5 Weeks to Christmas: Great Gift Ideas

photo by Megan Beierle

Giving always leaves a better vibe within me than receiving, thus the gist of this week’s great gift ideas.

Soaring temperatures, widespread drought, wildfires and a general overpopulation of horses in the U.S. has seriously depleted the supply of hay, driving the cost of hay up to $25 a square bale in some regions. It’s created a desperate need among equine caretakers. Thankfully, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is on board with the giving spirit this year, and recently announced the ASPCA Equine Fund, which pledges a total of $250,000 to 53 equine welfare organizations and animal control agencies across 19 states as part of its Equine ‘Hay Bale-Out’ grant program. A great form of relief for equine rescue owners impacted by the high cost and low supply of hay in these drought-stricken states.

Photo by Megan Beierle

Here in Canada, the giving spirit appears to be thriving as well. My 4-H friend, Megan Beierle, president of the Midnight Express 4-H Horse Club recently sent me a sweet piece about their club’s effort to help this year. They teamed up with the boarders from the Lazy S arena just west of Airdrie, Alberta to gather and present a variety of much needed items to a local horse rescue.

This stash of warm winter blankets is just part of the supplies they donated as part of the club’s fundraising and community service efforts this year. Together with a large cash donation largely funded by the Lazy S arena boarders, they made a significant contribution to the care of many equines.

Megan and her fellow club member, Victoria Moore, penned the following story and interview with Kathy Bartley, owner and operator of the rescue. It really gives a good sense of the amount of feed, goods and supplies that is needed to maintain an operation of this kind. And, of course the overall need. It inspired some charity gift giving of my own, and I’m happy to share their story here.


The Midnight Express 4-H Horse Club: Bottom (L to R): Carson Moore, Erin Kruisenga, Erna Munoz-White. Middle (L to R): Victoria Moore, Rheanne Beierle, Kylee Kruisenga, Melissa Gablehaus, Megan Beierle. Top (L to R): Kathy Bartley, Emily Tuff, Arlyn Bouchard

Bear Valley Horse Rescue

~ by Victoria Moore (9) and Megan Beierle (18)

Every year, our club, the Midnight Express Horse 4-H Club, chooses an organization to commit community service to, and this year, we decided on Bear Valley, an organization that rescues, rehabilitates, and rehomes horses that have experienced trauma or distress. In order to help this organization, our club worked to donate around 15 used horse blankets, and hundreds of pounds of feed. Recently, we paid a visit to the horses and the people at Bear Valley Horse Rescue.

It takes a lot of donated feed to run a rescue. Photo by Megan Beierle

We had the opportunity to speak to Kathy Bartley, owner and operator of the rescue, and asked her a few questions about the organization.

How did you start Bear Valley? I already lived on the farm, from which we operate the rescue. I started going to horse auctions and bidding against “the meaters”. Many of the horses we have on the farm come from PMU barns.

Why do you do what you do here? I find that I am compelled to do this, because it just seems natural to me. I had just come into new money, and decided to pursue what I have always wanted to do. All of these young and old horses just pull at my heartstrings. I also believe that the feedlots are way too full of horses that could go to better use. Eventually, I just ended up adopting more and more, and it just snowballed.

When did you start? I started adopting the horses in the year 2000, but Bear Valley became a registered charity in the year 2003.

How many horses do you rescue each year? Lately, we have not been bringing home as many horses. Last year, we adopted 26. Some years, we just stay out of it, and do not adopt at all. It really depends on if we think we can rehabilitate and rehome the horses that are up for adoption.

Is there an age limit on the horses that you adopt? We bring home everything from weanlings to ancient horses. We do not like to see any horse go to waste, especially when we know that we can help out.

What are your restrictions? In terms of bringing home horses, we just need to be careful what we purchase. We do need a plan before we head to the auction, and we stick to that plan. Before adopting them out, we go through an interview process. For example, whoever buys a horse from us is not allowed to resell the horse, or bring it to an auction. We are very diligent about researching whom we sell to.

As members, some of the things that caught our attention were the amount of horses Kathy and Mike have worked so hard to rehabilitate. Being passionate about horses, it was wonderful to see the commitment present in these people. The foals were so cute, and it was nice to see that they had formed a type of family among themselves. This is definitely a good place to go if you would like to see true passion for the animal in action.

