Young Guns – Jaycee Spangler

In the May/June issue of Western Horse Review, we searched out some of the most accomplished and influential youth in the western horse industry and compiled our first-ever Young Guns – Top 25 Youth Under 25. We came up with six categories: Ambassadors, Artisans, Entertainers, Competitive, Entrepreneurs and Science. From self-discipline to unwavering focus, we were reminded that the dreams often fostered in young minds and hearts can translate to adulthood, and that good old fashioned determination can still achieve what many think is impossible. We loved the true western code of ethic each of our top 25 exude.

It evolved into such an inspiring piece we decided to recreate it online, with the fuller interviews and stories of each of our deserving Top 25. Look for them here at Screen Doors & Saddles over the next six months, as I’ll reveal one every week or so!

Spangler stays active in team penning both on a horse’s back and as a director for the Chinook Team Penning Association.

Jaycee Spangler

(Nominated for Ambassadors)
Age: 22
High River, Alberta

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Penned by Albert Einstein, this is one of Jaycee Spangler’s favorite quotes. 

“I believe that if you can imagine a dream and you have the guts to try to obtain it, then nothing can stand in your way,” says the young High River native. 

Spangler is a self-professed hardworking farm-girl. Her father is a grain farmer and her mother was well-known and well-loved horse trainer, Julie Aitken. Sadly, Aitken lost her battle with cancer several years ago. But not before she could impart many important lessons upon her daughter.

“My mother remains as one of my favorite inspirational mentors,” says Spangler.

“From my parents, I learned the value of hard work at an early age. I am a country girl, ready to take any chance I can dream of.” 

Spangler is currently obtaining a management degree with a major in accounting at the University of Lethbridge. She hopes to find herself in an accounting position within the oil and gas sector in the Calgary area when she’s graduated. 

Prior to post-secondary, Spangler admits she struggled with school and, “…never felt successful in my education.”

Luckily, her love for horses and team penning has carried her great distances. Last fall, Spangler had the opportunity to ride with her dad at the regional finals of the Chinook Team Penning Association.

“We won the class,” she tells excitedly. “The pride in my dad’s face and the happiness he carried made me feel so proud. I (also) had the amazing opportunity of riding at the 100th anniversary of the Calgary Stampede for team cattle penning.”

Spangler is the youngest member to sit on the board of directors as a volunteer for the Chinook Team Cattle Penning Association. In her spare time, she likes to be outdoors, read and pen a fantasy novel she has in the works.

She likes to put her imagination to good use.

~ Jennifer Webster

Does it Really Matter?

My husband and I often refer to our twins as our “two little blenders with the lids removed…” It’s the affectionate moniker we jokingly use when our toddlers are acting like, well, toddlers.

This time in our lives has proven to be challenging. Our kids can easily tear three rooms in our house apart before I can even get a handle on one. While my son thinks it’s great fun to pull out the newly-folded laundry I have sitting neatly in a basket in the kitchen (ready to be put away), my daughter is having a great time swirling her hand in the guest bathroom toilet… Meanwhile, my house looks like a tornado has hit it and there is a mountain of laundry sitting on the corner couch.

(Dear Lord – please make the laundry go away!!)

I feel lucky on the days when I’ve actually gotten myself into proper clothes earlier than 2:00 pm in the afternoon and I’ve had at least one decent meal.

I feel like I run from one end of the house to the other. All. Day. Long. And when people ask me what I did on a particular day, I think, “Um, what did I do??”

Well, I changed diapers. I made a castle out of Lego. I cooked food (well, sometimes it’s more like I burnt food). I bounced two balls simultaneously against the wall. I broke up squabbles between two two-year-olds. I played with toy tractors and dancing dolls and made a funny little skit with a puppet. And I did a happy dance when nap time arrived.

But seriously, what did you do today Jenn? What did you accomplish?

Recently I found myself agitated at the front door while I waited for our daughter to put her shoes on. I had just finished helping her twin brother with his runners and we were almost ready to go out the door to play in the sun and visit the horses – save for Baby Girl’s slow pace.

“Let me help you…” I told her.

To which she declined with the most definitive “Uh UH!” a toddler can muster.

Frustrated, I sat there and watched her. Placing one tiny red cowboy boot, after the other. On the wrong foot.

