Doc West – Distracted Texting & Cutting 101

Illustration by Dave Elston

Illustration by Dave Elston

Welcome to the inaugural column of Doc West – our no-holds barred, brand new column on modern western culture. Watch each print edition for the latest sage advice for the lost and lonely gunsel, and this column for the occasional reprise of the print edition.

Q: It seems like everywhere you look today, people have smart phones, even at horse shows, and that brings up my beef. Are smart phones really necessary in the practice pen at shows? I don’t want to come off as an old codger, but really, isn’t there a safety issue here? For the kid, or “loper” who’s warming up someone’s horse, or, the competitor preparing for their next class, can’t you just leave texting and your compulsive checking on how many “Like’s” your last Facebook post has gained, until you’ve dismounted and are sitting somewhere safely? Don’t you think we need some rules here? Where do you weigh in on this, Doc West?

A: Safety issue? Yes indeed. Let’s legislate no cell phones in the warm up pen! Strike a committee perhaps? A study on the dangers of riding and texting? Helmets and flack jackets for all! What’s a bigger ‘beef’ to me than this pressing ‘safety’ issue is people like you who want to legislate and regulate every aspect of human existence. Without a doubt, it is indeed annoying having the 19-year-old bubble gum chewing, boy-crazy ‘loper’ manically warming up a $50,000 cow pony with no hands on the wheel, eyes down, frantically texting. However, is it really a pressing ‘safety issue’? An equine smash-up derby waiting to happen? Where is the last headline that read ‘Texting and Riding Causes Multi-Horse Pile-Up’?

Are a whole new set of rules and regulations required? 

Rules, regulations and safety measures are largely the child of eastern industrialists and pacified urbanites. Out West, clear from the clutches of suburbia we prefer solutions that are practical, flexible and individual – the Alberta NDP provincial government was loudly reminded of this when Bill 6 was tabled. If you have a legitimate safety issue with a runaway mounted texter, then you can certainly address the offender directly; a quick “heads up,” or “watch where you’re going, buddy,” may suffice. Talking to a trainer, or if need be, the show coordinator if there is a continual problem will rectify 99% of cases. Or, just minding your own business never hurt anyone either.

On a more philosophical level, Benjamin Franklin famously once stated, “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Every safety rule that is made, every safety regulation that is passed constitutes a corresponding encroachment on personal liberty, however small or seemingly insignificant. Anytime someone saddles a horse, lopes a circle, cuts a cow, ropes a steer, runs a fence, crosses a bridge, there is risk to personal safety. Risk is a part of life. It was part of life on the high plains 100 years ago, it remains a part of life in the western horse world today. However, it is not the risk we face that separates the western path from the path of others, but the manner in which we face it, and rules for rules sake is not the western way.

 

Q: Recently some horse-owning friends of mine and I got together for a few drinks and the cost of horses as recreational activity came up. Now, I own a couple of horses, and I’m a trail rider, and what with the gear and tack, and feed and vet bills, I’m sometimes astounded at the money I spend in a year. However, when I learned what my friends, who compete in the sport of cutting, spend in a year, I hit the floor. They must be competing for incredible money and prizes, I thought. I hoped. But no, it’s for no more than a year-end buckle or piece of tack with “champion” for this or another class, emblazoned upon it. In other words, trinkets! They talked about cutting as a “bug” that once caught, never lets you go. My question is what kind of personality takes part in this sort of neurotic behavior, and how do I ensure I’m never at risk of catching this bug?

A: There is an Arabian Proverb that says, “The wind of Heaven is that which blows between a horse’s ears.” If you’ve ever had occasion to sit on an equine of the cutter variety, you’d understand. Nine hundred pounds of turbo charged, cat quick, equine muscle – twisting, turning, exploding into motion one second and slamming into a full stop, the next. Cutting to the cowboy is what rally racing is to the motor head, or the Drop of Doom at the local fair is to your nine-year-old hopped up on cotton candy.

