Black Elk Cutting

The youngest exhibitor at last weekend’s Black Elk Cutting in Ponoka, wee Colten Powell competing in the Junior youth class.

“Build it & they will come” – and come they did – from all three western provinces and from Big Fork, Montana, too. May 22 – 26 saw the return of the Black Elk Cutting Classic to the Calnash Trucking Ag Event Centre in Ponoka, Alberta. It was a family affair, as competitors ranged in age from 8 to about 75. About 400 cuts were judged over the five days by veteran judges, Joe Cameron and Todd Williamson, hailing from Alabama and Idaho, respectively.

“This is an outstanding facility to see in a small town,” stated Cameron. Both judges have judged Canadian shows before; Williamson stated that “I think it’s the nicest facility in Canada.” Both Cameron and Williamson have been involved with the sport of cutting horses for most of their lives, either raising, training or judging cutting horses. They also found some sightseeing time between classes; Joe was most impressed with the cleanliness of the countryside. They both remarked on how friendly people were here, the good quality of the cattle used in the event, and the excellent maintenance in the building, evident throughout the event.

Ron Andersen is a well known voice in the equine industry. He made a return trip to Ponoka to announce the 2nd annual Black Elk Cutting Classic. “I’m so impressed with the sound in the Ag Centre; I like announcing here because there’s no dead spots – people can hear me no matter where they’re sitting in the building,” Ron said with a laugh. “This year, I’ve really been impressed with the cattle handling crew, how quickly the herd changes are made; the entire staff have been accommodating, working hard to make sure the event ran smoothly. They’ve had to deal with rain for the better part of two days, but they kept their sense of humour and have really been helpful in so many ways.”

Competitors at the Black Elk Cutting Classic can collect points in the Alberta Cutting Horse Association, the Canadian Cutting Horse Association and the National Cutting Horse Association’s points programs. Year-end awards for each of these associations are based on the competitor’s performance throughout the year. Winners of classes at this event received leather jackets, with reserve champions taking home fleece coolers for their horses. Total prizes and prize money approximated $40,000. Brett Jones and his horse Sweet Lil Gal garnered themselves a jacket in the $15,000 amateur aggregate, and Harold Radke took home a very nice cooler for his reserve aggregate win in the $2000 limit rider division.

Scott Wardley, president of the ACHA, made the trip here from Okotoks. “This is one of ACHA’s biggest shows, and we’ve enjoyed being here this week. We know it’s a new facility, and there’s always a few kinks to work out in a new facility. We can see the team work that’s going on to ensure we have the best show possible. We’re making plans to return in September for a new show, and have started making plans for the 3rd Annual Black Elk Classic in May, 2014.”

Bringing Roger Home

We’ve been searching for a new horse for Wee for about a year, and down south this winter, we were presented with two prospects. After an agonizing decision process, (for I rather fell in love with both of them), we decided on a 7-year-old Quarter Horse sorrel gelding with the unlikely handle of Who Ripped It.

In the cutting world, horses lose their value as they age, with the six-year-old year a critical point, being it’s the last year their riders can compete with them in the aged events. This leads to a population of great competitive horses (particularly geldings) priced well; a beneficial trickle-down effect for those on the look-out for a good competitive weekend horse, or in my case, youth horse.

Who Ripped It, or “Roger” has significant lifetime earnings, a good record of soundness and importantly, he seems to possess a kind heart and laid-back attitude. The kind of horse who will “pack” little Wee, hopefully through many years of cutting.

Roger was living at Mike Wood Performance Horses, and Wee got to try him out there a few times before we decided he was the right fit.

The process was welcoming and supportive. We were encouraged to come and ride him as much as we liked and we did so, as we worked through the idea of buying him in our minds, and hearts.

Mike Wood is a professional cutting horse rider, trainer and coach with over $650,000 in National Cutting Horse Association earnings. With many non-pros, amateurs and youth boarding and lessoning at MWPH, it’s a bustling training facility.

