The Road Less Saddled

THE ROAD LESS SADDLED

With seven horses in tow, Clay and I are hitting the highway!

The snow is flying. The temperature gauge is dipping well below zero. And the Canadian show season is dormant until spring shows up. That means Clay and I are ready to pack up seven of our most elite horses and head down the road, to have a bit of a holiday. We also intend to stop and visit some friends along the way, learn some new things and I’m really hoping to improve my Español – I’ll keep you posted on how that goes…


For now, we intend to travel to Arizona over the course of the next week. We really have no schedule, however, since I do not have a Class 1 (Airbrake License), Clay is the only driver of our rig. That means to safely travel anywhere, Clay can only maintain a maximum certain number of hours behind the wheel. After that, he must be out of the vehicle, resting. His driving and non-driving hours must be documented in trucker’s log, in case we are ever asked to present our mileage at a State Port of Entry or weigh scale.

Our Trucker's log.

Leaving Regina early in the morning, our first stop is the Estevan, SK, Tim Hortons. This will likely be our last Timmys coffee for a while so I intend to make the best of it! Two large French Vanillas and a box of donut holes later and we’re on our way again. The next stop is only a few minutes down the road later. We have a scheduled appointment with North Portal’s Federal Vet at 9 am. And once Customs clears our paperwork and passports, our rig is x-rayed and we have finally really begun our big trek!


We have decided to divide our trip to Arizona into four days of travel, with three overnight stops along the way. This will allow us to offload the horses and bed them down for the night, in addition to permitting time for a decent meal, showers and a warm bed for Clay and I. We’ve done the sleep-on-the-side-of-the-road-thing and trust me – stopping for the night makes for much happier travelers. Both of the horse and human variety.

So that’s where www.horsemotel.com came in very handy! Googling from the road, I came across this lovely, stress-saving site. Featuring literally hundreds of stables all across North America, horsemotel.com provided my blackberry with contact information, customer reviews, maps, prices, amenities and facility pictures in some instances. Traveling with 7 horses could be challenging: not everyone has the facilities to house this number of animals, each in their own indoor stall. We will spend Night #1 in Billings, Montana at the Box T Ranch.

GPS comes in very handy on trips like this. But we learned the hard way that a rig of this magnitude requires the “Fastest Route by Bus” setting.

Owned and run by Rada Rogers, Box T Ranch is a very clean, accommodating facility equipped with large stalls each with their own fresh, flowing water trough. We have stayed at Box T previously (with 15 horses in tow) and we’re extremely pleased with the fact that Rada could take us in. Our horses are extremely happy about getting off the trailer after a long day. Although we stopped every four hours along the way to offer them fresh water and hay, collectively they have drank very little. Often, bedding the horses down into a stall for the evening allows them to relax enough to consume water. Plus, the Box T Ranch’s stalls are big enough for our horses to move around and have a roll.

Box T Ranch in Billings, MT.

Clay gets to work cleaning out the trailer and I begin brushing each of the horses down. With the cooler temps at home, we trailered our mares wearing blankets. Brushing each night helps to keep that film of dirt from developing with prolonged blanket wear, plus I can look their legs over and ensure there are no travel wounds.

Once the horses are fed and looked after, it’s our turn to turn in for the night. We get a room at a hotel nearby and settle in for the evening. Box T Ranch is great in that Rada keeps a close eye on our horses and offers to feed them in the morning, so as soon as we arrive, we can load up and get on the road. The only consideration we have to take into account is to come into the Ranch from the long route: our rig is so big, it can’t negotiate the tight turn of the driveway entrance if we come in from the west side of the approach.

If you’re planning on taking horses to Billings, MT, give Rada a shout – 406-252-4388.

DIRECTIONS TO BOX T RANCH (the west side of the approach):
When you get to Billings take the I-90 Exit 455 – turn at the stop sign and head south to the Flying J – at the light there turn left (east) on Old Hardin Road, go about 300 feet to Becraft Lane and turn right (lane is between the Exxon station and Little Horn State Bank) – proceed on Becraft about 7/10 mile  to our sign (3306 Becraft) just across the irrigation canal – turn right and see the big barn off the lane about 1/4 mile.

