Holiday Giving – For Her

 

Stuck on the perfect gift idea for her? In this four-part blog series, Western Horse Review has rounded up several of our favorite tidings of joy. This is Christmas shopping made easy! You’re welcome.

By Louisa Murch White & Jenn Webster

 


POP SOCKETS – Never drop your phone again with these sweet handcrafted, Canadian-made pop sockets from Sweet Iron Silver. Sterling silver and can be personalized. Starting at $95
www.sweetiron.com

 


WILD RAGS – Wrap yourself or a loved one in the warmth of a 100% silk wild rag from Brown Creek this winter. Starting at $55
www.browncreekwildrags.com

 

Credit Twisted Tree Photography.

ANYTHING FROM SCOTT HARDY – Looking for something that is truly special? She’ll love anything from renowned silversmith, Scott Hardy. From custom-made buckles, to jewelry, to flasks or saddle silver, Hardy has the perfect signature piece for your one of a kind. Inquire for pricing.
www.scotthardy.com

 

WHR NECK WRAP – Wrap yourself in one of these neck wraps, hand-made in Canada by Janine’s Custom Creations exclusively for Western Horse Review. Crafted from real Pendleton® Blankets, these wraps are stylishly functional and look attractive with any style of outerwear. Light weight and lined with a soft sherpa for comfort and warmth. Easy snap closures. With fringe or without. Can be worn over the shoulders or as a wrap. Many colors and styles to choose from.

whr-boutique.westernhorsereview.com

 

CREDIT: Twisted Tree Photography. All hats from Smithbilt Hats. Tan hat with beadwork is a custom design by @thechiefsdaughter_.

CUSTOM HAT – The right hat is the perfect way to accentuate her western lifestyle. Choose from a variety of styles and colours at Smithbilt Hats to compliment her unique sense of style. Inquire for pricing.
smithbilthats.com

 

YOU CAN’T GO WRONG WITH TURQUOISE – Featuring one of the largest selections of high quality, vintage, Native American turquoise and sterling silver jewelry from Navajo, Zuni and Hopi artists, the Lost American Art Gallery & Museum has some truly exquisite pieces. Inquire for pricing.
www.thelostamericanartgallery.com

 

SEW CUTE KITS – These adorable mason jar sewing kits from Cattle Cait are the perfect stocking stuffer for the crafty lady in your life. Handmade from 100% recycled wool and jars, each kit contains needles, pins, buttons, a measuring tape and thread. $30.
cattlecait.com

 


JUST RIDE TEE – This stylish, ladies slim-fit graphic tee pairs perfectly with her favourite denim! Navy blue and 100% ringspun cotton, from Tonic Equestrian. $25.
tonicequestrian.com

 

BETTY & JOLENE JEAN – Canada’s #1 western retailer Lammle’s Western Wear & Tack, is now carrying Kimes Ranch Jeans! Two women’s styles, the classic Betty and the stylish Jolene, are the first to be offered both in-store and online through the Lammle’s website at www.lammles.com

 

HANDMADE STOCKINGS – Crafted from real Pendleton® Blankets by Janine’s Custom Creations exclusively for Western Horse Review Boutique, these beautiful stockings show off your western heritage. Fill them with all kinds of Christmas goodies and admire the elegance of your mantle as you do. ($60)
whr-boutique.westernhorsereview.com

DOC WEST – Steel Dusts

Illustration by Dave Elston.

Doc West returns with his sage advice for the lost and lonely gunsel.

Q. Doc, an old-timer friend sometimes refers to my Quarter Horse herd as a band of “Steel Dusts.” What does he mean by this term? 


A. There was a time where the horses that we call today, Quarter Horses, were known simply and generically as Steel Dusts. In the mid to late 1800’s most westerners referred to “speedy, low, stocky, well built, well-muscled, and high spirited” horses as Steel Dusts or Steel Dusters or Steel Dust horses. It was the horse everyone wanted when the West was still the West and the horse was still the horse. Steel Dusts were versatile, friendly, tough, cowy, and best of all, they were fast. They were as equally coveted by jockeys running a quarter mile on a dirt track outside of Dallas as they were by the cow puncher running a thousand longhorns up to the Canadian border. The genesis of the ‘steel dust’ prototype is said to trace its roots to the legendary stallion Steel Dust of which little is known, but sufficiently augmented by cowboy lore as to enjoy a prodigious and loyal following in the Quarter Horse world.

