It’s a Boy!

This itsy bitsy sorrel beauty arrived at our log house, as these precious packages tend to do, early in the morning. Last Tuesday to be precise. Exactly two days after we had Teenager’s volleyball teammates out from the city for a Sunday picnic, and for which we had, quite politely I thought, asked mommy mare to kindly have baby present for.

Of course she didn’t listen. Do they ever?

Well, never mind that. Don’t think for a second we’re not grateful for a healthy foal, no matter the arrival time. The first few hours were tense as I wasn’t certain baby was receiving the much needed colostrum. Call me paranoid but she didn’t exactly seem to be, well, greedy enough. Of course, I have a lot of experience in this, having been around for the initial hours of so many foals prior to this baby.

One, to be precise.

It’s true, I may have been stressing about nothing, but that’s the way of mothers. It’s how our world goes round. We stress, we consult, we go for a walk, we’re happy. Until the next time. To alleviate my worrisome mind, I checked back at Jenn’s post at My Stable Life about that very same subject – foals and colostrum – and found it extremely helpful. Particularly in formulating a back-up plan if the situation really did go south.

Which it didn’t.

Baby makes seven at the log house. Our own horses, that is. We also periodically look after two or three others. But for myself, and my daughters – Teenager and Wee – we number one Paint Horse gelding, two Quarter Horse geldings, one Quarter Horse mare, new baby, and two ponies of unknown heritage – though Teenager and I have strong reason to believe one may have escaped from a Russian circus.

That’s all I can say about that.

But I have so much more to tell you about all of these horse/human equations in the following months. Stay tuned!

Road Trip CDs #2

Okay, so before you do anything check back into my post from last Friday. It will give you the insight to this stream which is all about favorite road tunes. What we’re doing is sharing our road tunes selections, and I began with counting my #20-#16 last Friday and this week continue with my next five.

Just in time for the weekend, here they are:


American IV: the Man Comes Around – Johnny Cash

I’ve never been as passionate about Cash as I have been after hearing the American series. I’m drawn to the roughness of Cash’s aging voice in this CD and particularly the two tracks, Hurt, and The Man Comes Around – the first a rendition of the Nine Inch Nail’s classic, and the latter Cash’s interpretation of the Book of Revelations.


The Past Didn’t Go Anywhere – Utah Phillips and Ani Difranco

Satirical and intelligent, from a man whose mind was wounded in the Korean War and ended up on skid-row back in America, awesome music and reflective words, for real thinking and laughing out loud, when heading down the highway. This one, produced by and punctuated with the music of the original righteous babe, Ani Difranco, make for a brilliant collaboration.


DeStijl – The White Stripes

You don’t have to be a thinker to love this music . . . come to think of it, White Stripes is best for the days you don’t want to think at all . . . horse in the trailer, a few precious dog days of summer, a long stretch of gravel road and this CD mix well. I particularly like DeStijl, it has a raw quality to it that was somewhat compromised later, when the band was signed by a major record company.


A Love Song for Bobby Long Soundtrack – Various

From the opening scene of Bobby stepping out from the warm, protective graciousness of a smoky corner bar, into the unforgiving light, this movie and the music in it resonated with me. Set against a beautiful backdrop of New Orleans decay, with a collection of broken people I could completely relate to, the movie and soundtrack are a work of art, and from blues to rock, this collective fits any highway trip.


1,000 Kisses – Patti Griffin

It’s that voice. Soft, melodic, lonely; Griffin is a songbird. From Springsteen’s brilliant, dark, prairiesque Nebraska album, I especially love her bold rendition of Stolen Car.

That’s what I have for you in music this week, check back next Friday for five more and don’t forget to enter our great giveaway. Just mention your one or a few of your favorite road tunes CD’s in the Comments section below and you’ll automatically be entered to win one of three Ian Tyson, Yellowhead to Yellowstone and Other Love Stories CD’s we have to give away.

Contest ends June 30.

A Weekend with Leon Harrel

Taking notes from legend Leon Harrel at Thorlakson’s Bullpen Arena.

This past weekend I had the opportunity to take part in a cutting clinic designed for amateur cutters such as myself, and hosted by K&K Livestock, located near Strathmore, Alberta. The clinician was National Cutting Horse Association Futurity, World and Open champion and NCHA Hall of Famer, Leon Harrel. Though I was only able to partake in Day One of the three day clinic I kept in touch with the clinic progression and have to report, thoroughly enjoyed myself.

