A Country Easter

With (hypothetical) Spring in the air and Easter to celebrate this weekend, my kids and I needed some country-esque decorating inspiration. As such, we turned to Pinterest and found a few cool ideas we thought we’d share with you. After all, a snow storm outside plus time off school means this household needs a few crafts to keep everyone happy.

First up was a tablescape for our Easter dinner. With its peat moss and bunny features, this one from Nora Murphy Country House is a favorite:

Next up were the eggs. These ones caught our eyes…

As found on Pinterest

and the same with these…

As found on Pinterest

…or these are adorable.

As found on Pinterest

However in reality, this is more our style:

The Easter Bunny also has some work to do, to help the kids gather their eggs after the Easter egg hunt. This is an adorable idea for the little horse lovers in your lives!

Speaking of Easter egg hunts, I’ve always wanted to do this. Just not sure this is the year for it…

In whatever capacity you celebrate Easter, we hope you have a wonderful weekend!

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 1973 Calgary Stamped Royalty. Suzanne Randle, Joan Horne and Bettie Knight

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?

How To Waterproof a Blanket

By Jenn Webster

With what seems like winter’s relentless grip on us this year, there’s been an increased need for good, waterproofs blankets in my barn. I was tired of constantly buying new blankets to compensate for the rips our horses have incurred, or the new young stock coming for training. So in an effort to try and keep things economical, I dug through our tack room and found a pile of old blankets I had forgotten about.

Oh happy day!

In this pile was even Ol’ Green Faithful – a blanket I’ve had since my teenage days. This green beast has figuratively been thrown “to the wolves,” since it was the blanket belonging to my first Thoroughbred, Charlie. It’s been chewed on, caught on barbed-wire fences and accidentally lost out of the back of a truck a few times. It’s a warrior. Still, you can see from its numerous patches that I’ve taken the time over the years to care for it, wash it and have it stitched and repaired when necessary. Pulling it out of the tack room the other day, I had full confidence that my green blanket could still provide an equine with the necessary comfort and warmth an animal may need, despite the rug’s age.

The only thing that worried me was the blanket’s waterproof qualities at this point – or lack thereof.

That’s when I discovered Dry Guy from Strathcona Ventures, an eco-friendly waterproofing product. Since it was water-based, did not use harsh chemicals that could be harmful to my animals and claimed to dry odor free, I really had nothing to lose. Plus the cost of one bottle of Dry Guy at $15.97 was easily justifiable. So I decided to put Dry Guy to the test with Ol’ Green Faithful. Here’s how easy the process of waterproofing my blanket was:

 

Step #1 – Prep the Blanket.

After being in the tack room for so long, Ol’ Green Faithful was a little dirty. And slightly covered in cat hair. I laid the blanket out on a table outside and brushed it clean with a study, bristle brush. The directions of Dry Guy instruct a person to apply it in a well-ventilated area and this day was beautiful, so it was nice to be outside. I shook the bottle and sprayed my entire blanket, taking care to really get at all the seams of the patches. There was no yellowing of the blanket’s original color and it was easy to apply.

Step #2 – Rub in Any Droplets.

If droplets of Dry Guy accumulate in any area of the blankets, the instructions advise you to rub them in with a soft cloth. Then as soon as the entire blanket was sprayed, I hung it in the sun to dry. A 473 ml/16 fl oz. bottle covers 50-60 square feet.

Step #3 – Don’t Leave Your Blanket Where Critters Can Get to it.

Once the blanket was completely dry, I was extremely pleased with the results. My blanket didn’t “stiffen” with the application of Dry Guy and it made Ol’ Green Faithful both waterproof and dirt repellent! An extra bonus is that Dry Guy comes ready to use and helps blankets resist the growth of mold. I was so impressed with this product and considering Western Horse Review is celebrating our 25th anniversary this year, I figured our readers should all get a chance to win some! There are two ways to win – here’s how:

1. Comment below this blog with regard to why you could use some Dry Guy Waterproofing Spray from Strathcona Ventures & Western Horse Review.

