Kylie Whiteside


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.”

Shamrock Performance Horses

Tyler, Helen, Jaden and Rowdey Nowosad of Dewberry, AB.


Shamrock Performance horses owned and operated by Tyler and Helen Nowosad of Dewberry, Alberta, not only showed this years ABRA 1D champion horse, they also trained the DR Nick Bar Granddaughter, Raise The Gold Bar aka “Alley,” at the 2017 Canadian Barrel Horse Incentive Super Stakes held this past weekend in Ponoka, AB.


The dynamic duo of Alley and Helen made lasting impressions right from their first competition together in 2015, bringing home the Bohnet’s Barrel Barn Futurity Buckle. With a very successful 2015 season behind them, Alley needed a break as she suffered a wire cut that took her out of the 2016 racing season. Fully healed and well conditioned the team set their sights high for 2017. Long miles on the road did not deter, placing them at the top all spring and summer. August found them at the Alberta Barrel Racing Association Finals in Ponoka, Alberta. After multiple days and consistent runs they secured the 1D champion spot, and the championship saddle.


One of many buckles earned by Helen and Raise The Gold Bar.

Every success has a back-story and Helen and Tyler’s is one of hard work and determined nature. The quiet humble couple, live with their two children Jaden (11) and Rowdey (7), three dogs and numerous other barnyard animals just south of the Chuckwagon Capital of Canada in Dewberry, AB. They bought the ranch in November of 2007 and have since upgraded the property to be safe and functional for their broodmares and young stock.

One of the foals produced by the Nowosad family.

With mutual interest and involvement in College Rodeo and roping, Tyler and Helen found each other. Shortly after College Tyler, a welder by trade, focused his energy on taking care of his young family. Competition wouldn’t stay away long though. The young couple persevered through pedigree to find top performances horses. The first being, a DR Nick Bar mare, the horse that Helen developed her outstanding ability as a barrel racer. After much success with the DR Nick Bar line, and collecting four own daughters by the legendary stallion, this would be the start of their elite bred broodmare band. This includes Alley’s sensational Dam “Sweet Fleet Bar.” The DR Nick Bar horses have proven their athletic ability and superior mindsets time and time again.

The couple knew right from the start how important a solid proven foundation would be. Not only did the mares have to prove themselves, but the foals had to perform as well. That thought process led to the Nowosad’s obtaining their double-bred Peppy San badger stallion BSF Northern Boon, aka “Vegas” (Peptos Quick Pick x El Northern Dance).

This next key purchase, Vegas, started as a smooth moving yearling, who caught Tyler’s eye at an auction sale. Tyler had planned to sit on his hands that day, but couldn’t resist a bid. In 2014 the Nowosad’s started crossing Vegas with their DR Nick Bar daughters, and in no time fell in love with the cross. Vegas now is the primary stallion used at Shamrock Performance Horses.

The young stallion and Tyler shared their own success story this spring, when SR Vegas Got Lucky aka “Marley,” was sold to 2016 World Champion Header Levi Simpson. Marley, the first son of Vegas’, found his niche in team roping instead of barrel racing. This allowed Tyler to campaign his skills as a roper and trainer.

Versatility in the performance world can be a hard to achieve. Combining dominant race blood with outcross working cow horse lines, generates an opportunity for the Nowosad’s to utilize all of their abilities. This is very evident in the horses that they are now performing on. This foundation of strong genetics in pedigree will remain stable for years to come.

Jaden and Rowdey are also an integral part of the system. They expose, and challenge the young horses to adhere to the “younger generations” tasks. Further demonstrating the quality of mind produced through the outcross genetics.

With winter fast approaching the Nowosad’s are gearing up for 2018. Fully dedicated, each and every one of them contributes their time, effort and dollars to insuring the success of the program. Helen is currently taking the steps necessary to get Alley on the track to RFD TV’s American Rodeo Richest One Day Rodeo in the World, hosted in Texas February 2018.

