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!

WHR’s Top Instagram Posts of 2017

Credit: Chad Rowbotham Photography

Tomorrow is a new day and a new year. With all the excitement around Western Horse Review’s social media channels in 2017, we thought it might be fun to take a look back at some of our top Instagram posts of the year.

#1, Above, was a photo taken by Chad Rowbotham Photography. We used this beautiful image as the cover to our Nov/Dec 2016 issue, but we loved the picture so much we ran it again on our Instagram page this past October. Viewers loved it so much, this photo is our all-time highest reaching post.

Credit: Callaghan Creative Co.

#2, Above, was an image taken at our most recent photo shoot, upcoming in the Jan/Feb 2018 issue. It was captured by Callaghan Creative Co. in an outfit inspired by Back on Track Canada and Winslowe Rowe. Turns out, our Instagram viewers loved it too.


Credit: Jenn Webster

#3, Above, was shot in a spur-of-the-moment reflex as Alberta experienced one of those momentous sunsets of the Indian Summer of September. Featuring a curious weanling in my backyard, his silhouette against the beautiful sky made for another of our most popular Instagram posts.


Credit: Jenn Webster

#4, Above, Posted only three days ago, this little mini in the snow captured the hearts of many of our Instagram viewers. One viewer even commented, “Thelwell lives on!”


Credit: Tara McKenzie Fotos

#5, Above, This photo taken by McKenzie Fotos featured the beauty in the details of this cow horse bit and romal reins. The photo is so real, you can almost feel the horse’s whiskers.


Credit: Tanja Schneider Photography

#6, Above, In our Jan/Feb 2018 issue (coming to your mailbox soon!) we have an exclusive interview with Tanja Schneider – the young photography phenom capturing the very souls of horses and dogs with her camera lens. This shot features a Paint horse and its Australian Shephard buddy and was our #6 most popular Instagram post of the year.


Credit: Jenn Webster

#7, Above, On Dec. 23, 2017, a group of our friends and family came out to enjoy a day of skijoring with us. I snapped this pic of our snowboarder friend Sara, in a moment of pure joy with a horse ironically named “Webster.”


Credit: Stock Photography.

#8, Above, This image was simply a stock photography pic we had in our files, but as it comes in at #8 on the list, it just goes to prove how popular winter shots are right now on Instagram!


Credit: Jenn Webster

#9, Above, Finally our #9 most popular post on Instagram was a shot I captured quickly on a snowy day of my daughter and her mini friend “Legacy,” with my iPhone.


As the clock strikes midnight tonight and we ring in 2018, Western Horse Review would like to wish you all a very happy New Year!

Shamrock Performance Horses

Tyler, Helen, Jaden and Rowdey Nowosad of Dewberry, AB.


Shamrock Performance horses owned and operated by Tyler and Helen Nowosad of Dewberry, Alberta, not only showed this years ABRA 1D champion horse, they also trained the DR Nick Bar Granddaughter, Raise The Gold Bar aka “Alley,” at the 2017 Canadian Barrel Horse Incentive Super Stakes held this past weekend in Ponoka, AB.


The dynamic duo of Alley and Helen made lasting impressions right from their first competition together in 2015, bringing home the Bohnet’s Barrel Barn Futurity Buckle. With a very successful 2015 season behind them, Alley needed a break as she suffered a wire cut that took her out of the 2016 racing season. Fully healed and well conditioned the team set their sights high for 2017. Long miles on the road did not deter, placing them at the top all spring and summer. August found them at the Alberta Barrel Racing Association Finals in Ponoka, Alberta. After multiple days and consistent runs they secured the 1D champion spot, and the championship saddle.


One of many buckles earned by Helen and Raise The Gold Bar.

Every success has a back-story and Helen and Tyler’s is one of hard work and determined nature. The quiet humble couple, live with their two children Jaden (11) and Rowdey (7), three dogs and numerous other barnyard animals just south of the Chuckwagon Capital of Canada in Dewberry, AB. They bought the ranch in November of 2007 and have since upgraded the property to be safe and functional for their broodmares and young stock.