If you decide to take the long route (east side of the approach):
Go to the Flying J light – turn left (east ) on Old Hardin Road, travel about 1-1/2 mile to “Noblewood” – turn right and go until it ends (about 1/2 mile) and turn right on Becraft – proceed to our driveway at 3306 Becraft – turn left at the sign (before canal) – this way will avoid the sharp turn for the larger trailer

Schmersal is an NRHA Two Million Dollar Rider

The National Reining Horse Association proudly congratulates its newest NRHA Two Million Dollar Rider (unofficial) – Craig Schmersal. Schmersal won the Seminole Hard Rock Reining Classic Level 4 Open Derby Championship aboard San Juan Ranch’s (John and Brenda Stephenson) Whizs Katrina in Tampa, Florida. Schmersal also piloted Peppy Superboom to a sixth place finish in the open derby. His combined earnings on multiple horses at the event bring his lifetime earnings to more than $2,003,400.

In the world of Reining, only two competitors have earned in excess of two million dollars in official NRHA earnings, Shawn Flarida and Tim McQuay. Schmersal is unofficially among those elite NRHA Two Million Dollar Riders.

Schermsal, an NRHA Professional, has competed in NRHA events since 1988. The Overbrook, Oklahoma resident has moved through the NRHA ranks over the years starting with his first show as a youth in Pennsylvania. He quickly became a name in the industry. Some of Schmersal’s major NRHA achievements include:

1994 – NRHA Open and Limited Open World Champion on Cee Blair Sailor owned by David Connor

1994 – NRHA Novice Horse Open Reserve World Champion on My Ways Nicki owned by Ann Mucaria

1996 – NRHA Open Reserve World Champion on Side Smoke owned by Ginger Bishop Kingston (Schmersal)

1996 – AQHA Senior Reining World Champion riding Side Smoke owned by Ginger Bishop Kingston (Schmersal)

2001 – NRBC Open Reserve Champion riding B S Syndicate’s Tidal Wave Jack

2002 – Team USA member – Gold Medalist at FEI World Equestrian Games on B S Syndicate‘s Tidal Wave Jack

2003 – NRHA Derby Open Reserve Champion on Commanders Nic owned by Craig and Ginger Schmersal

2004 – NRHA Derby Open Champion on Commanders Nic owned by Craig and Ginger Schmersal

2005 – FEI World Reining Masters CRI-A Open Champion on B S Syndicate’s Tidal Wave Jack

2005 – NRHA Million Dollar Rider

2008 – CRI-A Open USEF National Champion riding Mr Dual Rey owned by Holly Casey

2008 – Top 20 Professionals Second Place Year End Earnings
Incorporated in 1966, the National Reining Horse Association is the governing body of the sport of Reining. NRHA, with their International Headquarters in Oklahoma City, is responsible for promoting the sport of Reining and working to ensure the highest standards of competition. To learn more about the NRHA, its programs and family of corporate partners, visit www.nrha.com.

Kindergarten

Horses are so expressive in their body language. Here, “Mercedes,” a yearling filly, is clearly unsure about the lariat in Clay’s hand, but she refuses to take her attention off of it. That’s a good sign.

Today, my husband Clay is bringing some of our long yearlings into our indoor arena, to start their training in the roundpen he has set up in one end. Along with his assistant, Danielle, Clay will begin “Kindergarten” with the young horses.

Using a safe roundpen (one in which a colt cannot get its legs stuck in between the panels up high, in the connection points), Clay’s goal today is basically to get the colt’s attention focused on him. Wherever Clay goes, he wants the young horse to be aware and focused on his actions as the handler. First in is Mercedes, a yearling filly sired by Peptoboonsmal.

Please note, entries about colt starting and horse training in my blog are essentially only “nutshell” versions of the real thing. The only true ways of learning the techniques safely are through the hands-on teaching of experienced professionals – so if you are inexperienced in this department, don’t take my notes and pictures to mean that you too, can try this at home! However, since Clay has had thousands of hours of experience and hundreds of horses ridden under his saddle, there are still many things we can share with you via a blog medium.

So let’s get back to kindergarten. Using a lariat in one hand as an aid to wave the filly away at crucial times, it can also become an extension of Clay’s arm. Clay moves Mercedes around the roundpen, being careful to maintain a safe distance from her hindquarters. Each time her attention focuses on Clay’s body in the centre of the roundpen, he backs away from the filly.


