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

 

Bred for Battle

Sergeant Reckless beside 75 mm recoilless rifle, circa 1952 – 1955, Andrew Geer, Public Domain.

By DEBBIE MACRAE

Horses in battle is not a new concept. It dates back over 5,000 years during the period 2500 BC when Sumerian illustrations depicted some descendants of our modern equine creatures pulling wagons. The history of mounted horses in warfare references the period 3000 to 4000 BC in Eurasia, with chariot warfare becoming more prevalent by 1600 BC. Formal training for war horses was developed as early as 1350 BC with written instruction on how to train chariot horses. Training methods evolved, and in ancient Greece, cavalry methods replaced the chariot evolving with saddles, stirrups, and harness.

The Athenian philosopher, soldier and mercenary Xenophon advocated the use of cavalry to the extent that through his literature (the Cyropaedia) he presented that “no noble and good man” should be seen on foot – only on a horse, so much so, that they were presented almost as Centaurs. Xenophon wrote extensively on horsemanship, cavalry and training for war.

Depending on their purpose, horses of all breeds and sizes were used for battle. In the early wars of Mesopotamia, the Steppes of Central Asia and Turkey, horses were sure-footed, athletic and agile. Muslim warriors utilized light cavalry with minimal protection – using fast, fleet-footed horses, while the war horses of the Middle Ages, lasting from the 5th to the 15th centuries, were heavy cavalry – with both man and horse being heavily armoured.

Elite assault forces were created using lancers and archers, evolving from ordinary heavy cavalry – and armour evolved also from heavy mail to lighter mail and bronzed armour. The Celts of Western Europe were believed to have been the first to utilize heavy cavalry in their region – utilizing smaller, sturdier horses, and teams of men with fresh horses providing replacement weaponry and lances for retreating lancers, who could throw their weapons in retreat. They were known as skirmishers – or flank guards, screening their army from enemy advances. The horsemen of Gaul were widely reputed to have been the finest horsemen of the ancient world.

1881 Painting by Lady Butler – Scotland Forever Crop – Public Domain.

In the early 1800’s as the Napoleonic wars evolved, battle cavalry was developed, becoming the critical element in the success of the outcome. The use of armour declined and gunfire evolved, turning the tide again to light cavalry tactics. With the onset of development in the Americas, mounted warfare predominated in battles with indigenous peoples, with mounted regiments prevailing during the American Civil War.

Traveller – Civil War Horse.

Fast forward to the late 1800’s when western Canada was emerging as a cattle haven. Premier ranch and cattle horses were in high demand. The Bar U Ranch in Alberta, established in 1882, was one of a small group of corporate ranches, encompassing almost seven townships at its peak. The Allan family of Montreal, and Fred Stimson (a cattleman from Quebec), obtained two 21-year leases covering 147,000 acres at one penny per acre. Under the name of the Northwest Cattle Company, the ranch, later known as the Bar U, would sell over $300,000 beef annually to the CPR, the Northwest Mounted Police, and the government for distribution to the native people under treaty. It was one of the first ranches to ship cattle to Great Britain, and one of the first to lease their land for grazing. Fred Stimson was also one of the first ranchers in the area to employ native range riders, respecting the Blackfoot people and learning himself, to speak the Blackfoot language.

In 1823, a horse by the name of Jean Le Blanc, was foaled in La Perche, France. This horse would become the Father of lineage for all Percheron horses. In 1902, the Bar U was purchased by George Lane and his financial backers, and it was his goal to breed and raise Percherons, having some experience with them in Montana, as a youth. He believed that any farm or ranch would benefit and started to breed draft horses for sale to neighbouring ranchers. Starting with three purebred studs and 72 mares imported from La Perche, France, at a princely sum of $75,000, George Lane and the Bar U would become the largest purebred breeder of Percheron horse stock in the world, winning most of the awards at the World’s Fair in Seattle in 1909. At the height of their development, the Bar U had over 500 breeding mares and some of the most famous stallions in the world, breeding the finest Percherons a dollar could buy. Today, all Percheron bloodlines can be traced directly back to Jean Le Blanc foaled in La Perche.

At the outset of the war, many of the Bar U ranch hands deployed to the armed forces. With them went hundreds of thousands of horses, but the Percherons, such as those from the Bar U, became the horse of choice with their massive necks, their muscular build, and their solid stature. Their build and endurance were select for pulling munitions and guns through the rain, the mud, and the chalk-base of the Salisbury Plains of England, some of the most horrific battles of World War I.

