Search Results for: embrace your west

Embrace Your West Photo Contest

Have you heard about our Embrace Your West Photo Contest yet? Have a look at the details – and big change, we’ve opened up the contest to all photographers – amateur, professional – y’all can now enter. And thanks to those photographers who contacted us to let us know they wanted to participate but, couldn’t because of their professional status. We listened, deliberated, agonized (not for long), and decided you were all correct – the contest should be open to all, and so it now is.

That’s not what this post is about though. What I really wanted to let you know is the outstanding piece of art we have up for grabs for this contest. This stunning oil painting measures 36″ tall and 48″ wide – it’s a showcase piece. I know this because at this moment it lives in my living room. In fact, it has resided ringside to our editorial meetings for the past year or so, as we’ve deliberated what event or competition might warrant a prize of this magnitude.

We finally decided on a western photography contest. Doug’s artwork speaks to western values and traditions, so we found it a beautiful fit.

The icing on the cake was learning that Doug Levitt was selected by the Calgary Stampede Western Art Auction Committee as the 2013 Outstanding Artistic Achievement Award Recipient. Completely serendipitous, and welcoming news for us. For the artist chosen for this award is recognized in the international art community as being a master of their craft. Doug’s high artistic standards and his remarkable talent make him more than qualified for such an award.

Congratulations, Doug Levitt!

Read more about this award and the work of Doug Levitt here or visit his website here.

P.S.  You might find it interesting to know the Calgary Stampede commissioned Doug to paint the 2008 Calgary Stampede poster. The original oil painting, “A Man of His People,” sold for a record $63,000. Given that perspective I wouldn’t want to guess at the value of this piece, but it does make me pine for a little leeway on the “employees of WHR” clause. . .

Embrace Your West Photo Contest

2013 Embrace Your West Photo Contest

Grab your camera and partner with us to unfold the real WEST! Western Horse Review is kicking off its inaugural western photography competition. This photo contest is all about appreciating the richness of our Canadian idea of living in the western way, recognizing its authenticity and celebrating how it enriches all of our lives. We are looking for images that relay our great culture.

We can’t wait to see the best of what you have to show us, so pick up your camera, set out into the great country that we are proud to call home and start shooting the things we love the most – the people, horses, landscape and events that inspire and enthrall us.

Send in your best and you might be hanging the grand prize for Overall Best Photo on your wall – a one and only Doug Levitt original oil painting.


Capture the great country we live in and show us what makes this land uniquely our own.
Human Portrait
We want to see the characters that live among us and drive the western culture that we love.
Humans have an innate connection to the horse. Capture their essence, their spirit, their electricity with passion and insight.
Rodeos to wagon races, cuttings to mounted shootings, show horse lovers employing their horses in endless tasks of excitement and passion.


One (1) winner per category will be selected. The winning entry and runners-up will be published in the September / October issue of Western Horse Review. In addition, one (1) entry will be selected as Overall Best Photo and one (1) entry will be selected as the cover image.

Overall Best Photo will be awarded the Doug Levitt original oil painting.


All images must be received no later than July 12, 2013.



ELIGIBILITY – The contest is open to all photographers, professional or amateur. Employees and families of Western Horse Review are not eligible for this contest.

QUALITY – Images to be submitted in jpeg form at 300dpi resolution.

QUANTITY – Entries will be limited to 1 submission per entrant, per category.

CONTACT INFORMATION – Image must be submitted with entrants full name, address, phone number and email address in order to be considered for judging.

TITLE AND DESCRIPTION – Each photo to be submitted with a title, and optionally 50 word or less description.

EDITING – Western Horse Review reserves the right to edit and / or crop any images considered for print.

FORMAT – Photos must be submitted at 300dpi resolution, at least 4×6 inches in size and may or may not be altered in lighting, composition and colour processing.

LIMITATIONS – Images are to represent Canadian content, events, horses, people and landscapes, photographed by a Canadian resident.

MODEL RELEASE – For any image where a person is recognizable, a signed model release from the subject or, in the case of a minor, from the subject’s parent or guardian must be provided at the time of entry. For your convenience, here is a link to a downloadable model release: Please e-mail this release under separate cover to, noting the name of the photographer, and the title of the photo it pertains to.

