Calgary Stampede 10-Day Highlights

Photo By Kelsey Simpson

A beautiful horse rode in the RCMP Musical Ride Sunday afternoon. Photo By Kelsey Simpson

Calgary – There’s a reason why the Calgary Stampede’s posters usually depicts a horse, or horses. Simply put, the Stampede has its origins in the horse-powered agricultural world of over a century ago and it remains the world’s greatest celebration of the Western horse culture.

There has always been an unbreakable bond between cowboys and their horses. This year, in the annual Cowboy Up Challenge, the Extreme Cowboy Association’s annual big Canadian event, it was a cowgirl who won the big buckle. Kateri Cowley of Exshaw, AB, and her faithful steed Kokanee demonstrated the combination of trust and training that is the only formula for success in this most-challenging competition. Kateri, a former Stampede princess, was among the first competitors when extreme cowboy racing came to Canada and her victory came over a very strong group of riders, including some former World Champions.

The Working Cow Horse Classic is another test of the partnership between horse and rider. In the 15 classics to date, the name of John Swales of Millarville is listed as the winner of the Open Bridle Class an amazing ten times. This year Swales rode Maximum Echo, owned by Flo Houlton of Caroline, AB. Longview, AB.’s Clint Swales, John’s brother and perhaps his closest competitor, won Open Hackamore riding HR Chic Nic, owned by Bruce Bamford of Calgary. Another Calgarian, Suzon Schaal, rode her mare Genuine Brown Gal to the Non-Pro Bridle title for the fifth time.

When it comes to hard work for both horse and rider, there’s nothing quite like Team Cattle Penning. Finding three cows in a herd of thirty and then persuading them to move downfield and into a pen, when they don’t really want to go, makes for a real challenge, and some great entertainment. In the super-competitive 10 class, the Millet, AB father and daughter combination of Brian and Paige Cardinal teamed with Calgary’s Alex Hansen to take the buckle. In the 14 class, the multi-generational team of Pat Bolin from Stettler, AB, Lesley Marsh of Arrowwood, AB, and Josie Abraham of Carstairs, AB combined for the win. The top-ranked riders compete in the Open class, and it was Donna O’Reilly of Millarville, AB, Kirk Cottrell, also of Millarville, and Devin Antony of Calgary, AB, beating the best of the best. In the 7 class, Mason Cockx of Millarville, AB, Bruce Stewart of Canmore, AB and Mike Street of Penticton, BC, finished on top.

Stampede visitors wanting a little closer look at light horses were welcomed to Horse Haven presented by TAQA. There were 17 different breeds of light horse on hand, along with their passionate owners. There were also demonstrations of the capabilities of these remarkable animals in a Wild West Show format, presented four times during the Stampede.

Not too far from Horse Haven was Draft Horse Town, where the heavy horses hung out. There was more than horses there, however, as equipment from the age of horse-power was on display to illustrate the technology of days gone by. Each day in Draft Horse Town, Lady – the beautiful Belgian mare whose visage graced this year’s Stampede poster – made an appearance in Draft Horse Town to meet her public.

The Stampede’s oldest event, the Heavy Horse Show and World Championship 6-Horse Hitch happened for the 128th time. The Eaglesfield Percherons of Brian and Randi Thiel of Didsbury, AB won their fifth World Championship 6-Horse Hitch title as the musicians of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra played in the background. Y.E.S. Mystique, a Percheron belonging to Chad Munns of Garland, UT, won the class and was also Best of Show.

For those who like to watch the powerful heavy horses in action, the Heavy Horse Pull is a must-see. On Friday night, Randy Dodge of Albany, OR, drove Belgians Bud and Red to the Lightweight crown. The team is co-owned by Stan Grad of Airdrie, and was sponsored by Calmont Leasing. On Saturday night, it was another Dodge/Grad outfit winning the buckle. It took a pull of 11,500 pounds and 11 rounds of competition for Simon and Mike to take the win for New West Truck Centres. It was the same sponsor, but a different team that topped the nine-horse Heavyweight class. Martin Howard brought Joker and Sandy, the two biggest horses in the Stampede pull this year, down from Rocky Mountain House and took them home as the Stampede heavyweight champions on Sunday night after outpulling the outfit of Randy Dodge and Stan Grad by all of a foot.

For those who like their equine entertainment in smaller doses, there’s the Canadian National Miniature Horse Show and the miniature donkey exhibit. They may be little, but these little animals will really perform for their owners and never fail to win the hearts of visitors.

From cow ponies to draft horses, fans of horsemanship and horseflesh got a full helping of both at this year’s Stampede. The cowboys and teamsters have packed up for another year, but they’ll be back with their beautiful horses in less than 51 weeks.

