Saddle Fitting Factors

On the Futurity Road


Raylee Edwards

Fast Eddie placed 9th in the Futurity Average, at this spring’s Valley Girls Barrel Daze, in Walla Walla, Washington. Photos by Deanna Buschert

In the March issue of the Western Horse Review, we introduced readers to this season’s Walters Quarter Horses futurity prospects to be campaigned by the 2003 Canadian Professional Barrel Racing Champion, Raylee Edwards. Months later, tamoxifen the heat is on and the late summer sun has this competitor fighting to keep her string of horses fit and at the top of their game. Each futurity is showing one horse stand out, while another tests its’ rider’s stamina. After falling out of the top ten at June’s Silver Sage Futurity in Brooks, Alberta, Raylee mentions the June weekend was “rough”.

“I had a very full plate and perhaps got off on the wrong foot. I was 13th on Fast Eddie and 14th on Super Sue. One of the derby horses just missed the cut and the other worked really nice, but tipped. He would have made the finals. So, it’s on to the next one.”

After July’s South Country Futurity and Derby in Cardston, AB, Raylee felt it was time for the crew to take a break. A full time job of looking after a herd of young barrel horses can seem like a dream opportunity. However, as Raylee wipes the sweat from her forehead, she says it’s not easy.

Raylee taking a break in the shade, during the South Country Futurity and Derby in Cardston, AB, July 6-8th.

“I ride them a lot. I will spend at least 45 minutes per horse. It makes for a full day. A lot of times I will go ride at night, when Kassie (Raylee’s daughter) is asleep. In the past three weeks I have been making sure these horses are my priority.”

With horses on the farm to start, pattern, futurity, derby and rodeo, Raylee notes that putting time in the saddle is a demanding position.

Meet the list of Walter Quarter Horses, on the 2012 Futurity Road.


Lil Sis Sue Raylee Edwards Walter Quarter Horses

‘Super Sue’, is sired by Real Easy Buy and out of the dam Docs Baby Sue.

Super Sue is out of one of the Walter’s most powerful broodmares. This young mare is a full sister to Real Easy Doc (Doc), the CPRA’s 2010 Ladies Barrel Racing Horse with the Most Heart, and Canadian Champion and earner of over $250,000. Docs Baby Sue also produced Kid Baby $15,000 Pro Tour winner, and Sansue Streaker a multiple derby champion who passed away in 2008.


Fast Edwards Raylee Edwards Walter Quarter Horses

‘Fast Eddie’, is sired by Real Easy Buy, out of the dam Doc Lou Sue.

Fast Eddie represents the basis of the Walter Quarter Horse breeding program. His sire, Real Easy Buy, by the AQHA legend Easy Jet, is their present stallion. The gelding’s dam, by Big Time Louie was out of their favorite mare, Docs Baby Sue.


Define Flaire Raylee Edwards Walter Quarter Horses

‘Floozy’, is sired by Real Easy Buy out of the dam Streaky Girl.

Floozy’s dam, Streaky Girl, is another Docs Baby Sue daughter, by Kiddin N Streakin. She was born in 2000 and Floozy is her first foal. Raylee had the opportunity to ride Flair, who also had a very sensible personality. As a barrel horse, she placed at the Diamond N, Silver Sage and South Country Futurities, before being retired to become a broodmare.


Decathelete Raylee Edwards Walter Quarter Horses

‘McCabe’, sired by Kiddin N Streakin, out of the dam MD Misty Me.

McCabe is one of the last Kiddin N Streakin offspring left for the Walters to futurity. The 1984 stallion was by the 2011 AQHA Hall of Fame inductee Streakin Six, and passed away on their farm in the summer of 2010.

Watch for this year’s final Futurity Road instalment in the November/December issue of Western Horse Review and catch up with how these prospects finished their year. Stay tuned online for more online updates, leading up to the final event of the season. The Canadian Barrel Horse Incentive Futurity, to be held Oct 4-7th, at the Ponoka Ag Event Facility. Results from the 2012 season are listed online at the Canadian Barrel Horse Futurity website.