Horse being loaded – WW1 – Yprespeacemonument.com

The British army only had 25,000 horses in its possession. The War Office was hard-pressed to recruit half a million more animals to service troops. They emptied the British countryside of every animal that could be put into service – from child’s pony to farm-horse, debilitating the country of its ability to provide crops and agriculture for its people.

Horses were transported to war across the English Channel to France, hoisted onto ships only to face the carnage of battle on the other side. Eight million horses, and innumerable mules and donkeys would die – victims too, of the senselessness that prevailed in the four years of the “war to end all wars.” The losses were so great that horses were being shipped at a rate of 1,000 per day from the United States with threats of naval attacks, poisonings, and theft, such was the value of the cargo.

During the second World War, cavalry regiments were utilized by several nations including Poland against Nazi Germany; Germany and the Soviet Union, particularly on the Eastern Front, the British Burma Frontier Force against Japanese invaders in central Burma, and the 26th Cavalry of the American Army, who held off Japanese forces during the invasion of the Philippines. Horses and mules were essential tools of supply and transportation – and it was often lamented that the Americans did not use the cavalry enough. General Patton is noted to have vocalized his concerns regarding the lack of cavalry support.

Both the Soviet and German armies used more horses than they had in the first World War, estimated at 3.5 million and 2.75 million horses, respectively.

In the ensuing Korean war, a Korean race-horse was purchased from a young boy desperate to buy an artificial leg for his sister. For $250 she was purchased from a stable-boy at a Seoul race track by members of the United States Marine Corps and trained to be a packhorse for the Recoilless Rifle Platoon. She quickly became a member of the unit, roaming freely, entering tents at will, sometimes creeping in to sleep out of the cold, and eating anything from scrambled eggs to Coca-Cola. Her name was Reckless.

She carried wounded soldiers, supplies and ammunition, often transporting supplies without a handler once she learned the route. At the highlight of her career, she made 51 solo trips in a single day, transporting supplies and ammunition to the frontline for her troops.

She was wounded twice in combat, promoted to Corporal, then given a battlefield promotion several months after the war to Sergeant. She became the first horse in the US Marine Corps to make an amphibious landing and received a saddlebag full of military honours including: two Purple Hearts, Presidential Unit Citations from two countries, South Korea and the US, and a Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal. She was again promoted to staff sergeant in 1959. She died in May 1968 after giving birth to four foals. She was a decorated war hero, whose bronze statue has only recently been dedicated on May 12, 2018, in the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky among her racing peers.

Creatures of peace, which by the designs of men, became instruments of war. Lest we forget.

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.

 

Style Report, from the Calgary Stampede

Gingham tie-up shirt by Wrangler $54.95; Charlie 1 Horse hat (Gold Digger) $99.95. All provided by Lammle’s Western Wear and Tack. Turquoise provided by The Lost American Art Gallery. Photo by Twisted Tree Photography.Photo by Twisted Tree Photography.

From pancakes to mini-donuts, to bulls and the midway – there are so many great things we can rely on the Calgary Stampede to deliver. And if there’s one thing we can guarantee to start conversations, it’s the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth’s spirited display of fashion. With the Canadian summer heat at its peak and a 10-day party that envelopes the city in all its chic western glory, the Stampede is the perfect outlet to bust out your fringe and denim. Not only that, anything #westernfashion is truly the distinctive outfit you’ve been looking for to make your Instagram pop!

With help from Jenna MacMillan of Lammle’s Western Wear and Tack, we’ve rounded up the top 7 western fashion trends seen at the year’s Calgary Stampede:

A Smithbilt hat with pencil roll. Photo by Callaghan Creative Co.

 

Bold hats like this Natural – Cowgirl Outlaw ($89.95)) from Charlie 1 Horse and Lammle’s Western Wear and Tack were a big deal this Stampede. Turquoise provided by The Lost American Art Gallery. Photo by Twisted Tree Photography.

1. Accessorize. If there’s anything this year’s Stampede taught us, it was the response of the masses to accessories! Hats were the number #1 desired item, with hats from Charlie 1 Horse flying out the doors of Lammles’ newest exclusive LWW Collection. Flat brim hats were strong, but flat-brimmed hats with a hat band and a pencil roll were THE Hat of the Stampede. People were also drawn to palm leaf styles, or any hat with a pop of color. Burgundy, bold firehouse red, exotic royal blue or anything fun and different in lids were high in demand this year. This included incorporating traditional western emblems in the brim design as well; things like a feather inlay or other fun carved leather details.

