Search Results for: embrace your west

Embrace Your West Photo Contest

Have you heard about our Embrace Your West Photo Contest yet? Have a look at the details – and big change, we’ve opened up the contest to all photographers – amateur, professional – y’all can now enter. And thanks to those photographers who contacted us to let us know they wanted to participate but, couldn’t because of their professional status. We listened, deliberated, agonized (not for long), and decided you were all correct – the contest should be open to all, and so it now is.

That’s not what this post is about though. What I really wanted to let you know is the outstanding piece of art we have up for grabs for this contest. This stunning oil painting measures 36″ tall and 48″ wide – it’s a showcase piece. I know this because at this moment it lives in my living room. In fact, it has resided ringside to our editorial meetings for the past year or so, as we’ve deliberated what event or competition might warrant a prize of this magnitude.

We finally decided on a western photography contest. Doug’s artwork speaks to western values and traditions, so we found it a beautiful fit.

The icing on the cake was learning that Doug Levitt was selected by the Calgary Stampede Western Art Auction Committee as the 2013 Outstanding Artistic Achievement Award Recipient. Completely serendipitous, and welcoming news for us. For the artist chosen for this award is recognized in the international art community as being a master of their craft. Doug’s high artistic standards and his remarkable talent make him more than qualified for such an award.

Congratulations, Doug Levitt!

Read more about this award and the work of Doug Levitt here or visit his website here.

P.S.  You might find it interesting to know the Calgary Stampede commissioned Doug to paint the 2008 Calgary Stampede poster. The original oil painting, “A Man of His People,” sold for a record $63,000. Given that perspective I wouldn’t want to guess at the value of this piece, but it does make me pine for a little leeway on the “employees of WHR” clause. . .

Embrace Your West Photo Contest

2013 Embrace Your West Photo Contest

Grab your camera and partner with us to unfold the real WEST! Western Horse Review is kicking off its inaugural western photography competition. This photo contest is all about appreciating the richness of our Canadian idea of living in the western way, recognizing its authenticity and celebrating how it enriches all of our lives. We are looking for images that relay our great culture.

We can’t wait to see the best of what you have to show us, so pick up your camera, set out into the great country that we are proud to call home and start shooting the things we love the most – the people, horses, landscape and events that inspire and enthrall us.

Send in your best and you might be hanging the grand prize for Overall Best Photo on your wall – a one and only Doug Levitt original oil painting.


Capture the great country we live in and show us what makes this land uniquely our own.
Human Portrait
We want to see the characters that live among us and drive the western culture that we love.
Humans have an innate connection to the horse. Capture their essence, their spirit, their electricity with passion and insight.
Rodeos to wagon races, cuttings to mounted shootings, show horse lovers employing their horses in endless tasks of excitement and passion.


One (1) winner per category will be selected. The winning entry and runners-up will be published in the September / October issue of Western Horse Review. In addition, one (1) entry will be selected as Overall Best Photo and one (1) entry will be selected as the cover image.

Overall Best Photo will be awarded the Doug Levitt original oil painting.


All images must be received no later than July 12, 2013.



ELIGIBILITY – The contest is open to all photographers, professional or amateur. Employees and families of Western Horse Review are not eligible for this contest.

QUALITY – Images to be submitted in jpeg form at 300dpi resolution.

QUANTITY – Entries will be limited to 1 submission per entrant, per category.

CONTACT INFORMATION – Image must be submitted with entrants full name, address, phone number and email address in order to be considered for judging.

TITLE AND DESCRIPTION – Each photo to be submitted with a title, and optionally 50 word or less description.

EDITING – Western Horse Review reserves the right to edit and / or crop any images considered for print.

FORMAT – Photos must be submitted at 300dpi resolution, at least 4×6 inches in size and may or may not be altered in lighting, composition and colour processing.

LIMITATIONS – Images are to represent Canadian content, events, horses, people and landscapes, photographed by a Canadian resident.

MODEL RELEASE – For any image where a person is recognizable, a signed model release from the subject or, in the case of a minor, from the subject’s parent or guardian must be provided at the time of entry. For your convenience, here is a link to a downloadable model release: Please e-mail this release under separate cover to [email protected], noting the name of the photographer, and the title of the photo it pertains to.