If the filly maintains her attention on Clay, he continues to back away. If however, she moves her attention to something else, Clay pushes her forward again.

Ideally at this point, Clay would like to be able to approach the filly and perhaps even touch her, but if she chooses to leave him, the consequence is that she will have to work. Clay uses the concept of “Approach and Retreat” with horses, the idea behind it being that you get into the colt’s space for just long enough that the young horse can handle it, and then get out again. If the horse starts to leave before the handler has retreated from the “comfort zone,” the handler didn’t get out fast enough and this will make it difficult to build the horse’s confidence for being touched and handled.

Clay has sent Mercedes around the roundpen again and once again, her attention focuses back on Clay. He steps back to try and keep her attention.

Clay approaches Mercedes and so far, she’s keeping her feet still. Her ears are great indicators for what she is thinking and while she is unsure about the lariat, she stays put. Because she allows Clay to touch her, he rewards Mercedes by walking away from her again. The interesting part at this point is, Mercedes now takes a couple steps towards Clay.

So, Clay approaches and tries touching Mercedes again, this time with the lariat.

Mercedes moves slightly away.


Again Mercedes is doing well, so Clay back out of her space.

And that’s a perfect place to leave the lesson at for today.

Clay’s three main rules of colt starting are; 1) The horse and the handler must not get hurt; 2) Always have the colt maintain its attention on the handler in a relaxed, safe fashion throughout the colt starting experience; And 3) Ensure the colt is more relaxed and confident at the end of the session than it was in the beginning.

* Stay tuned! Clay will take this filly from the roundpen groundwork to her first time wearing a saddle and we’ll blog it all for you. However since it’s a lengthy entry, I’ll be breaking it up over the course of several days that do not run in succession. Hope to see you there!

** For more information about Clay, check out www.claywebster.com

Gunner is an NRHA Two Million Dollar Sire

National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Hall of Fame stallion, “Gunner” (Colonels Smoking Gun), is unofficially the eighth NRHA Two Million Dollar Sire. His offspring have quickly racked up earnings moving him from the list of 18 Million Dollar Sires up to the Two Million Dollar achievement in just three years. Money earners at the 2010 NRHA European Futurity (Pretty Miss Smokegun and Gunspinner) and at the Cactus Reining Classic (Gunners Special Nite) helped bring his unofficial total progeny earnings to $2,000,453.

Gunner, bred by Eric Storey, is the top earning offspring of the Colonel Freckles’ son Colonelfourfreckle. The 1993 stallion is out of Katie Gun who has produced NRHA earners of more than $405,000. Gunner was the 1996 NRHA Futurity Open Reserve Champion ridden by Clint Haverty. At the time, Paul and Pam Rohus/Double PR Ranch owned Gunner. Five years later, he won the USEF National Reining Championship with Bryant Pace aboard for owner Debra Sloan. The stallion earned nearly $175,000 in his career and was inducted into the NRHA Hall of Fame in 2003. McQuay Stables Inc.’s (Tim and Colleen McQuay) currently own and stand the stallion in Tioga, Texas.

Gunner’s top performers include: Gunners Special Nite ($163,100: two-time NRHA Derby Level 4 Open finalist, NRHA Futurity Level 4 Open Reserve Champion, NRHA Futurity Level 3 Open Champion, NRBC Level 4 Open finalist and AQHA World Show Junior Reining finalist); Gunnatrashya ($157,390: NRHA Futurity Level 4 Open Champion and All American Quarter Horse Congress Open Champion), The Great Guntini ($130,590: finalist in NRHA Futurity Open Level 4, NRBC Open Level 4 and NRHA Derby Open Level 4); Snow Gun ($122,090: NRHA Futurity Open Level 4 third place, WEG Team Silver Medalist, and NRBC Level 4 Open finalist); Sorcerers Apprentice ($90,540: AQHA World Champion Senior Reining; and finalist in NRHA Futurity Level 4 Open, Reining By The Bay Level 4 Open and NRBC Level 4 Open).

NRHA will recognize Gunner for this spectacular achievement during the 2010 NRHA Futurity & Adequan® North American Affiliate Championship Show in November. He also will be recognized during the National Reining Breeders Classic in Katy, Texas.

