3 Weeks ’till Christmas: Great Gift Ideas

It’s exactly three weeks until Christmas as I write this post, meaning the countdown has begun in earnest. If you want to catch up with all of my prior 12 Weeks ’till Christmas gift ideas, the stream begins here.

This week, some apps you might find useful enough for stocking stuffers.

I begin with my all-time favourite.

I might have purchased my iphone just for the Hipstamatic camera, I’ve had so much fun with it.

The Hipstamtic, with it’s old-fashioned analog feel will remind you of your old Polaroid. Sort of. It’s much more, actually. With it’s wide range of film and options, be prepared to transform your shot into whatever mood or vintage flavor you’d like to impart it with.

I took both of these Arizona shots within a minute of each other while riding.
A year or so ago, I shot our annual fashion photo shoot in Hip, which allowed me to bring a much different perspective to the day than the professional photographers on site.

I’ve taken a ton of horse show shots with it.

. . .  and, I’ve tortured countless teenagers with it . . . including my own.

If you know someone with an iphone, it makes a great stocking stuffer at $1.99.

Another toy camera app I’ve just gotten into is the Tilt Shift Generator. I purchased it to explore tilt-shift miniature faking, which allows for a diorama effect to your photographs, giving the illusion of a miniature scale model.

I love this effect, but I haven’t quite mastered it, this being my best try at it thus far. Here’s 50 beautiful examples of what can be accomplished with tilt-shift photography. Again, a great app for anyone who is into photography.

If you know a horse person with nomadic tendencies, always planning the next leg of travel or horse show to attend, either or both of these travel apps would be welcomed.

Kayak: This is Apple’s most popular travel app, and much like the website, is a cost- and time-efficient way to search for flights, hotels and car rentals all in one place. It even features a function for a Packing List.  With Kayak you can track your flight, convert currency and check out tours and attractions around your destination.

Trip It: For those with multiple trip bookings on the go, this handy app links to your e-mail account and picks up any confirmation number that comes into your Inbox – from dinner reservations, to flights, hotel and car rentals. Install Trip It and lose the messy and inconvenient paper trail typically storing this information.

Of course, there are numerous equine apps to be downloaded as well. My confession at this point is I haven’t tried any of them! Rather than me wading through all of the choices and reviewing them, I’m calling out to you to let us all know what equine apps the most useful, and of course, entertaining.

In the comment section below, let us know what your favorite equine-related app is (If you don’t currently use an equine app, just name any app you find useful), and we’ll enter you in draw to win a Kim Taylor daytimer. I gushed over these daytimers back at week 11 of the countdown. They are a gorgeous and useful timepiece of western ranch photography, and I still have one or two at the office to give away.

Looking forward to hearing your suggestions for best apps.



Christmas Comes Early

Christmas came early to a very special person staying with us here at Twin Corazones Ranch this week, and I’d thought I’d share because it was an exciting time for my husband and I. (By the way, Twin Corazones is the new name of our new ranch – in case I failed to mention that already… And Corazones means “hearts” in Espagnol. Because I know that’s your next question <smile>)

Anyways, over some waffles and coffee at the breakfast table, our friend, Elli Meinert who is currently visiting from BC sat down to a big surprise. I’m going to let the pictures speak for themselves. Here is her reaction:

You see, Elli sat down to an early Christmas present from her mother. Our whole barn was in on the surprise, except Elli of course. Everyone did their best to distract Elli from a pre-purchase exam that went on at the barn without her knowledge. Then the next morning, Elli went to the breakfast table contemplating only cream cheese or syrup on her waffles – only to discover a set of AQHA transfer papers sitting at her spot.

A 2006 pretty palomino mare with the barn name of “Porsche” will be soon be moving from our barn to her new home with Elli in BC. And considering the joy this special present brought to Elli’s face, we know Porsche has found the perfect home.

Happy December everyone!!

5 Weeks ’till Christmas: Great Gift Ideas

There are so many sweet Christmas ideas to share, I’m running out of weeks, and now that I’m actually on track with my week count (give or take a few days, it is five weeks to the big day), I have a few interesting sites (as in web), and views (as in sights), to share as we head into the weekend. If you would like to catch up with all of my previous ideas, you can begin the stream here. 

Beginning with views, I’m heading to Texas next week, and while I won’t be anywhere near this location (more pics here), Rancho Bravo is apparently, for sale. In the centre of exactly nowhere, it is completely a flight of the imagination listing, isn’t it?