Your Father’s Day Submissions

Happy Father’s Day to all you wonderful Dads out there! Earlier in the week I posted Father’s Day Giveaway! We have an awesome prize to give away but first, I need to share your submissions. We were looking for pictures of the Cowboy Dads in your crew. Your favorite pictures of your fathers or grandfathers, or even a male you believed to be a great example and a hero of the Western culture. And my heart seriously melted when I received some of these!

Check out what Angie Lang sent in:

Here is a twofer for ya. My dad and my hubby prepping my Lil girl for her horse show. Both are the best dad's I have ever known. 

“Here is my dad and my hubby prepping my Lil girl for her horse show. Both are the best dads I’ve ever known.”

Awe!! How adorable is that?

Jen Fleischhacker sent us this one:

This is my husband and our first child , he has shown her to be compassionate and to work for what you believe in !! She was almost 3 in this picture and the gelding I. This picture was a 2 yr old . Keith Fleischhacker is his name .

“This is my husband Keith Fleischhacker and our first child , he has shown her to be compassionate and to work for what you believe in!! She was almost 3 in this picture and the gelding in this picture was a 2-year-old.”

Melanie Copeland sent us this beautiful submission:

Just want to say what a great dad my husband (Craig Copeland) is to our 3 munchkins and part of that is always teaching them right from wrong, the way real cowboys behave and instilling in them a great sense of respect and love for the western lifestyle that we lead.  Thanks for the opportunity to enter this contest!

“Just want to say what a great dad my husband (Craig Copeland) is to our 3 munchkins. Part of that is always teaching them right from wrong, the way real cowboys behave and instilling in them a great sense of respect and love for the western lifestyle that we lead.”

This touching tribute comes from Sharon Gates:

Here is my photo for the contest. You did not say if the fathers must be living and of course, Dad is not but I love this photo and all that it says. (Check out the details…)  His name is Harold Irving Gates but everyone called him Slim. He was a calf roper and trick roper and later ranched with my mother in the Coteau Hills of Sask. Like most of us whose parents have passed, I wish I had listened more to his stories and asked more questions…

“Here is my photo for the contest. You did not say if the fathers must be living and of course, Dad is not. But I love this photo and all that it says. His name is Harold Irving Gates but everyone called him Slim. He was a calf roper and trick roper and later ranched with my mother in the Coteau Hills of Saskatchewan. Like most of us whose parents have passed, I wish I had listened more to his stories and asked more questions…”

Kelly Bell sent in this great shot of a father / son High Five:

"I love this photo captured at the Reining Alberta Spring Classic this past weekend. Our son, Blade (5), had just completed his very first short stirrup class and Daddy (Lachlan) gave him a big High 5 for a job well done."

“I love this photo captured at the Reining Alberta Spring Classic this past weekend. Our son, Blade (5), had just completed his very first short stirrup class and Daddy (Lachlan) gave him a big High 5 for a job well done.”

Kristen emailed us this excellent picture of her husband multi-tasking:

This is my husband Boyd Stuart with our two year old daughter at a branding this spring. He loves sharing the western lifestyle with our kids.

“This is my husband Boyd Stuart with our two year old daughter at a branding this spring. He loves sharing the western lifestyle with our kids.”

Brad Dickson sent in a perfect note:

My Dad taught me everything I know about horses

“My Dad taught me everything I know about horses.”

All the way from Hanley, SK, here is a beautiful letter from Teri Clearwater:

"This is a picture of my husband Dale Clearwater, whom I think is the best dad ever! (Maybe I am bias!) Most mornings Dale gets up and goes out to work before the boys wake up, but he is always sure to come in before Caleb gets on the school bus to do morning devotionals with the boys. This one particular morning was beautiful outside so they decided to do their devotionals on the front sidewalk. I think this picture says so many things, but most importantly I love the fact that Dale places his family as priority number 1."

“This is a picture of my husband Dale Clearwater, whom I think is the best dad ever! (Maybe I am bias!) Most mornings Dale gets up and goes out to work before the boys wake up, but he is always sure to come in before Caleb gets on the school bus to do morning devotionals with the boys. This one particular morning was beautiful outside so they decided to do their devotionals on the front sidewalk. I think this picture says so many things, but most importantly I love the fact that Dale places his family as priority number 1.”

This great shot comes from Karly Robeson:

My husband Darren and his youngest son, Elias with my horse "Elijah"

“My husband Darren and his youngest son, Elias with my horse Elijah.”

This one comes to us from Kristin York:

Here is a pic of my dad, riding his favorite horse Tanner... Tanner has passed on to greener pastures, but a nice bit like this might inspire my dad to look for his next riding partner!

