Last Month in Pics & Schleich Winner!


If you caught My Stable Life’s post last week – Schleich Giveaway – you’ll know I have been remiss in announcing the winner of a Schleich Quarter Horse and western tack accessory outfit. I’m also a few days late posting my last month in photos – so I thought I’d do both with today’s post! July was an insanely busy month and labelled recently as the second hottest July our area has seen since WWII, there were many reasons to go on road trips or just get outside and enjoy the sunshine.

West Edmonton Mall, pirate ship

Checking out the pirate ship at West Edmonton Mall.

The month saw us in Edmonton to start and the kids and I had a great time visiting family and checking out the sights at West Edmonton Mall. The pirate ship and sea lion attractions are always big hits with my kids. I on the other hand, am just happy to get an opportunity to shop. At a place that is not strictly a feed store, lol!

The following week, we were back home in Calgary and took the chance to visit the Calgary Stampede. With all its new changes and as the first year to feature events inside the new Calgary Agrium Western Event Center, it was almost as though we were checking out the Calgary Stampede for the very first time. We loved the new midway created just for younger kids. And as that was located very close to Draft Horse Town, we spent countless hours meandering back and forth between the two.

Calgary Stampede, Calgary Tower

A team of Drafties set against the Calgary Tower in the backdrop.

Of course, the Agrium Ag-tivity in the City was a big hit too! With so many opportunities to get up-close and personal with life on a farm or ranch, the Calgary Stampede is a phenomenal educational opportunity for kids.

Alberta Chickens, Calgary Stampede

Agrium Ag-tivity in the City, Calgary Stampede

While we were checking out the numerous hands-on interactive activities, Dad meanwhile was watching the cow horse competition in the new Agrium Western Events Center. In between midway rides and trips to see the Draft Horses, I was able to sneak a glance of the cow horses too <grin>. And boy was the giant CERVUS screen located at the top of the arena a nice touch!

John Swales in the 2014 Calgary Stampede Working Cow Horse Classic.

John Swales in the 2014 Calgary Stampede Working Cow Horse Classic.

Watching all the events at the Calgary Stampede spurred a whole new spark for horses within our daughter.

Kids and horses

Our son on the other hand, was just happy to be helping Dad with the chores. Which is totally fine with us!


Following the Calgary Stampede, we received a letter from the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) this month questioning the registration – or more specifically, the markings – of a foal we have been trying to register for a long time now. Turns out, the  filly in question had a “white mark” on the right side of her neck. The AQHA wanted us to clip the horse in this area, right down to the skin and take another picture, so they could verify the color of her skin underneath.

When Clay and I looked closely at the picture that I had sent in electronically to register the foal, Clay realized she had a bite mark on her neck! (This is a detail I never even noticed during the online registration process). The AQHA in turn thought the white spot was simply that – an unusual white patch of white hairs on her neck and wanted verification. With a return phone call to the AQHA and some updated pictures showing the filly no longer has a white spot on the side of her neck, we were good to proceed with the registration process.

Good to know the AQHA takes registrations and markings very seriously!


July also afforded us the opportunity to watch the High River Air Show. With stunts performed by the Canadian Forces Snow Birds, the SkyHawks parachutists and an appearance by an a CF18 Hornet – we were in complete awe.

High River Air Show 2014

Last month we also watched many of our neighbors haying their fields and we got busy securing our winter hay supply as well. The word on the street is that hay prices are going up everywhere. If you have a moment, drop me a comment in the comments section below – because I’m super curious to find out where hay prices are currently at!


And now my friends, I need to tell you who the lucky recipient of a Schleich Quarter Horse figurine and western tack is…!

When I asked readers to tell me about their favorite tips / activities to keep kids busy at horse shows, Aaron Lucas wrote:

We take our mini pony to the arena with us, our son just loves to brush her and pick up her feet…over and over! Daisy is such a good pony! When he is tired of Daisy, we take out his “dirt” toys. He will play for hours with his Tonka trucks in the roping box. I love it, because I can see him and I know he is safe while I get some horses rode. He also loves his Schleich toys, however he is only 2 and still loses little toys, so we only play with them at home for now! We would love to add to our collection… I say ‘we’ because I love them too!

Aaron – please email us at [email protected] with your mailing address and we’ll get your Schleich toys on their way to you!