Incorporated in 1966, the National Reining Horse Association is the governing body of the sport of Reining. NRHA, with their International Headquarters in Oklahoma City, is responsible for promoting the sport of Reining and working to ensure the highest standards of competition. To learn more about the NRHA, its programs and family of corporate partners, visit nrha.com.

Northlands Farm & Ranch Show

NORTHLANDS FARM & RANCH SHOW, APRIL 8-10, EDMONTON, AB

Taking place in the recently completed Edmonton EXPO Centre, this year’s Farm & Ranch Show will almost take over the entire building. The Edmonton EXPO Centre, which officially opened in December 2009, is 522,000 sq feet of contiguous space – making it the largest tradeshow venue in Western Canada.

While the building may be new, this year’s Farm & Ranch Show has some familiar favourites such as the Envirotech Showcase, Women in Agriculture and Alberta Grows as well as new features such as expanded equine programming, a Seeding Technology Clinic and Farm/Ranch Management workshops.

For 44 years, the Northlands Farm & Ranch Show has been serving the western Canadian agricultural community. Dave Fiddler, Show Manager notes, “Northlands is pleased to offer a broad cross-section industry events, displays and seminars. With over 400 exhibitors, new programs and clinics, there’s something for everyone.”

The equine programming includes Tina Kaven, World Champion Western Pleasure and Western Riding with a horsemanship Clinic that will run all three days of the event. An opportunity not to be missed – Northlands is pleased to be hosting someone of this calibre in Alberta.

Terri McKinney from Wild Deuce

Other activities include round pen demonstrations with Stephanie Clarke and Backcountry Packing and Adventure Tourism with Wild Deuce Outfitters and Packers.

In addition to the equine programming, there are a number of activities for the beef sector with seven different manufacturers offering live demonstrations of the cattle handling equipment. There is also a Ranching for Profit Workshop and several business management presentations, relating to livestock operations.

Returning once again is the Northlands Performance Horse Sale which features performance horses geared to ranch work, rodeo arena, and other arena events.

Also new this year, Northlands presents 4- H day on Saturday, April 10.  Members will receive complimentary admission to the show by showing their membership card at the door and will have the opportunity to take part in a great selection of beef and equine activities. Fiddler notes, “Northlands is committed to mentoring youth in the agriculture industry and is excited to present these informative and dynamic sessions for 4-H members as part of the Farm & Ranch Show.”

Admission to the Farm & Ranch Show is just $5 and children under 12 are free. Download either a $2 off admission coupon or the Farm & Ranch Show Value Pack at farmandranchshow.com.  The value pack includes the cost of parking and two admissions for just $16 – a six dollar savings. Or pick up coupons at participating AMA, UFA and Federated Coop locations.  Redeem the value pack coupon at Northlands parking gates (coupon is good for one vehicle only).

After a day at the Farm & Ranch Show be sure to catch Canada’s up-and-coming rodeo stars at the Canadian National College Finals Rodeo (CNCFR). Advance CNCFR tickets are $10.50 and $12.50 plus service charges and includes Farm & Ranch Show admission. Ticket prices at the door will be $16.50 for both the Lower and Upper Bowl. After the show and before the rodeo, Canadian country music stars, Hey Romeo will also be performing twice daily in the Edmonton EXPO Centre Gallery.

The Northlands Farm & Ranch Show runs from 10am – 6pm daily, April 8-10.

For more information about the 2010 Northlands Farm & Ranch Show or CNCFR, visit farmandranchshow.com or call 1-877.471.7472.

2010 CPRA Hall of Fame Inductees

CANADIAN PRO RODEO HALL OF FAME ANNOUNCES 2010 INDUCTEES

The Canadian Rodeo Historical Association (CRHA) is pleased to announce this year’s inductees to the Canadian Professional Rodeo Hall of Fame (CPRHF).

The CRHA first formed in 1979 to award those who have made a significant contribution to the sport of rodeo in Canada. It was established as an association in 1980. Since then, more than 150 rodeo contestants builders and animal athletes have been honoured with induction into the
Hall of Fame. This year, seven new inductees will join the roster of honoured rodeo contestants, builders and animal athletes that already grace the walls of the Hall of Fame, namely Floyd Peters, Phil Doan, Gordon Doan, Everett Vold, Clayton Hines, Edith Malesh, and Harvey Northcott’s Canadian champion saddle bronc horse Wyatt Earp.