“Here is a pic of my dad, riding his favorite horse Tanner… Tanner has passed on to greener pastures, but a nice bit like this might inspire my dad to look for his next riding partner!”

And this picture from Farrah McArthur is darling:

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“No matter how much work he has to do or how many horses he still has left to ride Cody always finds time for his children.”

This next one is an adorable pic from Amber Lobert:

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Erin Durrell emailed this wonderful vintage shot:

This is my dad Brian Durrell and I (about a yr old) on his home raised mare Baby Horse. She was from some very old QH lines and her registered name was April Lauder. Baby Horse became my first horse And I gymkhana, chased cows and junior rodeo'd on her until she was retired to raise babies. We are still riding her sons and granddaughters on the ranch and in the rodeo arena. Dad is honestly the hardest working man I know and everything he has done is for his children. (Myself, sister Keely and brother Iaian) We are a multi generational ranch family in BC and own the Wineglass Ranch in Riske Creek BC.

“This is my dad Brian Durrell and I (about a year old) on his home raised mare Baby Horse. She was from some very old QH lines and her registered name was April Lauder. Baby Horse became my first horse and I used her to gymkhana, chased cows and junior rodeo’d on her until she was retired to raise babies. We are still riding her sons and granddaughters on the ranch and in the rodeo arena. Dad is honestly the hardest working man I know and everything he has done is for his children. (Myself, sister Keely and brother Iaian) We are a multi generational ranch family in BC and own the Wineglass Ranch in Riske Creek BC.”

Gail Johnson submitted this one with love:

“Grampa Al with grandson Maddox getting to know “Poke.” Poke has since gone on to greener pastures, but while he was with us, Maddox considered Poke his horse. Grampa Al had a special relationship with Poke and passed that on to his Grandson Maddox.”

From Cranbrook, BC, Jenna Beckley sent us this one:

Because he's the centre of our whole world. Tyler is the kindest, most involved, loving father.

Because he’s the centre of our whole world. Tyler is the kindest, most involved, loving father.

Pauline Watson told us the story of her father:

Here a picture of Nick Friesen, my Dad, and I when we lived at the Matador pasture near Beechy, Sk. He was a great horseman and one of the last of the traveling horseman. He was also a wonderful artist and gentle of spirit. I miss him and all the stories he used to tell, 99% of which were about horses and his experiences with them.

Here a picture of Nick Friesen, my Dad, and I when we lived at the Matador pasture near Beechy, Sk. He was a great horseman and one of the last of the traveling horseman. He was also a wonderful artist and gentle of spirit. I miss him and all the stories he used to tell, 99% of which were about horses and his experiences with them.

Thank-you to all who entered! And a big thank-you to all the great Dads out there! Hope you have a wonderful day.

The winner of the Jeremiah Watt bit (compliments of our friends at K&K Livestock), and valued at $120 is Erin Durrell. Erin please email us at editorial@westernhorsereview.com to arrange to claim your prize!

Have a great day everybody <smile>

May In Photos

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May was an awesome month. With the promise of warmer weather on the way, our family took to the spring days like bears thankful to be out of hibernation.

May was also an absolute whirlwind. It began with a clinic hosted by my husband and at our ranch with Teddy Robinson, a legendary working cow horse World Champion. A number of people took Ted’s instruction in over the three-day period to better their boxing and fence skills. My house started (somewhat) clean. I gave up on Day 3.

I also learned how truly expensive cattle are right now.

Helga-&-Goose

The kids and I got a chance to meet 2014 Road to the Horse World Champion Jimmy Anderson’s new partner, “Smoky.” Thanks Dainya Sapergia Western Lifestyle Photography for snapping this shot!

Kids-&-I-With-Jim-Anderson

Then our dear friends, the Hickey family, took us on an impromptu tour of Calgary’s newest fire station. Pictured below is Tyler, Baby Saydee and Jen Hickey. Tyler serves on the Calgary Fire Department and you might also recognize Jen as one of the Santangelos – the family who works tirelessly nearly every weekend of the year to host western competition events at their Silver Slate Arena.

My kids had a brilliant chance to sit in a fire truck, push alarm buttons, hold a fire hose… you name it. We had a great time!

Hickey-Family

We took the kids to an evening performance of Odysseo and they loved every minute of it. With so much action, music and horses, this show by Cavalia is an absolute feast for the eyes. Our twins were clapping and squealing almost entirely to the end. And they loved the VIP treatment which included cookies and ice cream during intermission. (So did the Big Kids, grin).

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May brought us the last foal of our foaling season. Healthy and bay, this one was a filly. Thanks to Natalie Jackman of have-dog.com for this shot.

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Tired of losing precious hay bales to the elements, we started the excavating / building process on a new hay shed. More to come on this one.