RIGHTS AND USAGE – By entering the contest and for valuable consideration, including but not limited to credited publication, the receipt and sufficiency of which are hereby acknowledged, entrants grant Western Horse Review the right to publish and use submitted photographs without prior approval or compensation beyond the terms of the contest, in print or electronic form in any future issue or issues of the magazine, event booths, or under our digital or social media banners, including but not limited to, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, for advertising and promotion of the magazine, for exhibition, on the website, and for commercial products, including but not limited to Western Horse Review promotional items and media kits.

INDEMNIFICATION – The entrant agrees to indemnify and hold harmless Western Horse Review against any claim, demand, lawsuit, or proceeding that might be brought against Western Horse Review by reason of any of the following matters regarding the image or video:

  • a) any violation or infringement of any proprietary right or copyright;
    b) any libelous or unlawful matter contained in the image or video;
    c) any invasion of the rights of privacy or other personal rights possessed by any person or entity, including illegal trespass by the entrant while obtaining the image or video;
    d) the entrant’s breach of any term, covenant, representation, or warranty of this agreement;
    e) anything whatsoever that might prejudice the securing to Western Horse Review or its assigns of the full benefit of the rights granted herein.

In the event of any legal proceeding relating to the submitted image, the entrant agrees to fully cooperate with Western Horse Review and its counsel in the defense thereof.

JUDGING – Images will be judged by a team appointed by Western Horse Review editors. Winners and finalists will be notified on or before August 15, 2013.

TIME LIMITATION – Images must have been shot between January 1, 2012 and the entry deadline.

AGREEMENT – These rules and regulations contain the full and complete understanding of entrant and Western Horse Review with regard to participation in the 2013 Embrace Your West Photo Contest, superseding all prior agreements and understandings, whether oral or written. By submitting any image or video to the 2013 Embrace Your West Photo Contest, the entrant agrees to all of the terms of the rules and regulations set forth herein.

Canada’s Greatest Western Town

CGWTOur idea of West much less geographical, than it is a mindset. No matter where we live in this country it is about a life that is engaged with western culture – appreciative and honoring the land, from the cowboy tradition to current views. It’s modern, but respectful and mindful of tradition and history. It’s photography, books, gear, travel, music and food. It honors the cowboys, competitors, artisans, musicians, authors, photographers and artists who spend their lives devoted to keeping our idea of the West in Canada alive.

For most who embrace this idea it includes the horse in some respect. At home, in our pastures and barns, on the magnificent trails of this country, and certainly, in the competition arena. Also in our accruements and passions. In our appreciation of the majesty of the animal, in the subtle nuances of the horse’s work and our various sports.

One could say, in our identities.

Which is why, when we think about where to live, we think Western. And, living the Western way, recognizing its authenticity, and celebrating how it enriches our lives.

Now is your chance to help Western Horse Review unfold the real West. Many of Canada’s greatest western hotspots aren’t just great places to live in the western lifestyle: they’re Canada’s best-kept secrets. And its time we celebrated them!


We’ll begin this competition with a nomination period from now until June 27th.

Then the voting begins!

For this purpose the moniker “towns” can refer to towns, cities, hamlets, really, wherever there is a great gathering of western culture. So think small. Think city. Think your corner of this great country. Just keep it Western.

Send us a short (50 word or less) nomination for your western town now. E-mail it to [email protected] with the subject line of CGWT, or just go ahead and comment right here.

Remember, the nomination period ends June 27th, so be sure to get your favourite western corner of this country in on the action!

Embrace Winter – A Survival Kit


For all the rest of us horsey folk who are not currently in Arizona, while yet, another cold blast of winter comes in – fear not! I have come up with a Winter Survival Kit for surviving a Canadian winter. In Canada.

It was necessary. The lack of Vitamin D was making me a little cranky.

I decided that perhaps I should stop shooting at the snowman in our front yard and embrace winter instead. Find a few items and activities to help ease the cold winter blues. After all, the season doesn’t seem to be going anywhere any time soon. I may as well get used to it.

Since I’m furthermore trying to leg up my mare to attend the NRCHA Celebration of Champions in February at this time, (Yes, I’ve decided I want to go. Depending on my mare and whether or not she is sound and physically able – another blog for another time,) there were a few necessities required to combat winter in the barn too.

So without further ado, here are my top 16 items to beat winter:



1. Mesh Rug from Back on Track – During the winter months, the Mesh Rug is the perfect blanket to be used as an extra rug underneath, as a transportation rug, or as a cooler. The Mesh Rug has a lining of polypropylene fabric infused with melted ceramic powder, offering your horse a variety of therapeutic benefits – all while your use it to dry your horse off after a winter ride! On the exterior, the rug has a thin mesh layer for maximum breathing qualities.