Sometimes I’d just prefer my very own place like this to write, read, paint, walk and ride. Oh, and the time to engage in these activities.

Over in Fort Worth, where I’ll be staying, the 50th Anniversary of the NCHA Futurity is in full swing. I’m also breathlessly waiting to hear on guest blogger, Deanna Paulsen’s update on a foursome I’ve come to think of as our Road to the Futurity horses at the NRHA Futurity in Oklahoma City. They are our horses, aren’t they, Deanna?

I expect she’ll be checking in sometime soon to the My Stable Life blog with news.

At yesterday’s sales meeting Charmayne showed us the western-themed iphone sleeves available at Zazzle.

My favorite, this vintage old leather reminds me of a small leather case my father used to keep his passport in.

For those who feel the need to broadcast a love of the equine in a whimsical fashion, perhaps these garage door covers? I think the world needs more of these, don’t you?

Finally, grandparents, turn now and walk away from this blog post. It may become expensive . . .

Find this and many more vintage kiddie rides, sure to please many a grandchild, and if you’re so inclined, raise some extra cash for the horses, at Kiddie Rides USA.

Have a great weekend, everyone! Remember to drop by the booth at the Canadian Western Agribition and purchase a Western Horse Review subscription (another great gift idea!).

6 Weeks ’till Christmas: Great Gift Ideas

Last night I invited my friend, Sheila, to the movie, Buck. It’s showing in Calgary at the Plaza Theatre through to the end of the month. I was happy to see it at a small, independent theatre – we like to support that genre, though they are sadly, fast disappearing from our landscape.

I’m sure you’ve all seen the trailer of Buck by now, it’s received a good share of publicity, but just in case you’ve been hiding under a frozen waterer, you’ll find it at the end of this post.

Sheila, not a horse owner, loved the film. As did I, and it seemed most of the audience members in the cozy theatre. It’s not a film you absolutely need to see in a theatre, but it’s always a greater experience to see a film on the big screen, isn’t it.

The movie focuses on the life and message of Buck Brannaman, a horseman we in the industry are quite familiar with, but it was nice to see his message reach outside of our circles to the larger mainstream. Buck was recently in Alberta, and we had a chance to get together with him, gathering an interview for a feature we can’t wait to share with you in the March issue of Western Horse Review. 

Buck really is about horses, but his message is quite human. Redemptive, vulnerable, forgiving. Brimming with quiet strength. Buck is a beautiful work of humanity. No great wonder he has the following he has amassed. Just this morning as I browsed my Facebook feed, I noticed a Buck quote on the Natural Leader Facebook page:

“Possess the things horses treasure – peace and comfort; and your horse will always be willing to trade with you. If you are always mindful of that, you “should” have the perfect relationship. Betray that desire and you will be low on credit with your horse.”

Always words to ponder from Buck. He’s the kind of teacher who leaves you to dwell on the questions. But then, there’s no wisdom worth having that isn’t hard won – which is, more or less, the story of his life.

I encourage you to be sure to make Buck part of your Christmas plans, whether in a theatre near you, or on DVD. That said, I’m offering up a DVD of Buck to give away this week. Fact is, I need to stockpile a few western movie suggestions for a future post, so let us know in the Comment section below, the name of a western movie you love, and we’ll enter your name into a draw to receive a DVD of Buck. Contest closes Friday, at midnight, and winner announced Monday.

Enjoy the trailer!

7 Weeks ’till Christmas: Great Gift Ideas

Not very long ago, I had the chance to chat again with someone I haven’t seen for a very long time. Actually, it was beginning to feel like forever. Anxiety had crept into my brain.

Are you alright?

It was a relief, then, when I spotted him heading my way down the Calgary Stampede Corral concourse on a Saturday night – a tad smaller than I remembered him – but in fine shape, and smiling.

We were only able to chat for a bit. He was a gentleman as always. Unsurprisingly, a tad overwhelmed, and a bit embarrarrassed with the attention lavished on him. And, concerned. Concerned the Calgary Stampede Wrangler Futurity, the event we were all gathered to witness, was being held up as an auction occurred in his name.

Boy, was that typical. Always worried about the show, that Bill.

Of course, I speak of Bill Collins. Bill and Pearl were two of the very first people I met nearly 20 years ago when I purchased the magazine now known as Western Horse Review. I think dearly of them both. I know I’m hardly alone in that sentiment.

So, the story was we were gathered at the Wrangler Calgary Futurity on the Saturday night of the Futurity. Bill had brought in one of his many lifetime championship saddles to be auctioned off.