Excavating-(WEB)

Hubby put together some presents Grandma bought the twins a while ago, that have been sitting in the garage until the kids were old enough. Let me tell you… having two 3-year-olds who drive is enough to make you lose all your hair. And it’s quite the science experiment!

As you can see, our little man is a John Deere fan. He has taken to driving like a duck to water.

Our little girl, on the other hand, can often be spotted looking down at the radio.

Hope it’s not like that when she’s 16!

Gators-(WEB)

And finally, May ended for us with a bang. Tired of the long winter we decided to venture out on a vacation. As many of you with livestock may know, it’s hard enough to leave your property and horses for horse shows, let alone a vacation. You must put all of your trust and the care of your animals in the hands of someone else, take a deep breath and actually step away to make a vacation happen.

Because of these reasons (and the fact that we were busy raising two little babies), it’s been several years since our last one. My hubby drug his heels a bit and my kids battled a virus and an ear infection on the departure, but we finally did it!

The Webster family vacation 2014 took place at Atlantis in the Bahamas. Sugar white sands, endless swimming pools, turtles, sharks (in tanks), piña coladas. Life is good :)

Atlantis

By a chance meeting, we even ran into the rock group Paramore in our hotel lobby.

Obviously my kids don’t know who Hayley Williams is just yet, but they will. Because Mommy is a big fan.

Hayley-(Paramore)-WEB

Atlantis features so much. Activities outdoors, kiddie pools, up-close-and-personal encounters with sharks, dolphins, stingrays, pottery classes, fine dining, make your own stuffed animal adventures, movies under the stars, or the chance to just be a family again… That’s what we found – and that’s what we took from Atlantis.

Walking-bridge

May also held some other great thrills for us as well, but those are things I can’t share with you just yet – not until a future issue of Western Horse Review! Stay tuned to My Stable Life!!

The Year of the Horse has been shaping up nicely. I hope May was wonderful for you too!

Canada’s largest 4-H event at Stampede Park

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It’s the largest 4H gathering in Canada, and it’s coming to Stampede Park on May 30 to June 1. The Calgary Stampede welcomes more than 600 young participants to 4-H on Parade, presented by Cervus Equipment, the crowning event of the year, representing months of effort and preparation for members to display their projects and talents.

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4H provides young leaders with experience and mentorship in a broad spectrum of agricultural and life skills. The more than 800 projects will be shown, including farm animals such as cattle, sheep, horses, canine and life skills, plus life skill projects that range from archery, welding, photography and more. This year’s 4H on Parade features archery demonstrations on Friday and Saturday afternoons, a canine first aid clinic Saturday morning and the unique Cleaver Kids Program held Saturday afternoon.

Cleaver Kids is the fastest growing program at 4-H on Parade, growing annually to nearly 50 participants this year. This program is designed to get children under the age of nine excited about 4-H by interacting with animals and participating in life skills activities.

Auctions are expected to draw great crowds on Sunday at 4-H on Parade with exciting live auctions of the sheep and steer projects. This sale gives buyers a unique opportunity to buy livestock directly from their sellers, while also supporting Alberta’s youth who put their hard work into raising the animals.

Starting Sunday at 11 a.m., the live auction leads off with the auctioning of a charity lamb and steer. Clubs take turns raising these projects each year, and auctioning off the animals to raise funds for a charity of the club’s choice. This year the charity auction projects are donated by Foothills Sheep and the Irricana Beef and Multi Club. The proceeds will go to the Ronald MacDonald House in southern Alberta.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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

Happy Mother’s Day to all you wonderful ladies out there! If you’ve been following along to My Stable Life this week, you’ll know that because today is a special day, I have a big announcement to make – the winner of 2 tickets to Odysseo!

But first, in honor of today I have a few foal pictures I’d love to share with you, snapped by my friend Natalie Jackman of Have Dog Photography.

I hope all you Mother’s out there get a chance for some time in the sun with your kidlets. Perhaps you can delight in some flowers as well!

Photo by Natalie Jackman

Maybe your kids will take a nap, offering you the chance at some precious “Mommy Time.”

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Since this is what life as a Mother looks like for me…

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I awoke to the squeal of a smoke detector this morning. That was quickly followed by the beckon of a fire truck’s siren at my front door. I’m sure y’all with kids can relate…?

If not, you can most certainly connect to this. The constant, Mad-Dash to here and there:

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Or there are days when you wanna pull your hair out, or let it down. Whichever comes first:

Mane-flying

And then there are the days that look like this:

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Or better yet, this:

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And while we all know not every moment is as tranquil as this:

Rosey-and-Charley

Whenever and wherever kids are concerned, hilarity usually ensues.