Rock & Roll Cowgirl Lace Cover-up $64.95; Ariat Denim shorts $79.95, all from Lammle’s Western Wear and Tack. Turquoise provided by The Lost American Art Gallery. Photo by Twisted Tree Photography.

2. Anything romantic. Interest remains in maxi-style dresses. Perhaps it was the summer heat but the Stampede saw a step away from traditional button up western blouses, to a move towards anything flow-y or Bohemian in design. A looser fit was much more on-trend than the traditional button-up style of blouses the Stampede is accustomed to seeing.

Kimes Ranch Jeans. Photo by Callaghan Creative Co.

3. High waist lines. While it’s safe to say that Ladies fashion was kind of all over the place this year, it’s exciting to realize the general public is finally embracing the “western side” of fashion and couture. High-waisted skirts and jeans are very popular in brands such as Wrangler right now. And the fact that companies like Wrangler and Ariat are making shorts is a trend being met with great enthusiasm. A full bottom fit (riding cut or the lower cut,) in brands such as Kimes Ranch Jeans are for certain, a strong (raw denim) trend. In regular denim other suppliers are really stepping it up in the stretch. It’s no longer about heavily-embellished pockets and seams – the trend now is more about how jeans fit and stretch. Especially in Ariat! Wrangler is going away from stitching on the pocket and finding more ways to play up the simplicity of the ‘W.’ In fact, they’re really embracing the W and showcasing the patch. It’s no longer about where we can put all the “glitz.” Denim is more streamlined and classic now.

Painted ponies wild rag, black $49.95; from Lammle’s Western Wear and Tack. Turquoise provided by The Lost American Art Gallery.  Photo by Twisted Tree Photography.

4. Wild Rags. We saw a lot of people interested in vintage print wild rags this year. Super fun bold patterns are being embraced there.

Silver arrow necklace with earrings (not pictured) $29.95; Turquoise feather necklace $24.95, from Lammle’s Western Wear and Tack.  Photo by Twisted Tree Photography.

5. Affordable turquoise. We found a lot of success with turquoise that was affordable. Price point is a big deal. It might not have been a true squash-bottom but anything that is crafted to look like one is hot right now.

6. Obviously, Boots. Boots and the Calgary Stampede are synonymous. The fun, turquoise styles from Lane boots were a big hit. Boots that don’t incorporate as much “sparkle” as styles used to reflect but instead rich stitching and higher quality leather are very in right now. The classic brown boot that fits higher on the leg is not going anywhere. Also, fun patterns like the serape prints from Ariat were popular. Same with anything that incorporated a bandana print into the shaft of the boot or serape pattern on the shoe.

Charlie 1 Horse Hat (Grey – Old Hag) $169.95, provided by Lammle’s Western Wear and Tack. Boots provided by Classic Rodeo Boutique. Photo by Twisted Tree Photography.

7. Embroidered Boots. Embroidery on boots deserves its own mention. Boots with floral or paisley embroidery were all on-trend, big time this year.

Forecasting. While we’re all loving the summer dresses right now, fall fashion we predict, will be all about great ponchos and rich wool coats this year. And we’re seeing a ton of bell sleeves! I’m talking bell sleeves on everything from a fun button-up shirt to a 3/4 length baseball tee. This is how much we might see in the trends coming around. And as for colors, certainly the mustard yellow is here to say. If you’re not on board with it now, we’re going see mustard everywhere next year.

An Interview with Cieran Starlight

How the 2018 Calgary Stampede Indian Princess is breaking barriers and maintaining the ethos of Stampede.

BY JENN WEBSTER

If you haven’t picked up a copy of the May/June Western Horse Review, you need to – soon! In this issue, we had the opportunity to photograph and interview Cieran Starlight, the 2018 Calgary Stampede Indian Princess. Lending her photography talent, was Shelby Simmonds of Twisted Tree Photography. There were so many amazing photos taken at this shoot and since it’s not always possible to fit everything onto the printed pages of a magazine, we simply had to showcase them here. Here too, is an excerpt of the interview.

Photo by Twisted Tree Photography.

Cieran Starlight is a fresh face in a heavy conversation about Indigenous awareness.