2. Yeehaw Liptints from Cowgirl Dirt – Any Canadian female knows how important it is to always have lip balm in your back-pocket in winter. But it’s even better if that lip balm has some sass. Introducing Cowgirl Dirt! These  lightly citrus flavored lip tints are formulated to soothe and deeply hydrate your lips while adding the perfect color to finish off the cowgirl picture. Available in Hollywood Dun It, Flicka, Champion, Seabiscuit, plus many more!



3. Heated Hose from Pirit – If you have an unheated barn (like we do in our second facility), you’ll appreciate the benefits of a heated, heavy-duty hose. Pirit Heated Hoses are used to provide a constant source of water in freezing temperatures. Now available in approximately 12′, 25′, 50′ and 100′ lengths.


4. HV Polo Mercedes Sweater – Available from Greenhawk, this sweater features a fitted silhouette with an oversized collar and front pockets for additional storage.  The full zip and fitted sleeve cuffs and bottom keep me warm in our unheated arena and stylish when I actually hit the town. For groceries. ‘Cause I’m a Mama. And that’s my big outing for the week. :)


5. Furminator – With a 5″ deshedding edge, the Furminator can help reduce your horse’s winter shedding by up to 90%. Stainless steel deShedding edge reaches deep beneath your horse’s topcoat to gently remove undercoat and loose hair.
Actually, it’s unbelievable how much hair comes out! Horses love it. There’s no pulling or tugging. Smooth and simple. Great for use now if you’re trying maintain your horse’s show coat in this nippy weather, or an absolute necessity come Spring.


6. Happy Toys, from The Happy Toymaker – If you have a farm kid, or two, the Happy Toymaker is guaranteed to craft you something with heirloom quality. Jerry Sims, better known as “The Happy Toy Maker” has been happily creating toys for kids that may single-handedly express the western way of life better than any other plaything around. Sims’ handmade trucks, trailers, rodeo arenas, feedlots, chutes, corrals and barn set-ups are as unique as they are comparable to the real thing. We recently had him make semi-trucks for our twins that represented their personalities. With brands, bucking horses, tractors and their individual names branded into the sides of these life-like toys, our kids finally have something no one else does!!


7. WET 998K, Muck Boots Canada – You need serious boots if you live in Canada. With stretch-fit topline binding, these boots from Muck Boots snug the calf to keep warmth in and cold out. 100% waterproof, lightweight and flexible this boot has a molded outsole that is rugged, aggressive and durable. With a comfort range of -28ºC and up, we have several pairs of these clogging up our front door…


8. Sno-Man Kit – If I were to pick one single item from this Winter Survival list, it would be this! With a kit complete with buttons, a hat and a carrot-nose, your kids will have everything they need to build a snowman. Then, take the blue, red and green Snow Markers to draw non-toxic images or play Tic-Tac-Toe in the snow. Great Canadian outdoor fun!


9. BioGel – Biogel is a soothing, grease-less therapeutic gel made from a unique blend of natural organic ingredients that has been veterinary tested and approved. Veterinarian studies confirm that wounds showed excellent healing speed and Biogel can promote the formation of healthy wound beds that persist without bandaging. In our circumstances, Biogel is a must for any horses with old wounds that have to face hard snow crusts in the pasture.



 10. Canadian Maple Whisky – Take the best Canadian rye whisky and add Canada’s finest maple syrup. Add a little coke, ice, and on a cold winter’s night you’ll be in paradise. No kidding.


11. Waterless Shampoo – Get rid of unwanted green-spots in between baths with this rinse-free shampoo. Cleans and shines with even the toughest of spots and no sticky residue! Add in the nourishing extracts of alfalfa, rosemary and chamomile and Trot the Spot Rinse Free Shampoo is the perfect product to help your horse look and feel its best.


12. Ultimate Hoofpick – Are you tired of wimpy hoofpicks? The Ultimate Hoofpick was designed by a horse trainer who was fed up with picks that couldn’t hold their own when it came to yet, another hoof filled with concrete-like mud. Or in our case, snow and ice. An ergonomically correct, unbreakable handle with a rubber, easy grip and a wider pick angle makes this hoofpick a solid and effective tool. The Jackhammer of hoof care comes in two sizes and easily tackles packed-in mud and snow.