Peters was a tie-down roper and steer decorator from Cardston, Alta. He won the Canadian steer decorating championship in 1945, and three
consecutive Canadian tie-down roping championships from 1945 to 1947. He is only one of two cowboys to win a Canadian championship in both of those timed events. The other cowboy is 1993 CPRHF inductee Kenny McLean.

Gordon Doan competed alongside his brothers Melvin and Urban Doan, and was well known as a bareback rider, though he competed in all the
roughstock events. He picked up his first Canadian bareback championship in 1945, and again in 1946. That same year, he placed fourth overall in the saddle bronc, fourth in the steer riding, and won the bareback championship for the second year running. No surprise, he was also named the 1946 Canadian All-Around champion.

Phil Doan

Phil Doan

Doan’s nephew Phil, from Consort, Alta., carried on the family tradition of success in the rodeo arena. The bareback rider and steer wrestler, who also occasionally competed in the bull riding, served as bareback director for the Canadian Rodeo Cowboys Association (before it was the CPRA) from 1964 to 1967, and again in 1969. He then served as All-Around director from 1970 to 1973. Phil was named Cowboy of the Year in 1971, and was the second recipient to ever receive the award. But the awards didn’t stop there, as he won the Canadian steer wrestling championship in 1973, and the Canadian All-Around championship in 1974.

Hailing originally from Ponoka, Alta., Everett Vold was a bareback rider and the 1949 Canadian steer decorating champion. Although he never won a championship in the bareback riding, he was a strong contender in that event as well, appearing in the top three of the Canadian standings no less than five times between 1946 and 1950.

Clayton Hines of Drayton Valley, Alta. was a familiar face at the Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR) starting at his first CFR appearance in 1980
and into the early 1990s. Hines, known as Low Tone by his peers, secured the Canadian saddle bronc champion in 1981, after a memorable tie-breaking ride-off against Mel Hyland, and again in 1985.

Edith Malesh was named Committee Person of the Year in 1991 for all her hard work as director of the Assiniboia, Sask, South Country Roundup
committee. At that time, she had already served the rodeo committee for 18 years. She was secretary for the Alberta/Saskatchewan Southern Rodeo Circuit, and started the Saskatchewan Pro Rodeo Circuit after the Alberta circuit split into its own. She also served as Saskatchewan’s representative on the CPRA board from 1988 to 1995.

Wyatt Earp

Owned by Harvey Northcott Rodeo, and ranch-raised out near Caroline, Alta., Wyatt Earp was one of the most formidable broncs a cowboy could draw. During his career, the bald-faced bay made five consecutive appearances at CFR. The 1,600 lb stallion won a number of awards, including the Canadian Saddle Bronc Horse of the Year award in 1997 and 1998. He was named Saddle Bronc Horse of the Calgary Stampede twice, and was voted both Saddle Bronc Horse of the CFR and Saddle Bronc Horse of the NFR in 1996 and 1997.

~ Courtesy of the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association, photos courtesy of Canadian Rodeo News

Genesis: Starting with a plan

GENESIS

A scene in our yearling filly pasture.


I always love this time of year. These are the days when Clay starts focusing the training energy onto our 2-year-olds. The babies we foaled out in early 2008 have had almost two years to just grow and be horses. And now, it’s time to start handling them regularly. Up until now, they’ve been halter-broke and have received consistent farrier work and medical care. Other than that however, our yearlings have mainly been running and playing like little kids out in the pasture.

The fillies: aka Drama Queens.

Naturally, there is much discussion surrounding the topic of starting young horses. Every trainer or owner has an opinion on the subject and every program has valid points. I am not here to argue or validate which way is best. Clay and I just know what works best for us and the practice of starting our colts as long yearlings, has proven extremely beneficial in our experience.

All shapes and sizes.

Ideally, we like to center our breeding program around the earliest foals in the year as possible. This means, we try to aim for March babies. Of course, this goal isn’t always attainable since Mother Nature plays a large role in equine reproduction. However, we have found that earlier birth dates allow our foals more time to grow, develop and mature. And sometimes, if a mare is having difficulty getting in foal early in the year, we choose to leave her open. In today’s economy and with the instability of our market, it has become more crucial than ever to make smart breeding decisions. Since our herd consists of +/- 11 broodmares (depending on the year), we have decided that demand must exist for each and every horse we produce.