Laughing

“Being a full-time mother is one of the highest-salaried jobs … since the payment is pure love.” — Mildred B. Vermont

Together

Happy Mother’s Day! And oh yeah, the winner of 2 tickets to Odysseo? Congratulations Melissa Cockle! You will be seeing the fabulous 6D show in Calgary! Please contact editorial@westernhorsereview.com for details on receiving your prize.

6 Tips for Road Trippin’ With Kids

On the road with kids and horses.

On the road with kids and horses.

There are times when it necessary to travel by vehicle, long distances with children. Horse shows are one such occasion. That’s when we don’t mind the hundreds of “pit stops” and excess time it takes to get to a destination – because a horse show is at the end of it <grin>.

It is wearing, tiresome, exhausting… we all struggle with the long hours in a vehicle and road trips are considerably harder on young children. But honestly, road trippin’ is not that dissimilar from real life. The only real difference is, you get in a vehicle, the kids eat snacks, play little games, fuss, cry, need their diapers changed, take naps, watch movies – and several hours later you emerge somewhere far from home.

My viewpoint on it? It’s exciting to take your family on an adventure!

But before I continue – Mother’s Day is right around the corner. Therefore, My Stable Life is offering a grand giveaway of 2 tickets to see Odysseo in Calgary! For your chance to win, be sure to check it out at: Mother’s Day Giveaway

Okay, so now back to today’s blog – With several horse shows now under my belt with the kidlets in tow, here are my favorite tips for hitting the highway:

J-And-kidlets

My friend Jamea, her daughter and our twins offloading the horses for the night.

1. Travel with Other Parents with Kids

I cannot tell you how exciting is for my kids to travel with other horse show-goers with children! Each day, they look forward to getting out at the road stop to see their little friends. They completely understand why your kids are full of energy and wanting to run around the restaurant when you stop. Your fellow traveling parents likely also don’t mind waiting the extra few minutes it takes to get your kids all rounded up and back into the vehicle again. And the other added bonus is that few more sets of watchful eyes is extremely helpful when you’re trying to offload horses from the trailer and keep your kidlets safe.

Plus, you can laugh and cry together when you do finally make it to the horse show.

 

Lone-Star

2. Plan to Overnight Somewhere Each Day

I know many people who prefer to continue driving until they reach the horse show destination. Depending on how far away your show is, will determine if you should find places to overnight along the way. My recommendation? Try to spend only 8 hours – 10 at the very most – in the vehicle each day. This will most certainly make for added costs along the way and add days (not hours) to the entire duration of your trip. However, it’s essential to have time for diaper changes, clothing changes, meals, exercise, and the occasional temper tantrum along the way. And with your horses waiting patiently for all this to happen on the trailer, it’s nice for them to be able to overnight in a stall of a previously arranged Bed, Bale & Breakfast. This takes planning so be sure to divide your trip up the best you can before you head out and make your reservation phone calls ahead of your departure.

 

Chart-of-Stuff

3. What to Bring

There are several things I never leave home without when attending horse shows. These include:

Carhartt Overalls – Absolute necessities, in my opinion. You can just throw them on over your kids’ outfits and when they decide to lay in the warm-up ring dirt to create play roads or train tracks, etc., the dirt damage will be minimal. Plus, they may also save you from incredibly soiled laundry, which is sometimes difficult to tough to take care of in a hotel. (Unless, you have the luxury of a washer and dryer in your living quarters, of course!) I myself, prefer the overalls.

Snack Mix – How many times do you get the munchies on a road trip…? Plus, there’s also the chance you will be passing through a city or town during off hours, and there is no open restaurant to be found. Or the parking lot is not conducive to horse trailers. You name it, there are many reasons why you need to pack snacks to feed your family in the vehicle.

Children’s Advil – In the event of an ear infection, a finger slammed in a hotel shower door, a fever… (all of which have affected our family at one time or another on the road). Children’s Advil is a must-have, highway essential. I am not a doctor so please see my inserted disclaimer here —> Read all labels and directions carefully for your individual child and circumstances.

Water in Childproof containers – Preventing spills and dehydration! Kid-approved cups are essential on the road.

Kids Banz sunglasses – These sunglasses won’t get lost when the kids are out running and playing. Check out: banzworld.com

Table & Chairs – A pint-sized fold-up table and chairs come in really handily at your show stalls.

John Deer tractor toys – Outdoor play tractors with buckets and shovels are ideal toys to keep kids occupied in the warm-up ring.

Fruit Squeeze Pouches – The perfect traveling food. They don’t need to be refrigerated (although I wouldn’t leave them in extreme heat either), and they offer an “almost” mess-free, healthy snack when your kidlets are in between meals.

