small tarp, and
then a saddle pad before saddling one for the first time. I find that once they’re used to the tarp, getting the pad and saddle on is usually pretty easy. Maybe more importantly though is the fact that if they’re spooking at the tarp, they are pretty darn likely to spook a lot worse if I got on their back. Getting the horse used to the noise and commotion of the tarp helps get them used to potentially scary things in general – including a rider. Focus on getting forward motion. I’ve already covered part of this in my first point which was to move the horse around the pen saddled up. Generally, the more they go forward the less they go ‘up’ so I’d prefer forward motion to ‘up’ (and down) motion. One thing I’ve observed quite a bit is folks who run and run and run their colts around the pen. The problem here is that things are happening so fast that the horse isn’t getting the opportunity to think or learn
but instead, is just focusing on fleeing the pressure. The other problem is that if the colt gets really winded it will physically and mentally shut down and that’s the exact opposite of what you’re trying to achieve. I find that it’s a lot better to move them around the pen at a medium speed and then let them drop back to a lower speed, let them cruise around easy, and then ask for a bit more effort again. Making a lot of changes in speed with some breaks mixed in keeps the horse from getting winded and keeps him thinking. It also helps the horse learn to carry the saddle through the different transitions of gaits and the better they learn that the less likely they are to buck later on.
feel will be similar to the pressure they feel while being lead and basically, as long as the horse is halter broke, they already understand how to give to that pressure. In most cases I prefer to put the first rides on using a snaffle bit. Therefore, I have to prepare the colt on the ground to respond to the snaffle properly so that it is already familiar to him when I swing into the saddle. I will pull on one rein to the side and get the horse turning that way and then repeat the exercise going the other way. Most colts accept this pretty fast. Teaching the colt to stop and back up from the bit pressure sometimes isn’t as easy. To do this I will stand near the horse’s head and put a bit of pressure
The problem here is that things are happening so fast that the horse isn’t getting the opportunity to think or learn but instead, is just focusing on fleeing the pressure. Teach your colt to yield his haunches. If I step to the side of the horse and focus on its hind end I want the hind end to swing away from me. There are probably a dozen benefits to doing this but I’ll mention just a few. When you can swing the hip away you can take most of your horse’s power away. This makes things like the first saddling much easier because if they try to bolt forward you can take hold of the front end of your horse by pulling the lead rope and swing the hip away without losing control; and staying relatively safe in the process. The same goes for when you step in the saddle for the first time. If the horse was to blow forward as you went to step on you could pull the inside rein and swing the hip away and not get run over in the process. If I focus on the hip and the horse doesn’t move it away I could tap the hip with the end up my lead rope or a training stick to reinforce what I’m asking. Train the colt to soften to bridle pressure. I find that a lot of folks don’t teach their colts to give to bridle pressure before they get on. If you use a rope halter or loping hackamore for the first rides it’s usually a bit easier for the horse to figure out what you want. This is because the
on both reins. I’m waiting for the horse to take one step backwards. In the beginning if he even shifts his weight back then I’m happy and I will release the pressure. If you have good timing, pretty soon he should take a few steps back willingly. If he braces and won’t back up sometimes tapping a front leg with the toe of your boot will make
him lift the foot and shift it backwards and I will release the pressure when that happens just to get him started. Now that he’s backing up a bit I will stand on the left side of the horse. I will hold the left rein in my left hand and the right rein will be run back and over the saddle horn and down to my right hand. The idea here is that when I pull the pressure is going to feel pretty similar to the way it will feel when I’m riding. I’ll put just a bit of pressure on both reins and when the horse takes a step back I will release. Keep practising with that and add more steps as he gets better. Then I’ll ask the horse to move forward, I’ll walk with him, and then put pressure on the reins to stop him and ask him to take at least one step back. I would recommend repeating this several times. If you can stop and back him while you’re beside him on the ground you stand a lot better chance of being able to stop him when you’re on his back. Learning to respond to bridle pressure on the ground also keeps a colt calmer during the first rides. If a colt is carrying a rider for the first time and the rider starts putting pressure on that horse that he doesn’t understand, then both horse and rider might get into trouble. There are many other things a person can work on before putting the first ride on a young horse but these are some of my priorities. All the best to you and your young horse. WHR
Jason Irwin is a self-taught trainer who started his first colt at the age of 12. Over the years he has put the foundation training on hundreds of young horses. He has been the trainer at the family business Northstar Livestock Quarter Horses, which is based out of Port Elgin, ON, for the last 20 years. Along with his wife Bronwyn, Jason appears on the new television show The Horse Trainers, as seen on RFD-TV Canada and the Cowboy Channel Canada. You can learn more about the Irwins at www.thehorsetrainers.com or find them on Facebook. MAY/JUNE 2021 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW.COM 53
A WHOLE LOTTA BULL
Dale Thompson (right) cowboyin’, previous to his workplace injury.