Rescue weanlings enjoying a bite to eat. Photo by Megan Beierle

Owners of Bear Valley Horse Rescue, Mike and Kathy Bartley, encourage everybody to make a trip to their home and rescue farm. It is recommended that you call (403-637-2708) to make an appointment to take a tour around the property.

6 Weeks 'till Christmas: Great Gift Ideas

Staring down the length of a long Christmas wish list from your family can be a bit daunting. You might find a few fantastic ideas within our digital Christmas Gift Guide. It releases tomorrow, if you’d like to receive a copy sign up to our e-mail list on the Home Page.

In the meantime I asked our editorial team to give me their thoughts on great Christmas gift ideas for this year’s giving season. Here’s what we collectively came up with.

From Jenn Webster, My Stable Life blogger, Western Horse Review Equine Health Editor, training facility owner and mother of twin toddlers. 

Ultimate Hose Nozzle

The only nozzle you’ll ever need! The single biggest problem that hose nozzles have is – they break! Now with the Ultimate Hose Nozzle, you’ll never need to buy another nozzle again. Designed by a fireman, this nozzle is built to last as it is constructed of extruded aluminum, stainless steel, reinforced plastic and comfort-grip soft rubber. With a two-way shut-off this handy attachment withstands heavy-duty abuse and turns any standard garden hose into a multifunctional spray tool – making it the perfect tool for watering your arena in the winter! Comes with a life-time warranty. $44.99

Cowboy Boot Crayon Pack

The perfectly unique stocking stuffer for your little cowboy or cowgirl! Cowboy boots crayons are made with the best non-toxic recycled and redesigned crayons formed into fun shapes. Perfect for those little chubby toddler hands and great for big kids too! Each Crayon measures approximately 2″. Set includes 7 Boot Doodler Crayons in red, peach, yellow, pink, blue, purple and green. $7.00

Tire Pressure Monitoring System

Be environmentally friendly, be safe and save money all at the same time. The HawksHead tire pressure tracker allows rig drivers to press a button and see in real-time, pressures and temperatures of every tire. This helps stop blowouts from damaging your rig and other potentially life-threatening accidents. Sensors that simply replace valve caps allow drivers a visual of up to 38 tires of the soundness of each wheel. Also monitors for slow leaks and over pressure. The Talon 22C, perfect for most horse trailers or fifth-wheels, comes with 4 sensors and a 1-year warranty. $339.00 U.S.

A hose that works in below-freezing temperatures, the Pirit heated water hose is a godsend in the Canadian outback. Maintain a water line 24/7 throughout the winter or use for periodic tasks, such as watering down your arena. No more lugging water buckets. No more draining hoses. Twenty-five to 100 foot length – prices begin at $114.95.

From Deanna Beckley, Western Horse Review Western Lifestyle Editor, trainer’s partner, and reining enthusiast. 

Consuela Original Tote 

Lose the briefcase and feel like you are always on vacation with the these gorgeous Mexican-inspired totes. Made in the U.S., the bag easily holds a laptop and a few magazines – super fun and bright – prices begin at $168.00 U.S.

Wool Saddle Pad

Natural wool and colorful saddle pads are making a comeback in the show ring. From neon green to hot pink, check out the selection in western stores. From $250.00

From Deanna Buschert, Western Horse Review Assistant Editor, writer, photographer and barrel racing and reining enthusiast.

Laredo Personalized Halter

Deanna pointed out these Canadian-made  personalized headgear from Hooligan Designs. This one a custom speckle with copper spot border and painted orange lettering on cheeks. From $110.00

And, a few additions of my own.

Custom Horsehair Jewellery

What a beautiful way to commemorate a special horse. Gorgeous handmade in Canada pieces which can be fashioned from a few strands of your horse or choose a design from artisans, Danielle and Karen themselves, purveyors of Tails Forever. Stunning work, pieces begin at $40.00

Running Horses Headband 

Layne MacKay has styled a number of outfits in our western fashion shoots over the years, so I’m familiar with her neat mix of funky and classic personal style, and was happy to see her new online store open up. I love these boho and horse-inspired headbands. From salsa boots, to Mexican-inspired jewellery to stunning wall murals, there’s a great selection of eclectic items to check out at her store, Prickly Pear. Headband – $14.95

Finally, one more from our styling account rep, Kristine Wickheim, a perfect idea for the photographer in your life – a gem encrusted custom camera strap. You’ll find Heritage Brand, a U.S. based company, on Facebook.