Raised traditionally, Starlight hails from the Tsuu T’ina First Nations. She represents the tribes of Treaty 7 (Siksika, Tsuu T’ina, Stoney, Piikani and Kainai Nations), Indian Village and the Calgary Stampede as the 2018 Indian Princess. It’s a commitment of colossal proportions and one that requires large shoulders. As Princess, Starlight will attend numerous events during her reign (more than there are days in the year), and educate the people she meets about the vibrant First Nations culture.

The name of her title will be questioned.

That fact alone should make the general public realize that upon winning her crown, Starlight won herself a very important role in promoting Indigenous richness – not a beauty pageant.

Starlight in her white, satin fancy dress, colourful shawl, and other breathtaking, cultural regalia. Photo by Twisted Tree Photography.

However, it doesn’t hurt that she has the kindest eyes, a genuinely beautiful smile and flawless skin either.

Growing up around the Calgary Stampede teepee owners, Starlight is well educated about the history of the Indian Village. Her family has been part of the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth since 1912. She comes from a long line of Starlight performers who year after year, stay in the Village for the duration of Stampede’s 10 days answering questions for tourists, performing in Rope Square, and participating in mini pow-wows. She even worked one summer stint as an interpretative guide. It’s possible Starlight’s transition into the Indian Princess role, was a birth right bestowed on her by the universe.

There may be no more genuinely authentic person to represent First Nations peoples and their Stampede traditions at the moment than Starlight. Her challenge – one shared by a younger generation that has inherited the after effects of a cultural trauma – is how to encourage a better understanding of Aboriginal Peoples and how to keep that difficult conversation relevant for the future.

“I am not offended to be called the Indian Princess. I’m okay with it. It’s beaded into my crown. People have just used it in such an offensive way to Natives in the past,” Starlight says. Photo by Twisted Tree Photography.

Luckily, for many of her adventures as Princess, Starlight is accompanied by chaperone Holly Fortier, who is a Cree/Dene from Ft. McKay First Nation, Alberta, and was also born in Treaty 7 Territory. Fortier has travelled the county conducting cultural sensitivity workshops to literally thousands of people, through her Nisto Consulting business. Fortier is in the ripple-effect generation of Indigenous people who suffered first-hand from Canada’s Residential School policies as her own mother was taken from her family at an early age. She has her own story and has carved out her own powerful role in the world by helping others adopt a respectful comprehension of Indigenous awareness.

Together and separately, both Starlight and Fortier are a spiritual force we can’t help but embrace. They are the winds carrying change.

“I’m so happy that I get to be a voice and not just a face,” Starlight tells us afterwards.

Starlight’s custom Princess buckle and a jingle dress she created herself. Photo by Twisted Tree Photography.

In the interview, we talk about the history of the Calgary Stampede, Guy Weadick and the positive relations between the Stampede and the Treaty 7 First Nations people. We also talk about the Indigenous name controversy. It’s an enlightening conversation to which, we are privileged to have Fortier’s guidance on the subject.

Photo by Twisted Tree Photography.

We also discover the many talents Starlight possesses: she often makes her own jingle or fancy dresses and shawls to compete in traditional dance. One of her favorite tasks as the Princess are her days spent with the Happy Trails organization – a monthly event during her reign that requires all of the Stampede Royalty to meet at Senior Citizen homes and spend time with the residents.

“We sing old songs and do live performances for them,” Starlight grins. “Sometimes they want to sing along with us so we’ll find the page in their songbooks for them too. Things like that.”

She often tries to wear her yellow jingle dress on these visits because she knows many of the seniors need their spirits lifted. “I do a healing dance for them. A lot of the older ladies want to touch the jingles afterwards – they’re so cute. And it’s so nice if you can bring a smile to their face,” she says.

 

Starlight curbs the chill of the winter temperatures, in a Pendleton Night Dance Robe blanket. Photo by Twisted Tree Photography.

“My role as Princess is to try and break down barriers and help people understand – this is about more than just a title. The Calgary Stampede is run on volunteers. The Royalty programs are youth development programs that help young women learn to speak publicly and build their confidence. I’m trying to educate people about my culture. We all have different dialects of language and different traditions that we practice. A word is not what I’m focusing on – it’s the Treaty 7 and the Calgary Stampede as a whole.” – Cieran Starlight.

To read more of this exclusive interview, order your subscription today at: www.westernhorsereview.com

Hudson’s Bay Point Blanket: A Brief History

Source, Pinterest.