After suffering a ranch work injury, Dale Thompson was relieved to have Worker’s Compensation Coverage to help pull his family through a difficult time.
rowing up on a farm south of the Qu’Appelle River in southeast Saskatchewan, Dale Thompson inadvertently commenced his ranching career at the age of six. Like many prairie folk living in small farmhouses, the kitchen had been converted from an old granary and the living quarters housed whole families until their children left home at the age of 16 or 18. Thompson’s family worked for the Davis family and lived on Oakland Ridge Hereford Ranch, where his earliest teacher was his father. Thompson helped haul bales, feed cattle, cut firewood and plant fenceposts. Their equipment was operated by horses – for everything except the haying. Sometimes the horses helped with that as well. By the time he was 12-years-old, Thompson was an experienced ranch-hand – feeding 80 bulls every day on his way home from school – for 25 cents a week. 54 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW MAY/JUNE 2021
BY DEBBIE MACRAE He also bought his first saddle at the age of 12. He’d been working at feeding those bulls and a friend by the name of Allan Foster had a saddle for sale. He wanted $12 for it. Thompson told him he wanted to buy that saddle and he was saving up as fast as he could. Sometime later, Allan asked again, if he had the money for the saddle, because if he didn’t, there was another guy who had the cash. Thompson told him, he’d only managed to save $5. Thompson went home “…with a face longer than a wet week in harvest….” and his folks asked him what was wrong. He replied that Allan had a saddle for sale, but he wanted $12 for it – and he had only managed to save $5. His dad went into the bedroom and came out, handing him $7 so he could go buy the saddle. Later, after he got his saddle, he saw his Dad sitting by the woodstove punching holes in the soles of his boots with an awl. He was sewing the boots together with
snare wire. Thompson learned that his dad had been saving the money to buy himself a new pair of boots. Such is the sacrifice of love. As a youngster before he left home, Thompson started taking on outside horses, but he never owned a horse until after he got married. He would have been in heaven if he could have gotten a fulltime riding job, but he was always stuck on a tractor. He also never thought he’d be a good enough cowboy. Thompson left home somewhere between 16 and 18 years of age. Like most kids, he left more than once – coming back to a warm meal and the security of family. However, he really left home for good at about 18 and went to the west coast. Then he went north. It was somewhere in this period of his life that Thompson met Miss Dorothy – they have since been married for 51-years. When his first daughter was born
Thompson had work commitments and couldn’t return home to meet her until she was two-months-old. He decided right then that he needed to be at home to raise his family, so they moved to Grande Prairie, AB. The family bought a quarter and homesteaded it, and bid on a second quarter, getting it into seedbed condition. Work with a pasture group started in Grovedale, AB, when he got into cows. He was also training colts now – a lifelong dream! The group started running cows on the Kleskun Lake pasture – an old lake bottom that had been drained with steam shovels in the 1920’s. The manager needed a part-time rider, and he asked Thompson. It was a great opportunity. Thompson could take his colts to the bush after they were started – ride eight days a month on the pasture – and then start roping cows and calves with training on both ends for the horses. That was a time when he actually made more money with the horses than with the cows for a while. In 1955, the Alberta government, in hopes of establishing a provincial grazing reserve, began accumulating land in the Rannach district of Alberta. The original land base was gradually increased over the years, by land purchases from early settlers in the area, and in 1959, the