Archives for April 2010

Kylie Whiteside

Springtime in Alberta?

Well… you’ve probably heard the saying, “If you don’t like the weather in Alberta, wait five minutes and it will change!” Dry ground yesterday morning to a foot of snow today with more coming down… this is a fairly typical descriptor of an Alberta spring storm! We’re enjoying some much needed spring moisture, but with it comes the challenge of adverse calving/foaling conditions and poor roads for travel.

Out here in the hills west of Claresholm, the rain started about 5 a.m. Wed morning, changing to snow a few hours later… and it hasn’t slowed down much since. The benefits of the heavy wet stuff will, hopefully, translate into green grass and less expensive hay this year.

With the first Western Canadian-based barrel futurity set to run in Cardston, AB tomorrow evening, contestants have been worried about reaching the southwestern AB community – which from varied reports – are getting more than their fair share of the white stuff.

For anyone concerned about making it to Futurity in time for 6 p.m. tomorrow evening (Fri, Apr 30); rest assured that organizers have postponed the first go in the Futurity and Derby to Saturday morning (May 1) to allow entrants safer and longer travel time. The storm is supposed to start abating as the day wears on with winds and snow lessening by late this evening (hopefully).

Check out http://www.canadianbarrelfuturities.com for further updates.

Anyway, other than chores and snow removal, for this cowgirl, the weather provides greater justification to stay at the computer and blog, work on websites or start my next Western Horse Review column.

Until later this weekend, when I’ll be posting highlights from the South Country Barrel Racing Futurity, stay warm and dry!

U.S./Canada Barrel Challenge

The North American Barrel Racing Challenge, a new and exciting concept,
has certainly caught the attention of the barrel racing community! And
when it comes with a chance to pocket $10,000 for each winning team
member, what’s not to like?

Set for September 4-5 at Brandon’s Keystone Centre (in conjunction with
the Northern Lights Futurity/Derby), the $200,000 extravaganza actually
includes a number of preliminary races leading up to the Labour Day
weekend Finals.

Keystone Centre, Home of the Inaugural North American Barrel Racing Challenge (Photo courtesy of the Keystone Centre)

Basically, to qualify for the big race, barrel racers submit their
names to event organizers to receive an application. They then pay a
$500 entry fee which allows them to compete at one of the scheduled
preliminary races… four set for Canada (Ponoka, AB June 5; Quesnel, BC
June 6; Brandon, MB June 15 and Paris, ON June 30); and six scheduled
across the U.S. (for Perry, GA April 24; Stephenville, TX May 30; Cedar
Rapids, IA June 25; Rapid City, SD June 17 and Jackson, MS both June 10
and August 22).

Two groups of barrel racers move forward to the Finals: 50 Youth and 50
Open contenders (25 in each category from the U.S. and 25/each category
from Canada). The Sept event will see a Semi-Final round on Saturday,
Sept 4 with the top nine open racers along with their respective team
captains (4 time Canadian Champion, Rayel Robinson on the Canuck side
and two-time World Champion Brittany Pozzi for the U.S.) moving into
Sunday for the $100,000 Team Final race. The same approach applies to
the Youth (less the ‘invited’ team captains).

Event organizers include Manitoba-based barrel horse breeder, Jean-Marc
Perron and long-time barrel racng event producer, Jeanette Nelson from
Georgia. For race details and applications, go to
www.northamericanbarrelracingchallenge.com

… more on this event in the June issue of Western Horse Review

Canada Bound

Horses, Dogs & People... all glad to arrive back home in Canada safely

Final leg of our trip home from ‘Little Canada’ (Maricopa, Arizona)…

We were up at 6:00 a.m. Sunday morning (second day of our trip home) to do a little computer catch-up before driving out to the Kanab Rodeo grounds to load up. The horses were excited to see the trailer pull in; I’m not sure if this was because they thought we were bringing some new equine friends to visit or because they knew we were setting out on the next leg of our homeward journey. We generally feed extra every evening so we can just load up and head out in the morning. The horses had drank well overnight (other than my three year old filly who drank only one small bucket). If we have horses that don’t drink at all (or not much), we generally give paste electrolytes.

A long-standing business in Salina, Burns Saddlery

We grabbed a coffee and were back on the road in reasonable time heading down Secondary Highway 89. The road was winding but clear and took us through scenic mountains and foothills which gave way to wide valleys with grass just greening up, cottonwoods budding out and herds of cattle. We passed through several small communities including Orderville, Utah (which my husband says reminds him of our marriage), Circleville (the home of infamous outlaw, Butch Cassidy), and Salina (where Mom’s Café is a popular spot… and a locale where the waitresses still wear traditional 50’s style uniforms). Though this route is a little slower than taking an Interstate highway, it’s both more interesting and more scenic. Watch for the local Sheriffs in almost every town… they are diligent in making sure people observe the speed limit… which ranges from 40 mph in town and 55-65 mph on the highway.

