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.


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.


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?


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…



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.


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

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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

A True Equine Sanctuary



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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.

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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 or call 403-637-2708.

Stock Dog Showcase


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Nigel Watkins, U.K., and Drift in the shedding circle. Photo by Kristi Oikawa

The 2015 Canadian Border Collie Association Championships were held at the Bar U Ranch, just south of Longview, Alberta, on Aug. 27-30. This events hosts the top Canadian registered dogs and their handlers. This year’s just was Serge Van Der Zweep of the Netherlands. It was a large and tough field of competition with 21 Nursery dogs and 62 Open. This event rotates from east to west each year. The 2016 Championships will be held in Ontario.

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Ross, owned by Randy Dye, Alberta. Photo by Kristi Oikawa.

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Gord Lazzarotto, B.C., and Drift circle the post. Photo by Kristi Oikawa

The 2015 CBCA Nursery Champion was Scott Glen of Alberta and Dave. The Reserve Champion in this division was Bev Lambert of Ontario and River. The 2015 CBCA Open Champion was Nigel Watkins of the U.K. and Drift, while Reserve Champion went to Scott Glen with Alice.

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Scott Glen, AB, and Alice circle the post. Photo by Kristi Oikawa

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Amanda Milliken, ON, and Dorey work on penning. Photo by Kristi Oikawa

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Double Lift Finalists- back row, L-R: Chris Scmaltz, set out. Serge Van Der Zweep, judge and wife Ellen, Naomi Shields, set out. Front row, L-R: Scott Glen, AB; Bev Lambert, ON; Amanda Milliken, ON; Chris Jobe, AB; Nigel Watkins, U.K.; Norm Sommers, SK; Randy Dye, AB. Photo by Val Dye.

Correction: An earlier version of this story had Scott Glen incorrectly listed as the CBCA Nursery Reserve Champion, and Bev Lambert as Champion. We apologize for this error.

Horse Property: Equine Components


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The search for the right horse property leans heavily on the equine components involved. When meeting with a real estate professional, arrive with a carefully thought-out list of your needs and wants. This will depend on how many horses you have, what type of riding you plan to do at this property and whether or not you plan on running a business component. You need to consider your requirements in the barn, stalls, arena, paddocks and any other structures. Here are some questions to get you started:

  • What facilities will you require for your horses and your purpose in a horse property? Are you willing to renovate, or do you have the capital to build from the ground up?
  • What type of barn do you need, and how large should it be? Does it need to be heated? How many box stalls will you need? What do you need in a tack room and feed room? Do you want a wash rack inside the barn?
  • Will you need an indoor arena, and how large will it have to be? Does it need to be heated? Do you need an office in the arena or barn?
  • How many paddocks and shelters do you need? Do they currently have electric waterers, or will you have to install them yourself? Do you need a round pen for training, and is there level land for that?

Begin with a visit to your county office to learn about land use bylaws for rural properties. If you are building new structures, be aware of setbacks, the minimum distances you can build facilities from a particular landmark, like roads and utility access easements, wells, bodies of water, septic systems and parcel boundaries. Check with a county planner to ensure existing buildings are in line with the local setback rules.

It’s imperative to get an inspection done on each building to ensure they’re up to code. Often, this is a way to determine whether your money is better spent renovating or building something new entirely, or passing over the property if the cost of getting it up to code would be higher or more troublesome than you’re willing to deal with.

If you want to keep the existing facilities on the property, think about what you may want to add in the future based on changing wants and needs. Will you have the space to make any changes to your horse facilities should you decide to do so in the future? The space to do so is important to consider, even if you are satisfied with what you have at the time of purchase.

Think about the upkeep that will be involved with this property. The larger the property, the more upkeep it will require. Be sure to inspect everything — fences, buildings, roofs, floors, electrical, plumbing and foundations — to see how much needs to be repaired or replaced, and consider the time and cost involved. The worse conditions they are in, the more time-consuming and costly the renovation will be. By carefully examining these features, you will be better informed when deciding if these are issues are fixable or if your time and money are better spent elsewhere.

