7 Weeks ’till Christmas: Great Gift Ideas

Not very long ago, I had the chance to chat again with someone I haven’t seen for a very long time. Actually, it was beginning to feel like forever. Anxiety had crept into my brain.

Are you alright?

It was a relief, then, when I spotted him heading my way down the Calgary Stampede Corral concourse on a Saturday night – a tad smaller than I remembered him – but in fine shape, and smiling.

We were only able to chat for a bit. He was a gentleman as always. Unsurprisingly, a tad overwhelmed, and a bit embarrarrassed with the attention lavished on him. And, concerned. Concerned the Calgary Stampede Wrangler Futurity, the event we were all gathered to witness, was being held up as an auction occurred in his name.

Boy, was that typical. Always worried about the show, that Bill.

Of course, I speak of Bill Collins. Bill and Pearl were two of the very first people I met nearly 20 years ago when I purchased the magazine now known as Western Horse Review. I think dearly of them both. I know I’m hardly alone in that sentiment.

So, the story was we were gathered at the Wrangler Calgary Futurity on the Saturday night of the Futurity. Bill had brought in one of his many lifetime championship saddles to be auctioned off.

Something about a vintage saddle, isn’t there?

A lifetime of rides here.

The proceeds of the auction went to the Bill Collins Youth Scholarship Fund, an initiative he’s been heading for years, and a fund which has provided scholarships to a great many youth heading on to University. It was a beautiful gesture on Bill and Pearl’s part.

Thank you Bill and Pearl!

Photo credit: James Hudyma, Hudyma Photography

If you didn’t have a chance to bid on that saddle, there’s still a few of these left.

Divine, isn’t it?

This here fella’s the maker. Recognize him? We haven’t seen him around much this year, either. I caught this shot of him in April at the Mane Event. Back when he was likely still revelling in the glory of the moment. Prior to realizing he actually had to build 100 saddles. One hundred, exquisitely crafted, one-of-a-kind saddles in commemoration of the 100 year anniversary of the Calgary Stampede in 2012. Built by Vic Bennett himself.

I just hope he’s got some help.

I happen to know there’s only a few of these left. They would make a great Christmas gift. Perhaps a family gift in the name of a ranch or farm, which has had a history of showing livestock at the Calgary Stampede. What an incredible way to honor the legacy both of the Calgary Stampede and your own family.

Photo credit: James Hudyma, Hudyma Photography

These saddles retail for $4,995.00. With the Vic Bennett stamp, we know the craftsmanship will be meticulous, right down to the Calgary Stampede brand. The limited-edition saddles will be numbered, signed by Stampede President and Chairman of the Board Mike Casey, and Vic himself, and accompanied by a certificate of authenticity.

They’ll be presented during a Centennial Saddle Celebration in July 2012.


To find out more about the Calgary Stampede’s Centennial saddle program, e-mail [email protected] or visitwww.calgarystampede.com/saddle2012

Check back next week as I present, not one, but two more ideas for great Christmas gifts in my quest to catch up to the real number of weeks left to Christmas.

In the meantime, have a great weekend!

8 Weeks ’till Christmas: Great Gift Ideas

While it may officially be six weeks or less until Christmas, I’m still running a bit behind on my great gift ideas series. Before we begin with this week’s suggestion, I’m happy to announce the winner of last week’s beautiful Mara pottery giveaway. It was my 10 week suggestion, and I happily offered to share one of my newly purchased Mara pottery pieces with the winner of the week’s question: “Who do you have the most difficulty buying a Christmas gift for.”

Thanks to everyone who participated with a comment. The lucky winner, drawn randomly, is Winona, who finds her husband hardest to buy for.

“For my hubby, the man for which is hard to buy!  He loves the great outdoors and would love the piece, I’m sure.  The pieces are gorgeous!“

Thanks Winona, you are now the owner of one of these gorgeous pieces. Contact us at [email protected] to claim your prize.

Onward to this week’s great gift idea.

Recently, at the Western Lifestyle Marketplace, during the Canadian Supreme, Wee and I spent some time at the Double N Ranch booth trying on the great selection of ranch scarves they had on offer. A certain pesky Managing Editor I happen to know cajoled and teased me into purchasing a wild rag, and a buckaroo hat for Wee. I have to admit, the transformation was adorable, and suited the kid quite well.

I don’t own one myself, but with the gorgeous patterns I’ve seen lately, that may change soon.

Like this vibrant wine-colored paisley pattern.

Or, this brilliant blue.

Can there really be such a thing as too much paisley? I think not.

Definitely not.