A Utah Tradition - Mom's Cafe in Salina

We rejoined the Interstate NW of Salina about half an hour. Traffic through Salt Lake City was decent – for Salt Lake City… maybe due to the fact it was Sunday. You can count on construction and significant traffic volumn everytime you go through this city!! Worse during rush hour. When we arrived in Blackfoot, Idaho (just before dark), we decided to check out the Blackfoot Fairgrounds (east side of town) on the off chance they were open. A neighbour from home had recommended this venue as a good place to stay. After driving around most of the perimeter of the grounds, we found one open passage gate (intended for people, not trucks/trailers). We led the horses though and put them up in covered stalls. No water available… but we had water with us, so other than having to pack it into the stall area, we were able to get the horses put away for the night. We felt a little uncomfortable using a facility that rather ‘inaccessible’ but could find no signs saying we weren’t welcome. We cleaned our stalls early the next morning – hitting the road by 7 a.m.

Time to stretch our legs

The decision to stop early Sunday night (our original intention had been to drive to Dillon or Whitehall, Montana) made for a long day on Monday… but driving conditions were awesome! Sunny all the way home. We crossed the border about 5:15 pm (we generally cross at Del Bonita north of Cutbank as it’s quicker than Sweetgrass/Coutts due to lower traffic volumn). The border staff were great… we were fortunate to be through in about 15 minutes. We arrived home (17 miles west of Claresholm) before dark. I honestly don’t know who was happier to be home… the dogs, the horses or Dave and I!! All in all… a pretty good trip.

Sunshine and Rest

Leaving The Desert Behind

We just pulled into Kanab, Utah - great overnight stopping place when you're hauling horses.

It was 86 degrees F when we headed out of Maricopa, Arizona this morning on the first day of our trek home to Canada… by the time we reached Flagstaff a little over two hours north, we were viewing pines rather than cactus and the temperature had dropped about fifteen degrees… still, it was a sunny warm day with great travel conditions. We usually enjoy the trip home… well, let me revise that. We enjoy it once the stress of packing up, loading horses and getting on the road is complete. It seems as though it takes forever to actually leave the yard!

Enjoyed a quick shopping break at the ever-popular Cameron Trading Post

It takes about 24-30 hours of driving (less fuel, food and people/animal breaks) to get from Maricopa (about 25 minutes south of Phoenix) to the U.S./Alberta border. We try to take three days each way though we’ve done the trip in two… we’ve even done it straight through – once or twice.

The horses enjoyed a quick roll before supper in the Kanab Rodeo Grounds Arena

Weather permitting we enjoy the route north through Flagstaff and Paige, AZ then on through Kanab, Panguitch and Selina, Utah before rejoining the Interstate south of Salt Lake City. And, along with many rodeo folks, we’ve found some favorite overnight spots for both our horses and ourselves. Our first stop this time around was at Kanab, Utah – a small, clean community in Red Rock desert country not far from the north rim of the Grand Canyon. Set in stunning semi-desert with red sand and rock formations all around, Kanab boasts a small, out of the way rodeo grounds a few miles south of town. If the weather is reasonable, it’s an excellent place to put your horses up overnight. The grounds features several spacious paneled pens, two large outdoor arenas and water that’s always been turned on when we’ve stopped in. We generally put our horses away and grab a hotel room in Kanab. Rooms are plentiful, and reasonable in price in a town with friendly people and some good restaurants. The Kanab area has been a popular choice since the 1920’s for film making – particularly westerns… The Lone Ranger, The Outlaw Josey Wales, Maverick and Gunsmoke to name a few. Kanab also boasts a legendary Mexican restaurant – Nedras Too – which we try to visit for dinner when we can.

Anyway, we’re hanging out at The Red Rock Country Inn (not fancy but clean, dog-friendly and wireless), trying to get caught up on our sleep before hitting the road again tomorrow…

Will catch up again further down the road.

Tender Ranch-Style Oven Ribs… quick and easy!

Succulent, easy Ranch Style Ribs

One of the things I enjoy in my spare time… (which there is never enough of) is cooking. Especially if friends are coming over. And one of my favourite things to cook is ribs. I have to admit, I’m not a ‘stick to the recipe’ kind of cook. At least not when it comes to main dishes and starters. I’ve learned the hard way, to be a little more careful with desserts and quick breads, but as far as main meals, for better or worse, I use whatever is at hand that might lend itself to the recipe. The downside to this approach (as my husband regularly points out) is that recipes he particularly enjoys never get re-created a second time in exactly the same way.

Tender ‘fall off the bone’ easy ranch style ribs

Beef or pork ribs are easy to prepare, in summer or winter, and tend to be popular with most folks. Here is an easy rib recipe that I’ve made various versions of – both here in Arizona this winter and back at home in Canada as well. I tend to cook ribs more often down south as they’re more available – (particularly beef ribs) and less expensive in the U.S. than they are at home.

5-6 pounds of beef or pork ribs (about 3 kilograms in metric)

Allow 1 to 1 ½ pounds of ribs per person

1 small onion, chopped

1-2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 cup (fairly strong) brewed coffee (250 milliliters)

1 cup commercial barbecue sauce (250 milliliters)

½ cup brown sugar, honey or maple syrup (125 milliliters)

1 tablespoon Dijon or regular mustard (15 milliliters)

Cut thawed ribs into serving-sized pieces. Place in a stock pot. Add chopped onion and garlic. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover with water. Simmer ribs on top of stove for about an hour.

Drain.

Mix coffee, barbecue cause, brown sugar and mustard in small saucepan. Simmer briefly. Put ribs in roaster or casserole dish. Cover with sauce. Bake in 325 F oven (160 C) for an hour or so (or until very tender).

These are excellent paired with salad and a rice or potato dish.

Serves 4

I tend to double or triple this recipe even if I’m serving only four people the first time around. These ribs re-heat well… and we’re big on leftovers at our house!

Enjoy.

Who's clocking up at the early pro rodeos?

I always enjoy this time of year… (okay, okay, I’ll admit I’m still in Arizona but I’m wearing my “Alberta” hat right now) because spring means rodeo season is here.

Adel Hansen and Freddie, 2009 Calgary Stampede (photo by Mike Copeman)

Canadian Pro Rodeo action technically kicked off last fall with the Saskatoon Indoor Pro Rodeo but the first ‘spring’ show ran in Camrose March 19-21 followed up by Lethbridge March 25-27. While it’s still pretty early to say who’s in solid shape in the overall standings, it’s always fun (and interesting) to see who handles the small indoor barrel runs well. And, no surprise, some of the names at the top of the CPRA roster so far are the same names we saw at this point last year.

I caught up with Calgary, AB barrel racer, Lauren Chad by phone as she was heading off for a ‘Tim Hortons run’ before her morning University classes in Calgary. The former Saskatoon resident and 2008 CFR qualifier rides Macho, a 14 year old Doc Bar bred gelding. Lauren was second in Saskatoon last fall and won Camrose this spring to take the early lead in the CPRA standings. A full time psychology student, Lauren is juggling not only her academic load and equine demands… she’s also planning her wedding, set for later this year to bull fighter Jesse Byrne. With all that on her plate, Lauren looked to the Anchor R Ranch Equine Wellness Centre to help get her horse in shape for the spring season, “I was tickled with how good my horse looked after a month at Anchor R,” Lauren commented. “I picked him up the week before Camrose and he felt great.”

Right behind Lauren is another ‘soon-to-be-married’ barrel racer… the 2009 Reserve Canadian Champion Rana Walter. The Lethbridge cowgirl finished second at her hometown rodeo and third at Saskatoon last fall. No stranger to the world of barrel racing, Rana is a four time CFR qualifier. She rides Real Easy Doc (Easy Jet/Doc Bar bred). The long-strided gelding, trained and futuritied by Donnie Reese, won the first $100,000 Pro Tour Barrel Race in Oklahoma City as a three year old, then went on to earn the BFA Oklahoma City Juvenile Championship and Reserve BFA Derby title. Walter has since enjoyed additional Derby, Pro Rodeo and Fast Time wins aboard the big chestnut gelding.

Also making an appearance in the early standings is Laura McPherson of Wolf Point, Montana. A relative newcomer to the Canadian Barrel Racing scene, due in part to the challenges of rodeoing from Wolf Point (a farming community located in the northeast corner of Montana many miles from almost anywhere), Laura won the Saskatoon Pro Rodeo last September and has plans to head back to Canada later this spring. “I first came up to Canada two years ago,” the Montana accountant explained. “There are some great rodeos up there and really nice people. I just live a long way from most rodeos, so I have to plan my trips carefully.” Laura runs a ten year old home-raised granddaughter of Dash For Cash.

2009 Canadian CFR qualifier and CPRA Barrel Racing Rookie of the Year, Adel Hansen is off to a good start too. The Okotoks cowgirl and UFA executive has three horses in her barn though for the indoor venues, she often runs her mare, Freddie. Adel used a similar strategy to Lauren Chad – she booked her horse into the Champion Equine Rehab and Training Centre at Carstairs, Alberta for a few weeks of spring conditioning prior to rodeo season. Adel sits fourth in the standings.

The next pro rodeo on the roster is Medicine Hat on April 16-18

The majority of the semi-pro associations are just getting underway with April rodeos scheduled. Check back later this month for early-season semi-pro highlights.