Yet, with all of the activity, Mike always carved out the time to see Wee. That is just the kind of guy he is. He rode with her each time she tried Roger out, observing her and helping this beginner cutter find her comfort zone on the back of a high-powered horse. There was some flipping and flopping, but it didn’t take long to see that this youth/horse combination had some promise.

See what I mean about packing her? This might have been the moment that signalled the nudge that produced the decisive, “yep, he’s the one.”

We went through this tryout phase in February, completed the pre-purchase and buy process from back in Alberta, and so when we returned for Easter break in Arizona, Roger was ready for Wee to lesson on and show!

And, so she did.

We had such a great time showing with the MWPH crew at the Arizona Cutting Horse Association April show in Queen Creek, Arizona. The show was fantastically run, and we really appreciated the welcoming support from everyone at the show. (more on that later!)

But, this post is really about what I learned about importing a horse to Canada. While it’s far from comprehensive, you might find any of these points useful.

1) Your horse will need Export health papers, and a Coggins certificate. Both are completed by a veterinarian prior to export. The former is good for 30 days. As for the Coggins, the horse must have tested negative for EIA (Coggins or ELISA test) within the last six months. Allow at least a week for this paperwork to be completed.

2) Hauling commercially, expect to pay anywhere from $900 to $1,200 to bring a horse across the border from points south. Roger already had a ride back with our other two horses, but we did check out a few prices with reputable haulers.

3) If possible, steer clear of New Mexico and Texas. Go as far as to keep your gas receipts so you can, if necessary, prove your travel path didn’t lead through those states. This is due to the prevalence of contagious equine metritis (CEM) there. According to what I read on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency website, if the horse you are buying or bringing up originates from New Mexico or Texas, you will need an Import Permit. Remember this may take a bit of time to obtain.

In case you want the links for Import Permits, they can be found here:
And, info about the permits can be found at this link:
(*Interestingly enough, CEM is a sexually transmitted disease. Even though Roger is a gelding, if he had been in New Mexico or Texas, I would still would be required to have an import permit.)
Also, the issue of Piroplasmosis is a big concern for horses that have been in Texas. There are special considerations for bringing a horse back to Canada that has previously been in the state. Blood must be taken and papers must be drawn up and approved – and there are strict time regulations for how long those papers are valid afterwards.  Meeting those requirements and crossing the border within the allowed time frame requires careful planning.

4) Make sure you have an original Bill of Sale with the driver.

5) If you aren’t accompanying the driver, be sure to have a Power or Attorney form signed and with the driver. This letter simply states that you know the horse is travelling with said driver and you’ve entrusted this person to bring the horse across the border for you.

6) Be sure the Bill of Sale papers and the health documents are all in the same name. We initially considered putting the health papers in Dean’s name since he was the driver, and the health papers for the other two horses were already in his name. The federal vet at the CFIA strongly advised against this and recommended we put Roger’s in mine, mirroring the Bill of Sale.

7) Consider brokering the horse across. Customs officials seem less concerned about a horse which arrives this way. This does add cost to the process. I might not have done this if I were transporting Roger back myself, but because someone else is, I decided to broker him. I used a company accustomed to brokering horses, and with an office at the Coutts, Alberta crossing (where Roger will be passing through). The cost was $236.25, plus they collected the GST due on the horse. (yes, you will have to pay GST when buying a horse in the U.S.A. and importing him).

8) Check the federal vet hours at your border crossing, to be sure the office will be open when you arrive. Better yet, call them and make an appointment. Otherwise, you may have to sit and wait until he has time to bring you in.

As I pen this Roger is about an hour from the border. I hope I’ve crossed all my t’s and dotted the i’s, but I won’t post this until after he crosses, just in case there are further “lessons” to be gleaned (and shared!).

Fingers crossed. . .


The April Issue

Photo cover credit: Natalie Jackman –

That’s right! It’s out. March came in like a lion and April is showing promise so far. I think I even observed a fat, little gopher today…

If you want a tiny sneak peek of the Western Horse Review issue about to hit your mailbox, or if you need a reason to pick it up off the shelves, read on! Here are some of the stories behind the headline stories of April.