Rannach Grazing Reserve was established. The area is a low aspen parkland eco region approximately 12 kilometers east of Two Hills along the North Saskatchewan River. Established for the purpose of livestock management, the provincial grazing reserves provide farmers and ranchers with summer pasture for livestock on public land, and may also offer a variety of recreational opportunities such as hiking, cross-country skiing, hunting, sightseeing, snowmobiling, and horseback riding. Originally about 19,500 acres, the area has expanded to over 21,000 acres of rolling terrain with developed tame pasture and forestry. The Rannach Community Pasture Society is responsible for caring for the livestock and maintaining the pastureland in productive condition such that it can support approximately 1,500 animal units per month based on a daily intake of about 26 lbs of forage. In 2017, the Society contracted the pasture management and maintenance to Bill Chesney, who in turn contracted Thompson to help him. Workers’ Compensation Coverage was one of the conditions of the contract, and Chesney
could cover Thompson, or Thompson could obtain his own coverage given that he had his own ranching operations. Thompson chose to undertake the coverage himself. He elected to apply for voluntary coverage with optional coverage for himself and two of his family helpers for the Grazing Lease effective May 3, 2017. Thompson applied for minimum personal coverage of $31,300 per year. The cost of doing so was $2.97/$100 or $652 for all three persons. Thompson’s coverage was $593 per year for that first year. Then they went to work. Tuesday, August 13, 2019 started like any other summer day on the prairies. Chesney and Thompson were pulling bulls out of the pasture. They had about 100 bulls to ship out (in several trips) in a trailer. Depending on how well they got along, they could manage to trailer four or five bulls at a time. The cowboys had just moved a herd up, and they had a small corral from which to load. There was a two-year-old Simmental bull they were trying to corral to load, but the bull had other ideas. Chesney had already roped the bull and called Thompson to help, as the bull kept running his horse. Thompson roped a back leg so they would have more control on each end, hoping that maybe they could teach him a lesson or two about respect and cooperation. The next 20 minutes unrolled like a Reader’s Digest real-life drama. As the bull tried to ram his horse, Thompson would yank his foot up and Chesney would yank his head. Together they dumped him, trying to teach him a little respect for the horse. Every time he got up, he would ram the horses again, and again they would jerk him off his feet – not to hurt him, but to condition him not to run the horse. They had to dump him somewhere between eight or ten times, and each time the bull would get up and take another run at one of the horses. He wasn’t a big bull, but even a small bull with an attitude can shake up a man or a horse. The horses were getting soured. They were spooky – out of character for a good horse – and the bull lay on the ground sulking. In retrospect, Thompson knew he should have quit. At 74 years of age, he was getting tired; his hands were shaking and he felt shaky inside. He was going to tell Chesney he was getting too tired, but
he didn’t and the bull charged. As he came after Thompson’s horse, the horse bolted. The Cowboy was shaken up at this point, and he didn’t have the control and reflexes he normally would have. His coils had gone up his rein arm, so throwing the rope away would have jerked him backwards out of the saddle; rather, he tried to hold his horse in position with his legs while attempting to dally. In the process, Thompson’s dally hand somehow got turned over and went to the horn, thumb down. When the rope came tight, Thompson’s thumb and longest finger were between the saddle horn and the rope. The thumb was gone from below the knuckle – two-thirds of the way up, and the nail and flesh were scraped to the bone. The longest