It is believed that Steel Dust was foaled in and around 1845 in Kentucky although Missouri, Tennessee and Texas are also possibilities. He was the son of Harry Bluff, the son of Short’s Whip by Big Nance – a Thoroughbred who traced her lineage back to the legendary Thoroughbred, Sir Archy. He was taken to Texas as a yearling or two-year-old and matured, by the most reliable accounts, into a blood bay stallion of 15 hands and 1,200 pounds, (although other sources reported he was as compact as 14.2 hands up to a rangy 16). The only point of minutia on Steel Dust of any consensus was his blinding speed – one old timer stated that Steel Dust could run a quarter of a mile in 22 seconds “any time” (keep in mind modern day racing Quarter Horses are running the 440 in about 21 seconds). Mares were brought in by prominent racing breeders from hundreds of miles away to breed to the equine phenomenon for a chance to catch lightning in a bottle.

Texas cowboys whose palate was not satisfied by riding hardy but ratty mustang types, brought in their cow pony mares to improve the stature of their stock. By the later part of the 1800s Steel Dust’s lineage was so ubiquitous in the then emerging Quarter Horse breed that many just referred to the “heavily muscled horse, marked with small ears, a big jaw, remarkable intelligence and lightening speed up to a quarter of a mile,” as Steel Dusts. By the early 1900s many great Quarter Horse sires would trace their bloodlines once if not several times to Steel Dust – the horse Peter McCue and his son Hickory Bill (the sire of the famous King Ranch foundation breeding stallion “Old Sorrel”) had significant Steel Dust lineage, as did many other bloodlines such as Billy, Cold Deck and Rondo. In fact, as recent as the 1930s so many lines of Quarter Horses were traceable to Steel Dust that breeder Jack Caseman wrote an article for the Western Horseman magazine titled “Why a Steel Dust Stud Book?” in support of the registry which would ultimately become the American Quarter Horse Association.

Today, with the passing of time, the moniker “Steel Dust” has fallen from common usage as the Quarter Horse has continued to mature as a breed. Competitive events such as reining, cutting and pleasure have further evolved (some might argue devolved) the Quarter Horse into a specialist that over time falls further and further away from that gritty, jack-of-all-trades which could cut a cow in the morning and run a race match after dinner. To your question, the reference to your herd as a band of “Steel Dusts” from an old timer can be nothing short of a compliment, an admiration of equine specimens built to the Steel Dust prototype – low, powerful and fast; and perhaps at the same time it’s a pining of sorts, for that West which existed once, where a man only had one horse but needed one horse – and that horse ran through time like Pegasus unshackled.

Have a question about western culture burning in your back pocket? We welcome you to direct it to Doc West at editorial@westernhorsereview.com.

War Horse

Courtesy of Guelph Museums, McCrae House.

BY DEBBIE MACRAE

The year was 1914. The man was 42, a doctor, pathologist, soldier, teacher, artist, writer and more. The gift – a chestnut gelding, schooled for fox hunting with an admirable conformation.

This is their story.

John McCrae was born in Ontario, the son of a military family, with strong spiritual values and high principles. He was passionate about animals – any animals, but especially cats, dogs and horses.

He was brilliant – and interested in the military. He was the first Guelph student to win a scholarship to the University of Toronto. He joined the cadets at 14 and his father’s Militia field battery at the age of 17. He was unfortunately plagued with asthma, and this condition forced him to take a break in his studies. During his time away, he still managed to teach Mathematics and English.

He courted a young woman who was the sister of a friend, but sadly she met his interest with disdain. He remained a bachelor the rest of his life.

He graduated from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Arts degree and then turned his studies toward medicine. McCrae had a fondness for children, spending his third year as the resident physician outside Baltimore, at a children’s convalescent home. He mentored other students, and it is noteworthy that two of his students would become the first women doctors in Ontario.

McCrae’s military career progressed, becoming a gunner in Guelph with the Number 2 Battery, then Quarter-Master Sergeant, Second Lieutenant and Lieutenant. He became Captain of the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada.

He graduated his Bachelor of Medicine degree and received the gold medal from the University of Toronto medical school. Then he interned at the John Hopkins Hospital, working with his brother, Thomas. He was awarded a Fellowship in Pathology by the McGill University in Montreal, but felt obligated to fight in the South African War of October 1899. He requested a postponement of his fellowship and left to lead D Battery, of the Canadian Field Artillery. McCrae resigned from the military in 1904 after being promoted to Captain and then Major.

In 1910, McCrae was invited by the Governor General, Lord Grey, to be the expedition physician on a canoe excursion between Lake Winnipeg and Hudson’s Bay. He was an avid outdoorsman.