By JENN WEBSTER

Recently I had the opportunity to bring my mother a gift. I was really struggling with the perfect offering but when I came across a Hudson’s Bay Point Blanket, I knew my search had ended. Was there anything more Canadian? Growing up, I was always familiar with the multi-stripe pattern of this iconic blanket. One of my most treasured possessions now is a baby picture of my husband crawling around on one. However, I came to realize that after giving the newly acquired gift to my mother, I didn’t understand much of the blanket’s history.

It was time to look further into the iconic status of the Hudson’s Bay Point Blanket. First commissioned by Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) in 1800, the multi-stripe design lives on as a testament to our shared Canadian heritage. Throughout the 18th century, wool blankets were among the most popular trade items in the Canadian fur trade, accounting for more than 60% of all goods exchanged by 1700. Although blankets had been a trade good offered for some time, it was not until 1779 that the Hudson’s Bay Point Blanket came to life.

French fur-trader Germain Maugenest is thought to have advised the HBC to introduce point blankets. As part of his service of employment to HBC, he offered several suggestions for improving the growing inland trade from Fort Albany along the west coast of James Bay. One of his suggestions was that the company should regularly stock and trade “pointed” blankets.

Points were identified by the indigo lines woven into the side of each blanket. A full point measured 4–5.5 inches (10–14 centimetres); a half point measured half that length. The standard measurements for a pair of 1-point blankets was: 2 feet, 8 inches (81 centimetres) wide by 8 feet (2.4 metres) in length; with a weight of 3 pounds, 1 ounce (1.4 kilograms) each. Points ranged from 1 to 6, increasing by halves depending upon the size and weight of the blanket.

They allowed a blanket’s size to be easily determined even when folded – (Oh, how I wish all blankets and sheets came marked like this! Lord knows a system such as that found on Point Blankets would serve my current linen closet well…!) The point system was invented by French weavers in the mid-1700s since then, as now, blankets were shrunk as part of the manufacturing process. The word point derives from the French empointer, meaning “to make threaded stitches on cloth.”

The number of points on a blanket represents the overall finished size of the blanket – not its value in terms of beaver pelts, as is often thought.

 Although some sources suggest there is some meaning to the stripe colours or order, the truth is that nothing intentional was meant by the design. The four traditional colours of green, red, yellow, and indigo were simply colours that were popular and easily produced using good colourfast dyes at the time (around 1800). They are sometimes referred to as Queen Anne’s colours, since they first became popular during her reign (1702–1714).

 

The 1974 Calgary Stamped Royalty. Happy Barlow, Karin Kraft, Sis Thacker.

Interestingly enough, HBC did not roll out its first commercially available Point Blanket coat until 1922, although fur traders, voyageurs and Indigenous peoples had already been making them into coats for almost 200 years by then. These too, come with a long, interesting history.

The Coyote Fur throw by Caroline Furs.

What I love most about the HBC Point Blankets are their rich history and the fact that back in the early days of fur trading, they were well suited for cold Canadian winters. I had a Grandfather who tried to make an early living out of the trapping of beaver pelts. I can almost picture him traveling by dogsled with his young wife (my Grandmother) draped in a Point Blanket, deep into the wilderness of Canada.

Today, the blankets still hold their iconic status and warmth and as such, are used in a multitude of ways for home decor or fashion.

As seen in Vogue Australia. Source: Pinterest.

With their pops of color, these blankets make Canadiana statements wherever you look. From couch throws, to mugs, to the patterns on towels at a cottage retreat – the HBC Point Blanket pattern has inspired many a home. The pattern has also made appearances on special edition Canadian Olympic blankets, snowboards, Barbies, and milestone anniversary Canadian gifts.

Photo Credit: Ryan Rowell of Rowell Photo

Often duplicated, all genuine HBC Point Blankets come with authenticity labels. This has been done since 1890, as point blankets of similar quality were being sold by HBC competitors. In April 2017 HBC updated the label, rotating it from portrait to landscape, making it is easy to have English and French on either side of the crest. It was also enhanced with red on the flag. To celebrate Canada’s 150th Anniversary in 2017, HBC added an additional label which was a picture of voyageurs in a canoe, with CANADA on the top, to the blanket.

With such an elaborate history dating back to the early days of fur traders and settlers in Canada, I believe we’ll start to see more of the HBC Point Blanket influence in western lifestyle culture too, as our younger generations begin to understand its importance to our early beginnings. To me, it’s a symbol of early pioneering. A good that was crafted into a need and helped forge early Canada. It goes hand in hand with a wood-burning stove and a love of the past. What’s more western than that?