The Canadian Barrel Horse Incentive Breeders Sale October 7, 2017 in Ponoka, Alberta, was a strong start to the new season. Where they had a yearling filly “Sweet Northern Nick” entered with her Super Stakes Certificate and selling as the reserve highest bid. This filly is eligible for the added incentive money if run at the CHBI Thanksgiving race in the future. This was the first available yearling horse to be sold out of the program.

However, that was not the end of the Nowosad’s success at the 2017 Thanksgiving weekend. “Alley” held up her end of the bargain as well. With the fastest times on day 1&2 of the CBHI Derby, Helen and Alley had the long wait of being the last run in the Short Go. Excitement coursed through the arena as the dynamic duo “peeled paint” on three exceptional barrels, not only to win, but also to set an arena record at Calnash Center, with a 16.824 sec run. Hard work pays off but does not start nor end in the arena.

The Nowosad family will be busy introducing their exciting young prospects to the training program. Their training program involves many aspects including gentle starts; to develop balance and minds, extensive exposure to kids, dogs and other animals; with consistent training by all four members. One training tip they take very seriously is giving their horses praise. By developing a strong horse/rider bond through praise, the Nowosad’s are able to establish a willing confident partner.

Helen credits mentor NFR qualifier Lee Ann Rust for elevating her confidence and refining the mechanics of the training program. Rust’s insightful instruction has greatly influenced Helen’s guidance of her daughter Jaden.

Tyler and Helen are very excited for the future of their program. As well as watching Jaden and Rowdey make an impression on the rodeo world. The Shamrock may be a symbol of luck, but it’s the dedication of this exceptional family that brings success to Shamrock Performance Horses.

A Family Built on Champions

When it comes to pursuing their passions, the Whiteside Family runs nothing short of hard work, motivation and determination.

It’s all in the family for Travis and Dusti Whiteside. They are champions – making champions. Travis, a 12-time Canadian Finals Rodeo qualifier, Canadian Champion, season leader and multiple-time Calgary Stampede qualifier in the bareback riding, and his wife Dusti, who qualified for Nationals every year during high school, competing in cutting, breakaway roping, barrel racing, goat tying and pole bending, also receiving a scholarship from her successes, are now passing on knowledge to their own children – as well as many other children.

Whiteside Family

The Whiteside Family

Travis and Dusti have two daughters, Kylie 13, and Bradi 11. Though these girls are still young, Kylie just coming into her teen years, and Bradi being four foot nothing – don’t think for a second that these two won’t out rope, or even out ride you. They were both pretty well riding before they could walk, and had a pretty good taste of rodeo early on in life.

Where it all started!

Where it all started!

Their mother, Dusti, is the founder of Small Spurs Rodeo. It is an organization specially for children 14 and under, started in 2007. When talking with Dusti about Small Spurs, she had started the program realizing that, there really was nothing for kids to get started in rodeo. As it has been one of her passions for several years, she also stated that it is important for kids to have something to do, where they can set a goal, achieve that goal, get to a rodeo, and stay out of trouble. With her prizes ranging from buckles to saddles, everyone gets a prize. Dusti is very grateful to all the sponsors that donate, allowing her to continue to run Small Spurs Rodeo, and make it a great, positive atmosphere for children, and everybody. Dusti even admits that running Small Spurs Rodeo has changed her as a person, and she is happy for that.

Both Kylie and Bradi got their start in Small Spurs Rodeo. Since starting rodeo, Kylie has had many accomplishments. Her bigger accomplishments include qualifying for Nationals in Gallup, New Mexico, Canadians, and even winning her first saddle in the all-around at 9-years-old.

Kylie Whiteside

Kylie making another great run!

Gallup, NM

Gallup, NM

Bradi, recently won the all-around title at the Canadian Girls Rodeo Association Finals, was the season leader in the pole bending, and was the youngest competitor qualifying in all of her events. She was also the Rookie of the Year in Junior High School Rodeo, and qualified for Nationals in Gallup, New Mexico, where she set the fast time in the pole bending, with a time of 20.1 to win first, as well as a 19.9 with a knocked pole, and still winning second. 