I love the shots of these young models – the photography is exquisite – showcasing the elegance and rugged beauty of a ranch scarf, particularly when paired with a well worn hat on a punchy ranch kid. See more of these at my original post showcasing these scarves here.

While they are certainly some of the most charming scarves I’ve seen, there are several distributors closer to home who carry an excellent selection as well.

One such, is the aforementioned Double N Ranch, check out their newest patterns and styles of wild rags at this link. 

In Saskatchewan, Young Gunz Distributing carries a large assortment of wild rags.

Such as this elegant beauty.

Or this. You can see the entire selection of Young Gunz wild rags at their Facebook page.

Just one more. Polka dot delight.

Here’s the part you won’t want to miss. Western Horse Review is partnering with Young Gunz Distributing to bring you an utterly wonderful offer, if you happen to be attending the Canadian Western Agribition, Nov. 21-26, in Regina, Saskatchewan. Pop by the Young Gunz booth and with your purchase of a Western Horse Review subscription, receive $10 off any Outlaw Wild Rag in their booth.

Hope to see you there!

10 Weeks ’till Christmas: Great Gift Ideas

If you missed last week’s great Christmas gift idea – the beautiful Kim Taylor On The Trail day planner, I have a new gorgeous idea for you today.

This week’s great Christmas gift idea is beautiful handcrafted Mara pottery. The sculptor Mara designed many pieces of pottery over her lifetime; you can read more about her here. Studying with world’s greatest modern artists, Mara developed and mastered the difficult technique of precise line drawing in ceramics.

I happened upon Mara pottery at the Canadian Supreme Western Lifestyle Marketplace a few weeks ago.

I’m not one for factory-made, so I was immediately drawn by the fact that each piece of Mara pottery is engraved and painted by hand, a tradition her family carries out in her name.

These gorgeous pieces are both contemporary and rustic. Love them.

A milk jug, but could also function as a wine decanter.

This is another of Mara’s designs – coyote cactus – which I think would work well with the horse set I already purchased.

I want to share this beautiful pottery, so I’m giving one of my newly purchased and unused pieces away! I haven’t decided which I can part with yet, but while I agonize over that choice, let us know in the Comment section below, who you have the most difficult time purchasing a Christmas gift for. You don’t have to name your giftee specifically, but can retain them some anonymity with a nickname, if you prefer. Contest closes Friday, Nov. 11 at midnight.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Well folks, I realize it’s not quite Christmas yet but this may be my last post on My Stable Life until after the 26th. You see, I have some some doctor’s appointments (all scheduled, not emergencies), errands to run and then Clay and I fly back to Alberta to spend some time with our families. So I’m not certain I will have much time to post in the next couple of days. But you can bet I will be back after Christmas!

Even Santa's elves got to join in the festivities!

Here are a couple of highlights from the J. Drummond Farms Christmas party, held this past weekend. Nothing gets in me in the festive mood better than a delightful Christmas party, filled with good company! Our shop was cleared out and all the farm equipment pushed aside, to make way for the tables and band platform and mountains of food and treats. The holiday cheer in the air could only signal one thing – the great festive occasion is finally upon us.

The combines and sprayers were pushed aside so family and friends could enjoy each others' company.

As you can see, the shop was covered in lights and every Gator, sprayer or tractor in sight got a string or two as well. This is a farm Christmas party like none other – Saskatchewan style!

The fireplace was toasty and warm and adorned with stockings. And we even had a special guest drop by – I loved it when the children kept asking me if I had seen Santa’s sleigh yet. “Do you think that maybe he parked over by the horses?” one little girl asked me.

“Maybe!” was my reply. “Perhaps he just needs a minute or two to carry his bag over here to the shop now. It’s a pretty big bag after all…” And when Santa finally made his grand entrance, the shrieks of joy from the children were adorable. Some of the littler ones were pretty spooked of course but not this little guy:

Or this little girl:

And even some big kids took part in the fun:

Before and after dinner, we were treated to the rockin’ beats of Becky and the Jets:

And they even threw in a couple of carols, to ensure we all walked away with the spirit in our hearts.

Merry Christmas to you all! I wish all you wonderful readers of My Stable Life a safe and happy holiday season and a Happy New Year!

– JW

A Handmade Card

There is nothing like a hand made card!

My friend, Deb Rinas from Moose Jaw, SK, makes the loveliest handmade Christmas cards. Her cookies are pretty amazing too! However, today she has agreed to share one of her Christmas card designs with My Stable Life. If you’re handy at scrap booking – or if not – Deb offers simple instructions so even those of us who are not as creatively inclined can make this beautiful homemade card.