And, in a nutshell, the weekend was about just that, enjoying one’s self, as well as a fantastic dose of cutting and horsemanship education thrown in, with unlimited fresh cows, and topped off by fabulous hospitality and food. What more could a cutter desire, I ask?

Cutters came from all over Alberta and Saskatchewan to take part in the clinic.

Sherman travelled from Valleyview, Alberta and even before his first go, was given the dubious nickname of “Shermanator.” Of course, he was a good sport and took it all in stride.

Ingrid Eggertson came out to enjoy the barbecue with Christopher, who with that winning smile, appears to be vying for spot in our 2011 fashion shoot.

I know you’re going to see these two at the next cutting, and let’s hope they’ve learned to share cigars by then.

After two days of cutting instruction from Leon at Thorlakson’s Feedlot near Airdrie, Alberta, we all convened Saturday evening at K&K for a barbecue dinner, a bit of socializing, and most importantly, to draw up two teams of six for the following day’s event, which would include a morning of practice, followed by an afternoon “show,” complete with judge Marilyn Anderson.

Dinner absolutely hit the spot and was barbecued and served up by this colorful character.

Not only was he fashionably color co-ordinated, he grilled my steak a perfect medium-rare.

I can’t mention food for the weekend, without paying homage to these two.

These two ladies cooked throughout the weekend, primarily at Thorlakson’s arena. What a wonderful touch to the clinic – absolutely delicious home-cooked meals for breakfast and lunch and after-the-clinic appetizers. Ladies, those date squares. . . those date squares!

During the barbecue, the teams were drawn and congregated to opposite ends of the arena.

In this corner we have the Untouchables.

From left, Dean Ness, Esther Vanhoughton, Bev Martin, Becky Taylor, Christopher Eggertson and Sue Wemp.

And in this corner, the Bloody Spurs.

From left, Jack Taylor, Jardi Clarke, Sherman Minni, Barb Veldhuis, Don Smith and Wes Dehm.

As you can imagine, with this crowd, strategy ran amuck from detailed plays to “whatever it takes,” as one contestant revealed to me.

I won’t divulge which team claimed the championship title the following day, nor what sneakiness might have been employed to achieve the result, but I’m sure sooner or later, one of the above characters will surface and spill.

All in all, the weekend was a great time. Ken and Karen Mix showed absolute hospitality and made everyone feel so welcome, both at their home and at the clinic. A big thanks to them.

Leon is not only a wealth of information and a world champion, but an honest and humble mentor with a true love of the horse and cutting, a gentleman, and best of all, the kind of person who really wants to impart his lifetime knowledge unto anyone with desire to become not a good rider, but a great rider.

Leon will tell you he doesn’t teach theory. Alternatively, he will impart gems of knowledge throughout a lesson, and I took note of a few of them to share with you.

“You concentrate on horsemanship 80% of the time and cutting 20% of the time, and you are going to do well.”

“You want to be so clean and so smooth with this horse, that it will become an extension of you.”

“You can get so much more done with feel and compassion.”

“Warming up your horse at the show: don’t ride him for six hours at the show and expect him to perform, just have him relaxed and ready.”

“When somebody comes up to you at show with nine miles of bad road behind him, you give him an upbeat response, and he’ll either not approach you again, or come back with a better attitude himself.”

“Right to the face, cut right to the face of that calf.”

“If you focus on that cow, then you’re in the action, you’re in the energy.”

“If you’re out there having fun, pretty soon you’ll have people around you having fun too. And, that makes the whole experience great.”

Well said! Take some time and visit Leon at his website, where there is a good amount of information as well as videos and teaching tools to peruse.

Road Trips CDs #1

In the March, 2006 edition of Cowboys and Indians magazine, columnist Bill Reynolds put a call out for readers to submit their favorite road trip CD’s. Mr. Reynolds led off the request with his own list of 12 favorites. His were specifically “for the Drive to the Rodeo.” It was an eclectic gathering and I recognized talent I could appreciate – Jimmy Buffet, Joni Mitchell, Lucinda Williams and, in a nod to the musical talent of his neighbour to the north, the Cowboy Junkies and Sarah McLachlan.

I can get really excited about music, it’s one of my passions. Naturally this 12 Road Trip CDs was right up my alley and I almost immediately fired off my 12 faves directly to Bill Reynold’s inbox. And, much to my surprise Bill Reynolds replied to me. He wrote something along the lines of “great list, good to see Ian Tyson at the top of it.” I kept that e-mail for years, then my laptop blew up, and that was the end of that.

But, as I recall, my number one CD happened to be Ian Tyson’s latest at the time, Live at Longview.