finger on his hand was now the shortest. Thompson started to get dizzy – and in a moment of shock, dismounted his horse trying to undo his wildrag to wrap it around his hand. As he got off his horse, the bull ran him down again and the horse bolted, but didn’t go far. Chesney held the bull in abeyance until Thompson could remount and try and collect himself. Thompson rode to the gate about a mile away, and Chesney called his girlfriend to take Thompson to the hospital in Two Hills. On his arrival, they wanted to reattach the thumb – but the thumb was finger food for coyotes. The next several months were in painful, slow motion. An ambulance took Thompson to Edmonton from Two Hills. A young doctor on call there had a little set of tweezers and glasses with little binoculars on them. He didn’t do anything with the thumb because it was bandaged, but they trimmed the bone on the fingers back and when Thompson asked, “What are you doing?”, he responded that he was, “…pulling the nerves so you won’t have phantom pain.” And he didn’t. The thumb had to be grafted. It took two full days until the surgery took place. They started, and then couldn’t do it right away, so they started again on the third day. Thompson thought it would take a few hours, but when they sewed the graft on, it killed the nerve and blocked an artery, so the doctors had to start again. The graft came off the top of the pointer finger from the top knuckle to the middle knuckle. When they grafted the thumb, they split the thumb down the side. That graft and a nerve came from the arm. To this day, Thompson still doesn’t have any feeling MAY/JUNE 2021 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW.COM 55
except where the nerve exists from his arm. Often during plastic or reconstructive surgery, physicians will utilize leech therapy whereby leeches are used to improve blood flow into an area of tissue that has poor circulation. They remove the congested or clotted blood from the area, improving blood flow, and increasing the ability of the grafted skin to regenerate. Throughout this process, the Worker’s Compensation Board (WCB) provided Thompson with the medical, financial, and therapeutic assistance he required to recover, despite the fact he was not working in a “compulsory industry,” and his application for coverage was on a “voluntary” basis. Thompson’s accident took place August 13, 2019. His paperwork was filed on August 15, 2019 with the assistance of his WCB representative. He received a letter of Claim acceptance and Entitlement on August 19, 2019, with wage replacement benefits effective from August 14, 2019, until he was fit to return to graduated work on April 6, 2020. Accidents are exactly that – and animals are unpredictable. But, it’s important to know that WCB coverage is available, and is sometimes required on a mandatory basis in the farming and ranching industries. Looking back, he has no regrets. Thompson marveled that his case manager, April, never even questioned “Why?” She didn’t blame him or challenge him for making a mistake. “She doesn’t have any idea what she did for us,” he said. “The time-loss benefits from work, the medical care, the therapy and recovery. She got a room for Dorothy and paid for the meals and the mileage. It was a load off our shoulders.” Thompson’s story is not intended to expound on the beatitudes of the Worker’s Compensation Board, nor reflect their legislation, policies or procedures. Some workers have not had the same experience. The intention here, is to educate the ranching and farming community on what might be available to them on an individual or commercial basis, in an environment which has traditionally maintained the belief that you need to “cowboy up” or “tough it out.” When you have an injury, accidents are just that – accidents. Most people can’t afford them. Injuries are preventable, but Workers’ Compensation is based on the premise of “no-fault insurance.” In exchange for 56 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW MAY/JUNE 2021
Thompson’s reconstructed hand.