One of the foals produced by the Nowosad family.

With mutual interest and involvement in College Rodeo and roping, Tyler and Helen found each other. Shortly after College Tyler, a welder by trade, focused his energy on taking care of his young family. Competition wouldn’t stay away long though. The young couple persevered through pedigree to find top performances horses. The first being, a DR Nick Bar mare, the horse that Helen developed her outstanding ability as a barrel racer. After much success with the DR Nick Bar line, and collecting four own daughters by the legendary stallion, this would be the start of their elite bred broodmare band. This includes Alley’s sensational Dam “Sweet Fleet Bar.” The DR Nick Bar horses have proven their athletic ability and superior mindsets time and time again.

The couple knew right from the start how important a solid proven foundation would be. Not only did the mares have to prove themselves, but the foals had to perform as well. That thought process led to the Nowosad’s obtaining their double-bred Peppy San badger stallion BSF Northern Boon, aka “Vegas” (Peptos Quick Pick x El Northern Dance).

This next key purchase, Vegas, started as a smooth moving yearling, who caught Tyler’s eye at an auction sale. Tyler had planned to sit on his hands that day, but couldn’t resist a bid. In 2014 the Nowosad’s started crossing Vegas with their DR Nick Bar daughters, and in no time fell in love with the cross. Vegas now is the primary stallion used at Shamrock Performance Horses.

The young stallion and Tyler shared their own success story this spring, when SR Vegas Got Lucky aka “Marley,” was sold to 2016 World Champion Header Levi Simpson. Marley, the first son of Vegas’, found his niche in team roping instead of barrel racing. This allowed Tyler to campaign his skills as a roper and trainer.

Versatility in the performance world can be a hard to achieve. Combining dominant race blood with outcross working cow horse lines, generates an opportunity for the Nowosad’s to utilize all of their abilities. This is very evident in the horses that they are now performing on. This foundation of strong genetics in pedigree will remain stable for years to come.

Jaden and Rowdey are also an integral part of the system. They expose, and challenge the young horses to adhere to the “younger generations” tasks. Further demonstrating the quality of mind produced through the outcross genetics.

With winter fast approaching the Nowosad’s are gearing up for 2018. Fully dedicated, each and every one of them contributes their time, effort and dollars to insuring the success of the program. Helen is currently taking the steps necessary to get Alley on the track to RFD TV’s American Rodeo Richest One Day Rodeo in the World, hosted in Texas February 2018.

The Canadian Barrel Horse Incentive Breeders Sale October 7, 2017 in Ponoka, Alberta, was a strong start to the new season. Where they had a yearling filly “Sweet Northern Nick” entered with her Super Stakes Certificate and selling as the reserve highest bid. This filly is eligible for the added incentive money if run at the CHBI Thanksgiving race in the future. This was the first available yearling horse to be sold out of the program.

However, that was not the end of the Nowosad’s success at the 2017 Thanksgiving weekend. “Alley” held up her end of the bargain as well. With the fastest times on day 1&2 of the CBHI Derby, Helen and Alley had the long wait of being the last run in the Short Go. Excitement coursed through the arena as the dynamic duo “peeled paint” on three exceptional barrels, not only to win, but also to set an arena record at Calnash Center, with a 16.824 sec run. Hard work pays off but does not start nor end in the arena.

The Nowosad family will be busy introducing their exciting young prospects to the training program. Their training program involves many aspects including gentle starts; to develop balance and minds, extensive exposure to kids, dogs and other animals; with consistent training by all four members. One training tip they take very seriously is giving their horses praise. By developing a strong horse/rider bond through praise, the Nowosad’s are able to establish a willing confident partner.

Helen credits mentor NFR qualifier Lee Ann Rust for elevating her confidence and refining the mechanics of the training program. Rust’s insightful instruction has greatly influenced Helen’s guidance of her daughter Jaden.