Back when the range was open, cutting horses were used to separate or ‘cut’ cattle from one another. Whether a cow was sick and needed to be doctored, or a calf was unbranded – the little muscled stock type or foundation ponies with cow sense and agility – were used to go eye-to-eye with the most sour frontier longhorn. Cowboys would sometimes have informal contests seeing whose horse could hold a cow the longest, and winning was more a matter of pride than anything (given cowboys had little of value to wager), and so the ‘sport’ of cutting came to be.

Modern cuttings today are a far shade from the early jimmy-rigged contests on frontier cattle in dusty outdoor corrals. Cow ponies are now carefully warmed up in indoor air-conditioned equestrian facilities with deep soft #1 sand. They are booted, clipped, trimmed, shone, brushed and floated. Crowds of curious onlookers, horsie types and tourists have replaced the horsemen and the cowpunchers. Yet for all that has changed the power, the grace and the pure marvel of the cutting horse has not.

Today we find contestants of all shapes and sizes obsessively hauling all over North America chasing, yes, what are ostensibly, trinkets. What kind of personality breeds such idiocy you ask? All sorts I would say, but mainly the mid-life, well-heeled, athletically-challenged, neurotic glory seeker. You know, the ones you see in the cutting pen – on way too much horse, flip-flopping, tipped over, jacked up, teeth clenched, arms clamped like a vice to saddle leather and horse hair, legs and $1,200 dollar spurs holding on for dear life – all done with a fiery desire to win at all costs. Yeah, that kind.

If you don’t want to end up like one of those, the answer is simple, don’t cut. If you must, pen. However, that’s a psychological disorder all to itself. 

Send your western culture question to Doc West at editorial@westernhorsereview.com

Emergency Aid Needed for Equine Community

Ft-Mac

 

In light of the wildfires in Fort McMurray, AB, Equine Canada (EC) would like to share the following update from the Alberta Equestrian Federation (AEF) with the Canadian equestrian community:

The Alberta Equestrian Federation (AEF) greatly appreciates the outpour of support of the Alberta equine community and have been assembling a growing list of individuals and businesses who are willing to open up their farms and homes to those affected by the fires in Fort McMurray and their horses.

 The AEF will be doing all we can to update the equine community on the fire situation(s) as we receive them from Alberta Agriculture and Forestry Emergency Directors and we are the first point of contact for equine updates.

 We are currently in communication with the Alberta Veterinary Medical Association, Horse Racing Alberta, and many other provincial equine organizations to coordinate help for those in need.

 At this time, emergency aid in the way of funds are needed for feed, water, transportation and veterinary care; these are of the utmost importance at this time. The AEF will match donations received up to $5,000. Donations of other items will be required at a later date to assist with recovery and replacement and the AEF will help with this coordination as well.

 If you are interested in providing aid in the form of a monetary donation, feel free to forward an etransfer (Security answer: fortmacequine) to Email: info@albertaequestrian.com or contact the office:

 Rita, 403-253-4411 ext. 7 or toll-free: 1-877-463-6233 ext. 7

 The AEF is unable to issue taxable receipts, however donations over $250 are eligible for a taxable donation receipt and can be made by completing this donation form.

 We encourage those offering to house equines to please familiarize themselves with Biosecurity best practices to help prevent a disease outbreak. If you are interested in being added to our contact list to help, please contact our office with contact information and the specifics as to what you can assist with.

 The AEF sends our thoughts to all residents and evacuees affected by the fires and we will continue to provide support for our equine friends.

10 Year Anniversary of The Mane Event

K & K Livestock Booth

K & K Livestock Booth at The Mane Event, Red Deer.

 

Western Horse Review attended the 10th anniversary of Mane Event Expo at Westerner Park from April 21-24, 2016. The Mane Event had speakers and clinicians from multiple disciplines, from dressage to trick riding to reining, all different breeds and don’t forget the very popular trainers challenge. The trade show had a little something for everyone, from booths with cute little nick-knacks, to tack of all disciplines, ponies to pet and even some of the trailers we dream of owning were there.