In the meantime, check out Raylee’s barrel saddle, called The Raylee Racer, located at the Frontier Western Shop, in Claresholm, AB.

Spring Contest


It’s spring, and we happen to have just the right ingredient for your riding pleasure – a new saddle pad!

Please excuse the fact this photo has a decidedly autumn feel to it. When I sent Teenage out last week to photograph this pad over an old fence, I neglected to mention I desired a spring color palette for the end result.

And she refuses to run out and conduct another photo shoot.

Teenagers. . . . .

I love the shades on this saddle pad.

They match any and all of my brown horses.

Which, with the exception of a certain red roan pony include all of them.

I’m turning this contest into an informal Reader’s Survey. All you have to do to be entered to win is let me know what your favorite reads in any of the 2012 issues thus far were.

That would the following issues:

January/February 2012.

And this one – March.

And finally, the latest – April.

We’re about to begin planning 2013 editorial. And, knowing what you appreciated this year will help us plan.

So, in the comment section below, tell us what article(s) you enjoyed – small or large, feature or department. And thanks for the feedback!

At the end of April, we’ll do a draw from all the answers and the lucky respondent will win the saddle pad pictured above.

7 Weeks ’till Christmas: Great Gift Ideas

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

Are you alright?

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

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

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

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

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

Something about a vintage saddle, isn’t there?

A lifetime of rides here.

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

Thank you Bill and Pearl!

Photo credit: James Hudyma, Hudyma Photography

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

Divine, isn’t it?

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

I just hope he’s got some help.

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

Photo credit: James Hudyma, Hudyma Photography

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

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


To find out more about the Calgary Stampede’s Centennial saddle program, e-mail or

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

In the meantime, have a great weekend!

100 Years, 100 Saddles

Calgary stampede saddle

Calgary Stampede Agriculture Program Coordinator, Tracey Foster and saddlemaker Vic Bennett. Photo credit: Ingrid Schulz

For a priceless project like this, Vic Bennett didn’t have to be asked twice to saddle up.

Bennett, one of the premier saddle makers in North America, hasn’t taken on large orders in decades, preferring to produce his celebrated creations one at a time. But when folks from the Calgary Stampede’s Western Performance Horse Committee approached the sublime craftsman over the winter, with a certain centennial celebration in mind, well . . . you might say Bennett’s foot was already in the stirrup.

“That’s the tantalizing thing. It’s very hard to say no, when you’re selected to be involved in the Calgary Stampede’s 100-year anniversary,” says Bennett, whose company, Vic Bennett Saddles, is based just outside Sherwood Park, Alta. “It’s something to think about . . . an easy decision to make, really.”

With Bennett and his two-man crew taking up awls, rasps, and stamping tools for the next several months, the Stampede’s Western Performance Horse Committee is commissioning the production of up to 100 identical Vic Bennett Custom All-Round Saddles — handcrafted exclusively for the 2012 Calgary Stampede Centennial, and available for sale to the general public.

calgary stampede saddle

The Calgary Stampede’s Western Performance Horse Committee has commissioned the production of up to 100 identical Vic Bennett Custom All-Round Saddles, handcrafted exclusively for the 2012 Calgary Stampede Centennial and available for sale to the general public. Photo credit: James Hudyma, Hudyma Photography

Never to be reproduced again, these so-called “century saddles” promise meticulous craftsmanship, right down to the Calgary Stampede brand lasered on the stirrup. The limited-edition saddles will be numbered, signed by Stampede President and Chairman of the Board Mike Casey and Bennett, and accompanied by a certificate of authenticity.

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

“One of our (WPH) committee members, David Palmer, has said for a long time that we should have a special project that involves saddles. And when the Stampede started asking for ideas to be submitted for Centennial, everything just clicked,” says Karen Mix, a member of the Stampede’s Western Performance Horse Committee.