Equine Connection: Working with the Horse as the Teacher

Equine Connection offers programs where the horse is the teacher.

Equine Connection is empowering people to change their lives while working with the horse. Located near Calgary, Alberta, Equine Connection is a multi-faceted organization that focuses on the many ways using the horse as a teacher through Equine Assisted Learning can help people build the skills to change their lives. Equine Assisted Learning is a horse-course with an effective approach to human development that encourages individual and team growth. Participants engage in objectively driven exercises and find themselves learning valuable life skills in a fun and exciting atmosphere. Equine Assisted Learning has proven to be useful, powerful, positive, educational and creative. Exercises are developed to encourage self-confidence through validated, hands-on experiences. Equine Connection offers team-building and leadership development for organizations, empowering women’s workshops and also offer horse certification courses so that you too can become active in the Equine Assisted Learning community.

Youth programs offered by Equine Connection empower children and allow them to be leaders.

Youth programs are also an important part of the Equine Connection curriculum and are approved by the Calgary Board of Education. Through interactive youth programs, participants will learn life skills to aid in their personal growth. Once a child is taught the basics of dealing properly with a horse, he or she can become the leader the horse seeks, making horses the ultimate teacher for children. When the horse feels safe, cooperation is a hundred fold and the child can easily get the horse to do what is asked of it. Bringing that piece back to their lives is a parallel to how one needs to work with people and themselves in all aspects of their lives.

The programs are generally twelve weeks long with each week focusing on a different skill or lesson.

The Equine Assisted Learning programs are now emerging in reserve communities throughout Alberta facilitated by certified facilitators through Equine Connection. These unique programs are contributing to the wellbeing of First Nations youth. Canadian research indicates that the majority of misusers of volatile substances are between the ages of 10 and 17, with peak use between 12 and 15. (Adlaf and Paglia 2003; Youth Solvent Additional Committee 2004). The spirit of the horse can assist in turning this shocking statistic around and reshape the future of the children. The Equine Connection programs run for twelve weeks and each week teaches a different lesson or life skill. Working with the horse as the teacher can prepare the children for life by helping them build life skills to empower them and turn them into leaders of their community.

Hands-on learning is a key aspect of the programs.

One of the many bonuses of working with horses instead of in a traditional classroom setting is the component of interactivity. We all learn differently, but we can all take away lessons that we learn through our experiences. As the only Nationally Recognized Equine Assisted Learning Program in Canada, each of Equine Connection’s exercises are custom designed to maximize learning potential and focus on developing individual skills as they work through each fun interactive group challenge. Youth participants will develop relationships, learn to accept responsibility and accountability, overcome barriers to fin change and be encouraged to be creative and innovative. The youth programs allow the opportunity for children to work together and realize the benefits associated with effective communication. Equine Assisted Learning acts as an important educational tool to help to develop empathy and kindness as well as combat behavioural disorders, low self-esteem, bullying, drug abuse, emotional issues, poor communication skills and the inability to work with others.

 

The First Nations community is teaching empowerment and key life skills through Equine Assisted Learning.

Here is just one of the great stories that has emerged from the youth programs working with First Nations children.

“”The shell must break before the bird can fly,” ~ Tennyson. As Gloria progressively came to us, she was able to slowly break out of her shell and was able to acquire the skill she needed. We placed them into groups and more often than not the kids are not always satisfied with who they get matched up with. This was the case for this group of kids. No one even wanted to be with Gloria, so she began working on a horse on her own.

When Gloria began to work on the horse on her own, she began connecting with him right away due to her stimulus. The horse and her were constantly eye to eye and just by a quick glance you could tell already that they were opening up to each other. The other kids began noticing and began to get jealous, which resulted in them going up and taking the horse away from Gloria. We as facilitators had to let the process happen and could not intervene. It took all the strength in us to not involve ourselves as we felt bad for little Gloria. It broke our hearts to see that connection be broken up so quickly. But again, we listened to the horse and the situation happening was okay.

On to the next horse. You wouldn’t believe it. It happened again. Gloria and this other horse connected right away. Eye ball to eye ball. There came the other kids and stole that horse away from Gloria. Again, we stood back and let the process happen.

Finally, by the 8th program… The last program, she got the skill she needed. This same situation happened repeatedly and that last day she finally stood up for herself. She stomped down her foot and said no, I am working with this horse. I think we were all taken back a bit as we were not expecting that. However, by us letting the process happen she finally got the skill she needed to say no.
   