Other considerations can include where you will store equipment and feed, where to dispose of manure and what kind of fencing is best for your property and your horses. If the property has access to an irrigation canal, think about whether or not you’ll need an irrigation system to produce enough hay for your horses and where it would be most beneficial on the land. Be sure to find out where the electrical and plumbing features are in the barn, and check to see if they’re easy to access in case of an emergency.

Visit our Real Estate webpage to check out current horse property listings.

Horse Property: Land Considerations


Quality pasture, adequate space per horse and access to water are all factors to consider when viewing  a horse property.

Quality pasture, enough acreage for the number of horses and access to water are all factors to consider when viewing a horse property.

Whether you’re buying your first horse property, changing your focus or looking for your dream ranch, there are many elements to consider in your search for the perfect property. In this article, we list some of the most important geographical factors to think about when identifying your needs, and what to look for when viewing properties.

Work with a real estate professional specializing in rural properties who also knows the area well. Not only will they know what to look for and be familiar with the area’s land use bylaws, they can better meet your needs by understanding the lifestyle you want.

Start your search with a trip to your county office to learn about the land use bylaws for rural properties. The regulations on property use, environmental considerations and how many animals are allowed per acre vary by each county or municipal district.

The purpose of your horse property will determine a number of factors, including size, best possible layout, necessary facilities and land use regulations on agricultural businesses and livestock units per property. It’s also important to think about what you may want to do with your property in the future, and factor in the extra acreage that may be needed for any expansion.

Think about how much land on the property is actually usable. A larger property covered in trees and water may have less usable space than a smaller property without those features. Depending on your needs in a horse property, you want to ensure the property meets those needs. Are you looking for trails for riding? A large, flat space for an arena or barn?

Land with good drainage is particularly important for grazing livestock. Pastures need dry footing, and creating well-drained areas can be expensive. Land with a slight slope, around a 2-5 percent grade, is considered ideal for pasture because it drains well and is less likely to lead to major erosion. Look for the high spots on the property, and ideally you will find wide, narrow drainage paths for slow-moving water. You want to avoid flood plains, as well as low-lying areas where rain tends to pool.

Sufficient water access is a necessity. The generally-accepted standard for abundant well water supply is no less than 10 gallons per minute. Regulations depend upon the county and the number of animals per acreage. Will you need to dig a well or dugout to have enough water for your horses? Be sure to examine all the water access points, and know that the further you have to haul water to your livestock, the greater the time commitment.

When examining pasture quality, check for the growth of good forage. Land with substantial weed growth and marsh vegetation are less suitable for grazing, and be sure to check for plants that are toxic to horses. Reseeding a pasture takes time and money, but is generally a good investment. Check the soil quality — clay-based and rockier soils are less productive. There are many good grazing resources, such as the Canadian Forage and Grassland Association, to give you an idea of proper pasture management and rotation based on acreage and number of animals. Also consider whether or not you will have to produce hay. How much hay land will you need? Will you have to purchase additional hay?

Next week, we will discuss infrastructure considerations when viewing a horse property, such as renovations, building from the ground up and fencing.

Visit our Real Estate webpage to check out current horse property listings.


Western Wedding – Beautiful B.C.

Date: July 13, 2013

Photographer: Sharon Fibelkorn

Ceremony Location: The home of Mike and Carol Roberts Ojai, Califonia

Reception Location: Abbotsford, British Columbia

The Horses: “I had a surprise entrance planned for myself and Ryley Ray (Cayley’s daughter) that only my parents and my bridesmaids (and just a few others) knew about. We were delivered in a horse drawn carriage from a nearby horse. I will never forget the look on Cayley’s face when we came up the driveway, I could see tears that were streaming down his face. I wanted to include Ryley Ray in as much as possible, and this entrance made her feel so special!”Wilson---horses

The Rings: Katie’s ring was a surprise that Cayley had chosen himself. It features a perfectly round, brilliant Certified Canadian Eskimo diamond. Cayley’s ring was chosen by Katie in California; a smooth platinum band with a beveled edge for comfort when he’s riding.



Their Story: Katie Montague is a successful Realtor from Ojai, Califonia who never imagined she would end up married to a Canadian working cow horse trainer, but fate had its own way of making other plans.

The horse industry is a small on,e and the working ow horse industry is smaller yet. So when a mutual friend had ideas of setting up Montague and British Columbia trainer, Cayley Wilson, Montague had her mind already made up. However, after a chance meeting in the fall of 2011 and a phone call shortly after, she realized maybe Wilson was a person she had more in common with than she knew.

“What I came to find out was that we were both traveling down similar paths, one that we could share our experiences with and perhaps help each other out in others. We decided to be friends with no expectations. During the four months we talked on the phone, I began to see some amazing traits in this man that I would not have guessed. He was a sincere, honest, integral man and I began to admire him greatly for those attributes. He was passionate about his little girl Ryley Ray, and I loved that too.”

The long distance friendship soon turned into something more when Montague visited Wilson at an Arizona horse show.

“We hit it off well and Cayley drove me back to California on his way home to Canada. An hour later, I got a phone call from him saying that he really didn’t think we could make it work with the distance, and he needed to be close to his daughter . . . I think I fell in love with him a little bit right then and there.”

One year later, they were engaged, and six months following was the small, intimate wedding that they both wanted.


Dress: Katie was stunning in a simple lace gown with material that runched across and tied in at the hip with a lace flower. It had a slit at the hip that allowed some flowered tulle to spill out. The train was minimal, in keeping with Katie’s theme of beautiful simplicity.

Bridesmaids: Dressed in Katie’s colours of coral and turquoise, the bridal party consisted of four ladies. Her maids of honour were her sister and best friend, then her step-sister and sister-to-be rounded out the girls’ side of the party. They wore simple sundresses Katie found at Old Navy with the intent of dressing them in something they could wear again. The flower girl was none other than Cayley’s little girl, Ryley Ray. She was dressed similar to the bride in a darling off-white dress.


Men’s Attire: Cayley’s best man was his brother, with three friends making up his groomsmen. They were dressed in starched jeans, Cinch shirts and their own boots and hats. Cayley was set apart with a classy black jacket.

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Cake: Katie went with a 3-tiered stacked carrot and lemon cake and found a cute cowboy and cowgirl topper. She topped off the cute western design by asking the caterer to decorate the rest with a horseshoe design.

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Flowers: In a unique twist, Katie chose all silk flowers for the wedding. “The wedding was July 13 in Southern California, so we had to be prepared for the heat. I didn’t want to have to worry about wilting flowers and silks made it so much easier. No one would have known had I not told them!”Wilson---wedding-party

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Olds Welcomes the Return of Pro Rodeo

Story by Piper Whelan

Pro Rodeo Canada General Manager Dan Eddy shares his excitement for the inaugural Oldstoberfest at a press conference last week (photo: Olds College).

Pro Rodeo Canada General Manager Dan Eddy shares his excitement for the inaugural Oldstoberfest at a press conference in June (photo: Olds College).

Professional rodeo will return to Olds, Alberta, this fall, and it’s arriving with a cultural twist. The first Oldstoberfest, a celebration combining the tradition of rodeo with Bavarian culture, will be held Sept. 18-20 in Olds. The highlights of this event are a Pro Rodeo Canada-sanctioned rodeo at the Olds Regional Exhibition Grounds and a Bavarian-themed beer gardens in the Olds Cow Palace.

“Oldstoberfest is the first event of its kind, and unique to anywhere else in the world. Combining our western prairie heritage with German tradition gives an opportunity for incoming visitors to our community to celebrate our history in a new and innovative way,” said Gillian Shields, general manager for Oldstoberfest, at a press conference in June.

Gillian Shields, general manager for Oldstoberfest and a former Miss Rodeo Canada, introduces this new event to the people of Olds (photo: Olds College).

Gillian Shields, general manager for Oldstoberfest and a former Miss Rodeo Canada, introduces this new event to the people of Olds (photo: Olds College).

The event will feature rodeo performances on Friday and Saturday. The beer gardens will be fashioned after the German-inspired theme, and there will be two evening grandstand concerts after the rodeo. The weekend will also feature a variety of community activities, including an open house at Olds College to spotlight a number of their programs.