This month features 75 pieces of Horsekeeping Advice from the Alberta Horse Owners and Breeders Conference. Which is of course, a serious event…


All kidding aside, this annual event for horse owners and breeders is a great way to get yourself up-to-date on the latest in the industry. However, if you weren’t able to attend – we’ve got you covered with our extensive coverage from each of the seminars!

Photo credit: Victoria Ann Photography


Next in the issue we have a 10 Things You Didn’t Know piece about the sport of Reining. For instance, did you know that a legend in car racing has now taken a liking to sliding plates? It’s true! Michael Schumacher, a seven-time Formula One World Champion rode Smart Spook in a celebrity event at last year’s National Reining Horse Association Futurity. Read all about it, plus 9 other morsels of reining particulars that even die-hards might be surprised to learn!


Photo courtesy of the NRHA.

The in-depth health section this month also focuses attention on a rare disease, called neonatal isoerythrolysis (N I foals). This condition can occur when the mare’s colostrum actually possesses antibodies against the foal’s blood type – NI is similar to the human Rh-Factor, whereby a pregnant Rh-negative woman’s body begins producing antibodies that begin to attack the baby’s red blood cells.

A foal in ICU. Photo courtesy of Deb Carroll of West Wind Vet Hospital.

Once the foal absorbs these antibodies, they result in lysis of the foal’s red blood cells within 24 to 36 hours after birth. This red blood cell destruction is widespread throughout the foal’s body and can lead to life-threatening anemia and/or jaundice.

Jaundice can be seen around this foal’s eye. Photo courtesy of Deb Carroll of West Wind Vet Hospital.

For an N I foal to happen, the mare must have had previous exposure to blood that contained these particular antibodies to the foal’s blood (such as through a blood transfusion or a previous foaling). Unfortunately, Arabians and Standardbreds have a higher incidence of N I foals. Read this month’s WHR to find out more about whether or not your horses are at risk.

April is the perfect time to get your horses caught up on their annual vaccines. Since there is no one-size-fits-all policy, this issue’s full legnth vaccine feature will help you understand how you can help your horse stimulate antibodies to defend against today’s diseases.



In an effort to try and explain Antigens and Antibodies for the Vaccines piece, I was feeling particularly inspired… by my children’s crayons. And while I ended up being pretty happy about the finished product – a diagram you can find on page 47 – this tired Mommy then later forgot to put those same crayons away…



…my daughter found them and used them to draw me a lovely picture on the back of our leather couch.


Speaking of little ones, if you or your youngster are looking for some great advice about maintaining soft hands on the reins, Pat Ross of Cochrane, Alberta, is one of the best. Ross is an accomplished trainer, teacher and mentor to many. Be sure to catch her full-length feature about creating softness.

“It is the rider’s responsibility to monitor the horse’s movement through feel and guide him with proper cues. Clearly, the rider’s body has much to do with this. However, the fact is that most problems in effective communication with horses stem from the rider’s hands,” says the trainer.

In this comprehensive editorial Ross explains why her pursuit of soft hands has been an educational journey, with some mistakes and an extensive injury taking place along the way. In the April issue, you can find out how she bounced back and reap her advice for obtaining softness in a simple, safe manner that all levels of riders can master.


Happy Reading!

Entertaining (Toddlers) in Cold Weather

The First Cold Day

Growing Up Western

Pic by Shutterbird Photography.

I have a new venture in the works – something I will be revealing just in time for the Chilliwack, BC, Mane Event this coming October! I’m super excited about it, but I can’t reveal too much right now. However, I thought I would give y’all a little prelude to my newest project with today’s blog – introducing… drum roll, please…!

Growing Up Western.