Bradi Whiteside

Bradi getting one roped… quick!

Bradi Whiteside

Bradi and her winnings.

For as young as these girls are, and the accomplishments they have to date, people may ask, “What makes them so good?”

Gallup, NM

Kylie and Bradi spending some quality time with their horses in Gallup, New Mexico

Well, they all eat, sleep and breathe what they love. Recently, the girls have been getting home schooled.  At first, Travis and Dusti were non-believers in the whole home schooling idea, but eventually they thought they would give it a try, and said so far, it has been great. Other than Travis said, “Kylie and Bradi are always hiding on me, and then I look out the window and see them riding bareback across the field on the young horses.”

The girls couldn’t be happier. They love that they have way more time to work with their horses, and pursue their passions. Ultimately, these two want to be great champions.

Whiteside girls

The Whiteside girls compete together in the Team Roping as well!

I have watched Kylie and Bradi grow, and ride over the years, and always could see how “handy” these two were going to be. My eyes were opened even more when Dusti started showing me videos. Things like, Kylie teaching her horse to rear up, then another video of her going around the barrels bareback and bridleless, and then both Kylie and Bradi had taught their horses to lie down within a day. It just goes to show how important “quality time” is.

Aside from being a rodeo family, I admire the personal values they share with their children, as well as with the children from Small Spurs:

  • It is important to win.
  • It is important to lose.
  • You can never be a winner, until you have learned how to lose.
  • Always congratulate people.
  • Smile – even when you don’t feel like it.
  • Be a humble winner, and a graceful loser.
  • Don’t ever beat your horse up.

“If you don’t dream, it doesn’t happen. Everybody has to have dreams to be successful.” ~ Dusti Whiteside

The Little Things

Photo by Jenn Webster.

Photo by Jenn Webster.

With those of you who know me, you will understand the whole randomness of this thought process as you read. For those of you who do not know me, this is how I think.

I ride and train barrel horses for a living. Love it. Although my days are sociably lonesome from any human contact, I am surrounded by what I find to be the most amazing animals. Horses. Throughout the day, as I ride and work, my thoughts are many and random.

One that has really kind of bugged me recently are people around Christmas time. I am certainly not a grinch, but read on and hear me out.

As we all know from the songs, greeting cards and shopping – “It is the most wonderful time of the year.” Is it? Really?

I recently read on a Black Friday massacre, people beating each other in the stores and in the parking lots, over deals on items; you go to town, and everybody is in hurry-up mode. Nowhere for parking, people absolutely stressed about having extra money to shop and spoil their loved ones, and you rarely hear “excuse me” if someone wants past you. Whatever happened to the true meaning of Christmas? And when did it become that a simple card with meaningful words was not enough?  I wonder if you randomly asked children of today what Christmas is all about, would they know?

To me, of course it is the Birth of Christ, and the get-togethers with family and friends. Today’s society has become so focused on materialistic items, and the thought pattern has become that the only way to show love is to buy people more and more and more. So my main thought for all of the rambling is: Do materialistic gifts fill your heart forever? Can you look back in 50 years and remember how gifts made you feel, or would you even care, or remember that gift anymore after that long? I understand some gifts are very meaningful, and yes, I believe there is room for that. But ultimately, the older I get, the more people I meet, I am now realizing that quality time and good memories you spend making with those you love and care about are the ones that fill your heart forever. It is the kind words, the meaningful hugs, and the good old cheek pinch from Grandma no matter how old you are.

As I work with the horses daily, and spend hours watching them, I appreciate all that they teach me, every day. The gratitude they show over just getting a pat or a good brushing; the excitement they have and how they nicker when they see you coming to their pen; the craziness and playfulness they have when you turn them loose to run in the arena; or, even just the enjoyment of finding a little green blade of grass through the snow. The little things.