 

Gyspy Vanner

Gyspy Vanner horse being petted by a happy little girl.

 

 

JT Heritage Sales and Services Trailer Booth

JT Heritage Sales and Services Trailer Booth.

 

On Sunday afternoon of Mane Event we had an awesome visit from the Calgary Stampede Royalty, who help draw names for our daily give-away of the day. They also stuck around to help give out little Western Horse Review goodie bags and had pictures taken with little kids who dreamed of meeting a queen and princesses.

 

Calgary Stampede Royalty draws a name for out Country Thunder Prize

Calgary Stampede Royalty draws a name for our Country Thunder prize.

 

Later that day we stumble upon one of Pat Parelli clinics with two girls between the ages of 12-15, where he taught them the natural approach to horsemanship. He teaches them how to control their horse with body movements and motions. He teaches these through 7 games: friendly, porcupine, driving, yo-yo, circling, sideways and squeeze. He introduces the ball to show the horse that the tools he uses aren’t a threat and to get them use to the motion of objects.

 

Pat Parelli, with demonstration of circling in the background

Pat Parelli, with demonstration of circling in the background.

 

 

Parelli teaching the game of friendly, teaching the horse that the tools are not a threat

Parelli teaching the game of friendly, showing the horse that the tools are not a threat.

 

After Parelli’s clinic, the final of the trainers challenge was about to commence. Over the past four days, four trainers – Doug Mills, Patrick King, Scott Purdum, and Steve Rother put their skills to the test to show their method of training the unbroke horse. The trainer’s progression is not normally this fast, they usually take 30-60 days to do what they are demonstrate in 4 days. After the final session, Steve Rother was announced the winner of the Trainers Challenge.

 

Doug Mills demonstrating his training

Doug Mills demonstrating his training.

 

The closing of the well attended Mane Event followed shortly after the Trainers Challenge. The next Mane Event is being held in Chilliwack, British Columbia from October 21-23, 2016

Record Breaking Year at Agribition

Photo Courtesy of ShowChampions

Photo Courtesy of ShowChampions

 

REGINA, SASKATCHEWAN – Canadian Western Agribition (CWA) announced today at their Annual General Meeting a profit from operations of $844,606 and a provincial economic impact to $56 million annually.

Attendance for the show was the highest it’s been in six years with 130,200 visitors over the six-day event.

“This year’s show felt more festive than any in recent memory. Our music lineup has expanded and programming has evolved to include educating consumers about where their food comes from. These changes, combined with the health of the agriculture industry, made for a great show,” says CWA President, Stewart Stone.

CWA’s reputation as an agriculture marketplace was amplified by significant growth in livestock sales. For the first time since 1975, overall livestock sales reached $3.4 million and purebred beef sales exceeded $2 million.

The rodeo opened with a free admission night courtesy of The Mosaic Company and numbers stayed strong all week resulting in a record of 23,560 fans over five performances.

“Our partnership with Mosaic set the stage for an attendance record that will never be broken,” says CWA CEO, Marty Seymour.

The show was visited by over 800 international guests from 70 different countries, with a 25 per cent increase in active international buyers.

Adding to the show’s banner year, CWA was recognized for marketing and promotional achievement at the Paragon Business Excellence Awards. CWA is also up for Marquee Event of the Year at the Saskatchewan Tourism Awards of Excellence to take place on April 14.

Dates for the 2016 Canadian Western Agribition are November 21-26, 2016.

 

 

 

Doubling Down at Coleman and Camrose

Scott Schiffner's Winning Ride in Round 2 of CFR 2015. Photo by: Mike Copeman

Scott Schiffner’s Winning Ride in Round 2 of CFR 2015.
Photo by: Mike Copeman

 

CAMROSE/COLEMAN, ALTA – If you were going to make a bet this past weekend, it would have been safe to go double or nothing on the two-time Canadian Champion Bull Rider. Thirty-six-year-old Scott Schiffner is showing no signs of slowing down this season after winning the Kananaskis Pro Rodeo with an impressive 90 point ride on Kesler Rodeo’s “Flight Plan”.