“Even to be part of this whole adventure, I’m just thrilled to death. We’ve got quite a few sold already . . . a couple of these saddles will also be auctioned off, as well, and we expect a huge response.”

During Super Bowl XLV in Dallas on Feb. 6, both competing National Football League teams — the champion Green Bay Packers, and runners-up Pittsburgh Steelers — received commemorative saddles from Texan producer M.L. Leddy’s.

calgary stampede saddles

Never to be reproduced again, these “century saddles” promise meticulous craftsmanship. Photo credit: James Hudyma, Hudyma Photography

Here in Alberta, with members of the public being given the chance to secure their own priceless piece of Western artwork, more than 20 of the century saddles have already been pre-purchased — sight unseen, and purely by word of mouth to this point.

“As soon as we explain the Centennial saddles program to people, the reaction has been amazing,” says Mix. “One lady ordered one for each of her children as an inheritance. A couple of energy companies have already bought them.

“And one fellow told us: ‘If I’m going to buy a saddle anyway, I’m going to buy a Centennial saddle, because it’s a keepsake.’ ”

The Western Performance Horse Committee plans to use proceeds from the Centennial saddle program to reward various champions at the 2012 Stampede. Another 25 saddles, with a different design, are expected to be built and presented to the various division winners of the Stampede’s three Western Performance Horse events — the Team Cattle Penning Competition, the Cutting Horse Competition, and the Working Cow Horse Classic.

To find out more about the Calgary Stampede’s Centennial saddle program, please e-mail or

Blanket Know-How

With a Canadian spring often comes a plethora of weather variations. It’s possible for us to face rain one day and a freak blizzard the next. You just never know what you’re going to get! Here are several creature comfort terms to keep in mind, if you’re shopping for anything from a turnout rug to a heavy duty winter guard.


Although they are great for keeping the sun and dirt off your horse's back, some nylon sheets aren't as breathable as you'd think.

Breathability – Breathability is the ability of a fabric to allow sweat and excess moisture to pass through it to the outside air. Blankets featuring this technology are commonly designed with a “hydrophilic” (water loving) coating on the inside of the fabric that draws excess sweat and moisture to it. Temperature differences between the air inside and outside of the rug/blanket then force moisture outwards. This allows your horse to stay dry and comfortable.

Denier – A fabric's denier rating relates to the weight of the yarn in the fabric: the higher then denier, the heavier and tougher the fabric.

Insulation / Fill / Polyfill – A blanket’s warmth is measured in grams of its synthetic insulation per square metre. The higher the grams, the more fill per metre and the warmer the horse. Blankets are available in a variety of fills to suit the season, location (geographic, paddock, stable, indoor, outdoor) and your horse's needs.

A tail guard.

Tail Guard – A tail guard is an extra flap of material on the hind end of a horse’s blanket. It will keep wind gusts from blowing underneath the blanket when your horse turns his back to the wind.

Taped Seams – A physical barrier at the seams of the blanket (done with a kind of “tape” that completely and fully blocks the stitch holes), to keep moisture out.

A removable neck cover.

Neck Covers – Some blankets come with fastened or removable neck covers. Not only do these provide extra protection from the wind and warmth to a large area of your horse’s body, they can also double duty as a mane protector if your horse has a habit of sticking his head through fences.

Shoulder gussets make it easier for the horse to move freely about.

Shoulder Gussets
– One of the best innovations to ever come available to horse blankets, especially if you own a “stocker-type” breed. Shoulder gussets allow for complete freedom of the horse’s movement as they are correctly positioned in front of the horse’s shoulders.

Water Proof
– In Canada, it’s often best to purchase blankets that offer water proof protection. An outer fabric or material that offers 100% waterproof characteristics and ensures durability over a longer period of time, will mean you won’t have to spray on water proof protection on your own.

Wither Relief
– Custom shaped padding in the wither area to provide added comfort and protection.