the benefits paid for by the employer, the worker gives up the right to pursue litigation against his employer in the event of a “work-related injury.” The Farm Freedom and Safety Act came into effect on January 31, 2020 and applies to farm and ranch operations that employ waged, non-family workers. The new rules don’t apply to owners or their family members. Employers with six or more employees are required to ensure their waged workers are covered either through WCB or through private insurance. Small employers are not required to have workplace insurance if they have five or fewer employees, or hire workers for less than six consecutive months. If a small employer chooses to take out coverage, they can do so through WCB or private insurance. Coverage for family members and non-waged workers remains optional; however, under the legislation, Workers’ Compensation requirements for greenhouses, nurseries, mushroom and sod farms remain mandatory. But, like Thompson – you can protect yourself and your family from work-related accidents, in unpredictable situations by asking questions and pursuing answers for your personal situation. It doesn’t hurt to ask. As at the time of this writing, Thompson’s claim was in excess of $58,000, with no consideration yet, for a permanent clinical
impairment award. That entitlement is pending. Thompson returned to work on his ranch on April 6, 2020 and must wait until his injury has plateaued for two years, for that entitlement. In retrospect, he is grateful for everything and for his referral for representation but even more so, for the care and compassion afforded him by his case worker and for the medical support and services of his treatment team and caregivers. That bull may have gotten the ‘upper hand’, so to speak, but the support and intervention from the WCB prevented financial losses which could have destroyed a lifetime of hard work. For that, Dale and Dorothy Thompson are eternally grateful. (This article does not necessarily reflect the perspective or opinions of the Workers’ Compensation Board. Please feel free to refer to their website at www.wcb. ab.ca (403) 517-6000 for questions, or contact the writer at successfactor@shaw. ca for private consultation regarding your own business circumstance. Questions regarding personal claims should be directed to the WCB at (780) 498-3999 or the Fair Practices Office at email@example.com 1-(866-427-0115 for appeals.) About the writer: D. MacRae is a business professional, having worked within the Workers’ Compensation Board from 1982, and as a private consultant, specializing in matters of Workers’ Compensation across Canada since 1995. WHR
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Training out of
TWIN CORAZONES RANCH 25 mins east of Okotoks, AB
Continued from page 58
head through the woman’s Coach bag – the value of which, likely exceeded that of my own car – and with a violent wrench, took off all crackerdog, up and down our gravel lane. The leather handbag bounced along the rocky road behind her and it was only after several trips and near misses, that we managed to flag her down. Another day, Ella reared up to bestow a well-endowed customer with a wet and heartfelt kiss… only to hook one of her massive and horny paws into the woman’s brassiere on the way down. The woman was hooting and flopping, the hound was hollering and tugging, and I was yelling for all I was worth, up to my elbows stuffing the lady’s bosom back into her tank top. No thanks to Ella, these women became loyal customers and we laughed about these memories for years. Ella had the uncanny ability of knowing how to open dresser drawers. A dog who didn’t recognize her own name and she could somehow do this? Our teenagers learned, to their dismay, to stop hiding candy and chips in their bedside tables for midnight snacks. On one memorable occasion, Ella helped herself to Duncan’s entire bag of Starburst candies. Each individual wrapper was flattened and licked clean, lying on the bedroom floor like so much confetti, with nary a sweet in sight. The only evidence of her bingeing was her upset tummy. Despite her penchant for eating anything she could catch – and this included an antique sewing stand and a complete set of hardcover encyclopaedias – Ella had a very delicate stomach. We learned that whenever she indulged, it was at our collective peril.
Bassets are scent hounds and as such, their sense of smell has them knowing what will happen well into next week. Ella would make a trek of the garden each morning, following exactly the path I had taken during my early walkabouts. She, of course, was a late riser, sleeping in after her long night’s howling at the moon. She became a huge part of our family, never once losing her temper… unless Rowan the Sheltie got to close to the barbecue on steak nights. Only then, would she come undone. Ella’s last morning, she awoke and went out on her usual tour of the garden, snuffling her way along the hedges and flower beds. She came in, wagged gently at our breakfast preparations, then headed downstairs. I found her, only minutes later, walking in confusion from bedroom to bedroom, the old hound crying in distress at not finding any of her kids. Children who were now grown and had been away from home for years… but she had forgotten. Ella would not be comforted. When she stopped and lay down on her side, panting, Mike and I realized that her life was drawing to its end. Later that morning, on the floor at the vet clinic, Mike held Ella in his arms. He looked at me with tears in his eyes and I was finally, finally, moved to tell him the truth. “You know all those years I told you that Ella was free to a good home?” I started. “Well, if you want to know something… after all the dog messes we cleaned up, all the food she stole, all the stuff she wrecked… I bought her for $400.” He conjured up a sad half-hearted chuckle, as though he had long suspected. We brought Ella home, wrapped in Mike’s old bath robe… and laid her to rest in her garden. WHR MAY/JUNE 2021 WESTERN HORSE REVIEW.COM 57
“Ain’t Nothin’ But A Hound Dog!” Story and Photos By
The story of a zany canine and how she grew into the hearts of her agriculture family. Some folks dream of Olympic medals… of finding cures for illness… of becoming really rich or leading treks into unknown lands… My own ambitions were somewhat less lofty. I only ever wanted my own Basset Hound. Her name was Ella. The advertisement in the local paper was short, to the point of terseness. “BASSET HOUND FOR SALE, DUE TO ALLERGIES.” Well, either these folks were bald-faced liars, or they were actually hypersensitive to the dog’s manners… but I’m getting ahead of myself here. An appointment was made to view the dog. When my daughter and I arrived at the seller’s house, ramps for the hound running hither and yon to protect her “delicate constitution,” we had no idea what we were in for. Unleash the hounds! With but a second’s notice, the house door opened and I was immediately knocked over by a slobbering missile. It was love at first sight. I’d told Mike that we were ‘just going to meet her.’ Of course, he was neither happy nor surprised when we pulled into the yard with the young hound in tow. Our ageing Sheltie never knew what hit him. If Rowan didn’t manage to out-corner her on the dead run, she’d spend hours holding the haughty little dog down on the ground, his body stiff with indignation. Rowan knew – as we were all beginning to – that while Ella was in our midst, our lives would never be the same. After Ella came to stay, I never again had a good night’s sleep. From a deep and snoring slumber, atop her two dog beds piled one over the other – one of which, was Rowan’s. – Ella would awaken, look around and head straight for the back door. If I wasn’t there within four seconds, she would leave her calling card on the hardwood. She was effectively schooling me. Even when crated for the night, she would still give the four seconds’ warning upon waking – and then, wham. Gasping, I would race to the door and let her out into the garden, where she would proceed to plant herself for hours and howl at the moon. Ella’s first truck ride, we urged her to jump in but she raised her large front paws onto the truck floor and stood beguilingly, looking over her shoulder with a little tail wag. Throughout her long life, this was the signal for whomever was driving, to drop everything and give her a wheelbarrow hoist. It’s not that Ella couldn’t jump – heck, she once devoured one of my daughter’s homemade pies
that was cooling atop the ‘fridge – but Ella just preferred this method of ascending her carriage. With a groan, Mike would grudgingly bend over and huck up the rear end of the dog. Fast forward ten minutes and with the driver’s side window open a mere crack, the dog catapulted past Mike’s nose and through the window, to stir up a group of sunning cows. Handy dog, that, to keep on a ranch. Ella, who could hear a bag of chips opening at 40 paces, had almost zero recall. Once she was on the scent and baying deeply, we learned to just breathe, to go all Zen and wait for her eventual return. One of my fondest memories is of the dog, fit as a fiddle, racing after a jack rabbit in the field nearest the house. In full cry, she was unaware of my husband, also in full cry behind her, mounted on a galloping horse and trying vainly to get her to heel. It looked like an old west twist on the classic fox hunting scene. I could only double over, gasping in helpless laughter. In due course, Ella grew up but she never really ever got old. We ran an antiques shop from our home for 12 years, years that happened to coincide with Ella’s 15. The dog never once lost her enthusiasm for visitors. Generally, the more fastidious they were, the more boisterous her greeting. On one memorable occasion, a lovely blonde unfolded from her luxury auto, only to find Ella waiting at the car door. In a flash, the hound had stuck her large Continued on page 57
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H A N D - M A D E S C A R V E S , M I T T E N S & H AT S
0 0 9 1 e l r e P a L L
Model - Aimee Y Cheyne • Photography-sj.originals
M A DE
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