OR

2. Head on over to Western Horse Review’s Instagram or Facebook page and like, comment & tag a friend on this exciting giveaway!

* One winner will be drawn at random at 12 PM MST on March 7, 2018. The Prize must be accepted as awarded and no substitutions will be made. Prizes may not be sold, transferred or assigned and are not convertible to cash. 

 

Pasta Pomodoro

By Mike Edgar

The ideal way to serve a hard-working crew of cowboys and girls.

INGREDIENTS
Dry pasta of your choice x 500 grams
9 Red Tomatoes Chopped
2 Shallots Sliced
3 Cloves of Garlic, Chopped
½ Cup Olive Oil
¼ Cup White Wine
2 Tbsp. Dry Oregano
1 Tbsp. Salt
1 Tbsp. Black Pepper
¼ Cup Chopped Parsley
10 Basil leaves
¼ cup parmesan cheese grated
3 Balls Bocconcini Cheese
2 Tbsp. Butter

METHOD:

1. Heat olive oil in large saucepan.

2. Add garlic, shallots, salt, pepper, oregano, white wine and tomatoes. Let that stew for 15 minutes at medium heat, constantly stirring to prevent burning.

3. When the tomatoes have broken down into the olive oil, remove from heat and puree in a blender, return to pan.

4. Cook your pasta, strain when finished.

5. Bring your sauce back to a boil and whisk in the butter.

6. Add cooked pasta to the sauce, toss in the parmesan cheese and parsley and transfer to a serving bowl. Tear pieces of bocconcini and basil on top of the pasta, drizzle with olive oil and serve. Serves four to five people.

 


ABOUT THE CHEF:

Mike Edgar graduated from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in the Culinary Arts. He stayed in Calgary, AB working at some of the city’s top restaurants. In 2007, he opened his own restaurant in Calgary’s east end. After eight years of being a chef there, Edgar decided to take a step back and left the industry to spend more time with his son. His son has now expressed an interest in learning his father’s skills and in horses simultaneously.

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!

7th Annual SK Equine Expo

The 7th Annual Saskatchewan Equine Expo takes place February 15-18, 2018 at Prairieland Park in Saskatoon, SK. Together volunteers from Saskatchewan Horse Federation, the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, various equine breed groups and the staff of Prairieland Park work together to facilitate this annual event. The event presents equine related lectures, presentations, demonstrations, entertainment and opportunities focusing on the equine industry. As a participant or spectator, you can experience the newest in equine products, techniques and technology!

Tickets are on sale now and include the extravaganza, tradeshow, demonstrations and clinics. Tickets are available online and on the website: http://saskatchewanequineexpo.com/

Stay up to date with the schedule of events at: http://www.saskatchewanequineexpo.ca/events/

 

Realizing 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, organizers created an event that is equally as entertaining as it is educational.

The Saskatchewan Equine Expo on February 15-18, will again celebrate the diversity of the equine industry with live demonstrations, breeds on display and outstanding horsemen and women. Make plans to be there, get your tickets today!

As an addendum to the event this year is the newly added, Off Track Thoroughbred Challenge. In this highly anticipated event, qualified trainers purchase a retired Thoroughbred racehorse and will spend six months to one year retraining it to compete in a variety of chosen disciplines at the 2019 Saskatchewan Equine Expo.

See you there!

www.saskatchewanequineexpo.com

Bounce Back Night for Canadian Cowboys

COURTESY OF THE CANADIAN PROFESSIONAL RODEO ASSOCIATION

December 11, 2017

After a couple of sub-par nights, Team Canada bounced back with a strong performance in the fifth go-round of the 2017 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. Five members of the nine-man Canadian contingent cashed cheques, making this easily their best night to date.