Big Horses Score Big


Champion: Joker & Sandy, Martin Howard, Rocky Mtn. House, AB, for New West Truck Centres

Reserve Champion: Fritz & Tommy, Randy Dodge/Stan Grad, for New West Truck Centres

Photo from Calgary Stampede

Photo from Calgary Stampede

Calgary – After ten pulls, and with 12,000 pounds on the sled, the difference between winning and losing in Calgary Stampede Heavy Horse Pull Heavyweight class came down to a foot.

Last year was Martin Howard’s first try at the Stampede Heavy Horse Pull and he finished sixth. This year he brought the biggest team on the field at the Agrium Western Event Centre. At a combined weight of 4,845 pounds, Joker and Sandy outweighed the next heaviest team by 428 pounds in a class where the minimum is 3,500. After 8 rounds, the weight to be pulled was up to 11,500 pounds and three teams were still in it. When Delbert Dillman’s Prince George, BC, team of Fred and Jack came up short, the scene was set for Howard to take on multi-time winner Randy Dodge for the Stampede buckle.

Coming into the Heavyweight pull on the evening of Sunday, July 13th, Dodge, of Albany, OR, had a chance to score an extremely rare clean sweep of the Stampede Heavy Horse Pull. Dodge won both the Lightweight class on Friday evening and the Middleweight division on Saturday. After nine trips down the track, his team of Fritz and Tommy, co-owned with Airdrie’s Stan Grad, was still pulling strongly going into the showdown with Howard’s outfit. Both teams were sponsored by New West Truck Centres.

A soft spot had developed in the pulling lane and several competitors had already fallen afoul of it. Howard’s team pulled first in the final, and made it 92 inches before becoming bogged. Dodge hooked up his horses and they gave it all they had, but 80 inches was all there was. Dodge had to settle for the Reserve Champion’s cheque of $2,500 while Howard got the champion’s payout of $3,000.

“It’s an amazing feeling. I’m just shaking right now,” said Howard. Originally from Manitoulin Island, ON, Howard has been pulling about eight years.

“We always had horses at home, working them on the farm,” he said. After seeing heavy horses in action at local agricultural fairs, “I thought I’d like to try the horse power of my team someday. I went, and they did really well. It got in my blood and it hasn’t left.” An opportunity in the oilpatch brought Howard and his family to Rocky Mountain House, AB, last October.

Winning out in a shootout with Dodge, always the favourite at the Stampede Heavy Horse Pull, made victory extra-special for Howard. “That’s the big thing. People are shaking my hand about that,” he said. “Randy’s a super dude. Last year, when I came out here for the first time, he helped me out big-time. He’s a real good sportsman. I can’t believe it actually happened.”

Dodge Makes it Two for Two

RESULTS: HEAVY HORSE PULL – Middleweight Class

Champion – Simon & Mike, Randy Dodge, Albany, OR/Stan Grad, Airdrie, AB for New West Truck Centres

Reserve – Bob & Dan, Kevin Danyluk, Edmonton, AB for Eau Claire Distillery


Calgary – On Saturday night the Middleweight teams, each weighing in at a combined 3,000 to 3,499 pounds, were hard at it in the second of three evenings of the Stampede Heavy Horse Pull. After eleven rounds of progressively-increasing weight on the sled, Randy Dodge, driving Simon and Mike, was the winner. It was Dodge’s fourth victory in a row with Mike, and Simon’s third.

Dodge is co-owner of the team with Airdrie’s Stan Grad. “Stan’s a good man and he’s done a lot for me over the years,” said Dodge, who has been competing at the Stampede for most of a decade. The Albany, OR puller also made a point of giving credit to another vital member of the team. “My wife Stacy is the backbone of the operation,” he said.

It took until the sixth pull, with 9,000 pounds on the sled, before any of the ten teams entered fell out. By round ten, the weight was up to 11,000 pounds and there were only two teams left. Simon and Mike put their heads down and managed a full pull of 14 feet. Kevin Danyluk and his team did their best, but could only drag the sled to the halfway point – 84 inches.

Cameron Witman put on an impressive display of horsemanship to finish third. His two The Catalyst Group-backed horses, Tom and Tickle, got out of sync on pulls seven and eight when they were only partway down the course. With only two attempts allowed, the Ferndale, WA, teamster halted the team, settled them down and got all the way to the finish. Witman and his team were eliminated in round nine, just 33 inches short of a full pull.