Tyler and Helen are very excited for the future of their program. As well as watching Jaden and Rowdey make an impression on the rodeo world. The Shamrock may be a symbol of luck, but it’s the dedication of this exceptional family that brings success to Shamrock Performance Horses.

Full Circle


He came first, into the life of my husband. The sorrel horse was 18-months-old – unbroke, but had a solid temperament. He was sired by Super High Gear, out of the mare Ms Lyndi Lou, born in 1991 and came from John Miller’s breeding program.

My husband, Clay spent countless hours with the gelding who eventually became known as “Doc.” Clay could lead Doc by his tail, send him to the far end of an arena, make him wait patiently and then call him back again. Clay used Doc in his clinic demonstrations, rode him bridleless, brought the cows in at the ranch, and to help start other colts.


Then as often happens in a trainer’s life, came a moment when Doc could become a safe mount for someone else. In 1999, Doc was sold to new home. But as fate would have it, we had the opportunity to buy Doc back in 2001. Clay and I had recently become engaged and shortly afterwards, I incurred a bad ankle break after coming off a polo horse. When I had healed up enough to ride, I needed something to help build my confidence again. Doc was the horse for the job.

I learned to ride western on Doc’s back. I got my first showing experiences with him and truly got a chance to refine my horsemanship. When Clay and I were married, our friend Gabriele Noll painted Doc’s portrait.

Painting by Gabriele Noll.

Painting by Gabriele Noll.

But again, as life sometime goes in chapters, Doc was sold again – to another loving person who really needed him.

Christa Vindum purchased Doc back in 2008. Before that sale, we had said we never wanted to part with Doc again. But never, say never. Christa too, needed a mount that would build her confidence. Doc was 15 at the time. Considering his age, it would have been hard for anyone to take a chance on an “old horse.” But during her time with Doc, Christa has ridden him on trail rides, in cowboy challenges, in shows, clinics… you name it. All the youngsters in her family also learned to ride on his back. Christa would later move to Idaho and she took Doc with her, where they continued their adventures.


So again as life turned over another chapter, Christa contacted Clay and I earlier this year (2016). Now at age 25, Doc was still in great condition and still, the miraculous type of horse that could teach riders and instill confidence in them. His brand is faded, he has a lot more gray hairs now and in theory, he might not have many more years left in him.

But Christa wanted to know if we wanted Doc back.

Obviously, we agreed to take him back immediately – although we weren’t quite sure how to work out the logistics of shipping him up from Idaho at the time.

Christa offered to trailer Doc straight up to us.


And we found it ironic as she told us the story of crossing the border.

“The Customs officer wanted to know what Doc’s value was,” she chuckled. “I’m looking at the guy – telling him that Doc is 25, suffers from ‘excessive sleepiness,’ and requires some special supplements for joint maintenance because of his age. How do you put a price on a horse like that?”

With a smile on her face and perhaps a tear in her eye, Christa continued. “To me, a horse like that is priceless.”


We think so too.

Doc has had amazing homes with the other people on his papers. But he has returned to us for his remaining years. We are so grateful to have him back for the things he will teach our young children, are invaluable. He’ll teach them to ride a couple times per week. He’ll teach them about responsibility and empathy. He’ll teach them about commitment and love.

Doc has come full circle. He will live in the barn, be turned out during the day and given all the necessary joint supplements. He deserves it.

While we can’t take all of our horses sold throughout the years back, there are definitely a few that deserve to live out their days with us. We could never regret giving the mounts that have given their wisdom and precious gifts of education to us, a good home in their senior years.

They’re worth it.


If you have a special story of a horse that’s come Full Circle, please let me know by firing WHR an email at: editorial@westernhorsereview.com





Big Country Farm Toys Sponsorship of Joe Frost

Joe Frost earns 83.5 points on Rafter H Rodeo Livestock’s Cowboy Cool in Round 9 of the 2014 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (Ric Andersen photo).