But now the year was 1914. Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie had been assassinated in Sarajevo, and the Great War had begun. Britain declared war on Germany, and Canada was automatically at war as a member of the British Empire.

Bonfire was the name of the fine Irish Hunter, given to McCrae as a gift for his enlistment by his friend Dr. John Todd. The horse was a deep chestnut, gentle, playful, and charismatic soul. He was playful – greeting people by whisking off their hats or blowing waffle kisses. McCrae wrote to his sister, ”I wish you could meet [Bonfire], he is one of the dearest thing in horses one could find… he puts up his lips to your face and gives a kind of foolish waffle of his lower lip that is quite comical.”

Bonfire was delivered to the already established Camp Valcartier, a tent city in Quebec where soldiers were being recruited and trained for overseas duty. Although McCrae already had a horse, he was happy to choose Bonfire, after getting the opportunity to ride him.

The Surgeon in charge of the medical services for the Canadian troops, General Jones, had already decreed that as a physician, McCrae had no need for a horse. However, as the second in command of the First Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery, a mount was requisite… yet McCrae would be reminded again and again, that he should “not get too fond of Bonfire.”

But he was, and so he would remain. McCrae would send letters, ‘written by Bonfire’ home to his nieces and nephews and signed with a hoof print.

The mass assembly of man and beast commenced in October of 1914, as troops, animals and supplies were transported via the Saxonia from Canada to Europe. 632 animals were stabled in the hold and on the unlucky 13th day at sea, a massive storm assaulted them, injuring both man and horse as they were tossed about on the water. Seasickness assailed them, and the hold was vulgar with stench.

Once they arrived on British soil, incessant rain pounded them for 98 of the 123 days they were stationed there. McCrae was able to piece together a small shelter for Bonfire – only because he was a senior officer, but the majority of horses were exposed to the weather, the rain, the wind, and their health was deteriorating. All requests for shelter were denied in the wake of the war effort. Even shelter in the nearby forest was rejected. On December 2nd, a massive windstorm blew down Bonfire’s shelter. The sicker horses died on the line, and as a result, 200 of the remaining horses were granted shelter at a nearby farm.

McCrae’s love for animals reached out to the other victims of war. Miss Kitty was a black and white cat who came to visit Bonfire in his shelter. She stayed behind in England when they moved on to France.

On the way to France, Bonfire injured his leg; believed to be the result of a kick by another horse. John rode him to the billet in France in an effort to try and work out the injury, but that meant maneuvering around the corpses of dead war horses, a task that challenged both McCrae and Bonfire’s sensibilities.

As Bonfire learned to trust, McCrae, equally, sought the support of Bonfire’s stability and companionship. They were on the frontlines, where the constant battering of the troops, and the calls to treat the wounded, were wearing on his composure. Returning from the front, McCrae would seek the solace of Bonfire’s shelter where he could regroup before retiring.

At the Battle of Ypres, McCrae was exposed to the sting of poison gas – and his asthmatic lungs battled the effects of the gas and the elements. He was told to move north of Ypres and “dig in”, and he did literally just that – by digging a trench eight foot by eight foot so he could treat casualties – both men and animals, even contrary to orders. Mules and horses suffered terrible anguish. He said, “There is nothing I hated more than that horse scream.”

On one occasion a big grey dog with beautiful brown eyes, came running in panic. “He ran to me and pressed his head hard against my leg. So I got him a safe place and he sticks by us. We call him Fleabag – for he looks like it.” There is no further record of Fleabag.

At virtually the same time, Bonfire was in a pen with another horse at a nearby farm when the farm took a direct hit. That horse was killed and Bonfire bolted in fear. He was not found until several days later, but McCrae rejoiced in their reunion when he was recovered.

Shortly thereafter, after much controversy, the new McGill field hospital was established to care for the sick and wounded who were fighting in France and Belgium. McCrae was to be the new Doctor in Charge of Medicine for the Canadian Army Medical Corp under General Jones. Jones continued to warn him not to get too fond of Bonfire, and at one point an attempt was made to take Bonfire away from him. Sir Sam Hughes, Canada’s Minister of Militia and Defense, intervened, and McCrae and Bonfire were transferred to the Jesuit school near Boulogne where more comfortable arrangements awaited.

Courtesy of Guelph Museums, McCrae House.

They soon became friends with a French spaniel named Bonneau, and another dog whose leg had been shattered in battle. His name was Windy, and he was not fond of people who were not in uniform. They remained a regiment of four, until Windy succumbed to being poisoned, likely due to his unpopularity.

