Equine Ecstasy at Horse Haven

It was a business venture all the way, but the Nygaards soon found their hearts ruling their chequebook.

“It’s like a box of chocolates. You can’t just have one,” says Cheryl Nygaard, recalling the Martensville, Sask.-based family’s decision to bring back a half-dozen Gypsy Cob mares from England, and start their North Fork Gypsy Cobs breeding operation, in early 2008. “They’re amazing animals. They are not only pretty, but they have calm, peaceful personalities.

“They’re quick to learn, and very eager to please,” adds Cheryl, who runs North Fork with husband Dale. “They really are very special animals.”

You’ll find plenty of that sort of sentiment during the 2010 Calgary Stampede at Horse Haven, located in the north Agriculture Barns. Open daily from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. in a Western setting, Horse Haven features all kinds of light horse enthusiasts extolling the virtues of their equine companions — and promoting the breed they love.

This year, 18 different breeds are on display. Sixteen of them (Quarter Horse, Appaloosa, Friesian, Tennessee Walker, Morgan, Paint, Welsh Pony, Mini, Norwegian Fjord, Thoroughbred, Standardbred, Peruvian Paso, Paso Fino, Curly, Foxtrotter and Canadian) had stalls set out at last year’s Stampede. And two other breeds are new in 2010 — the Gypsy Cob, which will set out its stall from July 9 through 13, and the Spanish Andalusian, which will have its own five-day presentation from July 14 through 18. These light horse breeds can be seen in action daily during demonstrations in the Northern Lights Arena and the Big Top.

“Even rare breeds are becoming prevalent these days. Alberta is horse country, and there’s all kinds of breeds out there,” notes Lara Schuelke, the chair of the Stampede’s Light Horse committee. “And the more breeds we have that can commit to putting on a good show, the higher quality programming we can provide.

“Horse Haven promotes the breeds common to the region and provides an educational opportunity for the public,” adds Schuelke. “People get to see horses in action, and get up close and personal.”

The Nygaards will be using the Stampede stage to help spread the word on Gypsy Cobs, which have been a recognized breed for less than a century and were only brought to North America in the late 1990s. Originally bred by the Romani people, or “travellers,” in the United Kingdom, Gypsy Cobs are also known as Gypsy Vanners in the United States, where they’ve gained more of a foothold.

“We guess that there’s probably only about 200 Gypsy Cobs in Canada right now,” says Cheryl Nygaard. “They’re still a very rare breed here. Most of our customers are from the U.S., because Canadians just don’t know what to do with them. But you can use them for anything — riding, driving, working cattle, even jumping and dressage.

“One of the things we like to do is have our ranch open to people so they can come out and visit with the horses — spend time with them, and absorb the peace and the pleasure of being with them.”

Equestrian vaulting, a new, must-see light horse demonstration, will take over the Big Top on Wednesday, July 14 and Thursday, July 15. A combination of gymnastics and dance on horseback, vaulting teaches children and adults to move in harmony with a horse, as well as improving balance, flexibility, strength, and teamwork skills. Spanish-themed demonstrations, courtesy of Spanish Andalusian and Paso Fino breeders, will be held under the Big Top on Wednesday, July 14, Thursday, July 15, and Sunday, July 18.

New to Horse Haven this year is a celebrity station, which will see Stampede rodeo and chuckwagon stars, as well as other luminaries of the equine world, chatting and signing autographs.

Craig Cameron, creator of the incredibly popular Extreme Cowboy Race, will also pay a visit to Horse Haven. Extreme Cowboy Racing will be making its Canadian debut with the Calgary Stampede Cowboy Up Challenge from July 10 to 12, and Cameron, who’s based in Bluff Dale, Texas, and known as the “cowboy’s clinician,” will be on hand in Horse Haven from July 9 to 12 to promote the new sport.

