SUBMITTED BY BRENDA MURDOCK
Alberta entrepreneurs Brenda Murdock and Scott Phillips have stepped out into the international scene with their Global Equine Geocaching website, Amazing Backcountry – a world-wide network of equine enthusiasts who enjoy the fun and adventure of exploring backcountry trails on horseback.
Geocaching is a sport where people search for hidden objects or caches by using coordinates that have been posted on the internet. There are a handful of geocaching websites out there with thousands of users all over the world but, “What separates us from the rest,” says Murdock, “is that Amazing Backcountry specifically caters to the horse enthusiasts.”
Scott and Brenda have designed the website to integrate rider-to- rider interaction, rider profiles through which you share your journeys to each cache through pictures and stories, and a trail database. The rider network revolves around the two core principles of sharing information, and connecting with other riders on the trail.
Of great interest to users, the trail database is an extensive collection of worldwide equestrian trail specifications. This includes locations, staging and camping areas. The database also features a rider updated photo library, interesting facts, and information on the history or geology of areas all over the world. If you’re going on a holiday, you can easily go on the site and see what caches are in that area and what kinds of trails are available with the push of a button.
Phillips shares, “Our goal is to bring all riders together so that we can share our knowledge and passion of the trails we love to ride. This is also a great way to network with riders in other areas, and even other countries!”
The world has so many incredible places to explore on horseback. There are people that regularly ride favorite trails, and those that are always yearning to explore new territory. Amazing Backcountry caters to everyone. There are no age restrictions, skill requirements, or preference toward any discipline. Ride where and when you want to. As an Amazing Backcountry Rider, armed with your Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver and trail information, your goal is to use your ingenuity to locate hidden caches, or hide one yourself for others to find.
There are also fundraising opportunities available to registered Not-For-Profit (NFP) organizations through Amazing Backcountry. NFP’s can use groups of caches to support a fundraising effort. Amazing Backcountry Riders who are part of your fundraiser find sponsors to donate to your organization in a competition to see who can raise the most. 2012 saw Amazing Backcountry participants raise $19,300 for STARS!
The Amazing Backcountry Race for STARS fundraiser will be taking place again this summer, running from late June to early September. “What makes it even more fun this year is that participants can hide their own caches for it” says Brenda.
Head over to the website and check it out at www.amazingbackcountry.net.
In excess of 10,000 horse enthusiasts passed through the doors at Saskatoon Prairieland Park for the second annual Saskatchewan Equine Expo in Saskatoon, SK, this past February 15‐17, 2013.
The three‐day event presented in partnership with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine and the Saskatchewan Horse Federation, featured educational seminars presented by the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, clinician Paul Dufresne, 11 breeds on display, an industry trade show, demonstrations by the Saskatchewan Hunter Jumper Association, the Alberta Donkey and Mule Association, Trainers Challenge, and Friday and Saturday evening Equine Extravaganza.
New to the event this year was Canada’s Ultimate Cowhorse competition which saw participants from across the provinces showcase their best horses in three components for the championship buckle and prize money.
The Trainer’s Challenge, sponsored by NAERIC, showcased the talents of three outstanding horse trainers; Dale Clearwater from Hanley, SK; Clint Christianson from Bracken, SK; and Jesse Lussier of Ste. Rose du Lac, MB. All three amazing horseman amazed the crowd during each session with their individual skills. At the end of the event, hometown favorite Dale Clearwater was awarded the championship title for the second year in a row.
A clinic presented by Paul Dufresne from Pritchard, BC, was a big hit with spectators and pre‐registered participants alike. Dufresne also presented exhibition performances at the Extravaganzas on Friday and Saturday nights.
Defending champion Dale Clearwater of Hanley, SK, returned to the Trainer’s Challenge to contend against Clint Christianson from Bracken, SK, and Jesse Lussier from Ste. Rose du Lac, MB. Horses for the challenge were provided by the Diamond K Ranch, of Corning, SK, owned by Tom and John King. They included five, three-year-old fillies from which the trainers could choose for their sessions. The fillies were halter-broke as weanlings, accustomed to a barn, had their feet trimmed and were turned out until one week prior to the event. Each trainer had three hours and 45 minutes, over four training sessions to work with their fillies. They were required to then take the horse from “green” to work under saddle in an open arena and perform a required pattern for the final challenge.