So without further adieu, here’s Deb:

Step #1 – Now that the design has been established, I pick out some colored paper to compliment each other in the card layout.

Step #2 – Next, I get some supplies ready such as hole punches, edge cutters, stamps, ink pads, glue, markers, dimensionals and ribbon.  A lot of my stuff comes from scrapbook supply stores, but you’d be amazed by what you can create with various things around the house.

Step #3 – My paper is all cut, punched, edge cut and stamped. And as you can see, the main backing of the card is one piece of white paper folded in half. All that has to be done now is to glue everything together. I tie the ribbons into little bows and give the Christmas ornaments some dimension by gluing them onto solid colored cutouts of the same shape.  Then I give a raised effect between the two layers of the Christmas ornaments with dimension glue dots.

Step #4 – At this point, my card is almost finished. I just have to color the stamped image! Then I glue it onto colored background pieces of paper that have been cut to fit and border my stamped image.

Step #5 – Here is your completed homemade Christmas card, ready to be mailed and enjoyed by all!

Winner of the Cowgirl Gift Basket!

Happy Friday everyone! It is with great pleasure that I get to reveal the winner of the awesome Cowgirl gift basket this morning!! Even my Little J (yearling pictured above) is super excited about it! And I promise to stop using so many exclamation marks now…

If you had a chance to see December 10th’s post, My Stable Life Christmas Contest, I announced that MSL would be giving one lucky reader a special prize package consisting of; a beautiful horse head mug; a cowgirl’s notebook; PooPooPaper & refill; a DiVoga ballpoint pen; Cowboy band-aids; and a triple DVD featuring The Black Stallion, The Black Stallion Returns and The Man from Snowy River.

All readers had to do was tell me about one of their favorite Christmas memories, or why this upcoming Christmas would be special for them or someone else. I received all kinds of answers, which I’d love to share with you today:

• Don wrote – “My favorite Xmas story was when I got a Budgie bird… too bad mom didn’t give me any birdfeed!”

• Chelsea wrote – “I will never forget the ‘reindeer droppings’ that were left on our roof one Christmas. They mysteriously looked a lot like horse poo, but to this day my parents maintain that it was Rudolph that left the mess on the roof!”

• Andrea wrote – “This will be our first Christmas in our new home on our acreage. It was cow pasture when we bought it last October and we moved into our new home in February. We are very excited, we also were able to bring our horses to their new home this fall. We hope to go for a ride on Christmas Eve! It will be very special!”

• Pat wrote – “This one isn’t from a Christmas past, it’s about the one that is coming. This year I am giving a Christmas gift to a very special little Paint Horse called Lightning. No it’s not a toasty warm winter blanket or a new fancy brush.  He will still get some yummy horse treats in his stocking but his main gift is more special than any material gift I could give him. My gift to him represents an end to an era for him, an end to the stigma of being a twice rescued horse and an official end to the irresponsible neglect and poor handling he endured…  My Christmas gift to him is a new name – I will call him… Scout.”

• Rachel wrote – “This Christmas will be the most special because it will be my daughter’s first Christmas. Then 3 days later we will celebrate her 1st birthday.”

• Dame Debbie wrote – “Connections – with family and friends. We often forget to share how important they really are! Christmas time gives us a perfect excuse to exercise some ‘love’ and demonstrate these affections. It ain’t just the gettin’, it’s the givin’ where hearts really shine! Let yours out for folks to see the kindness inside. The exercise will do ya good!”


• Sharon wrote – “The candle light service at our little church in our small town. When the candles are lit and the lights are turned off and everyone sings Silent Night. Our church is closed now and it just won’t seem the same this year even though we do have another one to go to. This one was special.”

And the winner is…? (Submissions were entered into a pot and a winner was randomly selected by a draw.) Drum roll pleeeeeeeaaase……

Judy Greenall! Who tells me her favorite Christmas was when her husband bought her a shovel… because she was complaining the one she had was too heavy for her to clean the barn!

A New Baby, Baby Horses & A Baby Sister

Christmas, to me, is about family and friends.

First let me start off this grand morning with a big congratulations to my friends, Colin and Kerri Mallett!! They welcomed a little bundle of early Christmas joy this morning – Brooklyn Ann Mallett was born to them, with blonde hair and weighing just under 5 pounds. Baby is healthy and her parents are doing well.

In addition to that great news, I am so excited! In less than a week’s time, Clay and I will be flying to Alberta to spend Christmas with our families. So we’ll get to take a break from this:

With so much blowing snow this week, it was time to blow out our paddocks so horses could be turned out into them.