RIGHTS AND USAGE – By entering the contest and for valuable consideration, including but not limited to credited publication, the receipt and sufficiency of which are hereby acknowledged, entrants grant Western Horse Review the right to publish and use submitted photographs without prior approval or compensation beyond the terms of the contest, in print or electronic form in any future issue or issues of the magazine, event booths, or under our digital or social media banners, including but not limited to, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, for advertising and promotion of the magazine, for exhibition, on the website, and for commercial products, including but not limited to Western Horse Review promotional items and media kits.

INDEMNIFICATION – The entrant agrees to indemnify and hold harmless Western Horse Review against any claim, demand, lawsuit, or proceeding that might be brought against Western Horse Review by reason of any of the following matters regarding the image or video:

  • a) any violation or infringement of any proprietary right or copyright;
    b) any libelous or unlawful matter contained in the image or video;
    c) any invasion of the rights of privacy or other personal rights possessed by any person or entity, including illegal trespass by the entrant while obtaining the image or video;
    d) the entrant’s breach of any term, covenant, representation, or warranty of this agreement;
    e) anything whatsoever that might prejudice the securing to Western Horse Review or its assigns of the full benefit of the rights granted herein.

In the event of any legal proceeding relating to the submitted image, the entrant agrees to fully cooperate with Western Horse Review and its counsel in the defense thereof.

JUDGING – Images will be judged by a team appointed by Western Horse Review editors. Winners and finalists will be notified on or before August 15, 2013.

TIME LIMITATION – Images must have been shot between January 1, 2012 and the entry deadline.

AGREEMENT – These rules and regulations contain the full and complete understanding of entrant and Western Horse Review with regard to participation in the 2013 Embrace Your West Photo Contest, superseding all prior agreements and understandings, whether oral or written. By submitting any image or video to the 2013 Embrace Your West Photo Contest, the entrant agrees to all of the terms of the rules and regulations set forth herein.

Canada’s Greatest Western Town

CGWTOur idea of West much less geographical, than it is a mindset. No matter where we live in this country it is about a life that is engaged with western culture – appreciative and honoring the land, from the cowboy tradition to current views. It’s modern, but respectful and mindful of tradition and history. It’s photography, books, gear, travel, music and food. It honors the cowboys, competitors, artisans, musicians, authors, photographers and artists who spend their lives devoted to keeping our idea of the West in Canada alive.

For most who embrace this idea it includes the horse in some respect. At home, in our pastures and barns, on the magnificent trails of this country, and certainly, in the competition arena. Also in our accruements and passions. In our appreciation of the majesty of the animal, in the subtle nuances of the horse’s work and our various sports.

One could say, in our identities.

Which is why, when we think about where to live, we think Western. And, living the Western way, recognizing its authenticity, and celebrating how it enriches our lives.

Now is your chance to help Western Horse Review unfold the real West. Many of Canada’s greatest western hotspots aren’t just great places to live in the western lifestyle: they’re Canada’s best-kept secrets. And its time we celebrated them!


We’ll begin this competition with a nomination period from now until June 27th.

Then the voting begins!

For this purpose the moniker “towns” can refer to towns, cities, hamlets, really, wherever there is a great gathering of western culture. So think small. Think city. Think your corner of this great country. Just keep it Western.

Send us a short (50 word or less) nomination for your western town now. E-mail it to with the subject line of CGWT, or just go ahead and comment right here.

Remember, the nomination period ends June 27th, so be sure to get your favourite western corner of this country in on the action!

Embrace Winter – A Survival Kit


For all the rest of us horsey folk who are not currently in Arizona, while yet, another cold blast of winter comes in – fear not! I have come up with a Winter Survival Kit for surviving a Canadian winter. In Canada.

It was necessary. The lack of Vitamin D was making me a little cranky.

I decided that perhaps I should stop shooting at the snowman in our front yard and embrace winter instead. Find a few items and activities to help ease the cold winter blues. After all, the season doesn’t seem to be going anywhere any time soon. I may as well get used to it.