“Geez, we’re never gonna get outside…!” The voices screamed inside my head. It had already taken me nearly 25 minutes to get my twins in clean socks and barn-appropriate pants. Neither of them had shirts that matched their corresponding outfits, but hey, at least they had shirts…

I stared at her feet. Adorned with two little, red leather boots, pointing outwards. Like duck flippers.

Baby Girl sat there. Beaming proudly at me with a look that declared, “Okay Mom, I’m ready to go outside!”

I felt like crying. I was going to have to remove her boots, place them on the correct feet and whoosh her out the door while she wept over the fact that I had done so.

Revelation. That moment of frustration is precisely when it hit me: Did it really matter that my two-year-old daughter was wearing her boots on the wrong feet??

She just put them on herself. BY HERSELF!

Putting on her own shoes is a skill she’s been trying to master for some time now. Even if she was wearing a right boot on the left foot and vice versa, that wasn’t a crime – and it shouldn’t be met by my annoyance. I should be heralding this moment as a big accomplishment!

It had taken her some time to learn how to pull her own boots on. It was just going to take more time to teach her which foot went in the respective boot.

So what, if we go outside today with her boots on the wrong feet!

And that’s precisely what we did.

*******************
I’m confident that eventually, my children will learn how to put their boots on properly. Just like they learned to drink out of cups. Just like they will also learn how to use the potty. And wash their hands. And dress themselves. Saddle their own horses. Get to school on time. Drive cars…

Yes, it matters that we as parents teach them right from wrong.

(No, Baby Girl you cannot bite your brother! No, Little Man – fly swatters are not for use on your sister…)

Yes, it matters that we are there to wipe the dust off when they fall.

Yes, it matters that we as parents learn how to recognize when they are sick, or hungry or simply need a hug.

Yes, it matters that we properly educate them and prepare them for the world.

And yes, it matters that we take the time to play, swim and run with our children.

It also matters that I spend much of my time changing diapers and preparing food and doing laundry. Those tedious chores that we must perform as parental duties… I have to stop looking at them as the tasks that are weighing me down. Each and every day I am accomplishing something. A BIG something. Children are so impressionable. They are like perfectly delicate flowers, blank canvases and spirited foals all at the same time. Every move I make is analyzed by my children. They absorb it all.

Changing diapers is not a waste of time. But harboring resentment over the time it takes to get it done, is.

It may have taken me a little while but I realize now that what really matters is that we, as parents, figure out what really matters.

Young Guns – Cait McLean

In the May/June issue of Western Horse Review, we searched out some of the most accomplished and influential youth in the western horse industry and compiled our first-ever Young Guns – Top 25 Youth Under 25. We came up with six categories: Ambassadors, Artisans, Entertainers, Competitive, Entrepreneurs and Science. From self-discipline to unwavering focus, we were reminded that the dreams often fostered in young minds and hearts can translate to adulthood, and that good old fashioned determination can still achieve what many think is impossible. We loved the true western code of ethic each of our top 25 exude.

It evolved into such an inspiring piece we decided to recreate it online, with the fuller interviews and stories of each of our deserving Top 25. Look for them here at Screen Doors & Saddles over the next six months, as I’ll reveal one every week or so!

Cait’s path to her new career in design has been less than direct, but she wouldn’t change a moment.

Cait McLean

(Nominated for Artisans)
Age: 24
Longview, Alberta

Little did the brown haired, ranch raised girl know that her childhood nickname ‘Cattle Cait’ would not only stick with her well into her twenties, but would be the namesake of a burgeoning leather business.

“I grew up on the family ranch southwest of High River, AB. As kids, my brothers and I used to dream about leaving the ranch and living in town, of all things! My father’s nickname for me was Cattle Cait, and that didn’t help much either,” she remembers fondly. “Little did we realize that the time spent with the horses, dogs and cattle were some of the best years of our life.”

Despite growing up in the 4H ranks and being immersed in the world of horses, ponies and ranching, McLean did find her way into the city. But things don’t always turn out the way we plan.

“I went to school to study broadcast journalism because I wanted to be a news anchor. I was really fortunate to graduate the program and land a job as a morning show host and reporter on an FM station. However, after a year I was told the station was “reformatting” and they let me go. I was pretty down in the dumps. It was while later that I was on the couch one night, eating another gallon of ice cream, and I looked at my boyfriend’s stock dogs ratty collars and thought, “I can do better than that!”