And this:

More snow blowing. It was actually a lot of fun to watch.

And this:

Okay, this was dowright hilarious to watch. Clay was trying to move snow that had blow up against the fences and gates, but the colts insisted on being right there, underfoot as he did so.

A whole giant pasture to play in and the colts had to be exactly where Clay and his tractor was:

For a while, I actually wondered if Clay was trying to build a snow fence (literally) to keep the colts penned up while he finished the chore:

I swear, our colt crop this year resulted in the biggest bunch of nerds. Of course, I say that in the most affectionate way! I just find their personalities darned funny. And I love horses with character.

But for a few days, we will leave the horses behind and toodle over to Calgary and Edmonton to visit with people we haven’t been able to see in a while. One of them being my sister:

Me on the left and my sister, Nicole on the right. A loooooong time ago...

Oh she’s gonna kill me for posting this one! My baby sister is now a doctor and we are super proud of her. But seriously Nic, did Mom cut our bangs back in those days???

My sister cooling out SR Sweet Chicolet for me after a run in the showpen.

As our lives go in different directions, and into different provinces, it gets harder and harder to catch up with friends and family these days. But Christmas is one of those times when you make it happen. When you cut corners on a few of the chores and take some time to just chill with family. And if not, family are the first to be there for you if you can’t leave the horses temporarily on their own – as my sister can attest to. She has helped me feed and turnout on several Christmas mornings.

I love ya Nic! And I’ll see you in person soon!!

Oh and stay tuned to My Stable Life – tomorrow I’ll reveal the winner of the awesome Cowgirl gift basket!

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

Alright everybody, it’s time to get our Christmas on! There’s only 16 more days to go.

I love Christmas: the smell of a fresh tree in the house, colored lights everywhere and even the hustle and bustle of the month of December. It’s a time to reflect upon those aspects of life that are truly important. We can share gifts with the ones we love and maybe even often a little Christmas cheer to those who are less fortunate.

Christmas, to me, means family and a chance to catch our breaths from the busy year we are about to leave behind. This month, Clay and I are looking forward to returning to Alberta for a few days and getting the opportunity to visit with relatives and friends.

Today I’d like to share with you one of my favorite Christmases of all time. And then, if you feel so inclined, I’d love it if you share your favorite Christmas with me. Just drop me a quick line or two in the comments section below. In a week, one lucky reader will win a My Stable Life gift basket as my special Christmas present to you for sharing your memories.

So here goes:

Me on the left, D'Allegro and my best friend Jaime on the right.

Wow, does the above picture ever take me back! As you can see, neon colors and curled bangs were in big fashion in those days…  But you have to give me a little slack – this shot was taken on a Christmas eve when I was 13-years-old. My family had gotten together at my best friend, Jaime’s house to exchange gifts as per our usual tradition.

Unbeknownst to me, Jaime was about to throw me for a complete loop. After some hot chocolate and gift unwrapping, Jaime said, “Hey Jenn, you gotta come outside and take a look at these Northern lights out here!”

So I put on my neon jacket and followed her and her parents out the door. My family then followed me out the door. And everyone started saying, “Wow! Look at those Northern lights.”

To which I responded, “What are you guys talking about?? There are absolutely no Northern lights out here tonight…?”

And that’s when I heard the clip-clop of hooves coming down a wooden sidewalk. Around the corner came Jaime with a big, gentle-natured bay gelding sporting a blue halter and big red ribbon on his head. Jaime was crying and that’s when it finally hit me, “Oh my gosh! She’s totally giving me D’Allegro as a Christmas present!!”

As an accomplished rider, Jaime had graduated to a new mount, one that could take her farther in her pursuit of her three-day eventing passion. D’Allegro had previously brought Jaime as far as they could go together and now it was time for him to help a new rider along. Me.

I had grown up as a city kid, relishing any chance I got to jump on anything: From my grandfather’s Belgian team, to the ponies he kept around for us, to any opportunity Jaime would give me to cool out her horses at her lessons. Then came the Christmas eve, forever burned in my memory as the night I got my very first horse. From that day on, Jaime took me under her wing and showed me the ropes of horse ownership. We rode the ditches around her house. She taught me about things like deworming and feeding. And we laughed as only teenage girls do, every step of the way.

That Christmas eve was truly a turning point in my life. It was a momentous occasion that even my husband recognizes – on our wedding day, Clay turned to Jaime and thanked her for that December 24th night. She remains my best friend to this day.

Jaime (left) and I at Reinin' In The Sun, Armstrong, BC.


Alright, before I get too emotional, I’d like to hear about your favorite Christmas!!