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Last Minute Gift Ideas

Christmas, wreath, barn

Pic by Jenn Webster

Procrastinators take note! There are exactly 10 days until Christmas Day. And that means, if you haven’t started your shopping yet – you better get crackin’! Luckily, My Stable Life is here to help with some last minute gift ideas. According to Canada Post, December 19 is the latest suggested mailing date for Xpressposting a parcel to a loved one within Canada. So if you’d prefer to stay out of the craziness of the malls, here are some wonderful suggestions for all of the horse people in your life.



Ranch Organics

Ranch Organics

The gift that keeps on giving! Send someone you love something truly pleasurable for the senses, each season from the ranch. Sweet Grass for Spring; Rose Geranium for Summer; Lavender for Fall and Cedar Wood for Winter. When the seasons change, the ranch hands at Ranch Organics will pack up your special gift and send it to your loved one – with only a one-time shipping fee!

Options include the Goat Milk Soap Set (1 Basin and 1 Tub size Goat Milk Soap) $64; the Wash/Lotion Duo (2- 8 oz pump bottles) $110; Ranch-size Gift Crate including Wash/Lotion Duo and Goat Milk Soap Set $175; or the set pictured above of Cedar Wood Lotions and soaps $64.


Charm Bridles

Charm Bridles

Jewelry for your trusty steed and best friend! There are charms for almost every special occasion, so why not also for your horse? These unique hand-made brow bands feature everything from turquoise gems, to flowers and everything in between. Gorgeous gemstones, sparkle, letters and even bullets to adorn your pal. All beautifully arranged to your preference.




mecate reins

Horsehair Mecate

Watch your man’s eyes light up when he finds a beautiful set of mecate reins under the tree this year! This high quality horsehair mecate by Jose Ortez is available online from Frontier Western Shop and is made from tightly twisted mane hair. Available in different color combinations. $109.95


work king jeans

Fleece-Lined Jeans

Got a hard working guy? Make sure he stays warm outside this winter with fleece-lined jeans from Work-King! These jeans have a polyester fleece lining, making them better for cold weather than any other pair of denim pants. They are machine washable and come in a relaxed fit – making those winter chores a breeze. Available at Sears!



kids play teepee

Play Teepees

What kid doesn’t love their own little playhouse getaway? These teepees offer the ‘fort’ experience anywhere you want them to play. Made of 100% cotton, duck cloth (canvas-type) fabric. Available in black and white reiner, brown and cream longhorn and pink with a black buffalo. So cute and so western! With poles $199.99.

Growing Up Western

Harry the Horse, the official Calgary Stampede mascot, is always a hit with the kids!  If you visited the centennial celebration of the Stampede this year, this cuddly, plushy toy makes the perfect gift for a little one.  In another 100 years, they’ll be a collector’s item! But beware – once these are in the arms of your child, you’ll never get it back! And if you’re in need a gift in a real hurry, these are available at many Alberta Co-Op Gas station convenience stores.



Alberta whisky cake

Alberta Whisky Cake

This cake is sure to be the talk of the town! Alberta Whisky Cakes are made from the finest ingredients to provide a rich and savoring flavor, making it the ideal dessert. Each cake is baked with the perfect blend of Canadian Whisky and all natural flavors. Now available in two tantalizing flavors – Canadian Maple and Chocolate.

2 Weeks 'till Christmas: Great Gift Ideas

photo by Krista Kay

We’re setting up the tree this weekend at the log house, so it’s all about tree and gift ornaments.

photo by Krista Kay

Wee, Teenager and I have used a particular recipe for ornaments – from a 2003 Martha Stewart issue – several times over the years. It’s a simple afternoon project. Or, in the case of Western Horse Review Managing Editor, Dainya Sapergia, who was tasked with creating a few western-styled examples for our Christmas photo shoot – a 1:00 a.m.-night-before-the-shoot project.

It’s how we occasionally roll here.

The western cookie cutters I mentioned in my 3 Weeks ’till Christmas post would work really well for this application.

Simply mix together one cup of cinnamon and 1/4 cup applesauce. Then stir in 1/2 cup white craft glue. Roll it together, let it sit for an hour, and then roll it out about 1/4 inch thick, cut out your ornaments (remember to poke a hole with a straw for hanging it) and bake them in the oven at 200° for about 2 hours, flipping once to keep them flat.

photo by Krista Kay

Once they are cool and dry, you can decorate them with glitter sand or whatever you choose. Here’s the link to the original Martha Stewart recipe for Cinnamon Bird Ornaments, there is a full step-by-step included and a few Martha-perfected decorating tips.

Caveat: to avoid any emergency trips to the dentist or emergency room, remember to let your family know these are inedible ornaments!

Finally, if you’re looking for a few homemade gift tag ideas, I love the selection at, particularly these vintage typographic beauties.

Simple download the template from this post, and print them out. I used a few textured, sandy old letterhead sheets I had hanging around. Pretty!

Happy decorating!

P.S. If you haven’t yet, be sure to take part in our Grand Christmas Giveaway and treat yourself to the opportunity to win a

gorgeous handcrafted belt by Paige Albrect. It’s a good thing, as Martha would say.

Canadian Artists Featured in Calendar

The Grand Christmas Giveaway

From the 2012 Western Horse Review Christmas Gift Guide. Photo by Krista Kay Photography.

We love bringing you the best of the West when it comes to authentically styled product. Trending that theme, Christmas is definitely coming early for someone.

We featured artist Paige Albrecht’s handcrafted belts and cuffs in our Nov/Dec. Christmas Gift Guide. The photos were some of our most loved shots of the day, and we were so impressed with the quality of the product, we got together with Paige to collaborate a giveaway. As a result I’m ecstatic to announce we are able to giveaway one of the belts* above to one lucky reader as a special Christmas gift.

There are four ways to enter this contest and you can enter it once in each venue, giving you four unique entries into the random bucket draw. Here they are:

1. Comment on this blog post for your first entry. Just let us know what your favorite Christmas activity involving horses happens to be.

2. Sometime in the next few days we’ll post the photo above on the Western Horse Review Facebook page. Head on over there, LIKE the page, SHARE the photo with your friends, and COMMENT to let us know you’ve shared.

3. Pin the post on your Pinterest page and include the comment Western Horse Review Christmas 2012 Giveaway in the comment box, so we can search it.

4. Tweet Western Horse Review Christmas 2012 Giveaway and include @westernhorserev in the tweet.

Contest closes Dec. 20 and winner announced Dec. 21 – just in time for an early Christmas present.

* each of Paige’s belts are unique and individual pieces. Our giveaway belt may not be exactly as shown, and winner may have the option to design their own up in collaboration with Paige up to a value of $299. this festive Farmer’s Market…

The Lane of Lights at Aspen Crossing in Mossleigh, AB, is beautiful. This display’s grandeur is captivating enough for children and adults alike! It’s free for everyone and if you would like to bring a canned food item, the good people there are accepting donations to the local food bank.

The hoarfrost around our ranch this year has been incredible. But that also means it’s not wise to leave your halters on the fence…

Peanuts seems happy just chillin’ out. He’s always available for a photo-op!

Stay tuned! My Stable Life will be coming back at ya in the next couple weeks leading up to Christmas with some handmade gift ideas and more to put you in the spirit of the season!

gorgeous handcrafted belt by Paige Albrect. It’s a good thing, as Martha would say. Loomis), USS Whiz (owned by St-Onge Reining Horses Inc.), Whiz Starbrite (owned by Amabile & Strusiner), Whizen Starlight (owned by Robert Peterson) and Whizzer Whiz (owned by Xtra Quarter Horses, LLC). Topsail Whiz’s official NRHA Offspring Earnings are $9,030,000.

Bob Loomis Reining Horses’ Topsail Whiz (Topsail Cody x Jeanie Whiz Bar by Cee Red) is an NRHA Hall of Famer who earned $49,865 in the NRHA show ring. His successes included an All American Quarter Horse Congress Junior Reining Championship, 1991 NRHA Lazy E Classic Open Championship, a third place finish in the 1990 NRHA Open Futurity, and a fourth place finish in the 1991 NRHA Derby. In 2009, the reining community mourned the loss of this great stallion when he was humanely euthanized at Loomis’ ranch in Marietta, Okla.


3 Weeks 'till Christmas: Great Gift Ideas

I have a love-hate relationship with baking cookies. I love the idea of it. Less captivated with the clean-up. And, often not quite satisfied with the result, particularly when attempting the odd new recipe.

There is undoubtedly a lesson here from my mom. She was an accomplished cook, but only ran with a few signature Christmas cookies. One was a dark Pfeffernusse, a hard cookie made with molasses and honey, and spiced with ginger, cinnamon, cardamon and pepper. A perfect dipping cookie. Offering a visual offset to that complicated dark cookie, were her simple vanilla cut-out cookies, spiced with cinnamon and baked with finely chopped hazelnut; and, thirdly, a consummate gingerbread, from which, with a bit of royal icing for glue and decoration, she would build Santa’s sleigh, pulled by four reindeer – an annual creation which would make it’s debut on Christmas Eve, filled with sweet candy and Christmas oranges.

Mom would bake her cookies weeks before Christmas and hide them in cold corners all over the house. They’d emerge on pretty Christmas plates when friends or family visited. I love these ancient cookie cutters, they are laden with memory for me, and I like to think I honor my mom’s beautiful German cookies by decorating a small tree with them every Christmas. And, of course, by baking cookies!

One of the items which turned up at our Christmas gift guide shoot was a lovely set of cookie cutters from the Calgary Stampede Store. These retail for about $24.95, and as you might guess, they did not make it back to the store.

Wee and I made these sugar cookies with the cutters, which feature a tall boot, horse head, horseshoe, cowboy hat and our hands down favorite, a bucking horse, a few weeks ago. They made a great after-lesson treat at the 4H ride. I still have the December 2000 issue of Bon Appetit with the Sugar Cookie recipe in it, as well as great decorating tips, and one can now reference it online here.

My favorite go-to recipe for a more adult cookie is Martha Stewart’s Cream Cheese Walnut Cookies. These are a cinch to whip up in a hurry and the large recipe allows one to save a log of dough in the freezer when a quick need invariably rises later in the season. They are pretty and rustic, not too sweet and package well.

Finally, a new recipe I’ll now relegate to the “keeper” list, partially because I love the orange, coconut and bittersweet chocolate mix, but also for the visual juxtapose they offer to more traditionally shaped cookies, are these Ambrosia Macaroons.

And, that’s my Christmas gift idea for you this week. Get baking!

P.S. stay tuned later this week for a fantastic giveaway we’re offering – a bit of a Christmas comes early sort of idea. Be sure to be signed up to receive our e-newsletter to get the heads up on it.


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.


7 Weeks ’till Christmas: Great Gift Ideas

The great gift idea I have for you today is a photo book. With nothing more than a selection of your own digital or scanned photos of hand, these are a cinch to craft online. As posible inspiration for your own creation, I’m going to share with you the one I just completed.

When Teenager graduated from high school earlier this year, I decided to gift her with a photo shoot to record the occasion. On a lovely sunny mid-summer’s day, Krista Kay showed up with all of her camera bags, creativity and lust for a good shoot crammed in the back of her car. Enroute, she had sped by a landscape of golden canola fields, punctuated with a few falling-down old buildings, and I sensed as I met her at the door, the seed of an idea had already been planted. As it turned out, boyfriend and I had to leave to attend a Calgary Stampede function, hence we hastily snapped a few family shots and then we left Krista, Teenager, Wee, and my son to their own devices. The results were stunning and crazily in tune with my wildest desires. You see, in the back of my mind I had pined for a series of photos which reflected the country life which has been so much a part of Teenager’s upbringing, tossed in with a bit of her redneck nature, and accompanied by the equine who has most shared her journey – the infamous Blue. Krista delivered tenfold, and the resulting 100 or so photos blew us away visually.

However showing them to friends via my laptop slideshow began to feel a teensy bit like subjecting them to a very long and squirmy home movie. I decided I needed a better venue to showcase these photos. I’m not a scrapbooker and my photo albums feel somewhat antiquated these days, so the idea of a photo book gradually formed.

My initial inspiration came in the form of an e-book Nancy Lowery of The Natural Leader shared with me a year or so ago, entitled Great Expectations – detailing her reflections of the past year.

After viewing the latest of Nancy’s beautiful series, Breathe, and then subsequently flipping through a friend’s photo book detailing her trip through Russia, I decided to give it a try myself.

To clarify, Nancy’s e-book is a slight riff from the photo book in that the former is not a tangible object, but lives online. The photo book I just created for Teenager is a real book, two copies (one for our own and the second for Teenager’s Gram. Hint, great gift idea!) of which are currently in print. I wish I had the actual book in hand to snap some photos for this post, but it won’t arrive for another three weeks. I decided, if I’m going to throw this out as a gift option, I best do it now, for it takes a bit of production time to pull it all together.

I used Blurb to create my photo book, primarily because it provides tons of custom options, but there is an endless list of choices in the matter of photo book purveyors. Have a browse at Shutterfly, which is a popular choice, as is Mixbook and Snapfish.

So, while this isn’t the hard cover item we’ll soon have in our hands, these are a few examples of the pages within, and gives you an idea of the choices when creating your own book. These screenshots are taken from a PDF file, which is a $2.99 option in the Blurb order form process.

I chose not to add text to the layouts, though it’s simple to do so. In this case, I desired the photos to flow visually without the distraction of copy. It’s easy within the layout options of Blurb to choose whatever combination of photos you’d like, simply drag-drop them on the page and then choose a structure from the templates provided. You can change your layout with every page, and, as illustrated above, drop in a background color to the white space.

Alternatively, you can opt for “full bleed,” which allows the photos to run right to the edges of the pages. I liked the idea of profiling Krista’s shots against my own older digital shots and thus, portraying Teenager’s journey with Blue.

On the right, Krista having fun with the country side of Teenager, and an earlier shot of the kid, which may have been our first inclination of that hayseed side of her.

Another of what we in publishing refer to as a dps (double page spread) portraying a full color shot on the left, with a sepia tone and a couple of black and white shots on the righthand side page.

Compiling the now-and-then shots was just so much fun. You could apply this concept to a horse and rider’s journey together, or the compilation of a lifespan of competition – that sort of idea.

I chose similar poses from earlier years for a pretty juxtaposition.

And chronicled a bit of Teenager’s journey with the friends who have shared her horse passion over the years.

Photo by Krista Kay.

P.S. I must add this photo from the shoot, as it illustrates Blue’s perfect co-operation on the day of, but then he always seems to know when a camera is focused on him and profiles his best side as only he adeptly can. He’s such a ham.

I rounded out the story with photos of the grad ceremony, dance and a selection of family shots, both old and new. I suppose I could have gone on forever, but I capped the book at 58 single pages, including covers, chose a hard cover option, added on the PDF option and the cost came to approximately $50.00 for each of two books. Great value for a beautiful keepsake.

Some examples of other great equine blurb-created books you might like to view include:

– The Equine Art of Debbie Flood (stunning example of an equine artist’s book)

– Equine Photo Paintings

– Or, you can even create your own yearly horse journal. 

Blurb promised to turn my online order into a real book in about 4 weeks, and while I didn’t check delivery times of other purveyors, it might be diligent to begin sooner rather than later if you’d like copies of your creation for Christmas. Then again, after-Christmas gifts are always a fun surprise.

So friends, I hope this gift idea is one you can grasp on to and make your own and if so, I’d love to hear of the results.