It was a case of saving the best for the last as two-time Canadian Steer Wrestling Champion, Tanner Milan, was 3.8 seconds on the last steer in the round to pick up his second go-round win and the $26,320 first place cheque. The win moved the Cochrane, Alberta man to 4th place in both the average and the world standings.

“I just have to keep running at it every night,” Milan noted. “I can’t back off. The horse I’m riding, Maverick who belongs to Tom Lewis, has been getting my feet on the ground really fast and I just have to stay aggressive.”

Ty Erickson, the Montana cowboy, continues to lead the world standings but Milan has moved to within $63,000 of the leader with five rounds and the all-important average still to be decided. Provost, Alberta bulldogger, Scott Guenthner checked in with a 6.6 second run and was out of the money. Guenthner sits in 10th place on the world leaderboard.

You know the pen of bareback horses is pretty sweet when 87.5 is good for only a 5/6 split. That was the case in go-round number five of the 2017 WNFR. Canadian cowboy Orin Larsen was that guy on this night as he matched up with Wilson Sanchez from the Hi Lo ProRodeo Company. The horse, born and raised near Rocky Mountain House, actually came from the Hollingsworth family of Eckville and to add to the intrigue, Larsen’s sister is married to a Hollingsworth. You know Central Alberta was cheering for the Manitoba man who is at his third WNFR. Larsen has placed in four of five rounds for over $56,000 won and sits in fifth place in both the average and the world standings.

Santaquin, Utah cowboy, Mason Clements, won the round with an 89 point ride while Tim O’Connell maintained his big lead at the top of the standings. Jake Vold whose 85 score wasn’t quite enough to get into the money, has dropped back to fourth place in the world standings behind the seemingly unstoppable Tim O’Connell, Richmond Champion and Tanner Aus.

You knew it was just a matter of time for Jeremy Buhler. And tonight was the time. The defending world champion and his WNFR partner, Arizona header, Tom Richards. posted a 4.0 to catch a 3/4 split in the round and a pair of $13,326 cheques. It was the first qualified time and the first payday for the duo that was thrown together when Buhler’s longtime partner Levi Simpson just missed qualifying for this year’s WNFR. Erich Rogers and Cory Petska split the round with Clay Tryan and Jade Corkill. The 3.9 second result took Rogers and Petska, the Arizona superstars, to a narrow lead in the world standings.

Things finally went the way Canadian saddle bronc riding fans thought they’d go right from the start as the reigning world champion, Zeke Thurston and 2017 Canadian Champion, Layton Green were part of a fifth go-round 2/3/4 split. Both cowboys cashed cheques for $15,794 and for Thurston it meant he was able to gain a little ground on the season leader, Jacobs Crawley.

The Big valley, Alberta 23 year-old’s ride on Wound Up, the 2017 Saddle Bronc of the Year, enabled him to climb back into second place in the world standings ahead of CoBurn Bradshaw, the third place man who leads the all-important average. For Green, the Meeting Creek, Alberta man, it was his first cheque of this – his first WNFR. The third Canadian, 2016 Canadian Champion, Clay Elliott finished out of the money in the go round with an 80-point ride. C5 Rodeo’s Double D won the Rank Horse of the Night award as he parted company with Jake Wright before the eight second horn.

Tie Down Roper, Marty Yates, turned in the fastest run of this WNFR at 7.0 seconds flat for the go-round win with season leader Tuf Cooper just one tick back at 7.1. It was a critical run for Cooper as he was able to put some space between him and second place man, Marcos Costa, and Trevor Brazile who had been closing fast on the leader and now sits third. Costa, the Brazilian roper, leads the average with Trevor Brazile second and Cooper right behind. Cooper’s run tonight also tightened the race for the All-Around title where he and brother-in-law, Brazile, are duking it out as well with Brazile holding a $47,000 lead over Cooper.