And with opportunity and an eye for fashion, better she has done. Although those were the first two dogs to bear a Cattle Cait Custom Collar, since then the enterprise has exploded. She makes stunning and creative custom collars, belts for men, women and kids, halters, camera straps, bracelets and pretty much anything else someone can dream up.

McLean, with a self-professed cowboy boot addiction and a great adoration for the style and class of the sidesaddle ladies, was meant to find her way to a career path carved out of form and function.

“None of this would be possible if it wasn’t for my wonderful boyfriend, Lee Bascom. He’s a saddle maker (which really comes in handy for this new career of mine) and he lets me tag along when he cowboys – which means I’ve been lucky enough to live in some of the most beautiful places in western Canada.”

Most people that have accomplished great things and set out on their own paths credit a strong family standing behind them, and Cait McLean is no different.

“What I’ve learned from all of this change over the last couple of years is to surround ourselves with those who love us, whether they’re people or animals. It’s tough enough finding out what we’re meant to do and what we love to do when negativity is so influential. I have a wonderful support team and Cattle Cait wouldn’t exist without them.”

~ Dainya Sapergia

See Cattle Cait’s work at her Facebook Page. 

Young Guns – Jennifer Rak

In the May/June issue of Western Horse Review, we searched out some of the most accomplished and influential youth in the western horse industry and compiled our first-ever Young Guns – Top 25 Youth Under 25. We came up with six categories: Ambassadors, Artisans, Entertainers, Competitive, Entrepreneurs and Science. From self-discipline to unwavering focus, we were reminded that the dreams often fostered in young minds and hearts can translate to adulthood, and that good old fashioned determination can still achieve what many think is impossible. We loved the true western code of ethic each of our top 25 exude.

It evolved into such an inspiring piece we decided to recreate it online, with the fuller interviews and stories of each of our deserving Top 25. Look for them here at Screen Doors & Saddles over the next six months, as I’ll reveal one every week or so!

Passionate about promoting the western lifestyle, Jenifer has been dedicated to pulling her own weight to be involved in the industry.

Jennifer Rak

(Nominated for Ambassadors)
Age: 19
Fairview, Alberta

“By the force of arms, live unconquered.” It’s Jenifer Rak’s favorite quote and one she adores so much, she has it tattooed on her ribcage. 

“Take life and live it – don’t let anything hold you back,” she says. “That’s my motto.”

To say Rak is ambitious is an understatement. Last year for instance, the Fairview, AB, girl co-hosted RD-TV’s new show “Rodeo Radio.” She sanctioned, planned, fundraised and put on a college rodeo in her hometown; she founded a memorial scholarship in honor of her grandfather Oscar Rak; and she attended Olds College to gain a diploma in business, majoring in marketing and sales. She will graduate from there this spring and has since been accepted into the Bachelor of Science program in Ag-Business at Olds for the upcoming fall 2013/14 term.

In previous years, Rak has also been heavily involved with rodeo royalty. In 2011 she was crowned as he Rodeo Queen of Jasper. She has had a lot to do with 4H involvement and she has been part of many Shared Lent projects, lending her efforts to build a water well in Africa.

In her spare time, Rak is an Emergency Medical Responder (EMR Paramedic), and enjoys participating in community functions and event planning.

“But right now, school is a priority,” she states. 

Rak is an avid barrel racer and admits to being fond of all things rodeo. In 2011, she and her mother traveled south to the National High School Rodeo Finals to contend in light rifle shooting.

“My mom isn’t a hunter or a shooter but she came with me to be my partner. And she ended up carrying us,” she laughs. “I taught my mom how to shoot but when it came to competition time, I dropped the ball. However, my mom pulled us through and we ended up fourth!”

“I grew up on a farm. I guess I see things differently than many people.”

Maintaining and promoting the western lifestyle is a topic of conversation that is very dear to Rak’s heart. When asked where she gets her zeal and drive from, she is quick to answer:

“I grew up on a farm. I guess I see things differently than many people. The way I was raised involved chores and spankings on occasion. I was required to pay for my own rodeo entries and that meant if I didn’t feed the cows or exercise my own horses – I wasn’t going. From that I realized that if you don’t put the effort in, you’re not going to win.”