It would be only a short time later that McCrae, too, would succumb to the ravages of the harsh conditions he lived and worked in. For respite and his health, he would take long rides on Bonfire through the countryside.

Now believed to have been suffering from post-traumatic stress, McCrae could not justify staying in officers’ quarters when his soldiers were relegated to tent cities or worse in the trenches. The long working hours, his asthma, the gas exposure and subsequent bouts of bronchitis had taken their toll, and he became very ill with pneumonia and meningitis. Still, McCrae would soon learn that he had been appointed as the consulting physician to the First British Army – the first time a Canadian had been so honoured.

Five days later, John died. He was buried with full military honours, just north of Boulogne. Bonfire led his funeral procession on a beautiful spring day, his bridle laced in white ribbons, saddled, with McCrae’s riding boots reversed in the stirrups.

Courtesy of Guelph Museums, McCrae House.

John’s death was widely grieved; as a friend, a mentor, a doctor and an intellect. But we will forever remember him as the man who penned a poem for Lt. Alexis Helmer, the friend that he lost, In Flanders Fields.

Before he died, John knew that his poem had been well-received. After its publication, it became the most popular poem about the First World War. It was used to advertise the sale of Victory Bonds in Canada in 1917 with a target of $150,000,000. It raised $400,000,000.

Due in part to the references to the poppy in the first and last stanzas, the poppy was adopted as the Flower of Remembrance for the war dead.

Bonfire was to have been returned home to the Todd family in Quebec after the war – but, he never arrived. After McCrae’s funeral, Bonfire disappeared quietly – and it is conjectured that McCrae’s friends wanted to honour their friend by secretly retiring Bonfire to the pastures of France – away from the world of war and suffering.

The casualties of World War I were estimated to be about 40 million; men, women and children consumed by the ravages of war. Over 8 million horses died. Bonfire was a survivor.

Special acknowledgment to the Guelph Collection at McCrae House for the photos, Veterans Affairs Canada, references from Canada’s Great War Album, Minister of Supply and Services Canada, and special thanks to Author Susan Raby-Dunne, for references in her book Bonfire: The Chestnut Gentleman.

Read our book review of Bonfire, The Chestnut Gentleman

Champions Performing Like Champions

Photo by Billie-Jean Duff.

Courtesy of the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association.

In just a few hours, Canadian Professional Rodeo’s champions will be crowned. And CFR ‘45 – the first in Red Deer, Canada – will come to a close. Two cowboys who will be in the spotlight on Championship Sunday are 2016 World Champions and reigning Canadian Champions, Levi Simpson and Jeremy Buhler. The talented duo have placed in every round and tied for first in two of them to put $32,400 in each man’s pocket to date. Both Simpson and Buhler and co-round winners, Clay Ullery and Riley Warren, posted 4.0 second runs – the fastest time of the week.

“The cow that we drew tonight didn’t have the best track record, but it looked really good on the video from the first two times that it went.” Simpson noted. “I just tried to see my start. The round was shaping up to be really fast with three runs prior to us of 4.3 and I knew we’d have to speed it up a bit tonight to stay in the money. We were able to make a good solid run and things just worked out.”

Heading into the final performance, Simpson and Buhler are first overall and first in the aggregate with an overall time of 27.2 seconds on five head.

Another roper who is enjoying a productive and profitable week is Carstairs, Alberta cowboy, Kyle Lucas. The five-time CFR qualifier started slowly, finishing out of the money on night number one, but since then has been on his game with a first, a second and a pair of thirds to move him to first in the aggregate (41.5 seconds on five head). The $25,920 Lucas has earned this week has him $4,700 ahead of two-time Canadian Champion and 2013 World Champ, Shane Hanchey, of Sulphur, Louisiana.

“I had a few mishaps in the first three rounds on my part,” shared Lucas, “that I feel were kind of rookie mistakes. I was  letting the nerves get to me but I was able to set those aside for the next few rounds. I should have been better tonight as well, but I’ll be thankful for third.”

Tight races are the order of the day in the remaining events as well.

In the bareback riding, three-time Canadian Champion, Jake Vold, remains in the overall lead with Dublin, Texas cowboy, Richmond Champion, and Ky Marshall of Bowden, AB tucked just behind him in second and third respectively.

Ponoka, Alberta’s Wacey Finkbeiner is the only man who’s five for five in the bull riding. The second generation athlete holds a $4,700 lead on fellow Ponoka resident, Zane Lambert. However, Finkbeiner leads the aggregate with Lambert sitting in fourth.