The winning ride was actually made on a young bull that was in the re-ride pen, Schiffner says the bull proved to be even better than expected. “Duane said ‘you probably want to get on him Scott, he’s pretty good’,” said Schiffner when making the decision to take his re-ride draw after his first bull of the night stumbled, “He wasn’t pretty good, he was pretty exceptional.”

The Strathmore cowboy also battled it out and split the win at the Camrose Spring Classic with the “Young Gun” Lonnie West who is 16 years Schiffner’s junior. The two tied with a pair of 87.5 point rides, Schiffner’s done on the Outlaw Buckers bull “Brahma Boots Chrome”.

“I was pretty excited to go there because that’s the bull that I turned out in the sixth round last year at CFR, that was the first time in my 15 year history at the CFR that I didn’t get on a bull so it was kind of nice to have him again and know that I could ride him,” said Schiffner.

The Bull Rider has been there, done that, in the Canadian rodeo world and is still proving he has what it takes to be among the top 12 in Canada on a consistent basis, but Schiffner says he’s hoping to enjoy life outside of the bucking pen a little more this rodeo season.

“I want to try to go to a few less rodeos and still make the CFR. I still support Canadian rodeo but I’ve got a lot going on and my girls are getting to the age now where they’re pretty fun and I don’t want to miss out on things that they’re going to do maybe once or twice in their lifetime,” said Schiffner.

Between the two rodeos Schiffner will pocket $3,032.10 unofficially, making him the top bull riding earner of the weekend.

A competitor that was just shy of a double win this weekend was Okotoks Barrel Racer Crystal Christman. The cowgirl placed first at the Kananaskis Pro Rodeo with a speedy time of 12.951 seconds on her horse “Blazin Boy” otherwise known as “Binger”. She was then barely edged out for the lead at Camrose by Canadian Champion Barrel Racer, Deb Guelly.

Christman, who is not currently well known on the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association trail, has placed at all three of the first Canadian Professional Rodeos and surpassed her entire life earnings record in just two weekends, but with two kids at home and a busy work schedule, Christman says she’s just out there to have fun.

“I’ll make it to the ones I can get to and try to take it easy on the old boy,” Christman says of the 16-year-old horse she describes as a warrior, “We’re just going to go out and have fun, we’re going to get to where we can go and enjoy the ride.”

Christman was your highest earning barrel racer, and overall rodeo competitor, of the weekend with an unofficial total of $3,833.08 to go on the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association season leaderboard. At this rate, a Canadian Finals Rodeo qualification may start to be on her mind and who knows, stranger things have happened to people when they’re having fun.

Whether it’s competing at CPRA rodeos or enjoying life at home, Christman says there are many people to thank for the fun she’s had along the way and wishes to send a special shout out to the Webb and Depaoli families as well as her own family including her two little girls.

Other competitors that collected two paychecks this weekend include: your top Bareback money earner, Caleb Bennett with $1,822.57 in total earnings, Dustin Walker who topped the class in the Steer Wrestling with $3,070.51 between his win at Camrose and third place split in the Kananaskis Country, Team Ropers Braidy Davies and Chase Simpson placed twice this weekend to earn $1,687.76 each, in the Saddle Bronc it was Cole Scott who took home the most cash with a total of $1,988.38, and the top earner in the Tie Down Roping was Cody Brett with $2,282.32 on the board.

Find complete rodeo results at www.rodeocanada.com

Next up on the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association schedule is Drayton Valley April 29th to May 1st.