Something about a vintage saddle, isn’t there?

A lifetime of rides here.

The proceeds of the auction went to the Bill Collins Youth Scholarship Fund, an initiative he’s been heading for years, and a fund which has provided scholarships to a great many youth heading on to University. It was a beautiful gesture on Bill and Pearl’s part.

Thank you Bill and Pearl!

Photo credit: James Hudyma, Hudyma Photography

If you didn’t have a chance to bid on that saddle, there’s still a few of these left.

Divine, isn’t it?

This here fella’s the maker. Recognize him? We haven’t seen him around much this year, either. I caught this shot of him in April at the Mane Event. Back when he was likely still revelling in the glory of the moment. Prior to realizing he actually had to build 100 saddles. One hundred, exquisitely crafted, one-of-a-kind saddles in commemoration of the 100 year anniversary of the Calgary Stampede in 2012. Built by Vic Bennett himself.

I just hope he’s got some help.

I happen to know there’s only a few of these left. They would make a great Christmas gift. Perhaps a family gift in the name of a ranch or farm, which has had a history of showing livestock at the Calgary Stampede. What an incredible way to honor the legacy both of the Calgary Stampede and your own family.

Photo credit: James Hudyma, Hudyma Photography

These saddles retail for $4,995.00. With the Vic Bennett stamp, we know the craftsmanship will be meticulous, right down to the Calgary Stampede brand. The limited-edition saddles will be numbered, signed by Stampede President and Chairman of the Board Mike Casey, and Vic himself, and accompanied by a certificate of authenticity.

They’ll be presented during a Centennial Saddle Celebration in July 2012.


To find out more about the Calgary Stampede’s Centennial saddle program, e-mail saddle@calgarystampede.com or visitwww.calgarystampede.com/saddle2012

Check back next week as I present, not one, but two more ideas for great Christmas gifts in my quest to catch up to the real number of weeks left to Christmas.

In the meantime, have a great weekend!

8 Weeks ’till Christmas: Great Gift Ideas

While it may officially be six weeks or less until Christmas, I’m still running a bit behind on my great gift ideas series. Before we begin with this week’s suggestion, I’m happy to announce the winner of last week’s beautiful Mara pottery giveaway. It was my 10 week suggestion, and I happily offered to share one of my newly purchased Mara pottery pieces with the winner of the week’s question: “Who do you have the most difficulty buying a Christmas gift for.”

Thanks to everyone who participated with a comment. The lucky winner, drawn randomly, is Winona, who finds her husband hardest to buy for.

“For my hubby, the man for which is hard to buy!  He loves the great outdoors and would love the piece, I’m sure.  The pieces are gorgeous!“

Thanks Winona, you are now the owner of one of these gorgeous pieces. Contact us at editorial@westernhorsereview.com to claim your prize.

Onward to this week’s great gift idea.

Recently, at the Western Lifestyle Marketplace, during the Canadian Supreme, Wee and I spent some time at the Double N Ranch booth trying on the great selection of ranch scarves they had on offer. A certain pesky Managing Editor I happen to know cajoled and teased me into purchasing a wild rag, and a buckaroo hat for Wee. I have to admit, the transformation was adorable, and suited the kid quite well.

I don’t own one myself, but with the gorgeous patterns I’ve seen lately, that may change soon.

Like this vibrant wine-colored paisley pattern.

Or, this brilliant blue.

Can there really be such a thing as too much paisley? I think not.

Definitely not.

I love the shots of these young models – the photography is exquisite – showcasing the elegance and rugged beauty of a ranch scarf, particularly when paired with a well worn hat on a punchy ranch kid. See more of these at my original post showcasing these scarves here.

While they are certainly some of the most charming scarves I’ve seen, there are several distributors closer to home who carry an excellent selection as well.

One such, is the aforementioned Double N Ranch, check out their newest patterns and styles of wild rags at this link. 

In Saskatchewan, Young Gunz Distributing carries a large assortment of wild rags.

Such as this elegant beauty.

Or this. You can see the entire selection of Young Gunz wild rags at their Facebook page.

Just one more. Polka dot delight.

Here’s the part you won’t want to miss. Western Horse Review is partnering with Young Gunz Distributing to bring you an utterly wonderful offer, if you happen to be attending the Canadian Western Agribition, Nov. 21-26, in Regina, Saskatchewan. Pop by the Young Gunz booth and with your purchase of a Western Horse Review subscription, receive $10 off any Outlaw Wild Rag in their booth.

Hope to see you there!

9 Weeks ’till Christmas – Great Gift Ideas

On the day we honor those who gave the ultimate – their lives – I thought it fitting to include giving to charity in my Christmas countdown.

The rule of giving to charity is simple. If you have money, give it. If you don’t, give your time. Of those two commodities, it is time which I seem to find myself most pressed for in my life, so generally my charity giving comes down to giving out my credit card number, and writing cheques.

The charity of world scale we support most often is Amnesty International. To me, human rights is everything, and around the world, even in our own homeland (think Maher Arar), we waver too often dangerously on a precipice of good and evil. Freedom is what our soldiers fought, and continue to fight for. I guess I figure the least I can do is support the organization which carries on the torch.

Around Christmas, we generally donate closer to home, to the always worthy causes such as the Foodbank or Mustard Seed. This year, however, I caught a film which was so heartwarming, that we’re including Operation Smile in our Christmas charity giving.

It’s not always transparent whether the organization you are donating your hard-earned dollar to is particularly effective with the money it receives. Reviewing and rating charities on their real world results is a growing movement and there are several charity watchdog sites which can help you determine where your dollars can do the most good.

Charity Navigator is the largest of these sites. It uses a complicated system of evaluation to rate financial health, accountability and transparency of some of Americas largest charities.

The Canadian version of Charity Navigator may be Charity Intelligence Canada, though it’s model for evaluation is quite unique from the American version.

Finally, if you’ve been privy to the false and mostly outdated e-mail circulating telling of excessive salaries for the CEO’s of charities, here’s a link which gives you the true numbers, and another which discusses charity CEO salaries and also provides a list of interesting reading in the “giving” genre.

At this time of year, giving in a generous manner to those who have greater challenges than perhaps our own circles of friends and family, is perhaps the Greatest Great Gift Idea. Feel free to share your favorite charities in the comment section below.

Enjoy the film!

10 Weeks ’till Christmas: Great Gift Ideas

If you missed last week’s great Christmas gift idea – the beautiful Kim Taylor On The Trail day planner, I have a new gorgeous idea for you today.

This week’s great Christmas gift idea is beautiful handcrafted Mara pottery. The sculptor Mara designed many pieces of pottery over her lifetime; you can read more about her here. Studying with world’s greatest modern artists, Mara developed and mastered the difficult technique of precise line drawing in ceramics.

I happened upon Mara pottery at the Canadian Supreme Western Lifestyle Marketplace a few weeks ago.

I’m not one for factory-made, so I was immediately drawn by the fact that each piece of Mara pottery is engraved and painted by hand, a tradition her family carries out in her name.

These gorgeous pieces are both contemporary and rustic. Love them.

A milk jug, but could also function as a wine decanter.

This is another of Mara’s designs – coyote cactus – which I think would work well with the horse set I already purchased.

I want to share this beautiful pottery, so I’m giving one of my newly purchased and unused pieces away! I haven’t decided which I can part with yet, but while I agonize over that choice, let us know in the Comment section below, who you have the most difficult time purchasing a Christmas gift for. You don’t have to name your giftee specifically, but can retain them some anonymity with a nickname, if you prefer. Contest closes Friday, Nov. 11 at midnight.

12 Weeks ’till Christmas: Great Gift Ideas

Christmas is just around the corner . . . less than 12 weeks away. Which means it’s time. Time for the countdown.

Last year, I kicked off my 12 Weeks ’till Christmas countdown, tardily, in late October. This year, I’m slightly more organized and almost on time. Over the next 11 weeks I’m going to share 12 incredibly unique, wildly popular, insanely delicious and even, the odd obscure idea for Christmas gifts with you. I’m sure you’ll find something that catches your eye and opens your wallet within.

Apparently, we’re kicking off the series with the obscure.

I received a copy of this book – Chicks With Guns – to review, and rather rapidly found myself immersed in it.

I’m not a chick with gun. In fact, friends and family have dubbed the log house my Bird & Animal Sanctuary, since I recoil in revulsion at the hint of even a magpie being picked off. Coyotes are safe on my back 40, as are skunks, and any other wildlife typically maligned as pest in the redneck hinterland we live in. I do relent to gopher hunting. Well, at least I didn’t argue when my neighbour began parking in my pasture with his old blue Dodge, and set to work “thinning out my herd,” as he remarked to me later, not without a smile.

But, lately guns have been on my mind.

Maybe it’s the fact that I’m reminded daily hunting season has begun, announcing itself with the usual gunshot reports and echoes from across the lake.

Or, Wee waltzing in the house a few weeks ago announcing she’d like a BB gun for Christmas. And, some chickens. (I hoped these two wishes weren’t part of the same project.)

Or, my son who has a registered handgun license and has lately taken an interest in cowboy mounted shooting.

Suddenly, Chicks With Guns arrival at the log house seemed to have some connected meaning to my life. It was weird.

With little exception, I rarely handle guns; this has it’s own list of reasons behind it including, but not limited to:

The memory of myself as an anguished child, when I heard the neighbour’s boys were running down red tailed foxes with snowmobiles. Apparently, that was hunting.

Or, only a few weeks ago when I found a rotting mass of waterfowl at the side of the two-track leading to our lake. This is hunting?

Not according to one of the featured chicks in the book. Jen, from Emigrant, Montana (whilst holding a Browning .270 with a Leupold scope) says, “Killing and poaching should not be lumped together with hunting. These are not characteristics of sport or feeding your family. I’m not sure how you become one of these two things, a killer or a poacher, but it is not anything I could be.”

Jen’s father worked as a ranch hand and thus, “we didn’t make a lot of money and always lived a long way from town. The only way we could afford to feed everyone was to hunt.” She’s passing the tradition down to her son, Clay.

Not unlike girls with horses, chicks with guns gravitate to colors they can individualize. Such as Clara, who began shooting at the age of 11 and likes her pink Ceska Zbrojovka Scout .22, though she would have chosen it in lime green had it been available.

Chicks With Guns is authored and artistically shot by Lindsay McCrum, who crossed the United States in a mission to portray the connection 80 women have with firearms. The word chicks in the title initially threw me off – will these be dressed-up models bearing firearms along with plenty of cleavage, in the spirit of the typical motorcycle magazine cover, I wondered? Yawn. . . Not at all. Instead, meet 80 women across America who explain, often in eloquent language, why they own and use firearms. The stories frequently relate to a family tradition – though not always. Sport, hunting and occasionally protection, factor in the reasons these women own firearms. Their personal triumphs and occasional fears are compellingly real.

In this book you’ll meet women who often discover a sense of self-confidence and empowerment on their way to learning how to shoot. Liz in California has had a loaded Baretta 40-calibre pistol in her nightstand since she became involved in law enforcement. She now works in media relations at her police department, and says, “having been a detective, I am acutely aware of how things can go wrong.”

Jenevieve from San Antonio, Texas met her husband on a blind date that later involved a shooting competition which she won, thanks to the hours her father put in teaching her markmanship. In this photograph she’s holding an antique pistol passed down in her family for generations, and given to her from her father as a wedding present. “It’s important for me to have this photograph with my wedding dress and the gun because of their significance to my relationship both with my father and my husband. But I wouldn’t want anyone to think it was a shotgun wedding!”

Nearly all of the women interviewed relate their reverence for gun safety. As Anita from St. Paul, Minnesota notes, “you can never take a bullet back.”

I’m betting Rachel, from Livingstone, Montana has been taught gun safety by her father. She handles this Ruger 10/20 carbine when she hunts with her sisters.

Lee from South Carolina prefers British-made guns such as her Boss 20-guage side-by-side.

Several of the women in the book speak as expressively about conservation as hunting. Passionate of the outdoors and hunting, they speak to the calming beauty of surrounding oneself with nature. While I’m not intent on exploring the philosophical questions in this post, possibly what struck me most in the stories of these women, was their connection not only to guns, but the outdoors. The kinship is as real as it gets.

Rural settings maintain a consistent importance in my life, and miles of quiet walking and riding in nature a necessity for the occasional instability of this writer’s brain. I was pleasantly enlightened to find this affinity with a few of the women who described the same sense of sanctity and escape during their hunting or sporting adventures. Apparently, it’s not all about bringing down the animal, but often, a deep love of the wild. And, unlike the cookie-cutter environmental activist sitting in front of a laptop, these chicks with guns are passing down their love of the outdoors and thereby the need for the conservation of it, in the very real way of introducing their families and friends to it.

Each of the photos above, plus another 70+ are full page plates in this gorgeous coffee table book, accompanied by the story of each model. Chicks with Guns is published by The Vendome Press and although we don’t carry it in the Western Horse Review bookstore, it is available through the usual book-selling venues, such as Amazon. While it may not be for everyone, it might make a unique and personal gift for the chick with gun in your life.