Hermiston, Oregon barrel racer, Callahan Crossley, has put together the most lucrative CFR week to date with $47,250 in earnings. With three first place finishes and two seconds, the three time CFR qualifier (and former runner up for a Canadian title) has vaulted from fourth place at the start of the week, to first with a comfortable $12,000 lead over second place cowgirl, Taylor Manning.

Scott Guenthner of Provost, Alberta saw his season lead evaporate during the early rounds of this CFR, but has rebounded with a first and a split of second in the last two rounds to climb back into the driver’s seat heading into Sunday. $15,000 back of Guenthner is Fort St. John, BC dogger Stephen Culling.

And in the saddle bronc riding, 2016 Canadian Champion, Clay Elliott (Nanton, AB) holds a razor thin lead of $200 over second place man, Zeke Thurston. Third place cowboy, Jake Watson, is also in the conversation. While Watson is $15,000 in arrears of Elliott and Thurston, Watson sits first in the aggregate while Elliott holds down third place and Thurston is back in sixth.

The Champions in all seven events will be determined Sunday afternoon, November 4 at the Enmax Centrium, Westerner Park in Red Deer. If you are unable to be there in person, sign up to follow the action on FloRodeo’s Live Stream or tune into CFCW 840 Radio. And look for complete results at rodeocanada.com

Round Five Summary

• Bareback riding round winners: Orin Larsen – 87 points on Big Stone Rodeo’s Mayhem

Overall bareback riding leader: Jake Vold

Aggregate leader: Orin Larsen

 

• Steer wrestling round winner: Craig Weisgerber – 3.5 seconds

Overall steer wrestling leader: Scott Guenthner

Aggregate leader: Dallas Frank

 

• Team roping round winners: (tie) Levi Simpson/Jeremy Buhler and Clay Ullery/Riley Warren – 4.0 seconds

Overall team roping overall leaders: Levi Simpson/Jeremy Buhler

Aggregate leaders: Levi Simpson/Jeremy Buhler

 

• Saddle bronc riding round winner: Zeke Thurston – 84.5 points on Kesler Rodeo’s Navajo Sun

Overall saddle bronc riding leader: Clay Elliott

Aggregate leader: Jake Watson

 

• Tie-down roping round winner: (tie) Logan Bird and Stetson Vest – 7.9 seconds

Overall and Aggregate tie-down roping leader: Kyle Lucas

 

• Ladies barrel racing round winner: Taylor Manning – 13.640

Overall and Aggregate ladies barrel racing leader: Callahan Crossley

 

• Bull riding round winner: Zane Lambert – 87.25 points on Vold Rodeo’s Blow Me Away

Overall and Aggregate bull riding leader: Wacey Finkbeiner

 

All Around Champion: Jacob Gardner

Steer Riding Champion: Tristen Manning

Novice Bareback Riding Champion: Mason Helmeczi

Novice Saddle Bronc Riding Champion: Cooper Thatcher

Trick Rider Extraordinaire: Noemy Coeurjoly

Coeurjoly’s specialty is Roman Riding, demonstrated here. Photo Credit: Birtz Photography

Noemy Coeurjoly appears fearless as she races around Quebec’s major rodeo, Festival Western de St-Tite for the opening act. Standing atop a paint horse, carrying the flag of the rodeo, sparks erupting from the top of the pole. You wouldn’t know from her appearance that this was her first season performing alone on the rodeo road, or that being a part of St-Tite has been one of her biggest dreams since she was a young girl. Western Horse Review sits down with Noemy Coeurjoly to talk trick riding, the skill of roman riding, and how a young girl from Quebec ended up in Nanton, AB, and is taking the world of speciality acts by storm.

How did you get started in trick riding?

It began with Sally Bishop, one of Canada’s top trick riding and stunt performers. Sally was in Quebec performing at the St-Tite Rodeo, we had a mutual friend that introduced us. I didn’t speak any English at the time. My goal when I was younger was always to learn English. The mutual friend translated for us and that’s how it all started. A few months later I had contacted her and she messaged me back telling me I could come out and help her on the road with the four horses she was using at performances at the time. So two days after my prom, my dad bought me a plane ticket and I met her in Cody, Wyoming. That was only the second time I had ever met Sally, she had that big of a heart that she told me to come on and we’d try to make it work and she would teach me

When did you start performing?