Joe Frost earns 83.5 points on Rafter H Rodeo Livestock’s Cowboy Cool in Round 9 of the 2014 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (Ric Andersen photo).


Big Country Farm Toys, the fastest growing line of 1:20 scale farm, ranch and rodeo toys in America, has partnered with Joe Frost and the Frost family to offer creative, interactive farm and rodeo life toys which promote great character and values.

Announcing the partnership during the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, President and CEO for Big Country Toys, Greg Huett, said, “Joe Frost is a college graduate and avid rancher, who just so happens to be the number five bull rider in the NFR going into the Finals in Vegas.”

Joe Frost after the 2014 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo Round 5 buckle ceremony at South Point Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. Pictured to Joe’s immediate right is Craig Latham, Joe’s college rodeo coach at Oklahoma Panhandle State University (OPSU), to whom he dedicated his round win. Also pictured: Clyde & Elsie Frost, as well as Joe’s parents, Shane & Lisa Frost (Sara Rempelos photo).

Joe Frost after the 2014 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo Round 5 buckle ceremony at South Point Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. Pictured to Joe’s immediate right is Craig Latham, Joe’s college rodeo coach at Oklahoma Panhandle State University (OPSU), to whom he dedicated his round win. Also pictured: Clyde & Elsie Frost, as well as Joe’s parents, Shane & Lisa Frost (Sara Rempelos photo).

“I noticed common elements in working with both Clyde and Elsie Frost as well as their nephew, Joe. All are interested in creating a positive message for our kids, and both are generous with their own charities,” Huett, explained. “The Frost family giving 100% of their proceeds from the Lane Frost figurine to the Lane Frost Scholarship fund, and Joe Frost donating all of his proceeds from his Frost Fever line of T-shirts at the WNFR to the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund.”

Joe Frost on his family’s ranch in Randlett, Utah (Sara Rempelos photo).

Joe Frost on his family’s ranch in Randlett, Utah (Sara Rempelos photo).

Huett and Big Country Toys introduced the figurines “Challenge of the Champion’s” in 2015 featuring Hall of Fame legend Lane Frost as well as John Growney’s Hall of Fame bull, Red Rock. The successful introduction of the toy and a growing relationship with the Frost family led to the partnership with Joe, second cousin to Lane.

“Although Joe is his own man, and does not want to live in his cousin’s spotlight, the comparisons are there,” Huett said. The two share more than just a last name. Joe Frost will be competing, like his cousin, for the prized championship buckle. But deeper than talent, Joe Frost carries the known and respected name and character of the Frost family.

Joe Frost receives the 2014 Linderman Award from PRCA Media Director, Kendra Santos, and PRCA Commissioner, Karl Stressman. Joe won $26,624 more than his next closest competitor, 2013 Linderman Award winner Trell Etbauer, the largest margin in the history of the award (Sara Rempelos photo).

Joe Frost receives the 2014 Linderman Award from PRCA Media Director, Kendra Santos, and PRCA Commissioner, Karl Stressman. Joe won $26,624 more than his next closest competitor, 2013 Linderman Award winner Trell Etbauer, the largest margin in the history of the award (Sara Rempelos photo).

Joe Frost won his first national bull riding title in March 2015 at the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo (RNCFR) in Kissimmee, Florida (Sara Rempelos photo).

Joe Frost won his first national bull riding title in March 2015 at the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo (RNCFR) in Kissimmee, Florida (Sara Rempelos photo).

Big Country Farm Toys is excited about having Joe Frost be a part of the Big Country team. His values of integrity, education and generosity have always been a key part of the western lifestyle and will help the company fulfill its mission of providing wholesome products and role models for today’s youth.

Parents are tired of the imagination lacking, technological culture that their young kids are being immersed in, and the poor role models that are all too prevalent in today’s media. Big Country Farm Toys promotes the alternative to the disappointment of parents when dealing with bad role models and children being consumed with the tech culture that has consumed this generation, leading to a lack of creativity and imagination brain drain.