It’s all about supply equaling demand.

We don’t want to create something the world has no desire for, as often seen in the overbreeding problems and market lows the horse industry is already battling. Therefore, with careful scrutiny we make our breeding plans each year and if a mare just can’t seem to become pregnant early in the year, that’s alright with us. We don’t believe it’s absolutely necessary to bring another 11 foals into the world every year.

It’s always so amazing to me to watch dreams and goals take shape, from this tender moment forward.

That being said, each of our foals will have a better chance of thriving in today’s society if they are well-trained and have solid foundations. Broke horses have a modern purpose in today’s society and can give their owners justification of the costs of feeding and caring for them. That’s why Clay prefers to start our young horses as long yearlings, starting with approximately only ten minutes day, three times a week. Since the horse’s body continues to develop until it is about six year of age, it’s important to consider the young muscle and bone structure and never physically push the animal too far in a session.

A few minutes each day, starting earlier on in its life, allows Clay the time it takes to build a solid foundation with a colt. It is very hard on a horse to begin training later in life and have the same amount of lessons crammed into a shorter span of time. Doing so would be the equivalent of sending a child to begin school in grade six, without having the benefit of kindergarten, grade one, two, etc. The person training the horse would have to teach the horse all the same lessons, despite having only half the time.

The yearlings, just being horses.

Starting early also affords Clay the opportunity to turn our yearlings out to pasture again, if he so chooses. Sometimes a young horse comes along so nicely in the lessons that Clay might feel he needs time to go out and be a horse again. Or, perhaps his or her body just needs more time to develop. And later in January, February or March Clay might bring the colt back in and resume the training. Either way, an early starting point gives my husband a foundation to build on.

Who's clocking up at the early pro rodeos?

I always enjoy this time of year… (okay, okay, I’ll admit I’m still in Arizona but I’m wearing my “Alberta” hat right now) because spring means rodeo season is here.

Adel Hansen and Freddie, 2009 Calgary Stampede (photo by Mike Copeman)

Canadian Pro Rodeo action technically kicked off last fall with the Saskatoon Indoor Pro Rodeo but the first ‘spring’ show ran in Camrose March 19-21 followed up by Lethbridge March 25-27. While it’s still pretty early to say who’s in solid shape in the overall standings, it’s always fun (and interesting) to see who handles the small indoor barrel runs well. And, no surprise, some of the names at the top of the CPRA roster so far are the same names we saw at this point last year.

I caught up with Calgary, AB barrel racer, Lauren Chad by phone as she was heading off for a ‘Tim Hortons run’ before her morning University classes in Calgary. The former Saskatoon resident and 2008 CFR qualifier rides Macho, a 14 year old Doc Bar bred gelding. Lauren was second in Saskatoon last fall and won Camrose this spring to take the early lead in the CPRA standings. A full time psychology student, Lauren is juggling not only her academic load and equine demands… she’s also planning her wedding, set for later this year to bull fighter Jesse Byrne. With all that on her plate, Lauren looked to the Anchor R Ranch Equine Wellness Centre to help get her horse in shape for the spring season, “I was tickled with how good my horse looked after a month at Anchor R,” Lauren commented. “I picked him up the week before Camrose and he felt great.”

Right behind Lauren is another ‘soon-to-be-married’ barrel racer… the 2009 Reserve Canadian Champion Rana Walter. The Lethbridge cowgirl finished second at her hometown rodeo and third at Saskatoon last fall. No stranger to the world of barrel racing, Rana is a four time CFR qualifier. She rides Real Easy Doc (Easy Jet/Doc Bar bred). The long-strided gelding, trained and futuritied by Donnie Reese, won the first $100,000 Pro Tour Barrel Race in Oklahoma City as a three year old, then went on to earn the BFA Oklahoma City Juvenile Championship and Reserve BFA Derby title. Walter has since enjoyed additional Derby, Pro Rodeo and Fast Time wins aboard the big chestnut gelding.

Also making an appearance in the early standings is Laura McPherson of Wolf Point, Montana. A relative newcomer to the Canadian Barrel Racing scene, due in part to the challenges of rodeoing from Wolf Point (a farming community located in the northeast corner of Montana many miles from almost anywhere), Laura won the Saskatoon Pro Rodeo last September and has plans to head back to Canada later this spring. “I first came up to Canada two years ago,” the Montana accountant explained. “There are some great rodeos up there and really nice people. I just live a long way from most rodeos, so I have to plan my trips carefully.” Laura runs a ten year old home-raised granddaughter of Dash For Cash.