Meanwhile, Horse Sense 101, a relatively new Horse Haven feature, continues this year with a daily family-oriented program that teaches the basics about horses in an interactive, hands-on, educational setting. Special guests, including breeders, trainers, veterinarians, and other equine experts, will discuss important topics such as grooming, feed, and bedding, among others, to those interested in populating their own stable with a four-legged friend.

Horse Sense 101 will be augmented for this year’s show with an additional new educational display. “It’s focused on general horse knowledge,” says Schuelke, “like what they eat, how to groom them, that sort of thing.”

The boardroom will also come to the barn this year at Horse Haven, as The Natural Leader, an Alberta-based company, uses the relationship between horse and handler to teach companies how to build effective corporate leadership, communication, and team collaboration skills from Tuesday, July 13 to Thursday, July 15 in the Northern Lights Arena.

The Best in the West

Calgary’s Ron Mathison was the inaugural winner of the Elite Western Rider Award, in 2009, by posting a pair of Top-10 finishes in Western Performance Horse action.

It’s almost time for the Calgary Stampede – in fact, three more sleeps – and I want to remind you all to check in on our website this Friday for the live feed. I believe it will begin with draft horse competition coverage, followed by the Cowboy-Up Challenge.

More on that later.

Right now I want to let you know about the Calgary Stampede’s Elite Western Rider Award.

For the second year, the Calgary Stampede Elite Western Rider Award will be up for grabs among all competitors in the western performance horse events at the 2010 Calgary Stampede. From a total entry list of several hundred names, the award represents a tip of the hat to those riders nimble and versatile enough to negotiate the challenges of all three western performance horse events — the Calgary Stampede Team Cattle Penning Competition (which runs from July 9 to 12 at the Pengrowth Saddledome), the Calgary Stampede Cutting Horse Competition (July 13 to 15 under the Big Top), and the Calgary Stampede Working Cow Horse Classic (July 16 and 18 under the Big Top).

“It’s a way of recognizing some of the really good horse people that compete in not just one of our events, but two or all three of them,” says Christine Sowiak, chair of the Stampede’s Western Performance Horse committee.

All riders who compete in at least two of the three disciplines are eligible for the Elite Western Rider Award, which carries no separate entry requirements, and all competitors earn points toward the title with Top-10 finishes in at least two of the events. The second annual Elite Western Rider Award will be presented on Sunday, July 18 after the Calgary Stampede Working Cow Horse Classic wraps up under the Big Top, with the winner receiving a handcrafted Stampede champion buckle.

“The award focuses on the rider, not the horse. If they’re in all three events, they’re riding three different horses, and have skill sets to transfer,” says Sowiak. “We’re not discrediting the ones who dominate cutting, or team penning, for example. But these cowboys and cowgirls who have the skills to compete at a top level at the Stampede, in more than one discipline? That’s really something.”

Calgary’s Ron Mathison was the inaugural winner of the Elite Western Rider Award, in 2009, by posting a pair of Top-10 finishes in Western Performance Horse action. Mathison was fourth in the 14 Class final in Team Cattle Penning, and placed fourth overall in the Non-Pro Bridle category of the Working Cow Horse Classic aboard Another Hot Chic.

Those chasing Elite Western Rider Award points can compete in any of the four Team Cattle Penning categories (Open, 14 Class, 10 Class, and 7 Class), and either of the major divisions in cutting (Open and Non-Pro). The Open Bridle, Open Hackamore, and Non-Pro Bridle classes are eligible in the Working Cow Horse discipline, but Limited Open and Novice Non-Pro are not.

Western Canada, particularly southern Alberta, enjoys a sterling standard in all three Western Performance Horse events, thanks to the excellence of the region’s trainers, and should give area competitors a leg up in the arena from July 9 to 18 as Elite Western Rider Award points are tabulated.

“This part of Alberta is blessed to have some of the world’s best trainers and competitors,” says Sowiak. “Some of the best cutters on the circuit, in any given year, come out of Texas, and there are some really elite penners who come up from Oklahoma or Arizona.

“But this award is pretty much impossible for anyone but an Alberta competitor to win, and part of the motivation for establishing the award was to recognize what those people give back to this community.”