According to Dodge, everyone feels the pressure as the number of pulls increases. “They know it’s getting heavier,” he said. “They’re old veterans so they get worked up for it. When you get wound up, you fight the ground more – then you slip more. If you hold onto the reins a little tighter, you can keep them on their feet.”

The Agrium Western Event Centre is a good place for heavy horse pulling, according to Dodge. “I’ve never pulled in an air-conditioned facility,” he noted. “It was really refreshing when we came into it.”

The Heavy Horse Pull concludes Sunday evening at 7pm in the Agrium Western Event Centre with the Heavyweight class for teams tipping the scales at 3,500 pounds and over.

CS Heavy Horse Pull Champions

Last year’s champions: Dennis Weinberger of Cochrane, Alta., and his Belgians duo of King and Kris.
Photo credit: Calgary Stampede

It only took three rounds of competition and 6,500 pounds of deadweight to establish Randy Dodge’s New West Truck Centres Belgians as the top team in the Stampede’s Heavy Horse Pull Lightweight division.

Dodge’s duo of 9-year old Red and 6-year old Bud were the reserve champions in 2012.  This year, on a tricky surface in the Big Top, they bettered that performance by one place.  “They don’t like deep sand,” says Dodge, who treks up from Albany, OR to make his Stampede headquarters with Stan Grad of Soderglen Ranches near Airdrie.  “My horse fell down on the first load.  He didn’t know what his footing was.  Once he learned what the footing was, he got a lot smarter.”

Another advantage Dodge’s horses might have had is that they wear shoes specially-constructed for pulling.  “They’re expensive,” Dodge says.  “It’s the worst job in the world putting them on.  I do it, but I hate it.  You have to reset them every six weeks and the shoes only last one season.  If you don’t shoe, it’s like taking a knife to a gunfight.  If I don’t’ shoe and I come here and slip, I’ll say, ‘I wish I had put shoes on’.  If I come here with shoes on and slip, I did all I could.”

This year’s Stampede Heavy Horse Pull has drawn teamsters from as far away as Oregon, Washington and Idaho, as well as all three Western provinces with outfits primarily featuring the horsepower of all four Heavy Horse breeds – Belgians, Clydesdales, Percherons and Shires.

The teams of the Stampede’s lightweight division, which attracted an eight-team field this year, weigh in at a combined two-horse weight of 2,400 to 3,000 pounds.

Among the three Heavy Horse Pull divisions, the lightweights are the only equines that regularly pull three times their weight.  On Friday, the final pull by Red and Bud amounted to 2.2 times their weight.

The Stampede’s Heavy Horse Pull will continue for two more nights under the Big Top. The teams of the middleweight division, weighing a combined 3,001 to 3,500 pounds, step into harness on Saturday, July 13 at 7 p.m., while the equine titans of the heavyweight division, tipping the scales at a combined 3,501 pounds and more, take over the spotlight on Sunday, July 14 at 7 p.m.

The Witman brothers of Ferndale, WA were second and third on Friday.  Carson’s Catalyst LLP-backed outfit was second, winning $2,500 and Cameron’s Walton Group of Companies team was third, taking home $2,000.  The brothers were pulling this year in memory of their late father, Randy, a well-known competitor in heavy horse pulls.

Annual Auction Set to Start Heavy Horse Pull

heavy horse pull

A heavyweight team from Airdrie’s Soderglen Ranches, the Antony Family-supported Belgian duo of Ben and Roy, sets a new Calgary Stampede Heavy Horse Pull weight record in 2012 in the heavyweight division, pulling a 13,300-pound sled the full 14 feet. Photo credit: Calgary Stampede