“The idea behind the Oldstoberfest rodeo is unique, innovative and a perfect example of what Pro Rodeo Canada is striving to accomplish moving forward,” said Dan Eddy, general manager of Pro Rodeo Canada. “The Oldstoberfest team is thinking outside the box in their efforts to change the face of Canadian rodeo, build on its excitement and bring it to new audiences.”

Oldstoberfest promised cowboys and cowgirls going Bavarian style for a fun and innovative weekend of rodeo (photo: Olds College).

Oldstoberfest promises cowboys and cowgirls going Bavarian style for a fun and innovative weekend of rodeo (photo: Olds College).

Olds formerly played host to a pro rodeo during the now-defunct Olds Fair & Rodeo. Last year, Olds hosted a small Octoberfest celebration at the Pomeroy Inn & Suites, one of the partners of this new event. With these two types of community events meeting to create a larger and more inventive celebration, it is hoped this will become an annual event.

The organizers are projecting 8,000-12,000 visitors for “the world’s first Bavarian rodeo,” and they are sure this creative spin on rodeo will become a must-see event. “We want to raise the standard of rodeo, increase community engagement and maximize economic impact for the Town of Olds and Mountain View County,” said Shields.

Correction: an earlier version of this story stated there was a rodeo performance on the Sunday night. The performances are actually on the Friday and Saturday of the event.


Western Wedding – Prairie Love

An excerpt from our January/February issue, where we annually carry a western wedding feature. Be sure to subscribe and catch next years edition.

Date: August 10, 2013

Photographer: Nicole Wade

Ceremony Location: Willow Creek Ranch, Saskatchewan


Their Story: Ashley is a Saskatchewan farm girl who grew up riding good horses and making her way through the 4H ranks. She was soon led to the rodeo arena, where she competed in college rodeos and progressed to many rodeo associations across Alberta and Saskatchewan. Tyler, on the other hand, did not grow up in the industry, but got his first taste of agriculture at 19, working on a grain farm, outside of Kindersley, Saskatchewan. He stayed with farming, going on to attend Olds College. It was there that he developed a love for roping, which would lead him to compete on the University of Lethbridge college rodeo team when he moved on to study there.

It was the commonality of the love of the rodeo and farming industries that brought the two together. In 2009, the couple met while both were employed at a feedlot outside of High River, Alberta.

“It was love at first sight. After getting to know one another, we realized how much we had in common and found it hard to beleive we were both living in High River, but grew up not far from each other near Kindersley, Saskatchewan.”

After a short time of travelling back and forth, trying their hand at a challenging long-distance relationship, both Ashley and Tyler moved back to Saskatchewan and were engaged by the spring of 2012.


The Horses: With a background heavily laden with horses, the couple wanted to include them in their big day. Tyler’s uncle drove the groom and groomsmen with his grand team of Clydesdales, while the bride and bridesmaids made their entrance in a wagon driven by a local neighbor.

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Dress: Ashley’s dress caught her eye as soon as she laid eyes on it. It had a pretty sweetheart neckline and feminine layers of lace lining the bottom.

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Bridesmaids: The bridal party dresses were made by Alfred Angelo; chocolate brown in colour, with matching Macie Bean cowboy boots and turquoise jewelry from Arizona.DSC_3766-ruby

Men’s Attire: To pick up on Ashley’s chosen colours, the groom and groomsmen wore turquoise shirts, chocolate brown tuxedo jackets and Cinch jeans; their attire was wrapped up with boots and hats, of course.DSC_3482-ruby


Cake: The cake was a 3-tiered creation, wrapped in turquoise and brown ribbon. With a Montana Silversmith cake topper and fondant horseshoes adorning the front, it made a pretty statement for their western wedding.

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Favours: Ashley’s bouquet was one of her favorite parts of the day. It was fashioned from old antique brooches that she had collected, stuffed into the center of white Gerbera daisies and roses. The arrangements were wrapped in burlap and accented with turquoise pieces.

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