 

Kamloops Cowboy Festival Celebrates 20 Years

Lots-on-stage

By Guest Blogger, Debbie MacRae

The Kamloops Cowboy Festival held annually in Kamloops, BC, celebrated its 20th anniversary this past March 17-20. The festival stuck to its roots, bringing back many of the same fabulous entertainers who have brought the sparkle to this musical feast and story-telling celebration for two decades. Having attended the 20th anniversary, an overwhelming appreciation of BC’s Cowboy culture emerged from the experience. Here are a few highlights from the 2016 event. We also pay tribute to the minds behind the magic.

2oth Anniversary poster collection.

2oth Anniversary poster collection.

Over a span of twenty years, with organizational ideology which included the likes of Connie and Butch Falk, Linda and Mike Puhallo, Hugh and Billie McLennan, Frank Gleeson and innumerable others, the concept of an enduring festival which would immortalize the cowboy heritage has become an iconic reality.

No festival is complete without the entertainers and competitors – the musicians and artists who showcase their ideas, manifest their lyrics into songs, and accompany their vocals with instrumentation. Without the entertainers and artists, there would be no Art Show or Rising Star Showcase.

Art-show

Behind the scenes are the numerous contributions that bring this event to light. There’s the poster and pin design and development: the production of event pins are done by Laurie Artiss out of Vancouver, BC. There’s also the coordination of over 80 volunteers with hundreds of collective hours of service and dedication.

Sassy Six-Gun. An event volunteer.

Sassy Six-Gun Shooter. An event volunteer.

Shuttle drivers such as Sassy Six Gun, who dress the part, provide the service, sacrifice the hours, and ensure a memorable experience for entertainers and attendees. Volunteers like Red Allan, Trade Show Manager and his wife, Helen Allan, volunteer coordinator whose selflessness ensure a seamless experience; pushing carts, arranging the space and making endless phone calls for support.

Ruscheinsky---Rising-Star-winner

Jason Ruscheinsky – Rising Star winner.

The Guitar donated by Lee’s Music epitomizes the junction of western heritage with an illustration of First Nations totem artwork and cowboy persona. The Keeper of the West Award is provided in the form of a Sterling Silver Belt Buckle awarded to the entertainer with the best new song or poem reflecting the Festival’s mandate. The Joe Marten Memorial Award is offered for the Preservation of Cowboy Heritage in BC.

NEWSilent-Auction---20th-Anniversary-Guitar

The Silent Auction 20th Anniversary Guitar.

We recognize contributors to the Silent Auction, which funds are directed to ongoing financing of expenses; and the judges, without whose efforts the competition would not have merit; whose talents and voices echo the experience of their own cowboy contribution.

In the words of entertainer Tim Hus, “Being a judge is easy – until you try it… As an entertainer, people judge you. It’s a paradigm when you become the judge.”

Sound-man

Scott from Lee’s Music is a 31-year-old sound man with a Master’s Degree. Organizer, Kathy McMillan has said “…if it wasn’t for these guys, the festival could not succeed.”

100_3048
Then there is the competition. This year the scores were incredibly close – with some judges awarding scores for one artist, and another scoring equal points for a competitor, creating a unique sense of competition and accomplishment.

Cowboy-Church

Cowboy Church.

Pastor Don Maione has been an integral part of the festival as he has so willingly offered his Calvary Church to performers; not only to showcase their talents, but also to share their collective appreciation for the gifts which have been bestowed upon them. Pastor Don approached the festival and said, ‘You have a need, and we have a facility.’

Thompson-River-Boots

Trade-showThe cooks, the chefs, the attendants in concessions, the hostesses, and the chef in the breakfast bar – all contribute to make the Kamloops Cowboy Festival a memorable and unique appreciation of cowboy heritage – in a modern day environment. This year there were 48 booths and 4 tables in the trade show, all collectively marketing their innovations, decorations, and presentations. Everyone in attendance captures the Cowboy image in its best light and preserves that light to enhance the awareness of the urbanite; in song, word, color and deed.