Joe Frost earned his degree in Agri-Business from Oklahoma Panhandle State University (OPSU) in May 2015 (Waymen Trujillo photo).

Joe Frost earned his degree in Agri-Business from Oklahoma Panhandle State University (OPSU) in May 2015 (Waymen Trujillo photo).

Big Country Farm Toys products are cobranded with some of the top Ag brands including Ford Super Duty Trucks, Sundowner trailers, Aermotor windmills, the PBR and the PRCA.  Their line of over 30 products includes hand painted animals, figurines, vehicles and all the great accessories kid’s need to build their own farm, ranch or rodeos. The toys are both collectible and playable.

Big Country Toys - "For the Country in all of us."

Big Country Toys – “For the Country in all of us.”

For more information about this topic or to schedule an interview with Greg Huett please call 1-888.801.4391.

Trust Us, Say the NDP. Not, Say Albertans


(L to R) Alberta Minister of Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour, Lori Sigurdson, and Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Oneil Carlier. Photo by Jenn Webster.


The “Legislate First, Ask Questions Later” approach to Bill 6 is still not flying with Alberta farmers and ranchers.

By Jenn Webster

They came in sprayers, grain trucks, round bale haulers, tractors, combines, on horseback and in a variety of agriculture modes of transportation. There were elderly folks with walkers, feedlot workers, mother and baby strollers, members of Hutterite colonies, team penners, grain producers, hay suppliers, horse trainers, cattle producers… literally thousands of Alberta agriculture folks united against Bill 6. Some might tell you hundreds of people showed up. Some may show you angles of images that make it appear only a “few” of Alberta’s farmers and ranchers showed up – simply not true. The agriculture industry joined arms today and met the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Oneil Carlier and the Minister of Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour, Lori Sigurdson, head on.

The turnout in Okotoks today was impressive, to say the least.


The masses in Okotoks at a rally about Bill 6, December 2, 2015. Photo by Jenn Webster.


A convoy left from the Fort MacLeod Agriplex at 6:30 a.m., met up with folks in Granum, who met up with folks in at the Claresholm Weigh Scale area, who met folks at the Stavely MD building, who – well, you get the point. Frustrated farmers and ranchers continued on to the Best Western hotel in Okotoks where an Alberta Farm and Ranch session was being hosted by the Alberta Ministry of Jobs, Skills, Training & Labour. The session was scheduled for 1:00 p.m. and was initially supposed to be housed inside the hotel meeting room where attendees were required to preregister for a seat. The topic of discussion was Bill 6, the Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act.

It was decided today that the Okotoks meeting would be held outside in the parking lot, as there were so many people in attendance, officials couldn’t possibly address the masses any other way.

“Our officials are currently working on amendments that we will share very soon to clarify our intentions…” said Carlier.

“Specifically WCB coverage and rules will only apply to paid employees, unless the farm or ranch operator chooses to opt their family and neighbors into the coverage, as some already do. On Occupational Health & Safety, the rules will set minimum safety standards – only paid employees will be included. These amendments will take effect at the same time the Bill does. Rules that relate to employment standards, (things like hours of work and other employment standards) won’t take effect until spring 2016. The same is true for labour relation-related provisions. We need to make sure that the specifics of how the Bill is implemented works for farms and ranches and that’s why we’ll continue our consultations with you throughout the winter…”

It was at that point that someone from the crowd yelled, “We don’t want the Bill!”

Pretending not to hear, Minister Oneil Carlier continued on, underscoring what could have perhaps, began the entire feud in the first place.

Sigurdson had her turn on the stage but was met from the beginning with more of the same vocal opposition from the crowd.

“I understand there’s a lot of passion out there…” she started.

Which was immediately countered by an angry voice – “A LOT OF PASSION?!?”

This is farming and ranching we’re talking about. Bill 6 might be a very passionate topic, but that’s because the people it affects are the ones feeding the world, teaching your kids to ride, harvesting grain, calving out calves, producing honey, producing eggs, hatching fish, etc. etc. etc.

Their way of life isn’t only about passion. It’s who they are.

Bill 6 is causing a showdown all across the province this week as people of the farming and ranching community have come out in droves to let the government know what they think. And it appears they all very passionate about safety – after all, our families are precious to us.

So what is Bill 6 really about?

Unionization? A tax grab? A decoy to distract the masses from the Alberta Carbon tax bill?

While the answer to that question is still not clear, one thing is for certain– another convoy is planned for southern Alberta tomorrow. Destination, Lethbridge. And for those in more northern parts of the province of Alberta, a rally is planned for the steps of the Legislature Building in Edmonton, AB.


Photo by Jenn Webster.

Comment heard from the audience, "....

Comment heard from the audience, “This bill is draconian. You will make criminals out of law abiding citizens… We are standing outside and there’s not even enough chairs for the seniors…”  Photo by Jenn Webster.

Photo by Jenn Webster.

Photo by Jenn Webster.

Photo by Jenn Webster.

Photo by Jenn Webster.

Photo by Jenn Webster.

Photo by Jenn Webster.

Photo by Jenn Webster.

Photo by Jenn Webster.

Photo by Jenn Webster.

Photo by Jenn Webster.






Bill 6

Photo by Natalie Jackman, www.have-dog.com

Our unabashedly, proud agriculture family. Complete with pony and buffalo. Photo by Natalie Jackman, www.have-dog.com



Dear Premier Notley,

I find it gut wrenching to receive the following email (please see below). As the owner of an equine training breeding and boarding facility, Bill 6 will directly affect my family. I tried to register to attend the information session being held in my area on December 2, 2015 but sadly all the seats are full. The following email from the Ministry of Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour suggests that I should attend the next closest meeting in ATHABASCA.
Are you seriously suggesting that I pack up my children, leave our animals, our farm, our businesses and drive 489 kms (4 HOURS + 41 MINS) to have a chance at an information session?

Please understand, a horse training business is somewhat dangerous in nature and therefore, we already do carry WCB coverage for our business. We have done so for the last +10 years. My husband, a professional horse trainer, is a great man and works very hard to support us. We truly understand the consequences of having him injured, sidelined or worse. But please know that we have struggled to pay the WCB premiums at times – so I’d like to know – will there be any government financial assistance when it comes to requiring farmers and ranchers to carry WCB? What about government financial assistance for helping us deal with the Employment Standards Code and Labour Relations Code?

I have questions. I want to understand.

I can assure you that rarely ever, do horses colic between the hours of 9-5, Monday to Friday. Automatic waterers typically freeze in the middle of the night. And a plethora of other things happen around here at times outside of “business hours” because the animals have their own minds too. We have  to deal with them, regardless of how many hours we have already logged, or what day it is.

We have animals to feed, even on Christmas morning.

Furthermore, our children stay alongside us feeding the animals and assisting around the farm because they truly love it. How and who will determine what a “chore” is vs. “employable work?”
Who will be writing the safety manuals? I implore the government to seek the guidance of knowledgeable individuals in our industry before this legislation is passed. I am sincerely asking for a chance to educate myself before this goes through.

Thank-you for the consideration,
– Jennifer Webster

PS – Thanks for adding me to the “waitlist.”



Ringing in a New Year


Christmas has come and gone and a new year has begun! I hope y’all had a wonderful break, filled with happy memories and times of friends or family. We most certainly did.

Though our New Year celebration was relatively quiet, I feel like I’ve already hit the ground running  in 2015. I’m not one for big resolutions, but I’m definitely a fan of having goals and having things to work towards. I’ll keep you posted if my plans work out!


We had a new critter recently join our crew.

Meet “Pickles.” (Above).

Pickles actually belongs to our God daughter, however, my children have the luxury of access to her at any time (as she’s in our backyard). She’s pretty fabulous with kids but she’s quick to assert her “alpha horse” status amongst her fellow equines. I’m certain this trait will make for some funny stories in the future.

