Archives for October 2013

Kylie Whiteside

Starting the Barrel Horse

So you have a horse that you think can be a barrel horse, or you want to be a barrel horse. How do you know when or if they are ready to get started? I am going to write from my personal experiences, and share with you.

We all get in the mode of: Lets do this, and then we head straight to the pattern. Whether it be right or wrong, who am I to say, but first off let us review a few things. Any horses that I have had in for outside training or riding, or even with giving lessons, yes, they seem to know the pattern, but there are some real important elements of foundation missing. Not with all of them, but generally most of them. Without a foundation, when your horse blows up, which they eventually will, you have nothing to fall back on, or to go back to, to reinforce the basics.

First of all, can your horse stop? And I don’t mean lean into the bit and trickle down, pushing on you the whole way with their back end trailing behind and bouncing on their front end. Can they stop, use themselves, be smooth, have timing, and respond to your body cues?

Kendra Edey preparing to achieve a balanced stop. Photo by Joel Edey

Secondly, can they cross over with their front end, not swinging their hind out, and do a proper roll back by pivoting on their hind foot?

Kendra Edey having her horse cross over with his front end. Photo by Joel Edey

Shoulder control – does your horse respond to when you pick them up with the bit, or is it a power struggle?

Can you lope a smaller circle, or any sized circle for that matter, and have their hip engage underneath itself?

Kendra Edey teaching her young horse how to engage his hip underneath himself. Photo by Joel Edey

Also, are they soft in the face? When you put pressure on their mouth, do they give? Are you in charge of the throttle?

At any time, whether it be on the ground or on their back, you can reinforce all of the above. Manners are what it comes down to. I am not condoning being cruel; but have a respectful boundary, especially for safety.

Personally, if your horse cannot do some of these, or any of these, I would advise working on it and staying away from the pattern until it know these things. A horse does not have to be wound up and crazy to be able to run barrels and compete. They need to be broke, and be able to be efficient where those hundredths of a second counts. Without these basics, a horse cannot work to their full potential and will either end up hurting themselves, scaring themselves, or not lasting very long as a barrel horse. I work on these things daily, for me and for the horses I ride. Whether you are going for a joy ride, or practice, always ride and practice with a purpose. Bring out the champion in both you and your horse. Everybody has different opinions on what it takes to make a barrel horse, but this is what has worked for me.

Take what you like from it and best of luck.

Hell or High Water Rodeo Wrap Up

Well, the Hell or High Water Rodeo has come and gone, and people are wondering how much was raised and where it is going.

The day started out with the arena being very wet, with puddles everywhere – go figure, a rodeo for flood relief, so I guess Mother Nature wanted to remind everyone why we were all there! I pulled in early, and it was getting packed. I just had such a great feeling, seeing all those people offering support.

Josh Birks
Photo by Dana Zielke, Dynamic Photography.

The rodeo performance began, and it was a very touching opening. Organizer Rod MacBeth spoke about victims of the flood, and all those affected. I could see tears in people’s eyes. As the rodeo commenced, it was definitely a fun filled day for everybody. The Farmers Market was on; there was plenty of involvement for the little kids with the mutton busting, wild pony races, and, overall, the whole energy and positivity of the rodeo; and everyone there was so helpful and kind.

The Hell or High Water Rodeo raised over $100,000. Incredible. There are so many sponsors and volunteers who have made this happen, and are helping people’s lives come back together. The funds will be donated back to various people or causes. Hell or High Water Rodeo has already paid for two trauma bags that one of the volunteer fire halls lost during the emergency response, as well as a pair of skates and a hockey helmet which have been given to a 6-year-old.

Todd Herzog
Photo by Dana Zielke, Dynamic Photography.

When I asked Rod how the weekend was for him, and if he found it stressful, he replied, “Weekend was great!!! Was it stressful? I don’t get stressed! I was a bit anxious on Friday night. I had an arena that had a nice patch of mud in the middle. You know that because we moved the barrel pattern for the girls’ safety. I worked that thing until dark on Friday and it still was in awful shape on Saturday morning. Thanks to some great help from the Millarville community, we secured a vac truck and sucked up the mud so it was okay by show time. I’ve still got a bit of an emotional hangover. Lots of stuff was accomplished in a very short time. I am honoured to have such a great committee. ”

Kendra Edey competing in the barrel racing. 
Photo by Steve Dueck, Pride & Joy Photography.

The winners from the rodeo are as follows:

Bull Riding: Todd Chotowitz – 85 on High Water

Steer Wrestling: Harley Cole – 4.0

Bare Back: Denny Phipps – Sniper

Saddle Bronc: Sam Kelts – 81.5 on Dress Code

Ladies Barrel Racing: Rylee McKenzie – 15.15

Tie-down Roping: Murray Pole – 8.8

Wild Horse Race: Jason Loken

A big thank-you to the winners who donated their money back. Denny Phipps donated parts of his winnings back, Rick Quarrel’s Wild Horse race team donated their third place winnings back. Jim and Karry Kelts donated their pay back, and Aaron Ferguson donated his pay back.

There are tons of great pictures from the event on Facebook, Hell or High Water Rodeo, as well as Dynamic Photography. You can also keep up to date with the happenings at

The generosity that people can have for others in times of need is amazing. Imagine what the world would be like if we could all be like that all the time. It would be an amazing shift for everybody.

Cowboys and Colts

Shortly after graduating from university, with a Bachelor of Commerce, Gregg Garvie headed to Australia to play professional hockey. He returned home to Alberta after almost a year to continue playing hockey, which he says, “never panned out”. He then had aspirations to become a veterinarian, and went to work at a feedlot alongside a vet there. He says he always sat back and watched the cowboys working, and training their horses, and decided that is what he really wanted to do. From that moment on, Gregg put everything aside to be a trainer and work with horses.

Gregg has a very calming and gentle approach, and seems to have a “horse whisperer” type of demeanor when it comes to training. I have had the opportunity to watch Gregg with several horses, and he is great at what he does. But when talking with him, he certainly does not give himself the credit he deserves. He told me that, when he rides with great trainers, he considers himself a “rank amateur.” I had to laugh, as he was riding around on a pretty broncy colt at the time and getting along just fine.

Gregg has devoted his free time to ride with Sid Cook, whom he considers to be a great mentor for himself. Gregg applies techniques he has learned from Sid Cook, Tom Dorrance, and Ray Hunt into his training program. He states there is so much truth to Tom Dorrance’s words: “Timing, Feel, and Balance”.

Ground work with some flagging to gain control and get the horse moving freely.

The horses that Gregg works with get to do a little bit of everything. It is not strictly arena work. He is not shy about heading out to the field, packing a rope, moving cattle, or jumping at any opportunity that might be good for the horse.

Gregg uses a colt to take a stray yearling back out to pasture.

The most important thing, in his mind, when Gregg works with a horse, is that it is not tight and can cross over with their hind end.

“Pretty much all the time, when they step off the trailer, you know right away. About 90% of the horses I get, or ‘problem horses’ that come to me, it seems that they are not freed up and have no idea how to use themselves properly”.

Gregg achieving the hind end control he likes for a horse.

Gregg trains out of his homeplace near Priddis. You can find him on Facebook at Gregg Garvie Horses.