“Cowboys are gentlemen,” to echo Leslie Ross. “We need to carry on the message of the Cowboy ways.”

on-stage
Gary Fjellgaard laments, “Whatever happened to my heroes? They don’t make ‘em like they did in ’44. But they were there when I needed them. I wish they’d all come back again, cuz I don’t have no heroes anymore…”

The heroes are the ones behind the scenes, the ones we don’t thank everyday – but we should; the minds behind the magic, like Mark and Kathy McMillan, who work on their ranch from dawn to dusk, and then pick up their pens and their pencils, their guitars and strings, and telephones and work the magic so that we can appreciate and preserve what some of us take for granted; the Cowboy heritage of the last frontier, in beautiful British Columbia.

 

Skijoring the Blues Away

In a Canadian winter, it’s often difficult to break the “winter cycle.” You know, go to work or school, come home, watch TV. It’s often so cold outside that it’s difficult to summon the motivation one needs to get outside and reap some much needed Vitamin D.

That is of course, unless you are a horse person. Horse people must go outside. Even when we really don’t want to…

We often find ourselves engaged in winter activities, even if it only involves the simplest task of feeding horses or doing chores. Oh, there are so many benefits of horse ownership!

And here’s another one for you – Skijoring.

According to Wikipedia, Skijoring is a winter sport where a person on skis is pulled by a horse, a dog (or dogs) or a motor vehicle. It is derived from the Norwegian word “skikjøring” meaning, ski driving.

Here in Canada, Skijoring is a darn good way to spend a snowy day. And, beat the winter blues.

Photo by Jenn Webster.

Photo by Jenn Webster.

So how does one simply, skijor?

In my barn, we figured you pretty much… just got outside and did it.

One fine winter day, some neighbours, friends and I decided to find out what it takes. With the Rocky Mountains as our backdrop, a mild winter temperature hovering around -5 degrees C and zero windchill, we met in the middle of a pristine cow pasture (retired for the season). There were no gopher holes to worry about, but there was a fresh layer of powdery snow waiting for our arrival.

Photo by Jenn Webster.

Photo by Jenn Webster.

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What does it take to skijor? While we weren’t entirely sure, we knew good-minded horses were the key. Our darling neighbour Caroline, brought out her awesome little gelding named “Webster” and our friend Murray brought two mounts, “Prairie” and “Rocket.” All three were absolute super stars.

Murray and his horse, Rocket. Photo by Jenn Webster.

Murray and his horse, Rocket. Photo by Jenn Webster.

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All three horses had been used extensively for roping and were extremely seasoned mounts. They ran barefoot in the pasture. However, according to some Skijoring associations, many horses wear studded ice shoes.

Photo by Jenn Webster.

Photo by Jenn Webster.

 

We were successful in having the horses pull a sled. The kids loved it!

Photo by Jenn Webster.

Photo by Jenn Webster.

 

 

And the burning question I had was – could one snowboard behind a horse?

Boarding-WEB

I learned that yes. You can! And it’s a good time too, because a board glides along easily behind a loping horse.

Just don’t catch an edge.

Or a frozen cowpie…

Snowboard-WEB

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When the horses really got going, the sled went along at a pretty good clip. This is where the token “cowboy hat” came in handy. It could protect one’s face from the flying snow of the horse’s hooves.

Photo by Jenn Webster.

Photo by Jenn Webster.

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Next time we’re gonna try it with a warm bonfire to greet us at the end. And a whole bunch of marshmallows to roast.

Photo by Jenn Webster.

Photo by Jenn Webster.

 

What a way to make some Canadian memories!

Born to Buck

2016+Poster+online (522x800)

The Calgary Stampede revealed the original artwork for the 2016 Stampede poster (on Oct. 5) at the Central Calgary Public Library. Community members, and Stampede employees and volunteers in cowboy hats, cheered the unveiling of the painting.

The 2016 poster artwork, completed by Calgary artist Michelle Grant, represents six horses that have been bred and raised at the Stampede Ranch. The piece, named Born to Buck highlights the Stampede Ranch’s very own Born to Buck program.

