Young Guns – Hayley Stradling

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! 

At only 16, Hayley has already achieved significant success in both hunter jumper and cutting, not an easy feat for the most seasoned rider.

Hayley Stradling

(Nominated for Competitive)
Age: 16
Aldergrove, British Columbia

You don’t have to be very old to think that sixteen seems so young. But for an Aldergrove, British Columbia equestrienne, the years have been plenty to secure her place as one of the top competitors in the country.

Guiding her are the words of Stan Smith: Experience tells you what to do; confidence allows you to do it. She is well on her way with the confidence and experience, but possibly the element that sets Haley Stradling apart from her competition is diversity.

“I have been riding horses my entire life. I love riding both cutting horses and hunter jumpers and competing on them. I also have been in Pony Club since I was 6-years-old, and currently have my C1 Level.”

She has carved out a training regime that helps her to excel. On her cutters, she rides with Dr. Denton Moffat of Armstrong, BC and with her hunter jumpers, she trains with Brent and Laura Balisky and Laura Jane Tidball. No lackluster list of coaches on this girls resume, and it shows.

In 2012 alone, Stradling won an AQHA World Cutting championship and won two gold medals for Team Canada at the AQHA Youth World Cup in Kreuth, Germany. Closer to home, she was reserve champion in the youth cutting at the Calgary Stampede and won awards with the British Columbia Cutting Horse Association and the British Columbia Ranch Cutting Horse Association. On her hunter jumper, she was 2nd overall at the Canadian Equestrian Team Medal Regional Finals in Langley, BC and went on to finish 3rd overall at the Canadian Equestrian Team Medal National finals in Toronto, Ontario. It is no small feat for a rider to ride multiple disciplines, let alone excel in both.

On top of her awards inside the arena, Stradling was nominated by the Horse Council of BC for Junior Female Sport BC Athlete of the year and came third overall.

“My parents are my main supporters and are incredible,” raves Stradling.

During the rare moments that she is not homing her skills, Stradling helps with her local pony club by teaching stable management to the younger kids. She volunteers at her school building theater sets and likes archery and snowboarding. A diverse set of interests has gone a long way to form an exceptional young lady.

~ Dainya Sapergia

Young Guns – Haley Franc

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.

We picked this Young Gun back then, and last week she proved her competitive spunk in amplitude by winning the Limited Non-Pro Derby (l2) at the Las Vegas High Roller Classic!

Atta’ be, Haley Franc!

Saskatchewan and Kentucky are a long way apart, but Hayley excelled under the bright lights of the NAJRC.

Hayley Franc

 
(Nominated for Competitive)
Age: 15
Prince Albert, Saskatchewan
 

Haley Franc began riding horses when she was just six. After a few years of riding in 4-H and competing in all-around events, Franc wanted a bit more of a challenge. The young girl turned her attention to the reining discipline. “Reining is challenging, but I love it. There is so much work, training and dedication involved. It is so rewarding when you can see improvements in yourself and your horse,” tells Franc.

Franc competed at the 2012 North American Junior and Young Rider Championship in Lexington, Kentucky as part of Team Canada, where the junior team took home the silver medal for their country and the youth team captured the bronze medal. Franc also marked a 212 on her gelding Jacs Shy Boy to take the individual gold medal.

“The NAJYRC was such an incredible experience. Showing at the Kentucky Horse Park in the Alltech arena and competing for Team Canada was a dream come true. When they raised the Canadian flag and played our anthem at the closing ceremonies, I was overwhelmed with this amazing feeling – I was so proud of my horse, myself and my team for representing Canada.”

Franc received the JR Equestrian award, presented by Equine Canada.

Franc received the JR Equestrian award, presented by Equine Canada. The Gillian Wilson trophy is presented to the junior competitor who has made outstanding contributions to equestrian competition and who have exemplified exceptional talent, sportsmanship and dedication to the sport.

Franc attributes much of her success to her coach, Locke Duce of High River, Alberta. “Locke teaches me patience and to keep things simple and correct. He makes sure I understand everything that he tells me and keeps it positive. Locke knows so much and has so many exercises to benefit every horse and then a backup plan for that too. He helps me to be confident when preparing, training and showing my horses. He lets me think I can do it.”

Franc’s future goals include once again qualifying for and competing at the North American Junior & Young Rider Championships, applying for the AQHA’s 2014 Youth World Cup and competing at some large reining competitions, including the High Roller Reining Classic in Las Vegas.

“Reining is challenging, but I love it. There is so much work, training and dedication involved. It is so rewarding when you can see improvements in yourself and your horse.”

“My favorite thing about reining is that it’s very challenging. We are always working on something and then making it the best it can be. I love that every reiner understands what it takes to get a horse ready to show and always working towards improvements in themselves and their horses.”

~ Deanna Beckley

Young Guns – Logan Bird

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!

With a promising future in rodeo, Logan has also embarked on a successful business venture with his dad.

Logan Bird

(Nominated for Competitive)
Age: 19
Nanton, Alberta

Logan Bird was born into the western lifestyle – horsemanship and talent course through his veins, passed down from the generations of cowboys before him.

Growing up on his family’s Rocking P ranch southwest of Nanton, AB, Logan was put on the back of a horse before he could walk. He traveled with his parents and little sister to FCA rodeos where the only event he could compete in at his age was the Adult/Child Team Roping. Once the Alberta Junior High School Rodeo started up, Bird entered the Breakaway, Ribbon Roping and Team Roping events.

“I love calf roping because it combines horsemanship, rope handling and athletic ability. I love going fast and in calf roping you really have to be in time with your horse to get off properly and set up a good run,” says Bird. “I like the competition and I like that the calf roping is just you and your horse, it is not a judged event – the guy with his hands in the air the fastest wins.”

At only 19-years-old, Logan Bird has qualified for the National High School Finals Rodeo all four years, captured the Provincial High Point Boy award in Alberta High School Rodeo all four years and competed at his first pro rodeo at 16, filling his semi-pro card at his second rodeo.

Bird is well on his way to achieving his goals in the rodeo industry. “Right now my focus is on making the Canadian Finals in the Tie Down Roping. In five years, I hope to have (roped at) the Calgary Stampede and to have my PRCA card. As long-term goals, I would like to win a Canadian Championship, and win a go-round at the NFR.”

“I love calf roping because it combines horsemanship, rope handling and athletic ability. I love going fast and in calf roping you really have to be in time with your horse to get off properly and set up a good run,” says Bird.

The young cowboy has not only made in mark in the roping arena, but also as an entrepreneur. Along with his Dad, Bird has started a timed event horses and cattle business. “We have team roping, tie down and dogging steers that we supply to the rodeos. We also have several young horses that we have raised, bought and trained in team roping and tie down that we offer for sale. In the summer we have 300 head of calves and they all have to be weaned, roped and conditioned to go to the rodeos so it takes a lot of horse power – we combine the two really well. We use the young horses to train the cattle and the cattle to train the young horses. It was kind of a natural thing for us to do. My dad has looked after the Nanton Ag Society Cattle as a bit of a side line for years and now that I’ve graduated we can do it full-time.”

Bird gives back to the rodeo industry he loves so much by putting on roping schools to help young kids who are just getting started learn the basics and fine tune their skills and teach them the little things that have helped him.

~Deanna Beckley

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

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

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