Since I’m furthermore trying to leg up my mare to attend the NRCHA Celebration of Champions in February at this time, (Yes, I’ve decided I want to go. Depending on my mare and whether or not she is sound and physically able – another blog for another time,) there were a few necessities required to combat winter in the barn too.

So without further ado, here are my top 16 items to beat winter:



1. Mesh Rug from Back on Track – During the winter months, the Mesh Rug is the perfect blanket to be used as an extra rug underneath, as a transportation rug, or as a cooler. The Mesh Rug has a lining of polypropylene fabric infused with melted ceramic powder, offering your horse a variety of therapeutic benefits – all while your use it to dry your horse off after a winter ride! On the exterior, the rug has a thin mesh layer for maximum breathing qualities.



2. Yeehaw Liptints from Cowgirl Dirt – Any Canadian female knows how important it is to always have lip balm in your back-pocket in winter. But it’s even better if that lip balm has some sass. Introducing Cowgirl Dirt! These  lightly citrus flavored lip tints are formulated to soothe and deeply hydrate your lips while adding the perfect color to finish off the cowgirl picture. Available in Hollywood Dun It, Flicka, Champion, Seabiscuit, plus many more!



3. Heated Hose from Pirit – If you have an unheated barn (like we do in our second facility), you’ll appreciate the benefits of a heated, heavy-duty hose. Pirit Heated Hoses are used to provide a constant source of water in freezing temperatures. Now available in approximately 12′, 25′, 50′ and 100′ lengths.


4. HV Polo Mercedes Sweater – Available from Greenhawk, this sweater features a fitted silhouette with an oversized collar and front pockets for additional storage.  The full zip and fitted sleeve cuffs and bottom keep me warm in our unheated arena and stylish when I actually hit the town. For groceries. ‘Cause I’m a Mama. And that’s my big outing for the week. :)


5. Furminator – With a 5″ deshedding edge, the Furminator can help reduce your horse’s winter shedding by up to 90%. Stainless steel deShedding edge reaches deep beneath your horse’s topcoat to gently remove undercoat and loose hair.
Actually, it’s unbelievable how much hair comes out! Horses love it. There’s no pulling or tugging. Smooth and simple. Great for use now if you’re trying maintain your horse’s show coat in this nippy weather, or an absolute necessity come Spring.


6. Happy Toys, from The Happy Toymaker – If you have a farm kid, or two, the Happy Toymaker is guaranteed to craft you something with heirloom quality. Jerry Sims, better known as “The Happy Toy Maker” has been happily creating toys for kids that may single-handedly express the western way of life better than any other plaything around. Sims’ handmade trucks, trailers, rodeo arenas, feedlots, chutes, corrals and barn set-ups are as unique as they are comparable to the real thing. We recently had him make semi-trucks for our twins that represented their personalities. With brands, bucking horses, tractors and their individual names branded into the sides of these life-like toys, our kids finally have something no one else does!!


7. WET 998K, Muck Boots Canada – You need serious boots if you live in Canada. With stretch-fit topline binding, these boots from Muck Boots snug the calf to keep warmth in and cold out. 100% waterproof, lightweight and flexible this boot has a molded outsole that is rugged, aggressive and durable. With a comfort range of -28ºC and up, we have several pairs of these clogging up our front door…


8. Sno-Man Kit – If I were to pick one single item from this Winter Survival list, it would be this! With a kit complete with buttons, a hat and a carrot-nose, your kids will have everything they need to build a snowman. Then, take the blue, red and green Snow Markers to draw non-toxic images or play Tic-Tac-Toe in the snow. Great Canadian outdoor fun!


9. BioGel – Biogel is a soothing, grease-less therapeutic gel made from a unique blend of natural organic ingredients that has been veterinary tested and approved. Veterinarian studies confirm that wounds showed excellent healing speed and Biogel can promote the formation of healthy wound beds that persist without bandaging. In our circumstances, Biogel is a must for any horses with old wounds that have to face hard snow crusts in the pasture.



 10. Canadian Maple Whisky – Take the best Canadian rye whisky and add Canada’s finest maple syrup. Add a little coke, ice, and on a cold winter’s night you’ll be in paradise. No kidding.


11. Waterless Shampoo – Get rid of unwanted green-spots in between baths with this rinse-free shampoo. Cleans and shines with even the toughest of spots and no sticky residue! Add in the nourishing extracts of alfalfa, rosemary and chamomile and Trot the Spot Rinse Free Shampoo is the perfect product to help your horse look and feel its best.


12. Ultimate Hoofpick – Are you tired of wimpy hoofpicks? The Ultimate Hoofpick was designed by a horse trainer who was fed up with picks that couldn’t hold their own when it came to yet, another hoof filled with concrete-like mud. Or in our case, snow and ice. An ergonomically correct, unbreakable handle with a rubber, easy grip and a wider pick angle makes this hoofpick a solid and effective tool. The Jackhammer of hoof care comes in two sizes and easily tackles packed-in mud and snow.


13. Touch and Feel Ponies, Book – If your a Mom who understands the importance of books in your children’s young lives, you will love this little sturdy hard cover book! From furry manes to silky ribbons, this little book lets your kids explore all sorts of textures in a sturdy book that encourages preschool learning. Perfect when it’s too cold to outside!


14. Todd Bergen, “Framework of Performance” DVDs – When the mercury drops below -20 degrees Celsius, it’s just too darn cold to ride. So why not do some armchair riding instead? Todd Bergen recently released his new, “Framework for Performance” series and in this 2-DVD set, he explains his philosophies on body control, turnarounds, run-downs and stops, lead changes and cow work. Bergen gives viewers over 4.5 hours of cutting edge instruction – guaranteed to relay his real world approach to horse training.


15. Glysomed – There’s no way around dry, chapped hands in the dead of winter when you spend much of your time in a barn. Glysomed Hand Cream locks in moisture to relieve and help prevent dry skin. Plus, its triple-action formula of Glycerine, Silicone, and Chamomile provides indispensable care for rough and dry hands. You can take away the sun, you can take away the warm temperatures, but don’t touch my Glysomed! :)


16. Constructive Eating Utensils – Feeding kids creatively. These products have won numerous awards and since they are perfect at keeping children engaged during meals, it’s no wonder! With tractors, bulldozers and pink fairy garden tools fashioned into forks, spoons and “pushers,” these utensils help even the pickiest of eaters to have more productive meals. And since we recently struggled through the flu season, I found these nifty little tools very beneficial in encouraging my kids to consume chicken noodle soup when their appetites dwindled.

September/ October 2013

On the cover: Michele King is a Red Deer, Alberta based photographer specializing in equine fine art and western lifestyle images. Find more of her work online at, or at Different Strokes Art Gallery in Olds, Alberta.

Price: $5.95


Embrace Your West
The results are in! The winners of the Western Horse Review photo contest are named.

Heartbreak in the Water
The stories of three Albertan families who went head to head with the flood waters of 2013 and came out the other side with a new appreciation for life and their livestock.

Barrel Racing Biomechanics
National Finals Rodeo barrel racer Lee Anne Rust explains how to execute the perfect barrel turn.

Fall Sale Guide
Find the best place to search for your next prospect or finished horse to complete your string.

Out West
Professional photographer Sally Rees guides you through the proper techniques for taking a great profile shot of your horse.

Empty Saddles
The Canadian cow horse community mourns the loss of a passionate cowboy.

Food of the West
Gather an armful of fresh fall apples for the perfect after dinner treat.

Real Lives of Trainer’s Wives
A Saskatchewan woman is her husband’s best cheerleader and the head of a hard working family.

Western Home
This humble prairie home boasts rare collections and bursts with western flair.

Gear & Style
Product Showdown
The best in winter blankets to keep your horses in top shape through the cold months.

Bit of the Month
Glenn Stewart explains what tool he uses to keep his horses soft by avoiding common bitting mistakes.

Horse & Health
The complete what and the why of adding supplements to your horses diet. Nutrition Use this list to choose the best delicacy for your horse.