“I wanted to create awareness and conversation around our Born to Buck program,” says Bill Gray, President and chairman of the board of the Calgary Stampede. “To capture the spirit of this incredible Stampede program, we needed a meticulous artist who could create movement and evoke the essence of these equine athletes. I am extremely pleased with the final piece, and I am proud to share it around the world as our iconic Stampede Poster.”

The painting recognizes the Calgary Stampede bucking stock that participates at rodeos all across North America, in addition to the Calgary Stampede Rodeo. The careful attention to detail and acute sense of movement brings the stunning piece of art to life.

“I was thrilled when Bill Gray contacted me to create the artwork for the 2016 Stampede Poster,” says Grant. “My passion is horses and everything they represent. My work is focused on capturing their strength, agility and personality.”

Grant works in acrylics, oils and graphite and brings a sound understanding of design, light, form and anatomy to all her work. She has a unique ability to combine a realist style with impressionist input. Grant has been the recipient of many awards, has worked with the Canadian Mint on numerous gold, silver and circulation coins and has participated in creating the Mural Mosaic for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver.

Each year, since 1912, the Calgary Stampede creates a poster to promote the upcoming year’s Stampede. For many of the early years, the poster was the Stampede’s main form of advertising. In recent years, the poster artwork was auctioned off during Stampede time. The 2016 poster will be the first to be permanently displayed on Stampede Park as part of a new tradition.

During the months leading up to the 2016 Calgary Stampede, the painting will be on display in a number of locations around the city. For more information on where the artwork will be as well as how to apply to host the artwork, please contact Shannon Murray at smurray@calgarystampede.com.

A True Equine Sanctuary

RELEASE BY THE GLOBAL FEDERATION OF ANIMAL SANCTUARIES

PHOTOS BY BEAR VALLEY RESCUE SOCIETY

boiler and around the house 029a (650x595)

Bear Valley Rescue’s oldest horse, Pet, at 39 years, and their youngest, Filly, at three months.

The Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS), the only globally recognized organization providing standards for identifying legitimate animal sanctuaries, is honored to announce the award of Verified status to Bear Valley Rescue of Sundre, Alberta as of September 15, 2015.

Verification means that Bear Valley Rescue meets the criteria of a true equine sanctuary and rescue and is providing humane and responsible care of the animals. To be awarded Verified status, an organization must meet GFAS’s rigorous and peer-reviewed animal care standards that are confirmed by a site visit and they must also adhere to a demanding set of ethical and operational principles.

“GFAS has over 100 certified equine facilities throughout the United States. The addition of Bear Valley Rescue is extraordinary, as they are our first Canadian equine group that has achieved Verification,” states Kellie Heckman, GFAS Executive Director.

moving horses and herd and rigby 008 (650x488)

One of Bear Valley’s volunteers with Beth, who was rescued last year. At the time of rescue, Beth had a fractured pelvis, and her face was deformed from a halter left on as she grew.

“Bear Valley Rescue provides an essential resource for hundreds of animals in need in the Canadian province of Alberta. There is no other registered charitable animal welfare or rescue group in this geographic area that assists as many horses and farmed animals, regardless of the individual animal’s current health, age or circumstances,” explained Daryl Tropea, GFAS Senior Deputy Director.

“Since 2003, Bear Valley Rescue has found new homes for over 600 horses and provides lifetime sanctuary for those animals difficult to place. The leadership and volunteers of this organization work closely with a number of provincial and private organizations to ensure as many animals in need as possible, have the opportunity for rehabilitation and re-homing.”

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Part of one of the herds of Bear Valley’s rescued horses.

“We are honored to be included in the GFAS family, and we will strive to meet and exceed the GFAS standards every day,” said Kathy Bartley, President of Bear Valley Rescue. “Our goal has always been to do the best that is possible for the animals, and being verified by GFAS helps us to ensure we are doing just that.”

The GFAS Equine Accreditation Program is made possible by a generous grant from The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®.

For more information on Bear Valley Rescue, visit www.bearvalleyab.org or call 403-637-2708.