EZ Bed Air Mattresses – These air mattresses are like the typical models, but where they differ is in the insulated sleeping bags that are included and equipped with a fitted, elastic slip cover. Hence, the sleeping bad and air mattress become one! Little tykes stay pretty securely on top while they sleep.  You never know when you might end up in a hotel room with only one bed – for those times, these EZ beds are perfect!

4. Prepare at Home Beforehand

Fresh Veggies & Fruits – Your best shot at getting healthy foods into your family is to prepare snacks the night before you head out and pack them into a cooler. I know it’s not entirely environmentally-friendly, but I like to take plastic cups and put veggie dip in the bottom, then pack each one with a variety of fresh veggies on top. Add a layer of Saran-wrap above and pack them in a travel cooler. Then once the veggies are eaten, the cups are disposable and you don’t have to worry about a plastic container to wash later on at the hotel. The challenge will be to find fresh fruits and veggies as your road trip progresses.

Kid-Friendly Lozenge Lollipops – If you have young children like me, you’ll know that finding a cure for sore throats is impossible. Hard candy throat lozenges are out of the question for kids who may swallow them accidentally. And no company seems to want to make a medicinal sore throat product for any children under the age of 6. However, I have found an option that has worked for us (both at home and on the road). Now a little bit of a disclaimer here – a lollipop can still present a choking danger for young kids. Should you choose this idea with your kids, do so with caution and continually monitor your kids as they eat one.

You will need a pack of Strepsils children’s lozenges, several lollipop sticks, wax paper, and a frying pan. Place 4-6 Strepsils into your frying pan, spaced far apart. Using the heat from a stove burner, melt each lozenge down to a liquid. Once they are each in a liquid-form, use a plastic spoon to scoop them out of the frying pan and overtop of the ends your lollipop sticks (which you have space widely apart from each other on the wax paper.) Allow them to cool by carefully placing the entire wax paper into your fridge on a flat surface. Once the lollipops have all cooled, they will have hardened and you can pack them up in baggies to along in your travel cooler. Should your children become ill along the way, you’ll have a nice stash of sore throat lozenges on sticks to use.

Teri Clearwater’s Homemade Granola Bars – The cure for the highway junkfood habit! Check the recipe out at: Teri Clearwater’s Homemade Granola Bars. These delicious treats are healthy and full of energy.

Mobile-office

5. Be Flexible

When traveling with horses and kids, somethings almost always comes up. It’s possible to pick up a nail in a tire, go the wrong direction, hit bad weather or sleep in one morning following a late check-in the night before. Go with the flow and try not to get too upset if your plans become slightly derailed. My husband and I made a trip to Texas (direct from Canada) earlier this year – a journey that in best case scenario should require 30 hours of driving time in a vehicle. We thought we could do it 3 days. With 2 little kids and 3 horses, it took us 4. Luckily, we had set out on our journey early enough that we had the fourth day available to us (meaning, we weren’t in danger of missing any of our show classes). Conversely, if you plan on arriving at your destination the day before you’re set to show, you may be in danger of missing your class if things don’t go well on the road.

The other thing we learned was, sometimes a trip plotted out on paper doesn’t actually work in real life. As we got into our third day of travel to Texas, the place we had planned to overnight at became too much distance to cover as day turned to night and we all got restless. In my line of work, I always have a computer nearby with access to the internet. Even on the highway. Of course iPhones have the ability to “Hotspot” an internet connection to a computer as well. A phone with an internet package works well for Googling things on the go too.

In the event you won’t make it to a previously arranged overnight spot, Horse Trip is a great web resource for finding Bed, Bale & Breakfasts on the road.

Horse Motels is another brilliant website.

Just know however, that if you can’t make it to a previously arranged overnight horse motel, common courtesy goes a long ways. “No shows” are one the industry’s biggest complaints. Most horse motels don’t require a deposit but if you make a reservation and don’t show up and don’t call to cancel, you jeopardize the horse motel system in general. Generally, horse motels are people’s private property and they are offering a service to let travelers keep their horses at their home. Please be considerate enough to cancel a reservation if your plans change. And if you have paid a non-refundable deposit, know that it will be helping a horse motel stay in business in the event  you don’t make it there.

Croc-(Web)

FORT WORTH ZOO. Yes, this is a real Crocodile. In actuality, it probably is only 2 feet away from our kids but there is a very thick piece of glass in between them.

6. Plan for a Day Away From the Show

When you do finally make it to the horse show, plan to take a day away from the arenas to take in a local attraction or two. My kids love horse shows but they get tired of the dust and hanging out in the barns too. A day away from the horse show to take in a zoo, or Lego Land, or some other kid-approved venue is part of the fun of being on a trip. And it allows your family to feel a little bit like you’re on vacation :)

Mother’s Day Giveaway

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Today’s post is short and sweet and dedicated to my Mom. Because it was she who has fully believed in me from the very beginning. My mom was the one gave me the courage to fly towards a vocation with horses. She has been by my side countless numbers of times for a hug, a shoulder to cry on and a kind, inspiring word. Without my mom, I would have never had the courage to try.