13. Touch and Feel Ponies, Book – If your a Mom who understands the importance of books in your children’s young lives, you will love this little sturdy hard cover book! From furry manes to silky ribbons, this little book lets your kids explore all sorts of textures in a sturdy book that encourages preschool learning. Perfect when it’s too cold to outside!


14. Todd Bergen, “Framework of Performance” DVDs – When the mercury drops below -20 degrees Celsius, it’s just too darn cold to ride. So why not do some armchair riding instead? Todd Bergen recently released his new, “Framework for Performance” series and in this 2-DVD set, he explains his philosophies on body control, turnarounds, run-downs and stops, lead changes and cow work. Bergen gives viewers over 4.5 hours of cutting edge instruction – guaranteed to relay his real world approach to horse training.


15. Glysomed – There’s no way around dry, chapped hands in the dead of winter when you spend much of your time in a barn. Glysomed Hand Cream locks in moisture to relieve and help prevent dry skin. Plus, its triple-action formula of Glycerine, Silicone, and Chamomile provides indispensable care for rough and dry hands. You can take away the sun, you can take away the warm temperatures, but don’t touch my Glysomed! :)


16. Constructive Eating Utensils – Feeding kids creatively. These products have won numerous awards and since they are perfect at keeping children engaged during meals, it’s no wonder! With tractors, bulldozers and pink fairy garden tools fashioned into forks, spoons and “pushers,” these utensils help even the pickiest of eaters to have more productive meals. And since we recently struggled through the flu season, I found these nifty little tools very beneficial in encouraging my kids to consume chicken noodle soup when their appetites dwindled.

September/ October 2013

On the cover: Michele King is a Red Deer, Alberta based photographer specializing in equine fine art and western lifestyle images. Find more of her work online at, or at Different Strokes Art Gallery in Olds, Alberta.

Price: $5.95


Embrace Your West
The results are in! The winners of the Western Horse Review photo contest are named.

Heartbreak in the Water
The stories of three Albertan families who went head to head with the flood waters of 2013 and came out the other side with a new appreciation for life and their livestock.

Barrel Racing Biomechanics
National Finals Rodeo barrel racer Lee Anne Rust explains how to execute the perfect barrel turn.

Fall Sale Guide
Find the best place to search for your next prospect or finished horse to complete your string.

Out West
Professional photographer Sally Rees guides you through the proper techniques for taking a great profile shot of your horse.

Empty Saddles
The Canadian cow horse community mourns the loss of a passionate cowboy.

Food of the West
Gather an armful of fresh fall apples for the perfect after dinner treat.

Real Lives of Trainer’s Wives
A Saskatchewan woman is her husband’s best cheerleader and the head of a hard working family.

Western Home
This humble prairie home boasts rare collections and bursts with western flair.

Gear & Style
Product Showdown
The best in winter blankets to keep your horses in top shape through the cold months.

Bit of the Month
Glenn Stewart explains what tool he uses to keep his horses soft by avoiding common bitting mistakes.

Horse & Health
The complete what and the why of adding supplements to your horses diet. Nutrition Use this list to choose the best delicacy for your horse.

How To
Locating and detecting the digital pulse to detect injury or help assess potential soundness issues.

Med of the Month
A medication that will ease your horse’s breathing issues.

Show Scenes
A collection of happenings from across our great land of horses and competitions.

Futurity Road
A behind-the-scenes look at the gear and preparation that adds to the success of any futurity horse.

Leader Board
The queen of the young reining ring takes on the North American Junior Young Rider Championships in Lexington, Kentucky.

Good Assessments
A selection of equine practitioners.

Heavy Horse Love

It was pure heavy horse love last night at the Calgary Stampede’s Showcase Stir-up night.

Adeline Halvorson’s original artwork, unveiled during the special invite night, depicts a beautiful and kind-eyed gentle giant.

There have been few Calgary Stampede posters in the 101 year history of the Show as singular in theme. I thought Halvorson’s vision of the working horse for the poster, representing a noble animal at the heart of our western heritage, was both unique and brave.

Bob Thompson, Calgary Stampede president and chairman of the board, voiced it well: “While the painting celebrates all horses, it specifically pays tribute to the grace, nobility, and striking beauty of the heavy horse and all that the gentle giants have contributed throughout history, both at the Calgary Stampede and the world.”

While we walked across the Stampede grounds on our way to the Western Art Show, signs of the recent flooding were, of course, still everywhere.

Cleanup, most notably at the Big Four building, seemed to be taking place on a large-scale basis.

Still, under the glow of city lights, and the buzz of the clean-up crews and equipment, signs that the show will go on as planned, were abundantly evident.

And the Midway appeared nearly ready to greet the first of its fans for tonight’s traditional Sneak-A-Peak night.

At the Western Art Show, it was great to catch up and chat with a couple of Western Horse Review’s Artisans of the West, including Shawna Whiteside and Shelagh Blatz, two super talented ladies showcasing their work at this year’s event.

As well as clothing designer, Paige Callaway, also one of our Artisans of the West, pictured here with Shelagh. (Thanks, Paige for the use of your Instagram shot!)

I also had the chance to finally meet Doug Levitt, incredibly talented artist and storyteller as it turns out! This year, Doug was selected by the Calgary Stampede Western Art Auction Committee as the 2013 Outstanding Artistic Achievement Award Recipient, so meeting him was a special honor for me. One of Doug’s original pieces of artwork, (see it at this link), is up for Grand Prize of our Embrace Your West Photo Contest, the deadline of which (July 12) will soon be upon us, so enter your photo soon, if you haven’t already!

We enjoyed browsing through all of the pieces of Western Art Show, including two from our July/August issue featured artist – Karen Coe.

The various Artist Ranch Project’s also caught my eye, such talent and different takes on the subject of western heritage. And, so many pieces which would showcase beautifully at the log house. Sigh.

If you’d like to see it in person, Halvorson’s original artwork will be on display at the Western Oasis until it is sold next Thursday, July 11, during the Western Art Auction, which begins at 6:00 p.m. in the Palomino Room. Tickets for the auction can be purchased from the Western Art Sales Desk located in the Western Oasis, BMO Centre.


Charles McKay believes it’s important to continue evolving the conversation around inclusivity in barrel racing as a professional sport. Sheila Armstrong Photography.

This model slash influencer, slash broker and barrel racer has an impressive list of credentials on his resume. His positive attitude and continued conversation around inclusivity in barrel racing makes him a game-changer for the ages.

By Aleesha Harris

Charles McKay of Vancouver, BC, recalls with a laugh, the transaction that garnered him his first horse. 

“My mom traded our neighbour up the street a case of beer for this 26-year-old, half-dead horse that they had,” McKay says. “Her name was Shelly.”

Introduced to horses by his aunt and uncle, Sandy Douglas, an avid barrel racer and her husband, Lincoln Douglas, a professional chuckwagon racer, McKay and his sister Megan fell in love with horseback riding. Eventually they tagged along with their aunt and uncle to ride at the variety of events throughout British Columbia they hauled to.
“We travelled to all the Little Britches rodeos and my aunt and uncle took us all over BC, wherever my uncle was competing at the time with the chuckwagons” McKay recalls of his introduction to rodeo and gymkhana events. Noting the siblings’ horse hobby wasn’t likely to lessen any time soon, the horses were moved from the Douglas’ farm to the McKay family home in Chilliwack, BC, so the kids could focus even more on their horsemanship. 

“It kind of just took off from there,” McKay says of his involvement in the horse industry. “I’ve never really looked back since.”

McKay got Shelly when he was in the third grade. He’s 33 now. Safe to say, his horsepower has evolved from that first, senior-aged mare, though. 

“Quite a bit,” McKay confirms with a laugh.

Like many young riders, McKay’s evolution in horsepower was a gradual one. From that bought-for-a-beer sorrel Appaloosa mare, he was given an old Arabian show horse by long-time Chilliwack horse trainer and family friend, Tom Berry. 

“He was super broke,” McKay recalls of the gelding. “And I ended up training that horse for all the gymkhana events. I won all the year-end high points and whatever there was to win in the Chilliwack Riding Club.”

It was at that point that McKay says “the bug for barrel racing” was firmly seeded. When McKay’s sister Megan briefly stepped away from riding, McKay began riding a horse that she had named CJ. 

“I jumped on CJ and started competing,” McKay says.” I won a saddle and buckles and everything on him. He took me pretty far. I went to the BRN4D Finals on him. And that’s kind of how it all evolved for me.”

While the speed and level of competition in the sport of barrel racing, which sees a horse and rider run a pattern around three barrels set up in a cloverleaf pattern, is enticing, McKay says he’s always been more drawn to the development of young horses — and the incommunicable bond that comes with. 

“I love training horses and I love bringing a young horse along and seeing them progress,” McKay says. “And seeing what they’re learning and how far they come in the time that you work with them. Becoming a team with your horse, that’s really what I’ve always loved.” 

Being a man in barrel racing, McKay admits he feels there’s a “bit of a stigma” that lingers around male competitors in the sport.  

“I think it stems from the rodeo world, where only women are allowed to compete at the professional level and go to the National Finals Rodeo (NFR),” McKay says. “When you’re a fan and you’re watching rodeo, whether it’s the National Finals Rodeo or the Calgary Stampede, it’s referred to as Ladies Barrel Racing.”

That designation has to do with the fact that barrel racing in Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) events is run by the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association (WPRA). Riders competing in PRCA barrel racing events must also be a WPRA membership permit holder.

While McKay acknowledges the significance of the history and triumphs of the WPRA, which began in 1948 as the Girl’s Rodeo Association before becoming the WPRA in 1981, he says it’s important to continue evolving the conversation around inclusivity in barrel racing as a professional sport. 

“I understand why it has been preserved that way,” McKay says. “But I feel like some of the best barrel racers in the world are, in fact, men. There are many male barrel racers. Lance Graves, Troy Crumrine and Brandon Cullins, they’ve won millions of dollars in futurities and derbies barrel racing.  

“I think that men should be given a shot to compete at the highest level of barrel racing.”

The topic, of course, isn’t new. In fact, in a 1989 lawsuit, Graves v. Women’s Professional Rodeo Ass’n, Inc., barrel racer Lance Graves challenged the inclusivity standards of the WPRA, stating the rules “discriminated against him by reason of his sex.” He lost the case.

Men are allowed to compete in the various association open 4D races, slot races, futurities and derbies. Some barrel racing associations have also amended the membership eligibility criteria in order to embrace all riders. McKay points to Valley Girls Barrel Racing Association in the U.S. as an example of a group within the sport that has “evolved” beyond gender restrictions, allowing everyone to compete. The well-known The American rodeo holds qualifiers throughout North America, which are also open to both men and women. 

“Many men have qualified and made it to the final round. No man has won it yet,” McKay says of the competition. “But I think it has been received really well, having men compete in that. So, I don’t know why it should be any different for the rest of the pro rodeos.”

The seasoned barrel racer also points to the apparent double standard in professional rodeo, which sees women allowed to compete alongside men in roughstock and roping events at PRCA rodeos, pointing to Chilliwack saddle bronc rider Kaila Mussell as a prime example. 

“Men are competing alongside women at the professional level in almost every other equestrian event, so why not the barrel racing?” McKay says. “Let’s not limit the sport to just one gender. Let’s have inclusivity for everyone.”

McKay at work in his other profession, modelling. CREDIT: Mark Stout.

Being one of the only male barrel racers in his area, McKay says people often look to him as a kind of “influencer” in the sport. His presence on social media platforms including Instagram (he goes by the handle @_cowboyken), where he shares many images running the barrel pattern, also undoubtedly helps with that. 

“I want to be able to use my voice for good,” McKay says. “And I really want to see this sport grow and evolve.”

On his social media channels, McKay also offers a glimpse into his other resumé-padding project: modelling. 

“With any of the modelling stuff too, you never know who is looking,” McKay says of the fashionable photography on his feeds. “I’m always on the lookout for different work with that, too.”

McKay started modelling in 2016, after a breakup saw him step away from horses in order to leave the Fraser Valley in an attempt to start fresh in Vancouver. 

“Being single and young and having these horses, I kept finding myself looking for more and wanting to make more friends. I was at a bit of a crossroads where I loved the horses so much, but I wanted to travel and do other things,” McKay recalls. 

Not long after that transition was made, McKay packed up and moved to Australia, where he lived for about a year. Upon his return to BC, McKay moved back to downtown Vancouver, taking over as a manager at Joey Restaurants. Through the company, he was transferred to Los Angeles. And that’s where he was living before the pandemic hit. 

“I was on a five-year work visa. I would have probably stayed on that career path with the company, because we were so rapidly growing,” McKay says. “But, once the pandemic hit, it changed the course of my life and I realized how much I missed having horses.”

McKay moved back to Canada and bought a few young horses. While his travels and career had taken him away from horses physically, McKay had maintained a connection within the industry through his business Horse Brokers International (, which sees him curate a virtual sale feed of barrel racing horses for buyers throughout North America. 