2009 Canadian CFR qualifier and CPRA Barrel Racing Rookie of the Year, Adel Hansen is off to a good start too. The Okotoks cowgirl and UFA executive has three horses in her barn though for the indoor venues, she often runs her mare, Freddie. Adel used a similar strategy to Lauren Chad – she booked her horse into the Champion Equine Rehab and Training Centre at Carstairs, Alberta for a few weeks of spring conditioning prior to rodeo season. Adel sits fourth in the standings.

The next pro rodeo on the roster is Medicine Hat on April 16-18

The majority of the semi-pro associations are just getting underway with April rodeos scheduled. Check back later this month for early-season semi-pro highlights.

No health records? Ship before July 31st

It isn’t an April Fool’s joke. In fact, rumors of it have been the talk of the industry all winter and in late January the Canadian Food Inspection Agency confirmed new regulations regarding the implementation of a Meat Hygiene Directive. As of July 31st, slaughter facilities will be allowed to process only those equines with complete health records dating back six months. In other words, the maintenance of health records must have begun by February 1st, for equines that are intended to be sent (or sold) for processing on or after July 31st.

The Information Bulletin from the CFIA that outlines the new requirements is available from the CFIA’s web site at:

http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/corpaffr/newcom/newsrele.shtml where it states “ owners who wish to keep their sale options open should record all vaccines, medications given (administered or fed) to their animals and record any occurrence of illness in their animals.”

The CFIA requires that health records for equines intended for human consumption include the following:

• Identification information for the horse, including markings and photos

• Record of diagnosed illnesses

• Records of drugs or vaccines administered (or fed) that are not intended for use in food animals

• Records of drugs or vaccines administered (or fed) with known withdrawal periods

• Records of all other drugs or vaccines administered (or fed)

A list of the substances that are not intended for use in food animals can be found at in the Meat Hygiene Directive No. 2009-49 which is available from CFIA’s website at

http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/fssa/meavia/man/direct/2009/direct49e.shtml.

Important to note: the use of Phenylbutazone (commonly known as bute), is now considered a banned substance for any equine intended for human consumption.

Equine meds which require a six-month withdrawal period include such drugs as Acepromazine, commonly known as Ace.

Perhaps even more troubling than the health records requirement is the news that this program is all intended to lead into an overall Canadian equine identification program, which is intended to encompass not only unique identification, but movement tracking and health and drug administration. Read on for the official word from the Canadian Food and Inspection Agency:

“To assist horse owners in the maintenance of health records, the CFIA has created the Equine Identification Document (EID). The EID is a paper document that can be downloaded and printed from the CFIA website.

“The CFIA announcement describes this as “the first step in the development of a comprehensive food safety and traceability program for the Canadian equine industry—for both domestic and international markets.” This is in-line with previous Agriculture and Agri-food Canada announcements committing to the development of livestock traceability programs for Canada by 2013.

“It is expected that the EID paper document will serve as a foundation stone upon which a comprehensive electronic system will be built to incorporate unique equine identification, movement tracking, and health and drug administration information necessary to satisfy food safety and bio-security requirements.

“It is expected that further information and details regarding the development and implementation of the national identification and traceability system will be announced shortly.”

If all of this smacks you in the gut the teensiest bit, if you find your thoughts drifting off to 1984, and big-brotherism, you just might not be alone . . . and plenty of you may even recall we’ve been through this before, back in 2003-04 when Equine Canada gave it’s best shot at fast-tracking an equine identification program. Alarms were raised, cries of “not another gun registry!” were made and eventually, it all went away, back into the dark hole from whence it came. Or, so we thought.

Just as intriguing . . . on the heels of this Canadian announcement came the news from the United States Department of Agriculture of its complete scrapping of it’s $142 million NAIS (National Animal Identification System) and starting it’s disease traceabililty program from scratch according to the Washington-based American Horse Council. Apparently, the decision came after a USDA national listening tour.

We’ll be keeping track of this as it progresses, but in the meantime, thoughts anyone?