Yes, that is the name of my newest project and I hope to keep a running spin-off of it on My Stable Life. Here, I will essentially feature a few children’s items that we really admire – and use – in our household. Whether they are items of clothing, toys, books or learning materials, we always tend to lean towards the “horsey” and “western” types of products. It helps us keep things real with our twins. Real and ranch-like.

From Little People tractors and farm sets, to hobby horses and night-time storybooks, Growing Up Western is inspired by all things equine and agriculture-related. Here are four of my faves:

1) LeapFrog Mix and Match Fridge Farm Phonics.

This magnetic barn teaches kids the names of farm animals in both English and French. It’s a big hit whenever children pass by the fridge as they simply place the magnetic halves of 4 different animals into the barn doors and listen to see what the barn tells them. When children put the same halves of the animal side by side, they are rewarded with the sound the animal makes. But if two different halves are put side by side – well, you’ll see. I get a real kick out of this toy. Apparently “cow horses” are silly. Guess, LeapFrog never banked on this toy ending up in our house! <grin>

Toys R Us – $14.95


2. Petit Lem Western Onesie & Pajama Sets

Petit Lem was a favorite brand of mine when my babies were little, little. Their jammies and onesies are eco-friendly and made from the softest materials. This western set really caught my eye when traveling through Drumheller, Alberta, this summer. With bucking broncos and horseshoes daintily placed all over each piece, these layette sets really portray a baby’s western lifestyle. And the easy snap fixtures make them convenient for Mom when it’s time to change little bottoms.

Sleeper is $29.99 • Onesie set is $44.99

Over the Rainbow 403-823-3505


3. Big Red Barn Book

Margaret Wise Brown’s lulling story about a day in the life of a barnyard is now available as a sturdy board book. This is a very tranquil, simplistic story and a classic favorite at bed time.

“By the big red barn
In the great green field,
There was a pink pig
Who was learning to squeal…”

Pictures illustrated by Felicia Bond lovingly evokes Brown’s simple, rhythmic text about the cycle of a day on a farm, where a family of animals peacefully plays and sleeps.

Amazon – $9.99


4. Handmade Stampede Dress

When I saw this piece at the Millarville Farmer’s Market, I just couldn’t pass it by. It had to come home with me. Handstitched by Helen of Helen’s Crafts, this little sundress is perfect for hot weather or can be worn on cooler days with a long sleeve shirt and tights. So flippin’ cute!!

Dress $22 – Helen’s Crafts 403-982-2542

Likes of the Week

I posted this on the Western Horse Review Facebook page this morning.

It just never gets old, does it?

Eleven years ago today I stood in front of a flat screen in our home in the city, holding a baby girl and wept with the worry of what sort of world I had brought her into. I don’t believe I’ll ever forget the despair in my heart that day. A year later we moved to the country, and my own rural upbringing came full circle as my children came to grow – each into their own individualistic style of country-love.

Last week that little baby girl of mine worked cows for her third or fourth time. My heart leapt to my throat and pretty much stayed there for the entire lesson. But, she did alright. We’re lucky, we have a trainer who, though in the thick of all the pressure that is futurity season still takes time to help her every time she comes for “class.” And, a friend who trusted us with her good old horse, allowing Wee the opportunity to try on the sport this year.

On the surface, these may seem like small efforts, but they are so important, when we’re collectively trying to grow, or maintain a sport. Every bit lends itself to boosting one more seat

Likes of the Week

Can it really be the last week of summer? Apparently. Among

other things, we’re busy preparing Wee for her first cutting show. It’s a bit of a crash course at this point, as so much of her time was devoted to 4H over the summer, and I’ve been busy for the past two weeks helping Teenager settle in for her first year of university studies in Arizona.

While I was away these arrived for Wee. The absolute sweetest of little-girl chaps. All flowers and swirls and just a hint of tomboy, succinctly Wee. She loves them, and Christmas has definitely come early for her at the log house. Fashioned by Heather Baumgartner of HB Leather, these are Canadian-made and perfectly gorgeous.