I have been doing roman riding and practicing with Sally for four year now but I didn’t start performing by myself, at rodeos and in front of crowds, until this last year. I live with Sally at her home in Nanton, so when I left Alberta for the first time and starting doing rodeos by myself it was stressful. I went to Quebec because I knew there was no specialty acts or trick riders performing. When I left Alberta I had one rodeo booked, I knew that if I got myself down there with my horses, I would probably end up booking more performances but I had to take that chance. After that first rodeo I was able to book performances at almost every weekend from there on.

It was definitely stressful at first, it was hard without my coach there but it went well, we just kept going to rodeos from June to September, and then I ended up getting to perform at St-Tite.

 

Noemy Coeurjoly performs during the opening act of St-Tite rodeo. Photo Credit: Birtz Photography
Tell me about St-Tite, it must be a significant rodeo for you having grown up in Quebec?

Performing at St. Tite was one of my big dreams. I told myself that I would do anything just to be a part of the show. This year I was a part of the opening, there was pyro and fires, and it was crazy, but it went very well.

Walk me through one of your performances?

In roman riding, I perform with two horses, so I have one foot on each of my horses. I generally start off by running two full laps at the lope on my horses. Then I do pole bending, I show the crowd my horses aren’t tied together. I do a fancy footwork pattern and jump my horses together. During the opening I also do a hippodrome where I am standing on one horse’s back carrying the Canadian flag.

What attracted me to roman riding was the adrenaline, it keeps you going. Sometimes it’s scary, you have to push yourself. The jump was the hardest thing to learn when I first started. I actually learned to jump with four horses and so when I started jumping two my balance just wasn’t the same. I also struggled a bit with the back-up when I started out, but now both maneuvers are a normal part of my performances!


What are you looking forward to next year?

I have in my head to build a fire jump and a pole with torches on top of it for next year. I am going to change a little bit of my fancy footwork and make my patterns faster. I also have another horse I am going to start using for my openings, which will be her first year doing rodeos.

What is your best advice for someone wanting to get into trick riding?

Even if you are scared you have to try it, and go for it. You have to get out of your comfort zone to be good at what you do. My advice for kids that are starting out in trick riding would be to follow your dreams, never stop, it’s possible, you just have to make it happen.


What’s the best advice someone has ever given you?

I don’t have an exact piece of advice but Sally would always push me harder than I thought I was able too. Sometimes I would be in my head about a trick, thinking I can’t do it, but Sally would make me, she would make me practice so I could get better and stronger so I could perform better.

You can follow Noemy’s adventures on her Facebook page – Noemy Coeurjoly – Roman Riding

A Modern Rider

Tammi Etherington utilizing the Pneu Dart air rifle to medicate cattle.

BY JESSI SELTE

Scabbard securely fastened to the saddle, Tammi Etherington is outfitted for a tough job. Pasture Riding. The Marwayne, AB, born rider has experienced the job in every aspect throughout her life and continues to pasture ride today.

Advancements in technology have furthered the ability of many modern jobs but are considered separate from the western lifestyle. Pasture riders, in particular, have always made an art of performing their multiple tasks with only that of a steady mount and lariat.

Often Lone Rangers, these caretakers must deal with all aspects of bovine health, management, difficult terrain, inclement weather and all kinds of wildlife. The job – typically learned as an apprentice – develops a unique set of skills and a new set of tools. Still, there is no replacing a good horse. With their ability to travel effectively and keen sense, the horse can help a rider detect cattle before they are seen.

A rider must be able to fix fence, locate and doctor cattle all with the tools carried on their saddle. Fencing pliers that double as a hammer, staples, binoculars, a knife, and matches are in the pack. These days however, there is a new addition to the saddle: The Pneu Dart Gun. This air rifle can administer up to 10cc of medicine in a single dart, allowing a rider the ability to treat an animal without the use of a lariat, or take the animal to a set of corrals that may be miles away. Riders try to make use of their individual abilities, and for Tammi Etherington, with her sharp aim, and quiet demeanour, the Pneu Dart gun has changed the job for her.

A cow with medicating darts.

Etherington, and her husband Bruce ranch in northeastern Alberta. The couple, run 200 head of Simmental cross cow/calf pairs, and during the grazing season, Tammi also rides herd for a private pasture.

The youngest in a farming family of five girls, Etherington and her sisters were raised working alongside their parents, involved in every aspect. The initial years were spent without the convenience of power or running water. Work ethic was paramount. Etherington describes her father Tom in his memoir In My Long Life as a man whose, “…hat could change from that of a hunter, a farmer, a pilot’s helper, or a cowboy, in the sweep of a hand. They all fit him well.” Mother Moira will forever be known as “Dr. Mom the Encyclopedia.” Etherington inherited her own personality from these traits.