6 Weeks ’til Christmas: Great Gift Ideas

John Burgan has made a serious name for himself in the saddle-making craft with his Roo-Hide saddles. Originally from Australia (hence the Roo-Hide name and look), Burgan moved to the United States in 1984, and gradually grew a saddle-making business, having been fascinated with leatherwork since he was a child.

Roo-Hide’s semi-truck and traveling tack trailer have become a familiar sight at many national shows.

Here’s his “shop” in Ogden, Utah, at the NCHA Western National Finals.

Roo-Hide saddles have been known as quality pieces, and many of the trainers and riders I know own and use Roo-Hides. Swear by them. Love them.

We all know the value of a great quality saddle, but priced from $4,000 to $6,000 U.S. (not that the currency matters much at the moment, with the dollar at par), a Roo-Hide saddle is a dear purchase.

At least, until the Brumby.

At $2,450 U.S., Roo-Hide’s new line of saddle is quality at an affordable price. I’m not sure these are yet available in Canada, but if you’re in the market for a good quality saddle as a gift, they might be well worth checking out.

That places us halfway through our Christmas gift idea count-down. I”m hoping to catch up to the calendar sometime soon, perhaps even next week. Stranger things have happened.

In the meantime, be sure to check out the Christmas Gift Guide on the Home Page of www.westernhorsereview, and if you didn’t catch them, earlier posts to this series of Great Gift Ideas.

The Language of the Spade Bit

The August issue of Western Horse Review will be arriving in your mailbox any day now. The cover features a gorgeous shot by photographer Kim Taylor, and within it, you’ll find an indepth interview writer Deanna Paulsen conducted with Les Vogt, regarding his thoughts on the use (and mis-use) of the spade bit.

I asked Deanna how the interview went and she related, “When I came up with the idea of writing on spade bits I knew it would be an interesting topic and certainly one that perked my interest, however I had no idea how much there was to know and learn about one bit. Interviewing Les Vogt, or should I say, listening to Les Vogt, talk about the spade was an absolute honor. It’s easy to write an article on something when you talk to someone who is so passionate about the topic and Les gave me a completely different perspective and appreciation for the spade. He spread his enthusiasm and passion about the subject forward to me!

“And the biggest reward I got from this project was the bit guru’s approval, in Les’ words, ‘Damn girl you can write!’”

We hope you enjoy the feature and in the meantime, this video of Les Vogt speaking about the spade bit.

Superb Stall Mats

One of my newest, favorite pieces of equipment for traveling to shows with are EquiMat Stable Matting. And even if our trailer is packed to the max, EquiMats are my Never-Leave-Home-Without-Them item of the year.

In any given year, our horses may spend as many as 10 weeks on the road for various reining and cow horse events throughout Canada and the US. Therefore, maintaining their health and soundness during travel, has become priority #1 for Clay and I. Since we are subject to different types of stabling in each place we go, EquiMats allow us keep a standard comfort level for our show mounts – especially when we are stabled on cement.

Clay pieces the mats together by interlocking the edges.

Each mat is lightweight, making it easier than you think to cart them around for show travel. They offer protection from concrete by supporting horses with cushioned comfort and thermal insulation, plus they reduce the occurrence of capped hocks and other injuries. Equimat’s interlocking non-porous rubber sections are also equipped with a textured surface, to provide a non-slip area for your horse to rest. And if the horse so chooses, this can translate into more time for the animal to lie down which means more vital deep sleep periods.

An entire show stall with mats pieced together.

These characteristically green mats are additionally non-toxic, non-absorbent and not affected by urine or concentrated disinfectants. At the end of a show, sometimes pulling the interlocking edges apart and giving each mat a rinse can be a bit of chore. However, the difference these mats have made to increase the soundness of our horses from the start to finish of a particular event has been incredible. They virtually eliminate body soreness and leg pain caused by extensive standing on cement. And to me, that’s worth any amount of elbow grease!

For more info, check out: