Praise Hemp

There is something exciting on the horizon of equine nutrition. As a relatively new food to western cultures, hemp is a tiny seed with gigantic nutritional benefits. So why choose hemp for your equine? Hemp seeds are a nutrient dense, all natural, low processed, easily digested form of healthy fats ad and exceptional source of plant-based protein. Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s) are essential to tissue growth and help regulate many internal functions. EFA’s are by definition, essential because they can’t be produced by the body and must be obtained through diet for proper growth and body functioning.

Essential Amino Acids (EAA’s) are the building blocks found in protein and hemp offers an excellent protein quality which rivals many grains, as well as soy and whey. By supplementing hemp oil, topping and protein finer to our equine’s diet, you may notice an improvement in immune system, energy, digestion, skin and coat, mobility, muscle health and cardiovascular health.

Amanda Smith at the Calgary Wrangler Futurity. Photo by James Hudyma.

Western Horse Review recently got the chance to speak with cutter Amanda Smith of Wembley, AB. Smith has been using Praise Hemp products for the past year-and-a-half and loves the changes she has witnessed in one of her top competition geldings.

“I started giving it to my gelding that I show (Im Short And Smooth, aka ‘Fred’),” she explains. “Fred used to be spooky, nervous, lots of anxiety – he was wound pretty tight. I could tell a huge difference in Fred’s demeanor after two weeks of being on it. He was soft and quiet to be around and I could actually take him out on a trail ride and enjoy it! Plus he was super shiny. Once Fred had been on it for a couple of months and I noticed all the positives that came from it, I put the rest of our horses on it, along with the Praise Hemp Protein Fibre.”

Smith says that in her barn, her horses have all responded very well to the Praise Hemp products. The great thing for show horse owners is that horses will not test positive for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Praise Hemp’s Canadian hemp producers follow stringent guidelines under Health Canada’s Industrial Hemp Regulations. It is tested multiple times in the field and has virtually 0% THC. The company can even provide certificates of analysis to verify.

Additionally, horses enjoy the taste of Praise Hemp products.

“We don’t have a single horse that won’t eat it, they all love it!” says Smith. “What I’ve noticed the most across the board with all the horses is their body condition – they’re shiny and full. With the show horses I find they have more stamina and recover faster, they also maintain their weight throughout the show season.”

Smith also uses Praise Hemp products with her younger and breeding stock, including her broodmares. “All of our horses; weanlings, yearlings, show horses, broodmares and our stallion get both the Oil and Protein Fibre. My favourite thing about the product is that ALL our horses benefit from it!”

Amanda Smith. Photo by James Hudyma.

 

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For more information about Praise Hemp products, check out www.hempcocanada.com

Barn Hacks

From dream-barn makeovers, to do it yourself stable hacks, we turned to the Western Horse Review readership on Facebook to ask what their favourite tips and tricks are around their own barns. Here are five of our favourite barn renovations we rounded up, big or small.

Revolving Saddle Rack Wall

1. Revolving Saddle Rack Wall. A revolving saddle rack wall is definitely #BarnGoals. When prompted, many of our readers told us that a revolving saddle rack wall was a must-have if they were to build their dream barn. The above image shows how, at just a slight push of the wall, your tack room can be transported from room, to work area. We especially think this is a fantastic idea for busy training operations.

Photo Credit: Corrie EZ Bales via Facebook

2. Fence Post Bridle Rack. Old fence posts are a common occurrence on most farms and ranches, up-cycle them into a great bridle rack. From our Facebook Page, Corrie EZ Bales submitted this photo of her great do-it-yourself bridle rack in her own barn. Corrie says, “We got this idea for our bridles from Winning Strides near Nanton. It is just fence posts screwed to a base & hung on a wall. Sure does keep them bent & tidy!!”

Photo Credits: Lynnman Construction

3. Indoor Trailer Parking . Another of our readers, Brigitte Meyer, commented that if she were to build her own barn she would plan for a bigger blueprint. “Doubling the size of the barn alley way would be nice, in order to be able to drive a rig in. You know, in the event of a rare alberta storm” she quipped. This double-wide barn alley-way comes from Lynnman Construction and we love the trailer parking on one side, with stalls on the other. A great way to save your trailer from the horrible hail storms we all know too well.

Photo Credit: Shed Plans Galore

4. Scratching Post. Have a bucket of old brushes in the tack room? We got a real kick out of this D.I.Y. scratching post. Securely fasten old brushes to a post and put out in your horse’s turnout. We bet they’ve never been happier.

From our Pinterest Pages

5. Swing Out Insulated Water Buckets. This barn-hack was made for cold Canadian winters. The swing out theme continues with swing-out buckets, which can be used for grain, or insulate and use for water buckets in the winter. Ice chipping in the morning, be gone.

Have any other great barn or arena renovations we missed, or some genius barn or arena tips you use that you love? Let us know in the comment section below.

Diary of a Wildfire Summer

A view of the smoke and fires near Easygo Ranch. Credit: Elli Meinert

Summer is generally a season to which most Canadians look forward. But for Lac La Hache, BC, resident Elli Meinert, 2017 was a summer she was glad to bid goodbye. Little did she know that when the province of British Columbia was about to experience one of its worst wildfire seasons in history, Meinert’s home was about to become a highly sought after evacuation zone.

“I remember that on July 6, I got my first Facebook message,” said Meinert. “It read, ‘Can I bring my herd over?’” she relayed. In addition to her own animals, Meinert ended up with 8 extra horses in her care that afternoon. Meinert owns and operates Easygo Ranch, an equine facility bordering a lake, in northern BC. As the events of the summer unfolded, the raging wildfires quickly sparked in several locations in close proximity to the ranch.

“During those early days in July we were watching the fire and there was smoke on the other side of the barn. We had had a fire in that direction 3-4 weeks before. We watched them hit it with retardant and it was gone. But this time, it was different,” she said.

“On July 7, I was by myself and all of a sudden there were water bombers flying right over the house. I phoned my hubby and asked him to come home. On Friday, I hauled horses for someone who was put on Order. And then while I was trying to load horses for someone else – we were put on Alert. I shoved the last horse I could fit in the trailer and went back home. Then the news started coming in. The 108 (a big settlement of houses nearby) were also put on Order.”

To be on “Alert” means officials in the province have advised residents to be ready, in case they must leave. You can leave but you can’t come back. Highways were only open to whatever evacuation route officials deemed safe to travel at the time.

To be on “Evacuation Order” means you have to leave.

CREDIT: Elli Meinert

“At that point, we weren’t just trying to look after our horses or other peoples’ horses – we were making beds for people. My Step-Dad, my neighbours – where else did they have to go? You can’t go to a hotel with two Jack Russells and cats and stuff,” Meinert stated. “So we got really efficient with the dog shuffle (because not all the animals got along). We took in a few extra people and more animals.”

On July 7, Meinert admits they all thought about leaving because the closest fire was too close for comfort. “I had trailers lined up, but soon we realized we couldn’t leave because they closed the highway.”

CREDIT: Elli Meinert

After that, another 15 horses arrived so Easygo’s tally came in at 35. “Some of the owners were stuck on the other side of road blocks. There was an orphan from the SPCA that came. We were looking after them all, full time,” she said.

The human residents of Easygo Ranch were also stuck on a 6-kms travel radius during those days. They were permitted to move around in the radius, but no farther.

“We could go to our gas station corner store, which was good but they quickly ran out of supplies. We were all put on rations: one loaf of bread and one jug of milk per household. It was stupid.

“After chores each day we would all meet up in front of the barn to decide who was cooking dinner that night. One night we had just finished and the power went out. I just wanted a shower… We spent this whole time prepping in case the fire did come to the ranch. We tried to make the place as fireproof as we could. But that night it was distressing. We’d look to the south west and you could see a plume of smoke from the 100 Mile fire. To the north west there was another huge fire from the Chilcotin. And in the north east there was the fire from Williams Lake. We were all just standing there and discussing what we were going to do and then all this smoke started drifting in from across the lake.”

Credit: Elli Meinert

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“I really wasn’t going to leave unless we could take all the horses,” she explained. “We could only take 12 horses and there were clearly more than that.”

Thankfully Easygo Ranch already had great fire suppression systems in place before summer started. These included a dry well located close tot the barn, the lake that could be pumped out of, and an indoor arena with amazing water hoses and generators for power.

CREDIT: Elli Meinert

 

 

CREDIT: Elli Meinert

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However there were other things Meinert learned about in the face of a crisis that also helped ride out the storm.