Christmas Hot Chocolate


In honor of the fact that it’s full-blown winter here already in Alberta and that the Webster house already received its first Christmas card (thanks Ker!), I thought today was the perfect day to blog about this Candy Cane Hot Chocolate. It comes courtesy of my family at the Pourhouse Bistro on Edmonton’s Whyte Ave. If you’re looking for a sophisticated pub with fresh cuisine go check them out!

Candy Cane Hot Chocolate
1 oz Kahlua Peppermint Mocha Liqueur
8 oz Candy Cane Hot Chocolate
4 oz freshly whipped cream
2 oz Peppermint Christmas Chocolate Chips

Super easy to make and it’s pretty much a guarantee that everyone will be talking about it at your Christmas party!

As the Pourhouse says “Hoppy Christmas!”

8 Weeks ’till Christmas: Great Gift Ideas

9 Weeks ’till Christmas: Great Gift Ideas

The gentle and steady snowfall this week reminded me Christmas is just around the corner . . . just under 9 weeks away in fact. What a fitting day to begin the countdown as the first of the serious snowfalls continues outside my door.

Last year, I began my 12 Weeks ’till Christmas countdown with a book that still marks as one of my favorite go-to photography books, Chicks With Guns. I’m not a hunter, but I loved both the prose and photos within this book. The stories, gathered from 80 women across America, explains, often in eloquent language, why they own and use firearms. The reasons frequently relate to a family tradition – though not always. Sport, hunting and occasionally protection, factor in the reasons these women own firearms. Their personal triumphs and occasional fears are compellingly real.

I have two further book considerations for your Christmas wish list today. The first is West.

Penned and photographed by two Swedes, Lars Aberg and Lars Strandberg, who share a passion for the American West.

Physically, it’s a large book, with 300 images and prose printed artfully on a matte paper which suits the style well. The pair travelled extensively throughout the West, digging into the oddest corners of mythology and everyday life, contemplating a lifestyle that involves hard work as well as vision, and portraying a vast region with both environmental problems, stunning beauty and plenty of what we think of as the human touch.

West poster.

It fits dreamy and contemplative Sunday afternoons, one of those books you can get lost in for an hour or so. It isn’t your typical western anthology, nor does it copy the David Stocklein type. Those who side more on the conventional may find it odd and unfulfilling, as it does present a rather unusual take on the American West.

The second book I want to offer up today is Peter Campbell’s new Willing Partners – Insight on Stockmanship. This simply-styled book, published by A.J. Mangum’s, The Frontier Project, is a smaller sized book, with the depth and straightforwardness many who know Peter would ascribe to his personality. Written in the style of Peter’s mentor, Tom Dorrance’s True Unity, the text is a collection of essays and thoughts on the process of working with a horse.

As he writes in the book, “There are a million different ways to work a horse. For me, there’s only one right way: to work from where the horse is at.”

Peter and his wife Trina, have resided at their ranch in Colorado for many years now, but Peter is Canadian born and cut his teeth in the horse business riding for Parks Canada, training park horses and guiding for a living when he was a young man.

He writes, “Occasionally, though, there were problems with horses, problems I couldn’t solve, no matter what I tried.” He asked a friend for advice and that friend let him know about a man who was coming to Alberta to conduct a clinic on just that subject – solving horse problems.

That man was Ray Hunt, and he influenced how Peter viewed his equine partners. Eager for more, he moved to California to be close to another mentor, Tom Dorrance. Today we know Peter as an excellent horseman and clinician, in the style of the buckaroo, and furthering the philosophies of Dorrance and Hunt. Travelling throughout North America, he shares his insights and inspirations; many are related in essay form in this book, which also happens to be chock full of photos, often snapped at ranches across Canada, and few vintage shots of Peter in his earlier days in the national parkland bordering Banff.

The book is $50 and you can order it from Amazon or the Peter Campbell website.

Over the next 8 weeks I’ll do my best to come up with some of the most innovative western-styled ideas for your Christmas shopping list. We might throw in some giveaways along the way, so remember to keep Screen Doors & Saddles bookmarked.

The First Cold Day

Likes of the Week

3 Weeks ’till Christmas: Great Gift Ideas

It’s exactly three weeks until Christmas as I write this post, meaning the countdown has begun in earnest. If you want to catch up with all of my prior 12 Weeks ’till Christmas gift ideas, the stream begins here.