And in the barrel race, Colorado cowgirl, Ivy Conrado and four time Canadian Champion, Lisa Lockhart of Oelrichs, South Dakota split the round, both with 13.59 runs. Season leader, Tiany Schuster, had her fastest run of the Finals with a 13.90 but for the fifth night in a row, was out of the money. Schuster who sits 6th in the average has to be feeling the heat just a little as three or four cowgirls are all mounting a charge at the Krum, Texas cowgirl who was so dominant throughout the regular season.

2016 Canadian Bull Riding Champion, Jordan Hansen, of Calgary bucked off a tough outlaw called Crime Boss from Universal Rodeo. The result leaves Hansen at 1 for 5 at the midway point of the rodeo. Meanwhile Sage Steele Kimzey is starting to distance himself from the field as he pursues a fourth consecutive title. Kimzey, who hails from Strong City, Texas, rode Beutler and Son’s Shootin’ Stars to 89 points and the round win. He sits second in the average to fellow-Texan, Trey Benton III who bucked off for the first time on Monday night.

Roasted Game Hen with Sundried Fruit Stuffing

The weather has been unseasonably nice for winter in Canada recently so we decided to prep the Western Horse Review kitchen and get ready for the upcoming Christmas season, while hosting an outdoor dinner party for our friends. This year we have been lucky to have the opportunity to learn a few things from chef, Mike Edgar. And on a day with no wind, we literally invited our guests up from riding to sit and enjoy a meal. Here, Chef Edgar shows us how to prepare a delicious dinner of roasted game hens with sundried fruit stuffing, brandy cider glaze and grilled vegetables.

Be forewarned – this may become you’re new favorite Christmas tradition!

Roasted Game Hen with Sundried Fruit Stuffing

*Serves 6 People

Hen:

3 Cornish hens

3 sprigs fresh rosemary

3 cloves garlic

1 lemon sliced

Salt

Pepper

1 cup cider

METHOD: Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Stuff each hen with rosemary, 1 clove of garlic, and 2 slices of lemon. Season the skin with salt and pepper. Put hens in roasting pan, place on the middle rack and reduce the heat to 350 degrees. Cook for an hour and 20 minutes. Baste the birds every 15 minutes with apple cider.

 

 

Brandy Cider Glaze:

1 L apple cider

1 cup brandy

2 tablespoons tomato paste

Pinch of salt

Handful of fresh thyme.

METHOD: Put all ingredients in a sauce pan and reduce on medium heat until it reaches a syrup like consistency and strain.

 

Grilled vegetables:

2 sweet potato sliced in ½ inch rounds

2 pints Cocktail tomatoes

2 yellow zucchini cut in half

2 green zucchini cut in half

METHOD: Toss all vegetables with olive oil, salt and pepper, grill until tender.

 

Stuffing:

1 baguette diced

2 carrots grated

1 onion diced

2 stalks celery sliced

1 cup dry apricot sliced

1 cup sundried cranberry

2 cloves garlic chopped

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon pepper

½ cup chopped parsley

2 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

¼ cup brandy

¼ cup white wine

1/4 cup 35% whipping cream

METHOD: In a large frying pan sauté carrot, onion, celery, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper until the vegetables are tender, add the sundried fruit, continue cooking for 2 minutes, deglaze the pan with the wine, brandy and cream. Allow the mixture to reduce by half. In a large bowl mix the cubed bread and the hot vegetable, fruit mixture together, when cooled add the chopped parsley. Transfer to a oven safe dish. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. For 10 minutes.

CHEF’S BIO:

Mike Edgar graduated from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in the Culinary Arts. He stayed in Calgary, AB working at some of the city’s top restaurants. In 2007, he opened his own restaurant in Calgary’s east end. After eight years of being a chef there, Edgar decided to take a step back and left the industry to spend more time with his son. His son has now expressed an interest in learning his father’s skills and in horses simultaneously.

EQUI-BUSINESS Preparation is Key

Traditional loans may be difficult for new equine operations to obtain these days, but not impossible. Especially when collateral that is not specifically horses, is offered.

BY JENN WEBSTER

Enthusiasm is important when planning a business in the horse industry, but preparation is critical. Let’s face it, lenders look at the borrowers in the equine industry on a case-by-case basis. It is a challenging industry for traditional banks to provide financing to, for two main reasons. Firstly, the horse business is specialized; if the primary operator were to have something unfortunate happen, a ranch can easily go under without someone else capable of stepping up to that level of expertise. Secondly, let’s face it; people who loves horses are sometimes not so great at running a business.

Having faced both of these hurdles plus numerous more, this blog has longtime been a goal of mine to bring to fruition. For young people dreaming of creating a life and a business in the horse industry, the daunting task of following through with those targets can be met with opposition at every turn. That’s why optimism is important – but strategic planning is what will keep you alive.

In this blog we’ll discuss things like business plans, risk management, home security and the various ways obtaining your dream of being in the horse business can be done. We’ll talk to real people who have “opted in” to the lifestyle and the future by investing in equine properties – and we’ll learn how they make it work any way they can.

If you’re wondering what makes me an authority to speak on such a topic – I’m not. However, alongside my husband I have owned two successful equine properties in my lifetime. The first one was in partnership with several other people. The second one is the operation we currently own ourselves, reside upon and the place where are raising our family. We run a training, breeding and boarding operation, are stallion owners and own Western Horse Review, Canada’s largest western riding and culture magazine. We have garnered a fair amount of experience in our 20+ years together in the horse industry. (And did I mention? Till Debt Do Us Part is my favorite TV show? I know, I know, everyone thinks I’m ridiculous… but I find it fascinating. Honestly, money management is a very useful skill when it comes to being an entrepreneur).

On that note, the one thing I have learned is that there is no straight line to success in the horse industry. Banks do not always look at horses as “tangible assets.” However, if you are lucky enough to have a good lender who does see the value in your equine assets, you will have to put yourself in their shoes if you want to achieve any sort of financing.

If you’re basing your business around “high-end” horses, this is considered a specialty market. For a lender to take security in your horses, it means if you default on your payments, your lender takes the security (your horses) as collateral to sell. However, a banker cannot readily go out and find a specific buyer to purchase the horse, nor do they likely have the connections to do so. In most cases they would simply want their money back for the debt outstanding. Therefore in that case, a banker would simply seize the asset and sell it at the nearest auction mart. Which is why the horse can’t be sold easily for $25,000 or valued as such in the banker’s eyes. When you get into higher end / specialty livestock markets, it takes more to shore up the equity required, versus what the banks could do.

There is no guaranteed path to securing financing for a horse business, but if there is one critical element to gaining approval it would highlighting the “business” aspects of you and your loan application. Banks loan money as an investment, with the expectation of getting repaid with interest. To that end most loan officers are unfamiliar with the horse industry, and a comprehensive business plan that educates while establishing the profitability of the activity is critical.

When we return with our Equi-Business blog series, we’ll analyze the parts of a successful business plan. (And I’m not just blowing smoke – I can tell you it’s successful, because I’ve used the same model three times!)

Until then, here is some forward thinking I’d like to leave you with. There may be a number of programs available to help you develop your idea or product. The assistance available to you depends on the type of service or product you are developing. Most financial assistance will not cover all your costs, so remember you will need to invest some of your own money into the project as well.

Secondly there are several things a financial lender will want to consider about you. These include:

• Character: The moral obligation of the borrower to pay his or her debts;
• Capacity to Pay: The ability of the borrower to pay the debt;
• Capital: The total of equity and debt in the business (a low debt-to-asset ratio suggests financial stability);
• Collateral: Assets owned by the borrower but promised to the lender to secure the debt (the lender retains a security interest in the collateral and can foreclose in case of a default; horses as collateral might be a problem);
• Conditions: Economic conditions, location, competition, and the health of the industry; and
• Confidence: A subjective decision–is the borrower trustworthy?

‘Till we meet again!