“I had a friend of mine who had this really nice horse that she just couldn’t seem to click with. She said, why don’t you just take him and ride him and see how he is?” McKays says of his first foray into brokering. “So, I brought him to my barn in Langley at the time and started riding him and he was awesome.”

He helped his friend sell the horse by posting him on his personal Facebook page. The horse sold within an hour. Seeing how quickly the horse sold, another friend approached McKay to help sell her horse. It also sold in the same day. 

“I love training horses and I love bringing a young horse along and seeing them progress. And seeing what they’re learning and how far they come in the time that you work with them. Becoming a team with your horse – that’s really what I’ve always loved.” – Charles McKay. Sheila Armstrong Photography

“It kind of just snowballed from there. I just happened to have a lot of great connections on my Facebook through friends and I ended up selling a whole bunch of horses,” McKay recalls. “Before long, I was busy full-time selling horses.”
He focuses on offering performance prospects or proven competition horse that he can personally vouch for. 

“I want to be known for representing quality animals,” McKay says. “That’s my primary focus.”

McKay also recently purchased a stallion prospect out of Texas to add to his growing program.  

“He’s by Epic Leader, out of a daughter of Darkelly that sired Paige (CP Dark Moon), the horse of Amber Moore’s that she went to the NFR multiple times on,” McKay says of the horse, named Epic Ruler, that he purchased from barrel futurity trainer Kassie Mowry. “The bloodlines are amazing on this stallion. And I’m really excited to have him in Canada.”

This new direction of his horse business, will soon see ‘breeder’ added to his already unique resume. 

“I guess I’m a model, a horse broker, a barrel racer, and an influencer in the horse world, as well,” McKay summarizes with a laugh. “I’m all of the above.”

Embracing Mental Wellness

With so much loss associated with the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s easy to understand why a significant number of mental health issues started rearing their ugly heads in 2020. The good news is, horses are a healthy coping mechanism for dealing with it all. In this two-part blog, we get some meaningful advice from Psychologist Vanessa Goodchild, for navigating the world we currently live in.


Photo by BAR XP PHOTO – Hopelessness is a main symptom of depression. It’s hard to overcome. A step towards curing it is to try and reach for a feeling or curiosity of what your life could have in store for you, if you keep going forward.

The western lifestyle ideal is sometimes at odds with the concept of mental wellness. While the notion of the tough, cowboy-type is romantic, it doesn’t always bode well with modern society’s embrace of safe spaces and open-mindedness. The year 2020 was filled with so much uncertainty and when you pile that on top of pre-existing problems, it has been very difficult for some to get back on the horse, so to speak.

Even with our beautiful landscapes and spacious country abodes, rural people are not exempt from anxiety nor depression. In fact, some research suggests the prevalence of depression is slightly higher in residents of rural areas compared to that of urban locales. Adverse weather conditions, lengthy distances from support or medical attention and long-term stress can all play a role. Add that to the social distancing measures, fear and the financial strain of 2020 and there’s a lot of turmoil with which to deal. As such, we’ve enlisted the help of Vanessa Goodchild, a Registered Psychologist and the owner of Solace Psychology in Edmonton, AB. Goodchild is very aware of the nature of the inverted world we are currently living in and the strain that has caused many people.

“Any change can be stressful but with Covid-19, we’re dealing with a whole other layer of stress no one has really had to navigate before,” says Goodchild. “Stress can tie in with depression. And our stress can result from our own responses to challenging situations – not necessarily from the situation itself. So it all depends on how we perceive our ability to handle hardship or challenging situations. Our perception is the biggest thing. We all have stress right now, but it’s our perception of it that can breed hopelessness and fear about the situation.”

The good news is, it’s scientifically proven that horses (as do many pets) help release oxytocin in humans, a hormone responsible for easing stress. That’s why even just the simple act of petting a horse may make you feel happy or more secure in the world. Therefore, it begs the question – are horse people at an advantage when it comes to feeling happier? Could this be the reason many people have seemingly “clung” to their horses, as opposed to letting them go? While we understand everyone’s circumstances are different and horse people can struggle with anxiety and depression just like the rest of society, we do know there are many benefits to being part of the “horse world” that may be more important than ever.

With Goodchild’s help, we offer some tips for easing the distress of this year, finding balance or even simply reaching out to others who may be struggling.