Since then, he’s released two more: Songs From the Gravel Road and Yellowhead to Yellowstone and Other Love Stories. I highly recommend them both. I am a longstanding fan of Ian Tyson. Not only is he a Canadian icon, a horseman and a true talent, he champions for the land – his land, my land, our land, and I have a great respect for folks like that.

He’s authentic and true to himself. I like that in a guy. Girls can have a little “pretend” in them, a little this, a little that – that’s cool. But guys need to be the real deal. No pretend. No hair color. No botox.

A tattoo is okay.

Back to the road tunes. Since I had so much fun doing this the first time around, and on the off chance that Bill Reynolds might write me again, I’m going to share my new and revised Road CDs with you. I’ll list them over four weeks, every Friday, counting down from 20 to 1.

Now mind, these are Road CDs, not Pre-Show CDs, which is a different entity entirely. That list might name the likes of Nirvana, the Ramones and even Eminem or 50 Cent, all designed to provide fortitude and strength to the guts upon entering the show ring. Road CDs are all about melting into and enveloping the landscape, as you lean into those kilometers ahead of you. Here’s my top five this week.


Timeless – A Tribute to Hank Williams – Various Artists

When she was a wee one, Teenager daughter often used to request original Hank when we were driving down the highway. She loved all that “hey, good lookin, whatcha got cookin’” stuff and it really was entertaining to listen to her belt it out from the back seat. No one could write or sing it the way Hank did, but I also love this tribute CD and particularly Keb Mo’s and Beck’s interpretation of the classic, mournful Hank, with I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry and Your Cheatin’ Heart.


My Sweetheart The Drunk – Jeff Buckley

“I don’t write my music for Sony. I write it for the people who are screaming down the road crying to a full-blast stereo.” – JB.

Guess that’s why I like it. Last fall, I really got into this vintage CD, some of which was compiled from tapes found in his studio after his tragic death.


Where’d You Hide the Body? – James McMurtry

If that name rings a bell, it’s probably because you’re familiar with McMurtry’s novelist father, Larry, of Lonesome Dove fame. Like father, like son, McMurtry’s descriptive, short novelette songs encompass entire lifetimes and characters, many of which could have been plucked right out of the tragedy-rich lives of the people I seemed drawn to most, in the prairies of my childhood.


Time Out of Mind – Bob Dylan

I purchase, and usually subsequently fall in love with anything produced by Daniel Lanois, and this gem is definitely no exception. A Dylanesque landscape of beauty, this fits the quietness of any night driving, and is particularly special at dusk.


Achtung, Baby – U2

Again produced by Daniel Lanois, my favorite all-time U2, I listen to it when I think I’ve been treading too long on placid waters.

That’s my top five this week. Enjoy and check in next week for five more. In the meantime, let me know your top Road Tunes CD’s in the comment section below. Name one, name five, whatever you like – just about anything but the Toby Keith Christmas Collection will be welcome in this county – and your name will be entered to win one of three of Ian Tyson’s Yellowhead to Yellowstone and Other Love Stories CDs, which I happen to know you’ll love.

Funding for Horse Feed

Federal aid for your breeding stock horses if you are a PMU breeder.

Just announced on the Horse Industry Association of Alberta’s website is the news that there is aid for horse feed becoming available through federal and provincial governments. According to the post on the HIAA’s site, livestock producers will receive funding to buy feed while damaged pastures recover.

The post states:

“Under the 2010 Pasture Recovery Initiative, livestock producers living in the eligible counties and municipal districts in Central and Northern Alberta and West Central and Northwest Saskatchewan will receive pasture assistance for breeding cattle, as well as assistance for other types of breeding livestock, totaling up to $114 million subject to size of the eligible livestock. It is estimated that there are more than 2.2 million breeding animals in the affected areas.

“The program will be administered in Alberta by Agriculture Financial Services Corporation, and by the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture in Saskatchewan.”

The funding is available for breeding animals, and because equines are classified as livestock, includes mares and stallions, as long as the mare was bred to produce an offspring in 2010, or is a stallion; was primarily grazed on drought lands in 2009 and; were on hand at January 1, 2010.

In Alberta, the funding is only available for breeding stock equines which are bred solely for the production of meat or pregnant mare urine.

Payment for horses is quoted as $60 per head for horses, which notably is the highest offered for livestock. (Beef cattle and bison are $50/head, elk $25, deer and llama $12.50, down to $10 a head for sheep, goats and alpacas.)