~ interview by Jennifer Webster

Fruity Summer Ice Pop

July is a perfect time to stock up on beautiful fruits from Farmer’s Markets or road-side fruit stands. But what do you do when that fruit is at risk of expiring before you can eat it all? Here’s a healthy way to turn produce into a fun summer ice pop.

INGREDIENTS:

• Strawberries, blueberries, orange slices, cherries (basically whatever fruit pieces you want to use in the pops.)

• 1 can of frozen juice concentrate

• water

DIRECTIONS:

Start by washing all your fruit and cutting it up into small pieces. Layer the pieces in a popsicle container.

Mix up the frozen juice as directed on the label into a pitcher. Once your fruit pieces have been put into each individual popsicle section, fill each up with juice. Lime, pink lemonade and apple flavors provide a nice base for your popsicle.

Freeze overnight. Serve on a hot day. Enjoy!

Young Guns – Gillian Shields

In the May/June issue of Western Horse Review, we searched out some of the most accomplished and influential youth in the western horse industry and compiled our first-ever Young Guns – Top 25 Youth Under 25. We came up with six categories: Ambassadors, Artisans, Entertainers, Competitive, Entrepreneurs and Science. From self-discipline to unwavering focus, we were reminded that the dreams often fostered in young minds and hearts can translate to adulthood, and that good old fashioned determination can still achieve what many think is impossible. We loved the true western code of ethic each of our top 25 exude.

It evolved into such an inspiring piece we decided to recreate it online, with the fuller interviews and stories of each of our deserving Top 25. Look for them here at Screen Doors & Saddles over the next six months, as I’ll reveal one every week or so! 

Miss Rodeo Canada 2013

The reigning Miss Rodeo Canada is about more than rodeo; she is a musician and an aspiring leader for her rural community. Photo by Ian Neill Photography.

Gillian Shields

(nominated in the Ambassador category)

Age: 22
Location: Didsbury, Alberta

Miss Rodeo Canada has over 450 appearances booked north of the 49th parallel this year. Like most rodeo royalty, the reigning 2013 Miss Rodeo Canada, Gillian Shields, is constantly on the move; waving to the crowds, making speeches and signing autographs. Behind the glitz of her current position, Shields has challenged herself to make a positive and lasting impression during her banner year.

“This position has given me the opportunity to impact other’s lives and teach the importance of maintaining our western lifestyle,” said Shields. “I really want to embrace and inform people of how amazing this industry and lifestyle is, especially because it gives nothing but opportunity and positive impact for our youth.”

Shields has not been immune to life’s adversities and is an inspiring person to get to know.

“One of the biggest challenges I have come across in life is losing my mother at the age of 14, after her battle with cancer. It was extremely hard at that age to watch my mother go through cancer. Learning to be able to cope with lack of maternal support was a big challenge. It was actually my mother who got me interested in the rodeo queen world. I am very thankful she sent me in the right direction. I learned independence, determination, and I have learned to appreciate the support from my friends and family who helped me along this journey. I would not be where I am today without each and every one of them.”

Growing up in rural Alberta, Sheilds participated in 4-H, and competed as a barrel racer in numerous associations; including the Foothills Cowboy Association and the Canadian Intercollegiate Rodeo Association. She was crowned the Carstairs Rodeo Queen 2006, Miss Rodeo Sundre 2007 and Miss Rodeo Airdrie 2011.

Gillian Shields (right) and Grande Prairie’s Erin Head, who just was named Miss Teepee Creek Stampede 2013.

Besides being an active dignitary, she also enjoys playing the violin and has played in the Calgary Orchestra and at numerous fundraising events. She is also halfway through her Bachelor of Education and with her current position as Miss Rodeo Canada, she has the platform to captivate us all.

“I now have the opportunity to contribute to keeping the spirit alive in a lifestyle that deserves to be more embraced. After all, there is a little cowboy spirit in all of us.”

~ Deanna Buschert

Young Guns – Jesse Dupont

4-H on Parade

The Calgary Stampede welcomes 4-H on Parade, presented by Cervus Equipment, Friday, May 31 to Sunday, June 2, 2013 at Stampede Park. With 47 clubs participating, the event is Canada’s largest 4-H gathering. 4-H on Parade is the crowning event of the year for members to display their projects and talents.