 Just when you thought that was amazing, it got even better. After we were done, we went back into the classroom as happy as pigs in mud to go debrief. In the debriefing stage, the kids usually choose one word and talk about it and how it reflected their day. However, for Gloria she didn’t chose just one word, not even just two words. She chose 8 words! I asked her why she hose those and BAM BAM BAM she lists each of them off. Each and every one of them. Next thing you know, all the kids are standing up and giving her a standing ovation.
   
Seeing the change from the beginning to the end is why we love our career so much.”

Equine Connection offers many different programs, but all of them focus on the horse as the teacher.

For more information on Equine Connection and the various programs they offer, visit www.equineconnection.ca.

EQUI-BUSINESS – True Life Stories of Success

Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.” – Pele

Last month on the Equi-Business blog, we talked about obtaining financial lending in pursuit of an equine property goal. We began with the reality that the equine business is a challenging industry for traditional banks to provide financial support. For young people with the goal of creating a business in the horse industry, the lifestyle can be one filled with many rewards. Equine industries are also a good way of making a piece of land pay for itself – but none of it comes without proper planning, hard work and often, sacrifice.

Last year WHR spoke with some couples in the horse industry who faced the daunting task of obtaining financial support for a farm or ranch, to help elevate their horse businesses to the next level. Each faced their own hurdles as they went through the process.

Austin and Sara Seelhof and family.

Austin and Sara Seelhof run a successful reining horse training facility in Bottrel, Alberta. Austin focuses on training, showing and selling futurity and derby horses, and has a successful coaching program for non-professional riders. His wife, Sara, owns Be Better Equine Therapy which specializes in therapeutic thermal imaging for equine athletes. They are also the proud parents to three young children. Originally, Austin ran his burgeoning training business out of Lauder Ranch near Cochrane, AB, but the Seelhofs recognized the need to invest in more equity while growing their business and investing in their future.

In March 2017, the couple purchased a 50-acre property in Bottrel, Alberta that includes a house, a 110 x 220 arena, an existing barn and a shop. The property fit many of their requirements, including a wonderful school for their children nearby.

Austin says that when they began to think about properties he had originally wanted to buy land and build on it. They went through Farm Credit Canada (FCC), with the help of a great mortgage broker. However, the FCC was leery about financing a property that would need to be built upon and the Seelhof’s wouldn’t have been able to come up with a big enough down payment. The acreage they decided on was much easier to receive financing for through the FCC.

The FCC also had a “Young Farmers Loan” program at the time that liked to assist agriculturists under 40 in keeping their family in agriculture. The Seelhof’s had a solid business plan that showed steady growth in the last six years, as well as a side business in compressed hay that could be run from the property. The couple did look at other banks who offered good interest rates, but Austin says, “We chose Farm Credit because of their flexibility. You can stall payments, and we really felt like we were a person with them, not a number. They have different programs available so if you are having trouble paying, or you break your leg or something, they can be flexible and add payments on to the end if need be.”

Another added bonus of using FCC was that the lending institution would value the entire property, while many banks won’t value outbuildings in their property assessment. For the Seelhofs, this meant that their barn and arena wouldn’t be included in their loan – not ideal for a family who makes a living training horses.

Austin says, “One thing I wish I would’ve done sooner was to talk to a banker. My dad always said that you need a relationship with a banker, or an accountant or mortgage broker. At first it was really scary, but it was helpful to have a great mortgage broker to guide us.”

Alex Alves works a horse in the roundpen.

Alex and Sonja Alves operate Hat Creek Performance Horses on the Hat Creek Ranch in Wheatland County, 30 minutes east of Strathmore, Alberta. They offer horse training from colt starting to finishing, with access to cattle, pasture, trails and obstacles. As well as lessons, cowboy challenge and flag practice nights, Hat Creek also takes in horses for resale, all the while slowly building a breeding program on strong bloodlines. The Alves ranch has 80 acres of which 50 are hay crop and 30 are pasture. The Alves’ purchased the property on August 31, 2012 after the previous owners had moved six years prior. The property had a calving barn that was too low for horses, a complete corral system to run cattle, a shop, a craft shop that had been used to make saddles and an outdoor arena that had become overgrown. Despite small modifications, the Alves’ felt the property had potential and Hat Creek was ready for them to bring horses in immediately. It needed few upgrades for cattle. Another bonus was that, at the time, Alex was working towards getting his welding journeyman and B-Pressure and the shop was perfect for his set-up.