So, with what I am learning from the horses on a daily basis, it urges me to ask these questions: What if we all just had a little more gratitude for everything we already have in our lives? What if we all just treated each other a little bit better? What if we went out of our way for a stranger and had manners like “excuse me, please and thank-you,” or helped an older person with their groceries to their car? When is enough, enough?

I think there would be a lot more happiness throughout the world if we could all impose this sort of change, and not just around Christmas. Always. I hope this blog has reached those that need it and it is nothing personal to anybody. Take notice – where can you help out and make someone’s day good? It’s the little things.

One Day at a Time

Meet Brooke. The past few years have been an incredible journey, not knowing what life had in store for her. So she took it one day at a time.

As a young, vibrant barrel racer, Brooke was on top of the world. She was young, had many accomplishments under her belt already, such as multiple qualifications for Canadian Girls Rodeo Association (CGRA) and Alberta Barrel Racing Association (ABRA) Barrel Racing Finals. as well as being a tough competitor in the High School Rodeo Association in Barrel Racing, Pole Bending and Goat Tying. She was ready to take on the world, and had her whole life waiting for her.

Brooke making yet another great run.

Brooke making yet another great run.

When Brooke was at the age of 19, it was January 16, 2012. Brooke had received every high school graduating student’s long awaited college acceptance letter. Later that day, she also received some devastating news. She had been diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML), not exactly how she pictured that day would go.

When I asked Brooke how she felt about it right after she was diagnosed, she said, “For a young 19-year-old girl, who was not even a year out of graduating high school, being diagnosed with cancer was certainly not how I pictured that day to go. Something no one could ever imagine happening, a true nightmare. At first I was really scared, and scared many times throughout my journey.”

Immediately after being diagnosed, the doctors proceeded with a bone marrow extraction, and from that test they can determine all the details of the leukaemia and how they were going to treat Brooke. From there, they started by testing siblings, and there is only a 30% chance they could be a potential match. Unfortunately, Brooke’s brother was not a match. After finding out that her brother was not a match, the doctors went to a worldwide stem cell and bone marrow bank, called OneMatch. This process was started at the end of January to beginning of February. They went through all the possible donors until at least two 100% matches were found. One, who will be the donor, and the other, a person for backup.

Brooke learned of her transplant date in mid-May, and received her transplant on June 22, 2012.

“Not being able to contact or know any information about my donor, a year later, when it was possible, I put in for a request for contacting each other. Receiving further information about my donor, I then proceeded to contact her. I am happy to say we are friends and keep in contact on a regular basis.”

In the beginning of Brooke being diagnosed, she was very focused on telling her friends, family and loved ones that it was going to be okay. I asked Brooke what mindset she had throughout her healing, “I centered so much on positives. I truly believe in the power of positive thinking, and I surrounded myself with positive things. There are some things in life you just cannot control, you just have to know that someone has a greater plan for you, and never lose faith. At times, keeping totally positive, and not losing my head was hard. During those times, I was so lucky to be surrounded by people who loved me; they would tell me a funny story or give me encouraging things to read, always letting me know that there was light at the end of the tunnel. I really had to put everything on hold, my friends, barrel racing, even being outside. At first it was really hard; I just wanted to be like everyone else again. I focused all that time on myself, I needed to focus on myself to get better, put everything on hold at that time, so that I can do what I love for the rest of my life.”

Staying Positive!

Staying Positive!

Throughout Brooke’s healing and time in the hospital, she received many beautiful messages, sayings, and thoughts from so many people. The words that stuck with her the most, and were the most inspirational were from her doctor. It was almost as if these words were etched into her soul for as long as she needed them. “You must just take it “One Day at a Time.” So, she did. At that point in her life, she couldn’t think about the past or even the future. Brooke focused on those inspiring words every moment throughout her journey.

On September 27, 2012, Brooke was told she was cancer free.

Brooke is now back in the saddle, but it has not been overnight to get back to her lifelong passion. “This past year has really been a struggle for me, as I wanted to be doing what I love before I was even ready to. I never really realized how much of what I had been through really affected my body, till that fall when I started riding again. It was a horrible feeling when I went to get on my horse and I did not even have the strength to pull myself up onto the saddle. I took most of the winter off, as I do not have an immune system yet, and decided those indoor arenas may not be the best thing for me. This spring and summer I have been riding lots going to a few jackpots and rodeos here and there.

Brooke is back out at the jackpots, and has been going to some Canadian Intercollegiate Rodeos (CIRA); and, because we compete together at the jackpots, may I mention, she is starting to kick ass again!

This past August, Brooke was blessed with a horse named Dumpling. “When I first got him, I was so nervous; the first couple runs together were not so picture perfect. I had almost forgotten how to ride. I had lost all my strength, and my confidence as a rider. So, a lot of the first couple months I spent just riding him, mostly out in the open stubble field and walking the barrel pattern. I would go out in the pasture and just lie in the grass and watch him. Always greeting me for a cookie, I would just stand there and brush him. I was doing lots so we could get to know each other. If we were going to connect barrel racing, first we needed to connect as friends.”

Brooke with Dumpling.

Brooke with Dumpling.

“For the first while, he was just taking care of me; I remember one jackpot he left the third barrel so hard he almost lost me, then shortly remembered I wasn’t ready to go that fast. The more we barrel raced, the more I gained confidence in myself and the more we gained in each other. These past couple months, I have been going to some college rodeos and barrel races. It’s been going really well, making some points and some money here and there. For each run, we keep getting better and better, I am really excited to see what the future brings for the two of us. It has not been till the start of this winter that I am finally starting to find that I am riding like my old self.”

Life is precious.

“There are so many moments in life people take for granted. Spending a lot of time in the hospital, I really got a great understanding of this. Being out of the hospital, I certainly wake up each morning with a smile on my face. Receiving my life-saving gift, I feel as if I have gotten a second chance at life and I do not want to waste it. Embracing life, I cherish all the milestones I once did not know if I would be able to. I take every opportunity presented to me, because, from experience, I truly know that life can change forever in the blink of an eye. You can’t take for granted what you have today; you don’t know what will come tomorrow or even if there will be a tomorrow.” — Brooke Patton

To contribute to success stories like Brooke, you can visit and give someone a second chance at life.

Birth of a Champion

Harley. Photo by Lee Ann Rust.

Contestants are gearing up and counting down to the 40th annual Canadian Finals Rodeo, while one in particular has an interesting task on hand while she is there.

Lee Ann Rust, a CFR barrel racing competetior will be there to barrel race, but also to sign a brand new children’s book that she has written. Rust has written a book about her great barrel horse. Harley, and has shared the story of the trials and sucess along the way.

Lee Ann Rust’s new book about her champion barrel racing horse, Harley.

I remember Lee Ann when she first came up to Canada to rodeo, and she was a very unique individual. Her whole life, and spare time seemed to revolve around Harley, and his well being. She spent hours working on him through stimulating acupressure points, and having a natural approach with his health.  Then she would go and run – and win! I am lucky enough that I have been able to get to know Lee Ann over the past few years, and I must say she is a true inspiration. She is always there to cheer you on, and help you if needed, and always has a great story to tell. I have to laugh when I watch some of my barrel racing runs – because all you hear is Lee Ann in the background, “sit, sit, sit, sit, sit!” and as I round the barrel a really loud, “YEAH! Go on now!”

I love hearing how she wants the best for everybody.

Lee Ann is donating an autographed book to each child at the Canadian Finals Rodeo who is involved with the Rodeo Magic, and she will be autographing a limited number of copies at the Rodeo.

Her book is also available (for U.S. orders only) at, for $11.95 plus tax, plus shipping and handling, and can be found on Amazon.

Just knowing Lee Ann personally – I can assure you this will be a great book to read.

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.