Over the weekend there will be three charity auctions with chances to bid on a lamb, a steer and a beautifully framed photograph. These projects have been donated by Standard Sheep, Airdrie 4-H Beef Club and the Irricana Beef and Multi Club, respectfully. The proceeds will go to the Alberta Children’s Hospital, Canadian Mental Health Association and the Calgary Poppy Fund/Veterans Food Bank. The charity lamb and steer projects will sell at the live auction on Sunday, June 2 starting at 11 a.m.; the photograph will be sold at a silent auction that runs throughout the weekend.

The popular Cleaver Kids program, which has doubled in size since last year, will be featured Saturday, June 1. 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.

This year, to celebrate the centennial of 4-H Canada, clubs across Canada will be collecting food donations for local food banks. On Saturday, June 1, there will be a food art challenge for clubs to plan out a design made of the food their club has brought to the Parade. The food art will be judged and collected for food banks in Calgary and surrounding areas.

4-H on Parade events begin Friday, May 31 with the beef female show and continue through the weekend with other cattle shows (beef and dairy), sheep shows, canine events, equine shows (western and english), and life skills demonstrations. 4-H on Parade will culminate with an exciting live auction of sheep and steer projects on Sunday. 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.

For more information about 4-H on Parade see stampedeagriculture.com/events.

Future Stars 2013

Pic by Natalie Jackman. Have Dog Productions

This past weekend in Claresholm, Alberta, featured the 5th rendition of the Cowtown Derby. Obviously the best cow horses in the country come to contend at this spectacular event and the best cowboys and cowgirls try their luck at obtaining one of the show’s fine offering of buckles and prizes.

But for me, this year my heart was completely taken by a different kind of class. Don’t get me wrong – I love watching my husband compete. And trying my own hand in one of the non-pro classes is a favorite pastime as well.

However, this weekend the Future Stars class was my biggest highlight. It’s a class designed to get kids into the show pen at young ages. I’ve watched it since we first starting competing at Cowtown Derby – it’s adorable. Entrants must perform a very modified pattern consisting of two circles and two spins in each direction. They can ride on their own. Or they can ride their own horses while mom or dad leads. Or they can sit in front of mom or dad.

Here, Ronnie Swales and her young son show us how to get it done!

Pic by Natalie Jackman. Have Dog Productions

My hubby and I had not planned to enter our children in this class but since they were with us, at the very last minute we opted in. With 20 minutes to prepare and at the age of two, our children were entered into their first horse show on the weekend. But since they’re still too little to ride on their own just yet, Dad gave them a bit of help:

Pic by Natalie Jackman. Have Dog Productions

As you can see, our son was not a big fan of the spin maneuver…

Pic by Natalie Jackman. Have Dog Productions

Our daughter on the other hand, loved every second of it…

Pic by Natalie Jackman. Have Dog Productions

Pic by Natalie Jackman. Have Dog Productions

“WHOA! What just happened Dad??” Pic by Natalie Jackman. Have Dog Productions

I was the crazy parent in the crowd screaming loudly for my family. But apparently I wasn’t the only person affected by the whole experience of having horse show children this weekend.

Pic by Natalie Jackman. Have Dog Productions

Our friend and a fellow professional trainer, Cody McArthur of Turner Valley, Alberta, had this to say:

“Interestingly, my biggest take home from the Cowtown Derby has nothing to do with horses. With all those little kids there this past weekend, it amazed me how they are all being raised just a little bit differently than one another. They all have their own little set of rights and wrongs. They all have their own little perceptions. They all have their own little context window that they perceive their own life through.

So very interesting how we all grow up much the same… but different.”

Here Cody helps his three-year-son along in the class:

Pic by Natalie Jackman. Have Dog Productions

The look on young McArthur’s face is priceless. Pure joy. And it goes without saying that his buckle is fabulous…

Going through the pictures (which were fantastically snapped by Natalie Jackman) after the event was pure bliss for me too. Although, the final photo of all the children in their award shot was accompanied by a moment of complete hysteria. Following their patterns, all of the kids were awarded with a prize bag and asked to smile for the camera.

That worked well for child #1, #2 and #3.

My two were more much more concerned with important business. Their goodies…

Pic by Natalie Jackman. Have Dog Productions