Summer Classic 2010

Since I couldn’t be there this time, my friend Travis Rodgers from TJ Photography has graciously allowed me to post some of the photos he snapped at the 2010 Reining Alberta Summer Classic.

How precious is this?

When I grow up, I wanna be like Travis. Only maybe still, female.

Travis has an amazing eye for beautiful shots. He was the photog responsible for the fabulous shots you saw in this year’s Western Horse Review fashion issue. And don’t forget, the second segment will be coming in a fall issue!

If you’d like to check out more of Travis’ work, check out: www.tj-photography.com

Model in the making? I think so!

Kathy Kolsun’s stunning buckskin mare:

And her daughter, Bailey Kolsun, warms up.

This is Travis and his wife Marija’s beautiful stallion, Jacs Okie Pine:

And Holly Kowblick is caught in a moment of reflection… Or in the middle of fixing her stirrups.

Thanks Travis! Your photos are amazing!

Cowtown Derby & Stockhorse Results 2010

Dale Clearwater & Major Dandy Chex win the K&K Livestock Fence Challenge.

Jesse Thomson & ER Kolas Twirl win the Open Derby.

Suzon Schaal & Genuine Brown Gal win the NRCHA Non-Pro Bridle.

Suzon receives her award.

Dale Clearwater receives the saddle for his Fence Challenge win.

Clay Webster & Meradas Blu Starlite win the NRCHA Ltd. Open Bridle.

* All pictures by Heather Baumgardner unless otherwise stated.

Horse  /  Rider  /  Owner  /  Herd  /  Rein  /  Cow  /  Total  /   Payout  /   Hi point

OPEN DERBY
ER Kolas Twirl  Jesse Thomson  Greenpine Ranch  71   71  75  217  $3,030  $300   Cow
CD Ben  John Swales   Mary Reti  71.5   71  73   215.5  $2,424 $100  Cow
Smart Lil Double Pep  Dale Clearwater    Louise Allchurch   73   71.5    70   214.5  $1,515   $300  cutting
Mudinic  Cayley Wilson  Judd & Sarah Sherman  71   72.5   71   214.5    $1,515   $125   reining
Twice the Bet   Clint Swales   Clint Swales  69   72  73   214  $909  $100  Cow
Whiz N Boogie  Vance Kaglea  Clint Kish   69   72   72.5  213.5   $707

Non-Pro Derby
High Five Peppy    Bart Holowath    B & T Holowath    71.0    67.0    73.0    211.0  $1,800.00 (hi fence breaks tie)
In the Nic of Sign    Jim Dobler    Jim Dobler    70.0    69.0    72.0    211.0  $1,350.00
Mr Blew Boon    Heather Baumgardner    Heather Baumgardner    69.0    70.0    71.0    210.0  $900.00
Its Justa Dual    Sarah Sherman    Sarah Sherman    71.0    70.5    68.0    209.5   $450.00

Amateur Derby
High Five Peppy    Bart Holowath    B & T Holowath    71    67    73    211   $820.00 (hi fence breaks tie)
In the Nic of Sign    Jim Dobler    Jim Dobler    70    69    72    211   $615.00
Chenas Velvet Star    Max Matthews    Max Matthews    68    69.5    71    208.5   $410.00
Signed Prescription    Deborah Anderson    Deborah Anderson    70    69    68    207   $ 205.00

Open Bridle NRCHA
Smoke N Pep    Vance Kaglea    Monica Wille    73.0    73.0    146.0   $900.00
Smart Sassy Date    Brad Pedersen    Greg Gartner    73.0    72.0    145.0   $675.00
Major Dandy Chex    Dale Clearwater    Glenn Loewen    72.5    72.0    144.5  $450.00
Pickachiclet    Jesse Thomson    Terri Holowath    71.0    72.0    143.0   $225.00

Ltd. Open Bridle NRCHA
Meradas Blu Starlite  Clay Webster    J Drummond Farms    70.5    71.0    141.5        $ 480.00
Smart Little Boonlight   Kent Williamson    Kent Williamson    66.5    67.0    133.5        $ 320.00

Jackpot Ltd. Open bridle
Smart Little Boonlight    Kent Williamson    Kent Williamson  66.5    67.0  $100.00

Non-Pro Bridle NRCHA
Genuine Brown Gal    Suzon Schaal    Suzon Schaal    72.0    71.0    143.0   $720.00
Big Boots to Fill    Erin Baumung    Erin Baumung    71.0    70.0    141.0   $540.00
All Ready Doc    Doug Sapergia    Doug Sapergia    70.5    68.0    138.5   $360.00
Leopards in the Myst    Veronica Swales    Veronica Swales    68.5    69.0  137.5  $180.00

Non Pro Bridle Jackpot
Listos Smokin Gun    Ron Mathison    Ron Mathison    68.0    65.0    133.0  $300.00

Novice Non Pro Bridle NRCHA
Big Boots to Fill   Erin Baumung    Erin Baumung    71.0    70.0    141.0    $550.00
All Ready Doc    Doug Sapergia    Doug Sapergia    70.5    68.0    138.5    $330.00
A.P. Docs Little Saint    Doreen Koroluk    Doreen Koroluk    68.0    67.0    135.0   $220.00

Novice Non Pro Bridle Jackpot
Pepinics Fancy    Jackie Miller    Jackie Miller    70.0    69.0    139.0   $240.00
Travelin Bandit    Sal Howell    Sal Howell    66.5    68.0    134.5    $160.00

Open Hackamore NRCHA
ER Uptown Girl    Jesse Thomson    7P Ranch Horses    70.5    72.0    142.5  $450.00

Open Hackamore Jackpot
ER Uptown Girl    Jesse Thomson    7P Ranch Horses    70.5    72.0    142.5  $150.00

Limited Open Hackamore NRCHA
Chexboomsmal    Rod Thiessen    Frehlick Quarter Horses    71.0    68.0    139.0 $225.00

Non Pro Hackamore NRCHA
In the Nic of Sign    Jim Dobler    Jim Dobler    67.5    70.0    137.5  $500.00

Non Pro Hackamore Jackpot

Mr Blew Boon    Heather Baumgardner    Heather Baumgardner    70.0    70.0    140.0  $200.00

Open Two Rein NRCHA
Caught A Smarty    Donna O’Reilly    Donna O’Reilly    70.0    70.0    140.0   $285.00
Smart Little Boonlight    Kent Williamson    Kent Williamson    69.0    69.0    138.0 $190.00

Open Two Rein Jackpot
Smart Little Boonlight    Kent Williamson    Kent Williamson    69.0    69.0    138  $100.00

Non Pro Two Rein NRCHA

Big Boots to Fill    Erin Baumung    Erin Baumung    70.5    65.0    135.5   $225.00
Hailstone Butte    Mark Parsons    Mark Parsons    $150.00

Non Pro Two Rein Jackpot
Hailstone Butte    Mark Parsons    Mark Parsons   $75.00

$5,000 Rein Box NRCHA
Smart Lil Wrangler    Megan Smith    Megan Smith    69.5    70.0    139.5  $412.50
DTS Iceman    Donna Smith    Donna Smith    69.5    69.0    138.5   $247.50
Solanos High N Peppy    Coreena Carr    Coreena Carr    69.0    69.0    138.0   $165.00

Non Pro Rein Box

Smart Lil Wrangler    Megan Smith    Megan Smith    69.5    70.0    139.5    $240.00
DTS Iceman    Donna Smith    Donna Smith    69.5    69.0    138.5    $160.00

$1,000 Limit Rider Rein Box

Justa Pepinic Kid    Coreena Carr    Coreena Carr    69.0    71.0    140.0  $75.00

Youth Rein Box NRCHA and jackpot

Smart Lil Wrangler    Megan Smith    Megan Smith    65.5    72    137.5   $150.00

$500 Limit Rider
Docs Catalynx    Rob Palmer    Rob Palmer    69.0    73.0    142.0  $210.00
DTS Iceman    Terry Smith    Donna Smith    66.5    71.0    137.5   $131.25
Otoes Bar Bob    Jody Wilson    Jo-ann Vayns    68.5    69.0    137.5   $131.25
Chicolenas Buddy    Patti James    Patti James    69.0    68.0    137.0   $52.50

$2,000 Limit Rider
Docs Catalynx    Rob Palmer        69.0    73.0    142.0   $ 180.00
DTS Iceman    Terry Smith        66.5    71.0    137.5         $60.00
Jeepers Courtney    Glenda Haight        69.5    68.0    137.5  $60.00

K&K Livestock Fence Challenge
Major Dandy Chex    Dale Clearwater    Glenn Loewen    74.0 saddle
Smartee    Cayley Wilson    Leslie Wallace    73.5      $420.00
Smoke N Pep    Vance Kaglea    Monica Wille   73.0  $ 350.00
Smart Lil Double Pep    Dale Clearwater    Louise All Church   72.5  $245.00
Major Sugar Cat    Jesse Thomson    Greenpine Ranche    72.5    $245.00
Pickachiclet    Jesse Thomson    Terri Holowath    72.0  $70.00
Smart Lil Boonlight    Kent Williamson    Kent Williamson   72.0   $70.00

Future Stars

Future Stars coming at'chya from the Cowtown Derby & Stockhorse Show. Pic by Heather Baumgardner.

One of the highlights of the Cowtown Derby & Stockhorse Show held in Claresholm, Alberta this past June 4-6 was the Future Stars class, which featured the young riders of our industry to be.

Jaycee Palmer. Pic by Heather Baumgardner.

Young cowgirls and cowboys jumped aboard some great horses and put them through the paces of modified reined and cow work.

Falyn Thomson. Pic by Heather Pic by Heather Baumgardner.

Of course, all contestants were winners in this class. And their parents rode away with proud smiles.

Hailey Palmer. Pic by Heather Baumgardner.

However society as a whole can benefit from children who are involved with horses. Horses teach kids about responsibility, goals and discipline. They also teach young boys and girls how to assert themselves in this big world. And if you ask me, there’s nothing more adorable than a good-hearted horse cinched up in a saddle with short stirrups.

Cowtown Derby Highlights

This past weekend (June 4-6) saw the National Reined Cow Horse Association-sanctioned, Cowtown Derby & Stockhorse Show in Claresholm, Alberta at the Agriplex.

The 2010 show featured an earlier date, so as not to conflict with the NRCHA Derby, Friday paid warm-ups and a practice pen.

Judged by Tom Neel of Milsap, Texas, the show boasted an NRCHA approved Derby and a plethora of other NRCHA classes. There were additionally numerous jackpot classes and the crowd favorite, Cowtown Fence Challenge.

Clay and I were super excited to be at this event as it was not only a chance to compete, but also presented the opportunity to visit with many family and friends. (Tomorrow on My Stable Life, I’ll share a bunch of pics of the many people we had a chance to catch up with during this time.)

Watching from the sidelines.

This was one of the greatest things I saw on Sunday: all theses little ones playing “Old Timer’s Hockey” as I overheard them say…

A big thank-you goes to the Holowath family and 7P Ranches, for all their hard work in putting this event on. I’ll be back later this week with win pics and champion results, so stay tuned!

The Saturday night pizza fest.

The Cowtown Derby champion sheets.

A Day for the Horse

The Ontario Equestrian Federation, Riding Academy at the Horse Palace, Greenhawk Harness and Equestrian Supplies, EquiMania! and the Toronto Police Services Mounted Unit are hosting a free family horse camp on Saturday June 12th at the Horse Palace, Exhibition Place from 11am to 4pm.