I’m sure y’all have some amazing mothers too, so if you tell me about them, I promise I’ll have a pretty cool prize package for you at the end of this blog.

But in the meantime, here are a few other things I’m totally digging at the moment:

• Incubators were life-saving necessities for my premature babies, but for newborns without access, there’s Embrace. For 1% of the cost of a standard incubator, it’s already saved over 50,000 babies from hypothermia. Embrace is currently running a Mother’s Day campaign — make a donation in honor of your mom and save another mom’s new baby.

• Chardon-neigh? Caber-neigh?  With a Horse’s Glass in hand, you’re sure to be a hit at the next barn party, horse show, or the wine o’ clock with your fellow horse lover.

Maple Apple Bacon Waffles. A perfect Mother’s Day recipe. Let me reiterate – Maple. Apple. Bacon. Waffles. Need I say more?

• From visits to senior homes to the children of Sandy Hook Elementary School, the horses of Gentle Carousel  bring their love to where it is needed most.

• It may be better than any other grooming tool on the market for removing heavy winter coats. SleekEZ is a perfectly, unique Mother’s Day present for the lady who prefers horse equipment over flowers.

• I’m totally swooning over these adorable photos of Princess Z – Zenyatta’s first filly.

• Guns N Roses “Sweet Child O’ Mine” retooled as 1920 New Orleans Jazz.

Lunch Punches make food seriously fun. I’ve even been known to make a cute sandwich for myself here and there.

• Carla Webb of Abbotsford, B.C., was sworn in as Police Constable 1777 and walked Vancouver’s city beat for 13 years. Now fronting her Empowered Through Horses program, Webb helps young girls deal with serious issues ranging from bullies, to low self-confidence and a myriad of troubles in between. Webb may be one of Canada’s best kept secrets – and the kind of woman you want your daughter to meet.

• Ride, travel, dance in beautiful boots designed with hidden pockets for your cell phone, passport and more. Elizabeth Anne Shoes was recently on Dragon’s Den and I am excited to see the outcome!

Odysseo. We will be going to this amazing production for the second time this month. With Imax screens and an abundance of equine talent, this is an event you don’t want to miss!

And speaking of Odysseo…. I have 2 tickets to give away to the event in Calgary, to one lucky winner. Simply enter into the comments below, a note about how your Mom helped you pursue your horse dreams. Or if you are a “horsey” Mom yourself, perhaps you want to tell us what gift you’d love to receive for Mother’s Day! Either way, we will be doing a random drawing of all the comments submitted near the end of the week. Good luck!

4weekscavalia

 

 

 

 

Horse Showing With Kids

Cartoon by Dave Elston.

Cartoon by Dave Elston.

Bring your family along with you on the journey. Don’t feel like you’re somehow shortchanging them. They’re going to have a different experience than other kids do, but it’s not necessarily a lesser experience. You have to stop judging yourself by other people’s standards. Let go of the guilt and embrace the messiness of what you’re doing.” – Arlene Dickinson

I came across this quote in an article recently, stated by my favorite Dragon.

And I thought, “Wow! I can’t believe how applicable this quote is to being a horse show mom!”

For the purpose of this blog, by “horse show mom,” I’m not referring to the super-heroines who haul their kids to 4H and Pony Club and various other shows on the weekends. Toting grooming supplies, and helmets, and lawn chairs, and kids and their ponies to the competition ring. You ladies, are an entirely different group of super humans and my hat goes off to you! I’m just not quite there yet because my children are only 3.

So by “horse show moms” I’m referring to the ladies who – with children in tow – still get themselves out to the show arena in pursuit of their various disciplines and goals.

When my husband first approached me with the idea of getting back to the show pen last year, I thought he was crazy. I’d been out of the scene for so long, I couldn’t even remember what my saddle felt like. And then, I was overtaken by a hint of excitement.

How wonderful it would be to get my body back in shape after the hiatus of having children! It had been three years since I last showed competitively but how fabulous it would feel to once again run down for a sliding stop – that feeling comparable to a freight train melting into the ground at a breakneck speed… And the exhilaration of putting my mount face to face with a cow and mirroring its every move with great velocity. Reining. Cow Horse. Whatever. It would be so great to ride again!

Soon after, however,  those excited feelings were quickly replaced by anxiety and guilt.