“One in five Canadians will suffer from a mental illness in their lifetime,” says Goodchild.

“With depression there is certainly a biological component to it. You have a higher chance of getting depression or anxiety if your parents faced it,” the psychologist explains.

“Then there’s a psychological component: finances, debt, isolation (before isolation was required) – many of the things farmers or rural people are already dealing with. The more stressors you have and the less able you are to cope with them, plus less social connectivity, equals more chance of depression or anxiety.”

Goodchild also explains that brain chemistry and our environment can play another role in contributing to depression and anxiety.

“When we do the things that we love to do, dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin are released. These are what we call ‘happy hormones,’” Goodchild states.

“People with depression have reduced levels of these hormones / neurotransmitters. Research shows that coping with depression means to have a mix of therapy, medication and exercise! Any kind of movement releases dopamine and serotonin. We get an endorphin rush from it, we feel productive and accomplished. And it helps with fatigue and motivation,” she says.

Conversely, we feel less motivated and more fatigued with depression. This is why our hobbies and doing things we love to do is so important.

“If a person is struggling with anxiety or depression, they need a healthy way to cope. It’s unfortunate that depression is so common among Canadians and what’s worse is how often it gets overlooked. So I always ask my clients about their coping strategies. How do they unwind? How do they deal with stress? How do they engage in the things they love to do?

Photo by Tara McKenzie Fotos

“Getting sunshine, being active, connecting with horses and animals – those things can be really healing,” Goodchild says.

“Additionally, horses can tune into your nervous system. When you’re riding, a horse can sense your energy and tell if you’re nervous or relaxed. Horses can attune into your emotional well-being,” the psychologist explains.

The process of owning or caring for a horse also requires much responsibility. When you have horses, a lot goes into it – it’s not just about riding. Goodchild explains that caring for a horse can add to a person’s productivity.

“It requires a person to care for and nurture their horse, to show love and gratitude. It gets you out of your house and out of your work mindset. Plus for many, riding is an escape and a stress-relieving activity.”

Horses may also be a means of socialization, if you board at an outside stable or barn. Of course with lockdown restrictions in place to help mitigate the spread of Covid-19, many barns were forced to shut their doors to anyone who was not an essential caretaker of the property early in 2020. For anyone dependent on their time at the barn for exercise and as a way to relieve stress, this in itself could be very detrimental to a person’s well-being.

While it is possible to properly social distance during riding, immune-comprised or high risk individuals may choose not to partake in public barn activities at this time. That’s why it’s important to get creative about your riding activities, either by exercising at home or staying in contact with your fellow equestrians through FaceTime or phone calls. Or by trying to maintain connection in other ways. Some barns have even offered FaceTime calls for owners, with their horses – to help ease the uncertainty about an animal’s care and current health status. Worrying about a horse you own or care for, while trying to uphold social distancing measures is just another source of stress.

“Just because we’re social distancing and isolating doesn’t mean we totally have to disconnect from everything and everyone we love,” says Goodchild.

Stampede Style 2019

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If you’re wondering what’s trending this Stampede, our sources at Lammle’s Western Wear are telling us it’s Wrangler, Wrangler, Wrangler – WEAR THE W! This year, full flare legs in light washes and high rises are all the rage in bottoms. Retro-styled Wrangler tees in fun colorways from Wrangler’s modern line are rounding out the look.

These looks available at the Chinook Calgary, AB, Lammle’s location and on
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The Women of the West theme is popping up everywhere and underlying the 2019 Stampede, since the 2019 poster unveil. This theme is also showcased in the 2019 Poster Buckle:

The 2019 Lammle’s Stampede Poster Buckle.

An empowered female look with an unapologetically highwaisted jean, crisp tuck and playful print button-up top is the classic Stampede uniform this year.

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Bold hats really embrace the strong western style – every piece can and should be a statement as the hat trend is still going strong in 2019.

One of the new favorite hat styles available from Lammle’s this year.
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Charlie 1 Horse and Bailey are two of the strongest ladies hat designs emerging in ladies western fashion. The hats are affordable and give the look of a custom lid, but keep things in check in the price range of $89-$149.

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Fringe purses and crossbody bags continue to hold steady this year. Especially if you’re on the Stampede grounds for long hours at a time, STS bags are both fashion and function to carry all your goods. The brand is hitting on the big trends of cowhide and fringe + pastel pallets and soft browns for 2019. Check out your local Lammle’s today or visit them online!