How To
Locating and detecting the digital pulse to detect injury or help assess potential soundness issues.

Med of the Month
A medication that will ease your horse’s breathing issues.

Show Scenes
A collection of happenings from across our great land of horses and competitions.

Futurity Road
A behind-the-scenes look at the gear and preparation that adds to the success of any futurity horse.

Leader Board
The queen of the young reining ring takes on the North American Junior Young Rider Championships in Lexington, Kentucky.

Good Assessments
A selection of equine practitioners.

Heavy Horse Love

It was pure heavy horse love last night at the Calgary Stampede’s Showcase Stir-up night.

Adeline Halvorson’s original artwork, unveiled during the special invite night, depicts a beautiful and kind-eyed gentle giant.

There have been few Calgary Stampede posters in the 101 year history of the Show as singular in theme. I thought Halvorson’s vision of the working horse for the poster, representing a noble animal at the heart of our western heritage, was both unique and brave.

Bob Thompson, Calgary Stampede president and chairman of the board, voiced it well: “While the painting celebrates all horses, it specifically pays tribute to the grace, nobility, and striking beauty of the heavy horse and all that the gentle giants have contributed throughout history, both at the Calgary Stampede and the world.”

While we walked across the Stampede grounds on our way to the Western Art Show, signs of the recent flooding were, of course, still everywhere.

Cleanup, most notably at the Big Four building, seemed to be taking place on a large-scale basis.

Still, under the glow of city lights, and the buzz of the clean-up crews and equipment, signs that the show will go on as planned, were abundantly evident.

And the Midway appeared nearly ready to greet the first of its fans for tonight’s traditional Sneak-A-Peak night.

At the Western Art Show, it was great to catch up and chat with a couple of Western Horse Review’s Artisans of the West, including Shawna Whiteside and Shelagh Blatz, two super talented ladies showcasing their work at this year’s event.

As well as clothing designer, Paige Callaway, also one of our Artisans of the West, pictured here with Shelagh. (Thanks, Paige for the use of your Instagram shot!)

I also had the chance to finally meet Doug Levitt, incredibly talented artist and storyteller as it turns out! This year, Doug was selected by the Calgary Stampede Western Art Auction Committee as the 2013 Outstanding Artistic Achievement Award Recipient, so meeting him was a special honor for me. One of Doug’s original pieces of artwork, (see it at this link), is up for Grand Prize of our Embrace Your West Photo Contest, the deadline of which (July 12) will soon be upon us, so enter your photo soon, if you haven’t already!

We enjoyed browsing through all of the pieces of Western Art Show, including two from our July/August issue featured artist – Karen Coe.

The various Artist Ranch Project’s also caught my eye, such talent and different takes on the subject of western heritage. And, so many pieces which would showcase beautifully at the log house. Sigh.

If you’d like to see it in person, Halvorson’s original artwork will be on display at the Western Oasis until it is sold next Thursday, July 11, during the Western Art Auction, which begins at 6:00 p.m. in the Palomino Room. Tickets for the auction can be purchased from the Western Art Sales Desk located in the Western Oasis, BMO Centre.

Stampede Style 2019

Photo by

If you’re wondering what’s trending this Stampede, our sources at Lammle’s Western Wear are telling us it’s Wrangler, Wrangler, Wrangler – WEAR THE W! This year, full flare legs in light washes and high rises are all the rage in bottoms. Retro-styled Wrangler tees in fun colorways from Wrangler’s modern line are rounding out the look.

These looks available at the Chinook Calgary, AB, Lammle’s location and on
Stampede Park at LWW Ranch locations. Photo by

The Women of the West theme is popping up everywhere and underlying the 2019 Stampede, since the 2019 poster unveil. This theme is also showcased in the 2019 Poster Buckle:

The 2019 Lammle’s Stampede Poster Buckle.

An empowered female look with an unapologetically highwaisted jean, crisp tuck and playful print button-up top is the classic Stampede uniform this year.

Photo by

Bold hats really embrace the strong western style – every piece can and should be a statement as the hat trend is still going strong in 2019.

One of the new favorite hat styles available from Lammle’s this year.
Photo by

Charlie 1 Horse and Bailey are two of the strongest ladies hat designs emerging in ladies western fashion. The hats are affordable and give the look of a custom lid, but keep things in check in the price range of $89-$149.

Photo by

Fringe purses and crossbody bags continue to hold steady this year. Especially if you’re on the Stampede grounds for long hours at a time, STS bags are both fashion and function to carry all your goods. The brand is hitting on the big trends of cowhide and fringe + pastel pallets and soft browns for 2019. Check out your local Lammle’s today or visit them online!

Country Luxe Life


Did you see this exquisite home featured in the September/October issue of Western Horse Review? If not, the issue is only on stands a little while longer! This creatively-designed home situated on a unique parcel of land offers up all the benefits of nature with a view of downtown Calgary, AB, while fitting immaculately into its rural setting.

The architectural style of this southern Albertan home is atypical of a conventional farmhouse, but upon arriving here, guests quickly embrace its inviting atmosphere with an easygoing sensibility. At over 4,800 square feet, this acreage situated in the county of rural Foothills M.D. (approximately 20 minutes south east of Calgary), features a tranquil retreat and views of the river below that will leave one breathless.


Finished with a red brick exterior, the bones of the home display their strength and timeless structure. As you follow the curves of the entrance, you discover there is a natural rhythm to the place that counter balances its large, interior space and never makes it feel overwhelming. Dramatic floor to ceiling windows in the main living area hold a cathedral style living room, complimented by a copper fireplace. The larger-than-life windows allow nature to be enjoyed from within as you will never miss a hawk soaring above, or deer passing through to the riverbed below. From here, there is also access to an expansive patio and comfortable, outdoor living space that adds to the relaxed, inviting atmosphere of the home. Plus, a view of the hot-tub below.

The dining room continues to maximize the vista with large windows that also pour light upon an expansive dining area. The chandelier above this room is rich with sparkle and dimension and serves as a piece of artwork, while offering an anchoring element to the space. The living area combined with the dining room is a large space you can feel cozy in, with lots of texture and intriguing interior touches, such as long bookcases (with a ladder) and a telescope for capturing the night sky.

In the kitchen, a six-burner gas stove, breakfast bar, dual islands with an extra sink and more than enough cupboard and pantry space, make it a chef’s or entertainer’s dream. However, with multiple zones for cooking, serving and eating, it also makes this kitchen a mother’s dream.

Near the heart of the home is a magnificently curved staircase, topped with wood steps to complement the hardwood floors. Contemporary railings and handrails complete the modern-looking design as it transports one to the upper level. At the top, an open-concept office featuring more hardwood and an open-beamed ceiling add visual interest to this floor. The walls containing the top half of the stairs form another curvy, fluid shape.

Boasting five bedrooms, four full bathrooms and one half-bath, the home is perfect for accommodating guests. Designed with unique curving walls, guest rooms provide individual charm and more pristine views of the outdoors. A large dressing area in the master bedroom adds interest and functionality and works well with shabby chic furnishings. With windows offering a near 180-degree perspective of Mother Nature, the master suite creates a peaceful retreat and escape from the outside world. An ensuite bathroom with dual sinks gives the master bedroom another perk.

Downstairs, a luxurious man-cave awaits with a full bar and recreation area. Bookended by a brick fireplace and spacious family seating area at one end, the downstairs level also features another relaxing abode. Whichever way you choose to turn in this luxurious western home, you’ll find peace and a slice of heaven with spa-like amenities in every corner. Its grand-estate-meets-relaxed-dwelling look, makes it feel right at home in the country.

Built in 1980 this large family home is durable enough to handle rural life. A front, automatic gate offers protection and security upon entrance to the property and large Evergreen trees provide a wind break in the driveway.

Outside, large paddocks with properly built and secured shelters make the property a comfortable home for equines as well. There are additionally miles of trails to be explored nearby with stunning views. Several box stalls, a cross-tie area plus a quaint tack room and cozy lounge area can all be found inside the heated barn. It’s the perfect place to slip off your muddy boots before dinner.

In all four seasons, this southern country home opens its arms to Mother Nature and feeds one’s soul. It’s comfortable, romantic and an ideal location to enjoy a tranquil rural existence. Or raise a family in the sweet, Alberta prairie air.

Presented by Kim Vink of RE/MAX First –


Meet CS Princess Jaden Holle

Western Horse Review sat down with the 2018 Calgary Stampede Royal Trio, Queen Lindsay Lockwood, Princess Jaden Holle, and Princess Jessica Wilson, to discuss their year as Royalty. The women reflect on their biggest moments, their most gratifying connections and what they hope to leave behind as their legacies as they prepare to hand off their crowns to the up-and-coming trio. The Calgary Stampede Queen and Princesses competition is nearing soon and the 2019 trio will be crowned September 24.

2018 Calgary Stampede Princess Jaden Holle reflects on the wild ride that was her year as Royalty.

*Photos courtesy of Jaden Holle

What have been some of your most memorable experiences, since your reign as Princess began?

So many times this year I have had “I-can’t-believe-this-is-happening” moments. It is so hard to think of just one experience that stands out because time and time again I find myself in situations that are completely surreal. We have rubbed shoulders with some very inspirational and influential people and I’ve found myself in some places that I never thought I would be. Listening to astronauts and musicians and standing centre ice at the Flames Game or in the Canadian Embassy in Berlin have definitely made for some memorable experiences. However, when I think of the things I have gotten to do as a member of this trio, they are not always what comes to mind. The little interactions I have in unexpected moments are those that are really special, because they are just that: unexpected! I’ll always remember the looks of awe I get when I am able to tell a young girl that, ‘yes, I am a real princess’ or how it feels when the timid child at the back of the room surprises me with a hug on our way out. It is easy to cherish big moments because it is often apparent that a once-in-a-lifetime experience is happening. I wouldn’t change those surreal moments for anything, but I know that it is the small, seemingly insignificant encounters in between that really make my job special.

Can you please tell us about your experience applying to become part of the trio?

I always knew that it was a dream of mine to be a part of the Royal Trio, which is exactly what made applying so daunting. What if I wasn’t successful and it was a dream left unfulfilled? As scary as the potential for failure was, I knew that not trying at all would be worse. This years’ competition was actually my second time running to be a part of the trio. My first experience only solidified my desire to be a Queen or Princess one day. So not only was it daunting to think about failing in general, but it was almost more daunting to think that I might put in so much hard work only to be unsuccessful for a second time. The competition (both times) was incredibly challenging yet incredibly rewarding. I was overcome with self-doubt, fear and frustration, but I was also forced to be proud of myself for all of the obstacles I was overcoming. When I was finally crowned and all of my hard work paid off, I could hardly believe it. I felt so proud of myself for holding onto a dream and having the courage to try for it. I don’t think it sunk in for a week that I was actually part of the trio!

How has this experience changed your life?

I always say that this experience has pushed me out of my comfort zone in the best ways possible. Rather than walking into a room of strangers and feeling intimidated, I now feel a sense of excitement about all of the lived experiences and stories there are to share. I feel less dependent on my phone and get excited about the possibility of connecting with people! I have also developed such a deep sense of pride in Calgary this year. We really do have a unique culture of hospitality in this city and it’s so much fun to be able to share that. Because of this experience, I am a more confident woman and a prouder Canadian.

A younger Holle, who perhaps always knew she was destined to be a princess.

The royal trio are often role models for the younger generation, what is one thing you would like to pass on to these children that look up to you now?

I would encourage young people to be present! Turning off the screens really opens up a whole new world. There is so much to learn from nature and from people and the only way to really take advantage of that is by being totally and completely attentive to what (and who!) is around you. I have learned so much this year by leaving my phone at home!

Can you please tell us about your royal horse?

I ride Snoopy! Snoopy is a fourteen year-old quarter horse gelding. He joined the Royalty program in 2010 and after 8 years, he knows his job very well! He is a palomino and a retired movie horse. He can be seen on some of the early seasons of Heartland. Him and Kansas actually used to be doubles for each other in the movies because they look a lot alike. Snoopy is a spicy boy who loves to run. He gets really excited about grand entry and even knows the lyrics to “Oh Canada!” I have learned a lot about how attentive our horses are to our moods and to our body language through my partnership with Snoopy. He is been the most willing horse and the best teammate to me. He sometimes has a mind of his own, but he keeps me smiling and I feel so lucky I got to ride him this year. I will have a hard time giving him up as he has taken such good care of me.

Have there been any obstacles you’ve had to overcome this year that you would like to share?

I have had to overcome the need to be perfect and to compare myself to others. While I always try to be the very best ambassador possible for the Calgary Stampede, there are inevitably times when it feels that I could have better expressed myself, ridden better, or just simply have been better! I have learned to let those things go. I constantly strive to improve myself, but I also know that I am human and sometimes humans make mistakes! It is our attitude and how we deal with our shortcomings that really matter. Being in a trio, I have learned to rejoice in the skills and the gifts of my two teammates and embrace what I bring to the table. I have learned be proud of the way I am made, inside and out. The three of us next to one another are as different as they come. Even though we cannot borrow each other’s wranglers, that doesn’t make us feel any less beautiful or worthy to wear that iconic crown on our hats. Everybody and every body is beautiful and I hope people can see that when they look at my trio, which comes in small, medium, and large, as we lovingly joke about ourselves.

The Royalty’s gorgeous leathers were created by Janine’s Custom Creations, and are a favourite outfit of Holle’s.

What have been your favourite outfits so far?

We are lucky to have some amazing sponsors and we have a lot of beautiful outfits for every occasion. However, one of my personal favourites are our turquoise and brown leathers that Janine Stabner, of Janine’s Custom Creations, custom-made for us. They have beautiful hand-cut flowers on them. I feel confident and elegant when I put on these leathers and I really feel that I am a part of a legacy that is so much bigger than myself. These leathers remind me of the agricultural history Calgary is built upon, and the strong women of rodeo who have come before me. Wearing these leathers really makes me stand a little taller and and hold my head a little higher. As a young girl, I imagined myself wearing something like these leathers. So, when I put them on, it represents a dream becoming reality. I feel connected to the women who have paved this road for me, and I feel hopeful that I can inspire others to be strong, proud, and courageous in pursuing their dreams.

What will you be most sad to say goodbye to when you pass on your crown?

This year I have cultivated some beautiful friendships. I have gained three new best friends in Lindsay, Jessica and Cieran, the other members of this years Stampede Royalty. I know that we will be friends for life. However, I will be sad that we won’t be seeing each other on a daily basis. I will miss seeing all of the people regularly who have supported and encouraged me in this role, and I will miss the opportunity to make connections with people I probably wouldn’t otherwise have the occasion to meet! However, I know that through this I have joined a family that I will always be a part of—reigning Princess or not! Although things are sure to change for me when I pass on my crown, I know the Stampede family will always be there for me and there is an incredible group of Stampede sisters in the alumni that will be ready and willing to accept me with open arms.

What is your best tip or advice to the ladies that will be vying for the 2019 titles?

My biggest piece of advice would be to go for it! Have a positive attitude and consider everything an opportunity to learn. Also, cultivate friendships with the other girls! We all know that competitions are stressful and being judged is stressful, so you may as well bond with the people that know exactly what you are going through. Helping the other ladies and being friendly to them is not going to hinder your performance in any way, if anything it will leave you feeling empowered and energized to go through the competition. It will also help if you are crowned to know that you have already started a friendship with the people you are about to spend a significant amount of time with! My practical advice for the competition is that there is only so much you can control, so practice those things and let everything else go. Don’t dwell on your mistakes and always keep a smile on your face! We are all cheering you on and are proud of you no matter the outcome. Being crowned doesn’t take courage, but putting yourself out there does. So, congratulations! You are already a winner.

Holle says that becoming a Calgary Stampede Princess has made her a stronger, more confident woman, and a prouder Canadian.