“How can I possibly drag our children to horse shows, for me?” I thought. “They wouldn’t enjoy one minute of it…”

It’s one thing to go watch their Daddy at shows – but it would quite another for me, the Mother, to be in the arena this time as well. Especially since I would be out riding my horse and not including either of our twins in my fun. They love to ride horses! But our kids would have to wait on the sidelines until I was finished. There would likely be tears.

What if someone had a diaper that needed to be changed?

What if they ran to play under the bleachers?

What if they came back with gum… from under the bleachers??

Since my husband and I don’t have the luxury of a nanny and babysitters have been somewhat hard to secure (especially during shows), we would have to do things the old fashioned way. We’d have to take our kids with us and work together to get it done. And since we don’t own living quarters AND my hubby would also be coaching several clients during the same shows I would be riding in, we’d have to plan ahead, pack several key items, and basically just be prepared to take whatever the horse show days handed to us, in stride.

If I was serious about getting on a horse again, there would be no doubt – it would be difficult. But not impossible.

Me-and-B-(web)

After a year of showing again, there are several things I’ve learned. They go something like this:

• If you’ve got young children – from the toys, to the diaper bags, to the changes of clothes necessary when your kids become little dirt-balls from playing in an arena corner – lots of “stuff” must accompany you to the show arena. Get used to it. It is what is and although some people might give you a raised eyebrow here or there, having a content child on the sidelines is extremely helpful when you are trying to show. You likely have enough emotion to deal with in terms of show nerves.

• Show concessions get old really fast, so a cooler packed full of healthy foods that your kids are used to eating goes a long way.

• The long nights and early mornings in the barn sometimes make for sick kids. It happens. And when you’re out of the comfort zone of your house, having a family affected by the flu or something else is heartbreaking. Travel insurance (for when attending shows outside of Canada) is a must.  Children’s Advil, Polysporin, band-aids, a thermometer and soft, comforting blankets are additional don’t-leave-home-without items.

• There are so many great people involved in western performance horse sports that if you’re struggling, either with a kid, a horse, a pattern… someone will likely step up and help you. Heck, I’ve even had some ladies change a diaper, without so much as a word from me. If someone offers you help, take it.

How do you fit a set of twins on a horse?

How do you fit a set of twins on a horse?

When I made the decision to enter the show pen last year, I thought I was embarking on a fool’s mission. So did others, I know. Last year was a journey that saw Clay and I in shows spanning two provinces, working long hours, and climaxing with an intense trip to Texas. But in the end, I was so completely proud of what we had accomplished and the fact that we had done it as a family.

Stay tuned to My Stable Life! In honor of Mother’s Day this month, I will return with more installments of Horse Showing With Kids, with tips on what to pack, ideas for handling long road trips and advice from my trainer and (tor)mentor husband <grin> for mental focus in the pen.

Easter at Twin Corazones Ranch

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Easter is a special time of year, especially for children. I remember the joy of the season when I was young and how special my mother made the occasion (think, four-hour long egg hunts!) Not sure I’m gonna go to that extent with my children, lol! But I’m excited that this is the first year our twins can really get into the thrill of an egg hunt and the notion of a magical rabbit that leaves treats for good girls and boys. Plus, the egg decorating is something that absolutely delights them. We’ve been coloring eggs for a week already.

egg-dye

From the brightly colored dyes to the endless possibilities of egg creations, there are so many great creative projects for Easter decorating! We picked up a kit that transformed colored eggs into baby chicks this year.

First we dyed the eggs as normal.

Coloring-the-eggs

Then we added tiny “collars” (stickers from the kits) to the tops of each egg.

Hatching-baby-chicks

Then we glued pom-poms on for heads, eyes, beaks and legs. The end result was adorable!

My daughter kept sneaking into the fridge to grab the “chicks” to nurture them, away from the refrigerator.

(You know how Easter eggs often tend to become Deviled-egg tapas? I’m not sure these hard boiled suckers should end up there…)

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I love this time of year. With a brand new foal out in the pasture as of yesterday, it feels like Spring has possibly arrived. That notion alone makes me happy. Very happy!

You know – until the snow they’ve predicted for tonight hits.

Ninja

Another aspect I’m truly psyched for this weekend is the fact that I will be skipping over the traditional chocolate and candy basket for the kids this year. I discovered another idea that will let the kids unleash their inner gardeners. And potentially keep them away from Mommy’s main garden this spring – because they’ll have their own flowers to tend to instead!

Garden-basket

And yeah, maybe some candy made its way into the baskets. But honestly what is Easter without a few chocolate eggs, really?

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A couple of plants, a gardener’s trowel, a kid-sized watering can, gloves, a stuffed bunny and some Sweet Pea seeds – I can’t wait until my twins each receive one of these on Easter morning!

Happy Easter everyone!