Western Elegance

 

Have you seen the stunning western home we profiled recently in our July/August issue of Western Horse Review? If not, the issue is on stands now! Or better yet, get your subscription up to date here. This serene Albertan cottage borrows inspiration from minimalism and nature. Designed by home-owner Holly Fortier and Braemyn Homes, this 600-square foot home boasts unparalleled visibility of the outdoors from the living room and luxury features. There were so many wonderful photos of the cottage, we thought we’d share them with you digitally – but you’ll have to read the magazine for the full story!

 

Fortier’s mandate of light and brightness is evident throughout the entire space as white walls and doors accentuate both floors. Her desire for a place that was truly comfortable after an extended period of travel for work, was imperative. As was the cottage’s purpose to serve as a retreat for guests who need to decompress. Every element of the three-bedroom, three bathroom residence was meticulously planned because of its small square footage. But that doesn’t mean quality amenities were sacrificed – this home is big on style.

Situated just off of the kitchen is a custom-made table featuring a 100-year-old slab of wood and an authentic antler shed chandelier. The dining area’s tiny space demanded an attribute that was functional, but also cozy. Therefore, Braemyn Homes came up with the genius idea of bench seating underneath the windows. This reduction in chairs allows for storage and guest seating simultaneously.

With nature as a backdrop, it was important to Fortier to, “bring the outdoors in.” A concrete hearth and river rock stone wall, with a wood burning fireplace in the living room is the cottage’s main feature piece. However, the room’s floor-to-ceiling windows are show-stopping and lend a view to the heavens in the evening that is a stargazer’s dream.

Throughout the main level, rough wood flooring tie all the rooms together and exemplify its western elegance. A den that may also serve as a bedroom can be found off Fortier’s kitchen, as can a beautiful patio deck shielded by overhead timber frames.

Above the garage is another bedroom which Fortier often refers to as the “hotel room.” The separate space here offers a sleeping area, room for two leather lounge chairs, a sink and coffee area and a private bathroom. Complimented by a white log bed and Pendleton blankets, the exclusive guest room brings western hospitality to a whole new level.

Exquisitely crafted, Fortier’s super, cozy cottage makes all four Canadian seasons look beautiful.

“Home is so important. I never knew I could create such a beautiful place. Even though I lead a public life, I love being domestic. I love serving food and having people over,” Fortier says. “But I also like quiet moments too.I can have both of those things here.”

As it is a small home, being minimal was very important to Fortier and only her most treasured possessions embellish the cottage. The result of pairing down her belongings and living in the nature-inspired space is what she describes as therapeutic and healthy.

“I’m an aspiring minimalist. I really believe that less is more. What I kept were mostly artifacts from my Canadian Indigenous heritage and my dad, who was a cowboy,” she explains.

“I believe the natural elements really bring peace to a home,” she says. “And the whole process of the build has been very exciting for me. I have a lot of young women who come here and say, ‘I am so inspired by the fact that you designed your own home. And it’s so beautiful. I want to do the same.’”

With its natural landscaping and minimal requirement of yard maintenance, plus access to the lake and surrounding trails, Fortier’s cottage has the tranquility to elevate one’s spirits and mind. Western and nature-inspired motif complete the charm, creating a touch of elegance that fits easily with the surrounding area. Given the chance, Fortier would do it all over again.

 

Style Report, from the Calgary Stampede

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Kimes Ranch Jeans. Photo by Callaghan Creative Co.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Internal Parasites and Your Barn Cat

By Dr. Bronwyn Atkinson & Jennifer Council of Barrett Veterinary Practice

Barn cats are an integral part of a farm/acreage environment and play an important role in rodent population control. Hardworking barn cats can be very useful to keep rodent populations in check as well as a pleasure to have around. So, how can we keep these kitties healthy and best equipped to do their jobs? In this blog, we will go into more detail about diseases that commonly affect barn cats and the different ways we can keep them healthy and performing at their best.

Internal Parasites in Cats

Roundworms: Roundworms are the most common internal parasite found in cats – kittens often carry more due to their age and young immune systems.  Adult roundworms are about 3-5 inches in length, off-white in colour and live in the cat’s intestines.

Kittens often carry more round worms due to their age and young immune systems.

A mature worm lays its eggs in the intestines where they can be passed in the cats’ feces. Once out in the environment the eggs mature into larvae and infect new cats. Rodents also carry these larvae in their tissues – infecting cats, which are hunting. Roundworms can cause disease in people, especially those with weaker immune systems. It is rare, but if there are numbers of larvae in the environment and they are ingested, they can migrate around human tissues trying to find a good place to settle, causing serious health problems.

Hookworms: Cats can be infected with hookworm larvae when they burrow through their skin – usually the paw pads. Infestation also occurs when a cat eats a rodent that is carrying hookworms in its tissues. These worms are about 1/2-inch in length and live in the intestines. Young worms burrow into the lining of the intestine, whereas adult worms use their hooked mouthparts to anchor into the intestinal lining where they suck blood. Heavy hookworm infection can cause cats to have poor growth, poor hair coat, diarrhea, anemia and even death from blood loss. Hookworms can also migrate into human skin, causing irritation and need for medical attention – luckily, this is rare as humans are not the hookworm’s preferred hosts.

Tapeworms: These are long, ribbon-like worms with bodies made up of egg-containing segments. These worms live in the cat’s small intestine and use their heads to hook onto the lining of the gut. The segments at the worm’s tail end mature first, break off and are passed in the cat’s feces. These segments can also sometimes be seen around the cat’s anus or tail area and look like rice grains if they are fresh, or sesame seeds if they are dried. Cats can pick up tapeworms by eating rodents that carry them, or by ingesting fleas that can also carry tapeworms. Adult tapeworms in the gastrointestinal tract are usually harmless to the cats. However, the younger tapeworm life stages that is shed by cats can cause cysts in organs such as the liver of horses, cows and pigs.

Echinococcus multilocularis is one specific kind of tapeworm that lives like the others, spending part of their life cycle inside a rodent, often being eaten by carnivores along with its host. They mature to an adult tapeworm in the carnivore’s gut and if ingested by people can cause significant disease by causing cysts that multiply and damage internal human organs.

Combating Feline Parasites

If you’re concerned about parasites your barn cats may be carrying, here’s a list of things you can do:
• Wash your hands after touching barn cats.
• Clean up any feces as well as dead rodent carcasses, to keep the environment as clean as possible.
• De-worm your cats routinely.

There are 2 types of de-wormer that Barrett Veterinary Practice prescribes; Profender, and Advantage Multi. Both are liquids that are applied to the back of a cat’s neck. This application is much easier than trying to pill a shy, barn cat that may not be used to handling!

Profender works to kill roundworms, hookworms and tapeworms.
Advantage Multi kills hookworms, roundworms, fleas and ear mites.

As these products have action against different internal parasites, it is a really good idea to alternate using them. Cats that are actively mousing need to be dewormed every three months. Good parasite control is key to ensuring a healthy barn cat and preventing disease in other species as well.

 

Yogurt Parfait Breakfast

Photo by Twisted Tree Photography.

Tired of horse show concession food? Here’s a healthy breakfast recipe you can pack to take with you, as featured in our May/June issue of Western Horse Review.

BY MIKE EDGAR, PHOTOS BY TWISTED TREE PHOTOGRAPHY

Photo by Twisted Tree Photography.

INGREDIENTS:

2 litre Jar
1 litre Greek Yogurt, plain
1 pint Strawberries, quartered
1 pint Raspberries
1 pint Blueberries
1 pint Blackberries
Zest of 1 Lemon
3 tbsp. Sugar
1/4 cup Fresh Mint, chopped
2 tbsp. Honey
1/ 2 cup Sliced Almonds
2 cups Granola
1/4 cup Whole Fresh Mint Leaves

METHOD:

Berries – Combine all berries, chopped mint, lemon zest and sugar.

Photo by Twisted Tree Photography.

The jar:
Layer 1 – half of the yogurt.
Layer 2 – 1 tablespoon honey.
Layer 3 – half the granola.
Layer 4 – half the almonds.
Layer 5 – half the berries.
Layer 6 – half of the whole mint leaves.
Repeat all layers again to fill the jar.

Photo by Twisted Tree Photography.

Enjoy this amazing start to your day!

For a video tutorial, check our Facebook page: Mason Jar – Yogurt Parfait

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

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

The Coyote Fur throw by Caroline Furs.

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

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

As seen in Vogue Australia. Source: Pinterest.

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

Photo Credit: Ryan Rowell of Rowell Photo

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

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

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!