“Val Detweiller used to work in forestry and she contacted me. She was a huge help with her information. She gave me ideas like placing a tarp over the manure pile, to prevent it from catching a spark. We also set up panels in the outdoor arena in case something happened to the barn and I would have to get all the horses outside. The good thing was, Easygo has lots of grass and open areas with sand breaks and driveways in between things. In the worst case scenario, we may have had a massive grass fire but I still think we could have saved our animals. That was my number one priority. Of course, I was also concerned for our own safety – but let the buildings burn if they must.”

CREDIT: Elli Meinert

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The group at Easygo Ranch knew that if a fire did come to their doorstep, they would not be able to force it back. Luckily, during those days in July, the fires gave them quite a scare but didn’t progress to the point of destruction for the ranch.

Yet, little did the group at Easygo realize – this would only be the first wave of fires to threaten the area that summer.

“After the first scare, many horses did go home. We only had one group of horses who were owned by people who had all their fences burned down, etc. So they couldn’t return as quickly as the rest.

CREDIT: Elli Meinert

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“But then, the second wave of fire evacuations began. We went down to nine horses and then I personally helped evacuate another boarding facility – again. All of a sudden we were back up to 22 horses…”

In the second round, Meinert was able to plan far enough ahead so the second round of horses came in with their own feed. This was a lifesaver for Easygo Ranch, because in the first bout of fires – feed went fast and there was no time, nor opportunity to replenish supplies.

“I fed everyone in the first round but in the second wave, we knew we were going to run out of feed. This time it was like, ‘If you can, please bring your own feed!’”

As July turned to August and finally September, a bit of relief was sighed when officials finally announced the fire situation was under control. Everyone who was housed at Easygo Ranch during the summer fared well.

 

CREDIT: Elli Meinert

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Still, it’s not a situation Meinert ever wants to endure again. “Honestly, I hope to never see something like that in my lifetime again. It never needs to happen again,” she states.

A nighttime view of one of the fires that threatened Easygo Ranch during the summer of 2017. CREDIT: Elli Meinert

 

 

Olds College Launches New Equine Program

Photo Courtesy of Olds College

Olds College Launches New Equine Reproduction Technician Certificate Program

Olds College is introducing a new one-of-a-kind certificate program dedicated to equine reproduction. Launching in fall 2018, applications will be accepted October 1, 2017 for the new Equine Reproduction Technician (ERT) certificate program. The first of its kind in Canada, the new ERT program is an eight month blended learning certificate program aimed at providing graduates with the knowledge and skills necessary to work in or operate an equine breeding facility. The program combines four months of online learning with four months of onsite, hands-on training.

“This is an exciting opportunity for us to offer specialized training for people interested in equine reproduction,” explains Dr. Marion Anderson, Equine Science Instructor, and instructor for the new ERT program. “This program will allow anyone who wants to own, operate, or work in a breeding or foaling facility to gain the skills and experience necessary to be successful.  It will also open doors for students in the Equine Science program, as they will have the opportunity to take the new ERT program to follow up their studies and become certified in equine reproduction.”

Students will learn about the anatomy and physiology of the mare and stallion, as well as breeding management, maximizing fertility, and managing infertility. They will also study the anatomy of early pregnancy, maximizing and caring for periparturient mares, the stages of parturition and the care of the neonatal foal. Students will have the opportunity to participant in the commercial breeding and foaling operation at the College.

“There are a number of benefits to offering this program in a blended online and on campus format,” explains Dalin Bullock, Dean of Animal Science and Horticulture at Olds College. “This format will allow working professionals to take the online courses at convenient times. It also means that their careers and personal lives are impacted for a shorter timeframe.”

Along with the launch of the ERT program, the College has also made significant changes to the existing Equine Science program. Students will now be accepted into the program as either English or Western riders. During the first year, all students will take the same courses that will include basic information on husbandry, science, barn management, farm equipment operation, and breeding, in addition to daily riding courses.

The second year of the program is designed to give students the opportunity to tailor the program to their own interests. In addition to required courses, students will now have the option of choosing from a variety of elective courses including advanced riding, starting and training young horses, coaching, therapeutic riding, rehabilitation therapy, foaling, and driving the draft horse.  Students interested in additional training in reproduction can also take the ERT.