Work created comfort and that mentality stuck with Etherington. As a teenager, her mother’s keen observation, and tireless support helped Etherington hone her riding skills. They were further advanced when at the tender age of 13, Etherington started her first job as a pasture rider. She used the job as a training ground for young horses, under the careful council of Terry and Sonia Franklin. Etherington continued to work off and on through the years at various pastures. She also made time to train, show, judge and give clinics.

The rewards of pasture riding look very different than those in the show ring, but also have a lasting effect. In the early years if an animal needed treatment, Etherington would trail the animal, sometimes miles, to a set of corrals in order to administer the appropriate medication. When the circumstances did not allow for extensive travel, a rope would be used to detain the sick bovine just long enough for treatment.

“I’ve been blessed to have worked for, and with very good managers, and riders with good roping skills.”

Now part of their low-stress management Etherington and her husband, have also started using a Pneu Dart Gun to treat animals. As a World Championship qualifying team roper, Bruce is more than capable for treating with a lariat, but with less help at home and animal husbandry a constant concern, the Pneu Dart gun is a natural fit. Etherington finds it imperative to follow the set protocol. This involves administering medication in the prescribed area on a bovine and recording the treatment properly, with cattle identification. This guarantees the safety and quality of meat for the end user. A clear shot is essential to success.

At 20,000 acres and with much of it featuring tree-covered hills and swamp, the northern Alberta private pasture is vast and unforgiving. The Pneu Dart gun brings a new dimension, to an old job. A rider is able to treat multiple animals in a day with minimal stress to both the cattle and the horse.

“Your horse needs to tolerate being shot off, whether they are up to their hocks in mud and deadfall, or just standing quietly in the middle of a herd,” says Etherington.

A good mount needs to have strong legs and feet, as well as cow sense. A horse that understands the expected job is crucial. Etherington is not looking forward to the day she has to retire her current horse. At 19 the solid little mare has clean legs and no saddle marks. This is a testament to a well-fitted saddle and Etherington’s habit of dismounting and walking both up, and down the long hills.

“We are both getting a little long in the tooth,” Etherington says. “If I’m going to ask her to go all day I need to be willing to do the same.”

When asked if being alone out on the range bothered her, Etherington chuckled, “I expect when the good Lord wants me, he will come and get me. Other than that, I expect he will give me a leg up.”

 

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 – www.kimvink.com

 

Lessons in Liberty – Part 2

STORY & PHOTOS BY JENN WEBSTER

If’ you’ve been reading along in our blog series with Jim Anderson, you may have caught our last installment. If not, you can always catch it here! In the last blog, we revealed 2014 Road to the Horse Champion Jim Anderson’s foundation principles of liberty training. In this blog, we take those notions a step further and build on the first exercise of moving the horse’s hindquarters, to more advanced techniques of body control with the horse in a halter and lead.

“When we put these first four exercises together, we’re laying the foundation of our communication with our horse,” the trainer says. “At liberty, you need this so badly because eventually, we won’t have a halter or saddle or bridle on the horse. If they don’t want to to be there with you, they not going to be. However, if you can train your horse through these basic exercises, there’s never worry nor fear from him – so he wants to be with you.”

The tricky part is teaching a horse the contrast between yielding exercises and “joining up.”

“There’s a big difference in teaching a horse how to yield away from you, but not run away from you,” Anderson explains. “When you put pressure on the horse, they should yield from the pressure – but with confidence. If they yield out of fear and you took the halter off – the horse would be gone. I need to be able to use my giddy-up stick and have it mean certain cues to my horse, without it ever implying to him ‘Leave me.’”

Often, people don’t mean to teach their horses this, but it happens unintentionally.

“It’s one of the most important points of liberty training. Pressure is something that signals to the equine they should remain with us, not leave us. Horses in nature use pressure but they’re actually still joined up. They can put pressure on each other, but they still want to be together. That’s what we need to figure out as riders or handlers. Well-trained liberty horses understand this – they don’t take it personally.”

TOOLS YOU’LL NEED:
• Rope halter
• Soft lead shank (0.5” thick, 16-feet long)
• Giddy-Up stick (On average,a four-foot dressage whip – depending on the horse.)

First Exercise: Yielding the Hind Quarters. Again, you need to read the first blog in our installment for this exercise.

Exercise #2.