There are forms available at and at AFSC district offices within affected areas for Alberta breeders. Saskatchewan breeders should check with Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture. The deadline to apply is September 1, 2010.

According to the Horse Industry Association of Alberta, eligible counties include:

Acadia No. 34
Athabasca County
Barrhead County No. 11
Beaver County
Big Horn No. 8
Big Lakes No. 125
Birch Hills County
Bonnyville No. 87
Brazeau County
City of Calgary
Camrose County
Clear Hills County
Clearwater County
City of Edmonton
Fairview No. 136
Flagstaff County
Foothills No. 31
Grande Prairie County No. 1
Greenview No. 16
Kneehill County
Lac La Biche (Lakeland) County
Lac Ste. Anne County
Lacombe County
Lamont County
Leduc County
Lesser Slave River No. 124
Minburn County No. 27
Mountain View County
Northern Lights County
Northern Sunrise County
Opportunity No. 17
Paintearth County No. 18
Parkland County
Peace No. 135
Ponoka County
Provost No. 52
Red Deer County
Rocky View No. 44
Saddle Hills County
Smoky Lake County
Smoky River No. 130
Special Area No. 2
Special Area No. 3
Special Area No. 4
Spirit River No. 133
St. Paul County No. 19
Starland County (and Drumheller)
Stettler County No. 6
Strathcona County (and Elk Island)
Sturgeon County
Thorhold County No. 7
Two Hills County No. 21
Vermilion River County No. 24
Wainwright No. 61
Westlock County
Wetaskiwin County No. 10
Wheatland County
Woodlands County
Yellowhead County

Read the full story at the Horse Industry Association of Alberta’s website

Your Favorite Horse Activity Contest Results

On May 13 I posted the Your Favorite Horse Activity Contest, with the opportunity to win one of two great Rambo Quarter Horse nylon sheets.

The winners have been chosen but before we get to that I wanted to share with you the results of the contest.

All you had to do was let us know two things:

1) your favorite horse activity to participate?

2) your favorite horse activity to watch?

Here’s how it panned out:

So there you have it, I know I fall into one or two or more of those categories, how about you? We’ve randomly chosen our two winners and the lucky recipients will be the new owners of a sheet each. Here’s the lucky draws:

Cheryl said:

I like watching anything equine related, but have a passion for reining and of course driving, especially combined driving.

Iris said:

I love competetive trail riding to participate in. To watch, I think I like team penning the best . . . maybe horse racing.

Please contact Beth at with your particulars, you have 30 days to claim your prize.

Thanks, ya’ll come back next contest.

Foal Contest Batch #3

Western Vogue

Sooner Trailer’s newest sponsored rider, Gayle Jones is a life-long horse enthusiast who competes in barrel racing events across North America. Among her career highlights is a first place finish in the 2007 World Barrel Racing Production Finals. KC Jones, Gayle’s husband, competes in bull-dogging events and is also a Sooner sponsored rider.

Banana & Chocolate Chip Muffins

I just baked these last weekend for teenager daughter’s volleyball tournament and because I actually prepared them the night before as opposed to my usual 4:00 a.m. in the morning, I had time to photograph them, and savor the moment.

Whether it’s horse show weekend, or 4H weekend, or another event where kids are gathered, and you are required to bring sustainability in the form of food, these muffins fit the bill. So, in honor of the upcoming 4H on Parade this weekend at Calgary Stampede, and the early mornings it is sure to bring to parents and kids alike, I’m sharing it with you now.

What’s great about the list of ingredients is that you will probably have it all on hand, and the bonus is it takes about 15 minutes to throw it together.

You’ll need the following ingredients:

2 ripe bananas, mashed

1-1/2 cups of flour

2/3 cup of sugar

1-1/2 teaspoon of baking powder

splash of salt

1/4 cup of butter or margarine melted

1/4 cup milk

1 egg

3/4 to 1 cup of chocolate chips

Mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In another bowl mix together the melted butter, milk, beaten egg and mashed bananas. Then mix this in with the flour mixture and finally, fold in the chocolate chips. Mix, mix and mix, but try not to over-mix, as that would not be the proper approach with muffins.

Spoon the batter into 12 muffin tins and bake at 350° for 32 minutes. Let them cool, throw them into a Ziploc bag and away you go.

If you’re having these at home they go well with this:


or this:

Sorry, just practicing my food photography. Evidently I’m going to need some instruction in this area. Just trust me on the muffin-fruit salad combo, it’s a winner.

And yes, that is a Bernie Brown cutting board. Every western kitchen should have one. Highly recommended for nostalgic value.

Bon appetite, friends!