“The Equine Science program at Olds College has developed a reputation for being a national leader in hands on equine training,” explains Bullock. “Thanks to the reputation of our program, we have successfully attracted some of the best instructors in the industry. Dr. Marion Anderson will be instructing the ERT certificate program, while Wendy Johnston, Dwayne McArthur, Fallon Rice, and Joanne Wright, along with newcomers Tara Lambie and Shawn Seabrook will oversee the Equine Science program.”

Olds College is home to the Canadian Equine Centre of Innovation, and one of the largest breeding programs in North America. More information on the new ERT certificate and the Equine Science Program can be found at oldscollege.ca/programs.

For more information, please contact:

Randy Butler
Communications Advisor
Corporate Communications and Marketing

Phone:
 403-507-7717
Cell: 403-396-6548
Toll Free: 1-800-661-6537
rbutler@oldscollege.ca 
www.oldscollege.ca

Sept/Oct WHR available now!

Photo by Callaghan Creative Co.

As if the invigorating editorial and photo journalism of the September/October issue of Western Horse Review weren’t enough, there are so many behind-the-scenes aspects that we thought we should let you in on the action!

 

In one of our competitor interviews, Louisa Murch White had the chance to speak with Kirsty White, the Canadian professional barrel racer on a consistent hot streak in 2017 with no plans of slowing down. White tells us about her go-round win at Calgary, her main mounts and a little bit about what it’s like to live a day in her life.

Then we featured Donna Wilson of the rural community around Chain Lakes, AB, and  a fourth-generation rancher who passion and main discipline is bronze artistry. Wilson says, “There is such rich imagery in the life we lead here!”

Wilson’s Anchor Bar Bronze is situated in a gallery she shares with good friend and photographer, Debra Garside in Longview, AB. From her trademark works utilizing the intricate use of antlers within a bronze, to her Longhorn cattle pieces, to the artworks that display horses and the western lifestyle, you can read about them all in our Sept/Oct issue.

Carman Pozzobon. Photo by Covy Moore.

In our Fall Run health profile, we spoke with several top professionals in our industry and asked them how they keep their mounts in top condition, during peak fall competitions. Barrel trainer Carman Pozzobon (Kamloops, BC) told us about her Equifit Nerostim Massager, while trainers Dale Clearwater (Hanley, SK) and Dustin Gonnet (Cayley, AB) open up about their feed programs and the importance of versatility in training. Reining specialist Locke Duce of High River, AB, mentions the benefits of Pulse Therapy in his daily regime. Learn their top tips and more in our in-depth piece for the final gauntlet of the show season.

Savanna Sparvier, 2017 Calgary Stampede Indian Princess. Photo by Callaghan Creative Co.

 

On pages 42-49, we showcase the best in autumn western fashion. Shot by the talented Callaghan Creative Co., this special photojournalism piece took us from the Calgary Polo Club, to the backyard our own Sally Bishop’s in Nanton, AB, to the runways of the Vulcan Airport. We were so lucky to be joined by a group of beautiful models and authentic horse women, for this amazing feature. On the cover and in the picture above, you’ll find the stunning Savanna Sparvier, the 2017 Calgary Stampede Indian Princess.

Did we mention – we had the turquoise, coyote fur jacket (with Pendleton®️blankets) by Janine’s Custom Creations, custom-made for this issue of the magazine?

If readers could have been with us on that day they would have seen a huge crew of talented people, hustling at every location to get the models in make-up, hair and dressed for an optimal moment in front of the camera.

Stay tuned for an upcoming blog solely about on our behind-the-scenes action from the Fall Shoot!

A solar waterer. Photo by Esteban Adrogue.

In our How-To feature, we tell you about an innovative solar waterer created by Rob Palmer of Nanton, AB, that got his ranch off the grid. Even in the brunt of a cold winter, Palmer can rely on solar power to water his cows and keep his monthly service provider bills to a bare minimum.

Paul Brandt has taken his success as a musician and used it as a launching pad for many incredible philanthropic purposes.

 

We also had the chance to interview the iconic Paul Brandt in the Sept/Oct issue, the most awarded male Canadian country music artist in history. In this compelling editorial, Louisa Murch White got the chance to speak with Brandt about music, his philanthropic work and his most recent #NotInMyCity campaign.

Launched just prior to the 2017 Calgary Stampede. the #NotInMyCity campaign raises awareness about human trafficking in Calgary, AB. A tough subject to talk about and an even tougher one to fight – but Brandt feels strongly that with awareness and recognition of the serious problem in our own backyard, the public can stand together against it.

Brandt partnered together with local designer Paul Hardy to design scarves and bandannas to help raise funds for the campaign. Hardy says of his design, “…Visually, I hoped to create a motif throughout the bandana and scarf that would not only be bold from afar, but also suggest a community of friendship and a worthiness of trust for those who wear it to stand in solidarity with victims against human trafficking.”

We had the opportunity to photograph these beautiful scarves in our fall fashion shoot. Blowing in the wind, the image suggests freedom. It’s a campaign Western Horse Review supports wholeheartedly.

The #NotInMyCity scarf. Photo by Callaghan Creative Co.

 

The September/October issue of Western Horse Review is available now but with more inciteful editorial on the horizon, you don’t want to miss an issue! Get your subscriptions up to date at: http://www.westernhorsereview.com/magazine-subscription/

Horse Safe Room

 

BY ALEXANDRA MORRIS

From our July/August 2016 issue of Western Horse Review files.

On average, over 1,000 tornadoes occur in the United States every year, especially in severe weather and supercell-prone areas such as Tornado Alley. Yet, according to ongoing research by Environment Canada, Canada experiences an average of 62 tornadoes a year as well.

Upon hearing a tornado warning, the natural response is to gather the kids and pets and hurry down to a safe room in the basement. But what happens to the animals we can’t take to safety below? When time is of the essence and a natural disaster is wreaking havoc in the area, the only logical option may be to let livestock go – and pray they will find refuge on their own.

With today’s technology it’s easier to predict when storms are going to come, unlike 10 years ago. Now we can predict, within minutes, when a tornado is going to hit. That means we also have time to prepare for the worst, gather everything we can and head to the safe room. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), a safe room is a hardened structure specically designed to meet the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) criteria and provide near-absolute protection in extreme weather events, including tornadoes and hurricanes. Near-absolute protection means that, based on our current knowledge of tornadoes and hurricanes, the occupants of a safe room built in accordance with FEMA guidance will have a very high probability of being protected from injury or death.

There aren’t many out there, but Mary Ellen Hickman – who lives in the infamous Oklahoma “tornado alley” – built a safe room for her horses. She constructed it in 2014, after a devastating tornado just missed their place.

“I love Oklahoma, but I could not live here without this. I actually can rest now that I know my animals are safe!” says Hickman. The safe room can hold 10 horses comfortably and there is room for more in the aisle way, in the event two horses don’t get along.

“It’s designed like a slant-load horse trailer and will hold 10 horses plus dogs, cats, and people!” she says.

Each stall is equipped with hay nets, which remain filled throughout the tornado season. The room is intended to house horses for a few hours, overnight if need be, but not for several days. There are no waterlines, though Hickman stocks it with buckets and a nearby water source.

“The safe room has to be 12 feet wide but there is no regulation for length, so I made it 35 feet long,” says Hickman.

Before and after the build.

The cost to build was about $300 USD per linear foot for the building, and a 4×6’ storm door (with three dead bolts) which is eight feet high, plus walls that are eight inches thick. However, there are additional costs for all the other fixtures that could be added. The room’s complete concrete structure is a lot thicker than a normal regulation safety room and it took about a month to finish the whole safe room. Hickman’s shelter exceeds FEMA specs for an F5 Tornado. The safe room sits about 10 steps away from the barn.

“It sits right next to our main barn for easy access,” says Hickman. The safe room is also equipped with emergency lighting. Hickman explains that a basic 12×12 unit for horses, people and other animals would cost around $14,000 to start. Every year before tornado season hits, Hickman performs some emergency drills to ensure she will be prepared when a problem hits and hopefully, load everyone smoothly into the room. If bad weather arises and a horse is not cooperating Hickman will give them a tranquilizer, to ensure the horse relaxes and won’t injure itself or others.

Mane Event 2017

ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE MANE EVENT

It’s Spring and that means the Mane Event, Red Deer, AB, is just around the corner!

Elevate your riding skills and learn how to communicate better with your horse at the upcoming Mane Event, Equine Education and Trade Fair April 21 – 23, 2017 at Westerner Park in Red Deer, AB. Horse owners and enthusiasts are in for a treat at this very diversified horse expo.  The Mane Event is very proud of their commitment to providing the very best equine related education, shopping and entertainment all at one location.


The mini-clinics this year include some of the best equine educators and clinicians available in a variety of disciplines including; Peter Gray – Jumping; Shannon Dueck – Dressage; Craig Johnson – Reining; Sharon and Storme Camarillo – Barrel Racing; Van Hargis – Ranch Horsemanship; Garn Walker – Cowboy Dressage; Kalley Krickeberg – Horsemanship; Nate Bowers – Driving; and Nicole Tolle – Gaited Horsemanship.

Attendees will also be enlightened by a variety of presenters in the lecture area on saddle fitting, nutrition, equine health, and much more.


The Trainers Challenge is set to be a scorcher this year with Martin Black, Glenn Stewart  and Shamus Haws working with horses from the Ace of Clubs Quarter Horse. The goal of the Mane Event is to have everyone learn including the trainers. In addition, Glenn, Martin and Shamus will each be presenting an arena session on Saturday, and participants are being accepted for their arena sessions.

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Organizers of The Mane Event have not forgotten the upcoming young horse owners and riders – 4H, Pony Clubs and riding clubs! This year they will have a special Youth Lecture Area which will feature some of the clinicians doing special presentations for youth.

Also, be sure not to miss the Friday night Youth Pro-Am sponsored by “Back On Track”. This is an event that teams youth riders and their horses up with Mane Event trainers to ride a timed obstacle course. When the concept was first introduced at last year’s Red Deer Mane Event, the demand to bring it back was very high so here it is again! There is no cost to ride in this competition and prize packages will be offered by Back On Track. Applications are available on the Mane Event website and it is limited to youth riders only.

Youth writers are additionally invited to enter the Youth Essay Contest to win a beautiful, registered AQHA filly generously donated by the Rocking Heart Ranch. The deadline for entries is April 10th – please visit the website for more information.


What would a horse expo be without shopping?!? In the trade show, you will see a diverse group of vendors from across the USA and Canada with only equine products and services, western clothing, equine décor and home furnishings for horse owners and enthusiasts.

After you have shopped and learned from some of the very best in the equine world today, it’s time to relax and enjoy some great entertainment in the “Equine Experience.” This year’s lineup includes the Calgary Stampede Showriders; trick riding by Morgan Stewart; the Millarville Musical Ride, a demonstration by Glenn Stewart, and one by Kalley Krickeberg plus more to come. A schedule for the Equine Experience will be posted closer to the event.

This is a weekend jam-packed with equine education, fun, knowledge and shopping.  Tickets are available in advance (which will save you some money!) or lots at the door – plan now for 3-days of nothing but horses, horses, horses!
Come and experience what people call “The Mane Event”
Visit www.maneeventexpo.com for more information.

Saskatchewan Equine Expo 2017

The sixth annual edition of the Saskatchewan Equine Expo is set to take place this upcoming February 16-19, 2017 at Prairieland Park in Saskatoon, SK. The park, in conjunction with volunteers from Saskatchewan Horse Federation, the Western College of Veterinary Medicine and various equine breed groups work together to facilitate this annual event. The objective is to present equine related lectures, presentations, demonstrations, entertainment and opportunities focusing on the equine industry. As a participant or spectator, you can experience the newest equine products, techniques and technology.

Tickets are on sale now and the show includes the extravaganza, tradeshow, demonstrations and clinics. Tickets are available online and can be found here: http://saskatchewanequineexpo.com/

A schedule of events can be found here: http://saskatchewanequineexpo.com/schedule

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Organizers of the event realized there was a need within the Saskatchewan horse industry for a quality event that showcased the newest technological advances, the latest developments in equine health, and a demonstration of horsemanship excellence that was equally entertaining and educational.

The Saskatchewan Equine Expo was the answer. On February 16-19, the event will once again celebrate the diversity of the equine industry with live demonstrations, breeds on display, and outstanding horsemen and women. Make plans to be there!

www.saskatchewanequineexpo.com

 

Winter Riding

portrait-of-horse-and-snowman
Winter can be a brutal time of year when it comes to riding horses, but it’s not impossible. With careful planning and knowledge, you can ride safely and enjoyably throughout the winter months. Here are a few tips to help you and your horse make the most of your riding, be it for pleasure or getting fit for spring competitions.

 

winter-girl-horseback-riding
1. STAY WARM – YOU AND YOUR HORSE
The minus degree temperatures might not mean much until you factor the wind chill in. When riding in the winter that cold, raw wind can have negative effects on your horse’s lungs, so use good judgment when taking your horse outdoors, and try to stay out of the wind as much as possible.

You can layer your winter clothes, but keep in mind – you do have to get on the horse, and you don’t want to limit your movement so that you can’t ride effectively. Choose winter boots that have some kind of heel, and a smaller foot that will easily slide in and out of a stirrup.

bitweb

2. WARM THE BIT AND OTHER EQUIPMENT
There are varying opinions on this subject but if putting our tongues on cold metal is similar to what a horse feels when a cold bit is put inside its mouth, it’s easy to imagine how it feels. A heated tack room is ideal, but if you don’t have one, at least keep your bridle and saddle pad in a warm area. If your saddle pad is warm and sweaty when you remove it from the horse’s back after riding, put it somewhere where it can dry. If not allowed to dry properly, this can create the opportunity for bacteria to grow on the underside.

3. FOOTING
It is imperative that you find somewhere to ride where your horse has good footing. It goes without saying – avoid ice at all costs and stay off frozen gravel roads, where the ground can be like cement. Also, avoid riding in hard crusted snow which can cut your horse’s legs and make the bulbs of the heels very tender. The best place to ride is a snow-packed trail, where there is no hazard of slipping and there is some snow to minimize concussion.

 

cleaning-snow

4. BAREFOOT OR SHOES?
There are pros and cons to both options.  If you are unable to avoid icy areas, shoes with borium or caulks might be a good option. It depends where and how much you are riding; your farrier’s advice will be your most valuable tool in this case. A major problem with shoes is that they allow the snow to pack in the cup of the hoof and your horse ends up with big balls of snow stuck to his hooves.

This will also happen with a horse that is barefoot, but it may not be as much of a problem. Some riders swear by “snow pads” – rubber pads that can be put on by your farrier and help force the snow out of the horse’s foot.

 

5. FITTING UP FOR COMPETITION OR RIDING FOR PLEASURE
Whether you are riding for pleasure, or in preparation for spring competition, it is important to treat your horse like the special athlete he is. If you are only riding sporadically throughout the winter, go easy on your horse, as he won’t be in shape for miles of hard riding.

If you are conditioning your horse, start slow and progress accordingly. Factor in the activity level of your horse prior to the training program. How many months did he have off? Was he stabled or in a pasture? What kind of feeding program has he been on? How much hair does he have?

It only takes a bit of exertion to get a horse sweating when it’s really cold, and this is something you should try to avoid in the winter. A wet, long haired horse can take an awful long time to sufficiently dry, but you should not put him back outside in the winter elements until he is completely dry.

use-coolers

6. COOLING AND DRYING YOUR HORSE
It’s always necessary to get a horse cooled down properly before turning him out, but in the cold months, it is absolutely imperative. If you have a warm barn, you can leave your horse inside until he’s dry but if you have a cold barn you may need to find other ways to help your horse cool down and dry in a timely manner. Grooming with a curry comb in a circular motion lifts the hair and allows it to dry a little quicker than if it is all laying flat.

A cattle blower/vacuum is a good tool, as you can “blow dry” your horse’s hair. The noise of the machine could be a limiting factor, but most horses eventually relax.

After grooming, put a woolen blanket or cooler on your horse to wick away the moisture. If your horse wears a blanket, the outdoor blanket must fit well. The belly straps must be snug to keep the blanket in place and to avoid the possibility of the horse getting a foot or leg caught. A hood provides more protection, keeping the neck covered as well. Using a blanket and hood will encourage shedding in the spring and the horse’s hair will stay slick and shiny during the winter months.

 

7. CLIPPING
Body clipping is an option but only if you are prepared to keep your horse in a warm indoor environment until the weather warms up, unless you have a heavy-duty blanket with a hood for your horse to wear outdoors. Certainly, the cooling off period for a clipped horse will be much shorter than long-haired one.

If your horse will still be kept outside, it is not recommended to clip the fetlock/pastern hairs. Horses need that hair to protect their legs from the crusty snow and to keep their legs warm.

close-up-of-bay-horse

With some preparedness and consideration, winter riding can be most enjoyable, for yourself as well as your mount.