People of all ages will have the opportunity to learn the basics of horsemanship through a fun and interactive program.  Meet a horse vet, sit in different types of saddles, ride “Snowflake” the simulation horse, meet the Toronto Mounted Police horses, learn about different careers in the horse industry, learn about the importance of helmet safety, and much more!

Live riding and driving demonstrations will take place throughout the day.  Participants will have the unique opportunity to see a variety of horse breeds and riding styles in action.  Everything from race horses to show jumpers to miniature donkeys to a team of Percherons will be on hand.

Please visit www.horse.on.ca for more details.

South Country Derby Champs

Alrighty. Here are the championship pictures from the 2010 SCD held May 27-29 in Cardston, AB. Thanks goes to Dallas Pole of Cowgirl Creations for supplying these wonderful shots.

Congratulations is in order to these fine champions:

Deb Duce & Custom Destiny win the NRHA Open with a 146.

Jaime Demott & Shine On Whiz wins the NRHA Non-Pro 5 & 6-Year-Old Derby.

Deb Duce & Custom Destiny win the NRHA Open Novice Horse Level 2.

Gaylene Sawchuk & ???? win the NRHA Ltd. Open.

Gaylene Sawchuk & Peppys Lil Dun It win the NRHA Ltd. Open.

Jaime Demott wins the NRHA Non-Pro aboard Lil Wrangler Joe.

Danielle LaForge and Meradas Blu Starlite win the NRHA Rookie Professional.

Amanda Antifaev & Smart Stepn Checker win the Open NRHA 4-Year-Old Derby.

Kerri Mallett & Gaylene Sawchuck split the win for the NRHA Rookie & SCD Rookie classes.

Gaylene Sawchuck wins the High Point Horse Award, sponsored by the Kolsun family.

Regan Bikman & Wrangle My Way win the NRHA Novice Horse Non-Pro Levels 1 & 2.

Jessie Goldthorpe & Smokin Lucky Dave win the Ranchers Reining class.

Jo Lutely & Okie Eldorado win the NRHA Prime Time and Senior Reining.

Jo Lutley & Coreena Carr split the win of the Int. Non-Pro.

And while it may be a bit of a conflict of interest for me to post this pic in here – I am incredibly proud of my husband Clay and his mount, Whiz N Starlight owned by J. Drummond Farms of Regina, SK, for their 149 run and subsequent championship in the Open 5/6-Year-Old Derby.

We barely got down the driveway to get to Cardston but luckily we found a way, because it was all worth it in the end!

2010 South Country Derby


There was snow on the ground and a lot of mud, but not one complaint was voiced during the South Country Derby held May 27-29 in Cardston, AB.

Competitors came from several provinces to try their reins in 24 open, non-pro and youth classes.


And inside the Agri-dome, the heat was on and spirits were high as horses slid and spun their way to reining greatness.

Even the judges Dan Mayer from Utah and Terry Berg from Las Vegas, Nevada, didn’t seem to mind the snow and bleak weather.

Thanks goes to Buck Nunn, manager of the Cardston Agridome, for all his hard work grooming the show ground and careful attention to show needs of contestants!

And of course, a BIG thank-you is in order to Linn Jensen, Trudy Tienkamp, Ron Anderson, Tim Whale, Phil & Sherry Menard, Dallas Pole and the entire SCD crew for all their hard work in putting this great event together for us once again.

Since the show was a pretty busy time for me (between helping Clay get his horses ready, then Danielle, then chores, then riding my own 2 mares and helping Clay again), I had no time for snapping any candid shots at this event.

Thankfully, Danielle had my back and grabbed my camera when she wasn’t showing her mount, Meradas Blu Starlite.

Unfortunately for me, that meant I was on the other end of the lens…

But she did snap some cool shots for My Stable Life. Here are a few behind-the-scenes pics from the warm-up ring…


This is the back of one of the sweetest show shirts we’ve ever seen:

And here are 2 characters who regularly have to be separated… They get into too much trouble otherwise.

I’ll be back soon with champion pictures and results. Stay tuned to My Stable Life!