I have so much to post about, we have a lot going on at the magazine this fall, but for now, in these last few days of summer holidays, just sharing some links and videos you might be interested in.

If you’ve been following the Tennessee Walking Horse soring controversy, you’ll know it’s at a significant and intense head this week, as the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration, the equivalent of the World Show for the breed, is ongoing at Shelbyville, Tennessee. On one side, the trainers and breeders who desire the public to understand this is not as prevalent as activists such as the Humane Society of America – which released a damning undercover film on YouTube earlier this year on soring – maintain it is. Many say soring is widespread and commonplace, others state it’s the work of a few greedy industry players. One of the better articles I’ve found on the crackdown in the walking horse industry here. The video accompanying the piece is worthwhile too.

Holding in the genre of controversy, I’m still marvelling over blogger Cami Ryan’s excellent essay, Dear Pam, challenging the motivations of PETA spokesperson, Pamela Anderson. Straight shooting, and I like it.

One of the surprises we have for you readers this fall concerns photography, hence we’ve been doing a lot of research regarding the subject. I came across this and it made me yearn for a western-photography themed workshop with a parallel degree of yummy.

Something I loved discovering just lately – the Days Inn in Brandon, Manitoba  now sports western artwork in 15 of their executive suites, but not the usual uninspiring bought-at-a-box-store drudgery, but the real mccoy – Shannon Lawlor prints. Kudo’s to managers Dave and Melody Brooks for showcasing our western heritage and treating all of us who might be passing through with a gorgeous visual. I’m looking forward to checking these walls out!

Finally, another video, this one the trailer for Wild Horse, Wild Ride, has been receiving some great reviews and awards. Looking forward to seeing it.

Thanks for tuning in and have a great long weekend.

A 4H Goodbye

Last weekend’s 4H Regionals Show was one of the highlights of my girls 4H year. There, all of their diligent work, valiant efforts and timely record book keeping (people who know my daughters kindly do not interject here) was put to the test.

Well, mostly their riding and showmanship skills, as they competed against their peers from other clubs all throughout our region.

It also marked Teenager’s final time showing at the Regionals as this is very likely her last year as a 4H member.

I can’t believe it’s actually been eight years since she led her first mare through a showmanship pattern. Suzie was a retired show mare a friend had kindly gifted us to get her started in 4H. A quirky and wise mentor who taught both Teenager and her mother more than a few lessons over the years.

When we retired Suzie we bred her to a pleasure stallion, she bore a beautiful foal to dote on, and while the two of them were turned out, Teenager went on to her new project horse – Blue.

Five years later, the result of Suzie’s breeding – Mr Clever Zippo – is Teenager’s final year project horse, whom she competed with at the Regionals and is showing for possibly her final time this weekend at the 4H Provincials in Olds, Alberta.

She has him for sale and we hope to find a good home for him sometime before Teenager enters university studies.

The idea that she is showing the offspring of her very first horse weaves her 4H experience into a rather beautiful circle.

So many memories in those 4H summers.

Teasing Teenager was usually one of the highlights of any 4H gathering.

Poor Wee, always in tow, and no horse to ride. You couldn’t blame her for getting a little grumpy once in a while.

Come on, Wee, we know there’s a smile behind there. . .

This picture was taken years ago at a Regionals Show – evidently before the time of mandatory helmets – and these three girls had spent a very long day showing their horses. Which is why jumping on them and galloping around in the evening after dinner made all the sense in the world, right. Right? That’s how they rolled then, and it was a wonderful thing to see.

Over the years, Teenager has been showing with virtually the same group of girls, some of whom are also in their final year. Like Robin, and the aptly named Oreo, from the Millarville club. We’re hoping to see them one more ciprofloxacin and amoxicillin time this weekend.

I’m hoping things will go well with Teenager and Zippo’s final 4H show this weekend. He’s a young horse and still has some learning to do, still I’m sure Teenager has some competitive goals for the weekend.

As for me, I’m just going to enjoy the experience of heart-in-my-throat-cheering-her-on just one more time.