This week, some apps you might find useful enough for stocking stuffers.

I begin with my all-time favourite.

I might have purchased my iphone just for the Hipstamatic camera, I’ve had so much fun with it.

The Hipstamtic, with it’s old-fashioned analog feel will remind you of your old Polaroid. Sort of. It’s much more, actually. With it’s wide range of film and options, be prepared to transform your shot into whatever mood or vintage flavor you’d like to impart it with.

I took both of these Arizona shots within a minute of each other while riding.
A year or so ago, I shot our annual fashion photo shoot in Hip, which allowed me to bring a much different perspective to the day than the professional photographers on site.

I’ve taken a ton of horse show shots with it.

. . .  and, I’ve tortured countless teenagers with it . . . including my own.

If you know someone with an iphone, it makes a great stocking stuffer at $1.99.

Another toy camera app I’ve just gotten into is the Tilt Shift Generator. I purchased it to explore tilt-shift miniature faking, which allows for a diorama effect to your photographs, giving the illusion of a miniature scale model.

I love this effect, but I haven’t quite mastered it, this being my best try at it thus far. Here’s 50 beautiful examples of what can be accomplished with tilt-shift photography. Again, a great app for anyone who is into photography.

If you know a horse person with nomadic tendencies, always planning the next leg of travel or horse show to attend, either or both of these travel apps would be welcomed.

Kayak: This is Apple’s most popular travel app, and much like the website, is a cost- and time-efficient way to search for flights, hotels and car rentals all in one place. It even features a function for a Packing List.  With Kayak you can track your flight, convert currency and check out tours and attractions around your destination.

Trip It: For those with multiple trip bookings on the go, this handy app links to your e-mail account and picks up any confirmation number that comes into your Inbox – from dinner reservations, to flights, hotel and car rentals. Install Trip It and lose the messy and inconvenient paper trail typically storing this information.

Of course, there are numerous equine apps to be downloaded as well. My confession at this point is I haven’t tried any of them! Rather than me wading through all of the choices and reviewing them, I’m calling out to you to let us all know what equine apps the most useful, and of course, entertaining.

In the comment section below, let us know what your favorite equine-related app is (If you don’t currently use an equine app, just name any app you find useful), and we’ll enter you in draw to win a Kim Taylor daytimer. I gushed over these daytimers back at week 11 of the countdown. They are a gorgeous and useful timepiece of western ranch photography, and I still have one or two at the office to give away.

Looking forward to hearing your suggestions for best apps.



5 Weeks ’till Christmas: Great Gift Ideas

There are so many sweet Christmas ideas to share, I’m running out of weeks, and now that I’m actually on track with my week count (give or take a few days, it is five weeks to the big day), I have a few interesting sites (as in web), and views (as in sights), to share as we head into the weekend. If you would like to catch up with all of my previous ideas, you can begin the stream here. 

Beginning with views, I’m heading to Texas next week, and while I won’t be anywhere near this location (more pics here), Rancho Bravo is apparently, for sale. In the centre of exactly nowhere, it is completely a flight of the imagination listing, isn’t it?

Sometimes I’d just prefer my very own place like this to write, read, paint, walk and ride. Oh, and the time to engage in these activities.

Over in Fort Worth, where I’ll be staying, the 50th Anniversary of the NCHA Futurity is in full swing. I’m also breathlessly waiting to hear on guest blogger, Deanna Paulsen’s update on a foursome I’ve come to think of as our Road to the Futurity horses at the NRHA Futurity in Oklahoma City. They are our horses, aren’t they, Deanna?

I expect she’ll be checking in sometime soon to the My Stable Life blog with news.

At yesterday’s sales meeting Charmayne showed us the western-themed iphone sleeves available at Zazzle.

My favorite, this vintage old leather reminds me of a small leather case my father used to keep his passport in.

For those who feel the need to broadcast a love of the equine in a whimsical fashion, perhaps these garage door covers? I think the world needs more of these, don’t you?

Finally, grandparents, turn now and walk away from this blog post. It may become expensive . . .

Find this and many more vintage kiddie rides, sure to please many a grandchild, and if you’re so inclined, raise some extra cash for the horses, at Kiddie Rides USA.

Have a great weekend, everyone! Remember to drop by the booth at the Canadian Western Agribition and purchase a Western Horse Review subscription (another great gift idea!).