Alex and Sonja have three children. Alex grew up in the horse industry and immersed himself in various events. It was always a dream of his to be able to make a living training horses, however it didn’t always seem feasible which is why he became a welder as well.

By the end of 2015 they had built an indoor arena on their property and by 2016 they training was their full time profession.

The main building at Hat Creek Ranch (owned by Alex and Sonja Alves).

The Alves’ did hit some snags when attempting to purchase their property. Due to Hat Creek being 80 acres and set up mainly for cattle, agricultural lenders considered it a hobby farm. Other lenders saw it as an acreage and therefore, agricultural. So, as Sonja states, “It completely fell through the cracks of the lending world. Being that we were 25 and under at the time, lenders had no interest in lending us money. The next catch was that we had to have 20% down.”

Alex and Sonja had to put together a business plan, and present it to the Agricultural Financial Services Corporation (AFSC) who offered a great interest rate of 1.86%. In order to acquire financing, the plan had to show that it was possible to generate at least $15,000 in revenue off the property so that they could be considered agricultural.

“At the time we only had about 10% to put down, so we got a loan through my parents so we could have the down payment and purchase the property. We honestly had to find a back road to be able to purchase the property. We spent at least a month-and-a-half trying to find a way to get financed. It was a nightmare.” For the Alves’, Sonja says that there is a lot of advice for young couples, and some of it seems to be repetitive in nature.

“For us, I think it is important to remember that if you wanted it bad enough there will be a way, no matter how many doors get shut right in your face, there will be a back road open. At the end of the day, success can only be achieved one way and that is through hard work. Alex says it so well, ‘You never fail, it just gives you another chance to succeed.’”

When Equi-Business returns, we’ll start discussing the important and elements of a business plan. ’Til next time!

WHR’s Top Instagram Posts of 2017

Credit: Chad Rowbotham Photography

Tomorrow is a new day and a new year. With all the excitement around Western Horse Review’s social media channels in 2017, we thought it might be fun to take a look back at some of our top Instagram posts of the year.

#1, Above, was a photo taken by Chad Rowbotham Photography. We used this beautiful image as the cover to our Nov/Dec 2016 issue, but we loved the picture so much we ran it again on our Instagram page this past October. Viewers loved it so much, this photo is our all-time highest reaching post.

Credit: Callaghan Creative Co.

#2, Above, was an image taken at our most recent photo shoot, upcoming in the Jan/Feb 2018 issue. It was captured by Callaghan Creative Co. in an outfit inspired by Back on Track Canada and Winslowe Rowe. Turns out, our Instagram viewers loved it too.

 

Credit: Jenn Webster

#3, Above, was shot in a spur-of-the-moment reflex as Alberta experienced one of those momentous sunsets of the Indian Summer of September. Featuring a curious weanling in my backyard, his silhouette against the beautiful sky made for another of our most popular Instagram posts.

 

Credit: Jenn Webster

#4, Above, Posted only three days ago, this little mini in the snow captured the hearts of many of our Instagram viewers. One viewer even commented, “Thelwell lives on!”

 

Credit: Tara McKenzie Fotos

#5, Above, This photo taken by McKenzie Fotos featured the beauty in the details of this cow horse bit and romal reins. The photo is so real, you can almost feel the horse’s whiskers.

 

Credit: Tanja Schneider Photography

#6, Above, In our Jan/Feb 2018 issue (coming to your mailbox soon!) we have an exclusive interview with Tanja Schneider – the young photography phenom capturing the very souls of horses and dogs with her camera lens. This shot features a Paint horse and its Australian Shephard buddy and was our #6 most popular Instagram post of the year.

 

Credit: Jenn Webster

#7, Above, On Dec. 23, 2017, a group of our friends and family came out to enjoy a day of skijoring with us. I snapped this pic of our snowboarder friend Sara, in a moment of pure joy with a horse ironically named “Webster.”

 

Credit: Stock Photography.

#8, Above, This image was simply a stock photography pic we had in our files, but as it comes in at #8 on the list, it just goes to prove how popular winter shots are right now on Instagram!

 

Credit: Jenn Webster

#9, Above, Finally our #9 most popular post on Instagram was a shot I captured quickly on a snowy day of my daughter and her mini friend “Legacy,” with my iPhone.

 

As the clock strikes midnight tonight and we ring in 2018, Western Horse Review would like to wish you all a very happy New Year!