Second Exercise: Get the Horse’s Shoulders Yielding Away From the Handler. The horse may yield away from us, but they must remain focused on us as they yield away. So when you yield the shoulder, the horse must always have one eye looking at us.

 

Exercise #3.

3rd Exercise: Softening of the head and neck. Softening it laterally; right and left. And softening it vertically; being able to set the head and neck down. When you can put the head wherever you want, it means the horse really has confidence in us as the handler. It’s an exercise that helps to bring the focus back to us.

 

Exercise #4.

4th Exercise: The Ribcage. When the horse circles on the lead line it arcs its ribcage around us. The horse has to give its ribcage and arc its entire body around yet, their whole focus is on us as they’re still kind of yielding away. They should hold a perfect circle around us and they should not push into us at any point. The horse must keep the same radius around, with the ribcage arced to the outside.

When I point my giddy-up stick at the ribcage, the horse should bend it outward and actually give me one eye or two. When the stick goes to the ground, that’s when he should yield his hindquarters away, but come to me. This is why it’s so important for the development of subtle cues – learned through the repetition of exercises one through four. When we are successful in all of them, I can merely bend my giddy-up stick at my horse and he does what I am requesting. The important point here is that my cues are incredibly subtle.

 

Western Elegance

 

Have you seen the stunning western home we profiled recently in our July/August issue of Western Horse Review? If not, the issue is on stands now! Or better yet, get your subscription up to date here. This serene Albertan cottage borrows inspiration from minimalism and nature. Designed by home-owner Holly Fortier and Braemyn Homes, this 600-square foot home boasts unparalleled visibility of the outdoors from the living room and luxury features. There were so many wonderful photos of the cottage, we thought we’d share them with you digitally – but you’ll have to read the magazine for the full story!

 

Fortier’s mandate of light and brightness is evident throughout the entire space as white walls and doors accentuate both floors. Her desire for a place that was truly comfortable after an extended period of travel for work, was imperative. As was the cottage’s purpose to serve as a retreat for guests who need to decompress. Every element of the three-bedroom, three bathroom residence was meticulously planned because of its small square footage. But that doesn’t mean quality amenities were sacrificed – this home is big on style.

Situated just off of the kitchen is a custom-made table featuring a 100-year-old slab of wood and an authentic antler shed chandelier. The dining area’s tiny space demanded an attribute that was functional, but also cozy. Therefore, Braemyn Homes came up with the genius idea of bench seating underneath the windows. This reduction in chairs allows for storage and guest seating simultaneously.

With nature as a backdrop, it was important to Fortier to, “bring the outdoors in.” A concrete hearth and river rock stone wall, with a wood burning fireplace in the living room is the cottage’s main feature piece. However, the room’s floor-to-ceiling windows are show-stopping and lend a view to the heavens in the evening that is a stargazer’s dream.

Throughout the main level, rough wood flooring tie all the rooms together and exemplify its western elegance. A den that may also serve as a bedroom can be found off Fortier’s kitchen, as can a beautiful patio deck shielded by overhead timber frames.

Above the garage is another bedroom which Fortier often refers to as the “hotel room.” The separate space here offers a sleeping area, room for two leather lounge chairs, a sink and coffee area and a private bathroom. Complimented by a white log bed and Pendleton blankets, the exclusive guest room brings western hospitality to a whole new level.

Exquisitely crafted, Fortier’s super, cozy cottage makes all four Canadian seasons look beautiful.

“Home is so important. I never knew I could create such a beautiful place. Even though I lead a public life, I love being domestic. I love serving food and having people over,” Fortier says. “But I also like quiet moments too.I can have both of those things here.”

As it is a small home, being minimal was very important to Fortier and only her most treasured possessions embellish the cottage. The result of pairing down her belongings and living in the nature-inspired space is what she describes as therapeutic and healthy.

“I’m an aspiring minimalist. I really believe that less is more. What I kept were mostly artifacts from my Canadian Indigenous heritage and my dad, who was a cowboy,” she explains.

“I believe the natural elements really bring peace to a home,” she says. “And the whole process of the build has been very exciting for me. I have a lot of young women who come here and say, ‘I am so inspired by the fact that you designed your own home. And it’s so beautiful. I want to do the same.’”

With its natural landscaping and minimal requirement of yard maintenance, plus access to the lake and surrounding trails, Fortier’s cottage has the tranquility to elevate one’s spirits and mind. Western and nature-inspired motif complete the charm, creating a touch of elegance that fits easily with the surrounding area. Given the chance, Fortier would do it all over again.