After the first session, both Christianson and Lussier had their horses saddled and were able to put on their first ride. Clearwater, on the other hand was only able to get his mare saddled. Noting that his horse was quite a bit “feelier” than the horse he competed with in 2012, he decided to take the extra time to build a firm foundation.
“If you don’t notice the little changes and let up, the horse will get heavy on you,” Clearwater explained during his session.
Sunday evening saw a large crowd come to watch all three trainers work their horses to complete all the required elements. Such things as loping a circle in both directions, picking up the horses’ feet, walking over a tarp on the ground, a bridge, and dragging a log. These were just some of the required elements that challenged each of the trainers. Each of the trainers accepted the challenge and were able to work their horses successfully because of the time they put into them during their prior training sessions. All three trainers were able to complete all the required elements in their allotted period of time, however it was Clearwater who put on an extra show for the crowd.
The Hanley trainer rode his horse into the trailer, steered his filly with his feet using his hat as a steering wheel, stood up on his saddle doing rope tricks, and executed his claim to fame – a handstand on the back of his horse. “I knew that my mare trusted me and I was really happy with how she progressed over the course of the weekend’s sessions,” Dale said of his horse. “I feel like I was asked to be here this weekend not only to educate the audience, but also to entertain them and put on a show,” he said when asked about his final performance.
Above – part of the sold out crowd.
When the judges sheets were tallied up it was Clearwater who once again claimed the championship. “The first year they asked me to come and do this I was really nervous and didn’t know what to expect,” the trainer said.
“Now with two years under my belt I can honestly say that I enjoy doing these challenges. It kinda gets into your blood. I love showing horses, but this is a different type of competition. It’s fun!”
Plans are already underway for the 2014 event.
Article & Pics By Guest Blogger – SUSAN KAUFFMAN
A “Litterbox” for Horses?
If you have ever kept horses in a paddock situation, you may have noticed that they seem to have an uncanny knack for locating their preferred urine area in exactly the spot you least want it. This can lead to a mucky, stinky mess that is not only unpleasant, but may actually contribute to hoof ailments such as thrush and white line disease. Training them to go elsewhere is possible, but time consuming and difficult. The key in such situations, therefore, is not to train them, but to tempt them into going where you want them to. How do you do this? By understanding what makes a desirable “washroom”, equine style.
There are two main elements that determine where a horse generally chooses to urinate. One is convenience: they don’t want to have to walk too far from their favorite hangout place, which is usually near where they are fed. The second is the “splash factor”, meaning how likely the horse is to get splashed by its own urine. Horses don’t like this any more than we do, so they seek out areas where the ground is soft, broken up or otherwise absorbent. Some people realize this and try to create a tempting pee spot by putting down shavings in the part of the paddock where they would like the horses to go. This will often work – for a while – but then the shavings become saturated with urine and/or rain, and you end up with a huge, wet, difficult to clean up mess.
A better solution is to use pea gravel (or in this case, we might say “pee” gravel): small, round-edged gravel that will not compact but will easily sift through a manure fork. Half a yard will usually do, an amount you can haul in the back of most pick-up trucks. What you want to do is make a low pile of this gravel in an area not too far from the “hang out” zone, ideally on a slight slope so that the urine
won’t puddle up underneath. If you don’t have a sloped area, you might want to create one by bringing in some fill to create a little hill, capping that with road base, then putting your pea gravel on top.
Once you have created your “urinal”, you can get the horses started on it by scooping up a shovel full of urine/dirt from the area they are currently using, and spreading that on the new gravel area. This transferal of scent will help give them the idea by playing into their territorial instincts. It may also help to block off the old area to encourage them to use the new one. Usually, however, they need little encouragement, as most horses find the pea gravel is very attractive for this purpose. What you then have is an inexpensive, long-lasting, self-draining area that keeps the horses feet dry and prevents the formation of a muck pit. The only maintenance required will be picking up any manure and the occasional topping up of the gravel.
Speaking of manure, you probably find that the piles tend to pile up near the feeding area – again, the convenience thing. To make the cleaning of this area more convenient for you, you might want to make yourself a “poo through”: a little covered area to shelter a wheelbarrow just outside the fence. Space your fence boards/wires in that section to make it easy to get a manure fork through, and voila – you can quickly pick out that area at any time without having to bring the wheelbarrow into the paddock. Stepping in manure is also a real hazard to hoof health, so the more you can do to get that stuff out of the way, the better.