Aussie Rules

Clay and I also had a chance to visit a favorite Calgary venue after Christmas, along with several of our friends. Aussie Rules is a duelling piano bar that is guaranteed to get everyone out of their chair, dancing amongst strangers and singing at the top of one’s lungs. Song requests are taken from the crowd (from the 60s to the present) and the musicians sing and play it live to a pumped up audience. The motto at Aussie Rules is –  Come early, sing loud, stay late.

Yep, that’s pretty much what we did.

Zoo-lightsThe Christmas break also offered an opportunity to take in the Calgary Zoo Lights. Flashing mugs of hot chocolate in hand, we ventured out on a beautiful winter night – along with hundreds of other like-minded folk!

Goodness..! Bring on a warm winter eve and Canadians will come out in droves!

All in all however, it was a fabulous family experience and one that will continue to be a Webster tradition for many Christmases to come.

As to be expected, Christmas break was also filled with a bit of work for us too. There were horses to feed. Food to prepare. Nomination forms to send in before the December 31 deadline… (And yep! In case you’re wondering – I got it all done!!)

I also have an exciting interview with renowned horse professional, Martin Black coming up in the next issue of Western Horse Review, scheduled to hit the stands soon. Plus, we have the upcoming Horse Breeders & Owners Conference in Red Deer (January 9-11) on our minds. I’m sure we’ll see many of you there!

Until the next blog, take care and happy New Year!

– J

What Christmas Looks Like in Canada



Happy December! Ever wonder what Christmas looks like in Canada? Under the subdued light of a winter sky, Christmas in Canada is altogether beautiful, challenging and jovial.

Around here, Christmas is also downright comical. Take our gingerbread house of 2014, for example:


The kids and I made it from scratch. And I’m pretty darn proud of it, I’ll tell ya! Pretty. Durn. Proud.

That kit never saw us coming…

As it’s only natural when winter rolls around, many of our international friends like to chide us Canadians about, “living in igloos,” and “driving dogsleds…” We get a chuckle out of it too. After all, Canucks must be tough to withstand the six feet of snow we might receive one day and the -30 temperatures the next.

But, the truth is – sometimes we do! Make igloos and ride in dogsleds, that is.

Riding in a dogsled in winter is one of the most exhilarating and festive things you can do.


And remember what I said about the six feet of snow and minus temperatures? Our horses are pretty tough too. Still, I don’t understand why they prefer to be outside of their shelters on days like this.


Around here, we take our Christmas gift wrapping very seriously.

Simple yet, creative is what works for me.

Xmas-tree-tagsSugared snow in the winter is a Canadian must. Careful! This stuff is addicting.


Getting a Christmas manicure with a loved one is a perfect way to spend time together.


And speaking of loved ones… some of our children are terrified of Santa…

Photo courtesy of Jaime Krausert.

Photo courtesy of Jaime Krausert.


…But have no hesitation when it comes to handling a reindeer with cloven hooves and antlers.



As horse people, you can bet we will haul through crazy storms and road conditions just to make it to the next cow practice. Because you know, Christmas is coming. But so are the January shows. And we wouldn’t want to miss a beat.



As horse professionals, Christmas decorations like these are plentiful on our trees:



Frost on barbed wire fences is beautiful.



And absolutely nothing beats a little ice skating on a frozen, outdoor pond.


The CP Holiday Train was a new custom we incorporated into our Christmas affairs this year. As a fund-raiser for food banks in Canada and the U.S., the CP Holiday Trains — one travels through Canada, the other in the U.S. — have covered over 100,000 miles and raised close to $9.5 million and 3.3 million pounds of food since the program started in 1999. And with a healthy donation to the food bank, we got to listen to Jim Cuddy, for free, from a box car turned into a live stage.


As Canadians, we are always mindful of others in need during this time. Young and old alike, ’tis the season for sharing, caring and joy.

More importantly than that however, this is a mindset we try to hard maintain throughout the year.


With only a few days left to go, I hope Christmas is looking as wonderful for all of you as well!