As far as Kevin Danyluk is concerned, if you’re not ready for the Stampede’s Heavy Horse Pull, there’s no point even showing up.
“The reason I didn’t go last year is that my horses were all young.  They just weren’t ready for a big pull like Stampede, yet,” says Danyluk, a welding inspector four days of the week but a heavy horse puller every day.  “I took the year off and worked them.  You have to give them a chance to grow and develop all the muscle they’ll need.  A pulling horse needs to be worked six days a week.  Now, they’re all seven years old and they’re ready to go.  When you go to a big pull like Stampede, you have to make sure your homework is done.  It’s a highly, highly competitive pull.  Pretty much all the best pullers from Northern America are there.”
Originally, Danyluk had a team that he used in parades and displays.  “I was going to a lot of small town fairs and saw the horse pulls,” he says.  As he grew more and more interested, he began helping pullers – often volunteering to hook the teams up to the loads.  Inevitably, he acquired a team of his own and chose to go with Belgians.  “They are a fantastic breed,” he insists.  “Nothing but heart and determination and they love to work.  There are some horses, they just love to pull.  They just have full heart.  They love their job.”
The Heavy Horse Pull takes over the Big Top on the last weekend of Stampede.  On Friday, at 7pm, it’s the Lightweight class for two-horse teams with a total weight of 3,000 pounds or less.  The Middleweights, weighing between 3,001 and 3,500 pounds, go Saturday at 7pm and the Heavyweights, 3,500 pounds and over, close out the show at 7pm on Sunday.
Before the pulling gets started, on Wednesday, July 10th in the Northern Lights arena, the annual Heavy Horse Pull Advertisers’ Auction offers supporters of the sport a unique chance to add the team of their choice to their marketing strategy.  Supporters love this event because it presents an affordable branding opportunity, and allows them a unique venue for entertaining clients. Successful bidders get barn tours, passes to watch their teams during competition from a private VIP section, signage on the horses themselves during competition, stall signage in the barns, and an exclusive party in the Pavilion alongside the horses after the main event.
“The auction sure helps us pullers,” says Danyluk.  ‘It helps us get here and it gets everybody excited.”
Pulling isn’t just a question of harnessing two horses together and getting the job done.  Danyluk says the animals need to be of similar strength and style.  “You have to mix and match and find out which horse works with which horse,” he explains.  “Some of them are different in speed.  Some start a load harder than the other one.  If they don’t work together, you don’t have a team.”
The driver isn’t exactly along for the ride, either, Danyluk says.  “It’s a 50-50 deal.  If you can’t drive them, they’re not going to give you what you want.  I’ve known a lot of good pullers – good drivers with good horses – show up at Stampede and absolutely fumble.  The pressure is enormous.”
In his three previous Stampede appearances, Danyluk says, “I’ve always placed in the top three or four.  I’m always just behind the big guys.”  This year he will enter two middleweight teams and a heavyweight team.  “I’ve been exercising six horses six days a week for four months.  All for two days,” he says.  “Stampede is hands-down the best.”

Clydesdale Champs at Calgary Stampede

Calgary Stampede Heavy Horses

Photo credit: Calgary Stampede

One of the Calgary Stampede’s true heritage competitions – the World Championship Six Horse Hitch Competition presented by Halliburton – has been around for quite a while.  This year’s highlight of the 127-year old Heavy Horse Show was run under what might be called ‘heritage’ conditions.
Early on Monday morning, just as the nine teams of high-stepping, heavy horses entered in this year’s World Championship Six Horse Hitch Competition presented by Halliburton began to parade in front of the judges, it began to rain.  In previous years, the competition was indoors, but this year it was being held in the infield in front of the Grandstand.
“It was kind of fun,” said a very damp Josh Minshull after he stepped down from the driver’s seat of the Express Clydesdales entry that is the 2013 World Championship Six Horse Hitch team.  “It was a different scenario – different from normal.  It was tight and you had to manoeuvre around the cones.  It just happened that our horses negotiated it really well.”
“I was thinking before that it would be cool to win this year because we’ll say, “Remember when we showed outside?  It carried a little bit more memory.”
A panel of three judges rated Monday’s nine teams – Percherons, Belgians and Clydesdales – for conformation, presentation, driving and reinsmanship.  Second was another American team – that of Brian Thiel from Pleasant Grove, CA.  The Rose Hill Stable’s Percherons earned third in the final standings.
This year’s winning outfit probably would have had a shot at the ‘long distance award’, if there was such a thing.  Based in Yukon, Oklahoma – just outside Oklahoma City – Minshull says coming to the Stampede before the event was a definite go wasn’t as big a gamble as it might seem.  “We were coming up anyway to do the Grandstand exhibition every night,” he explains.  “We brought extra horses because we wanted to bring our good show horses.”
The Express Clydesdales won the 2009 Six Horse Hitch World Championship presented by Halliburton, and have a busy appearance and competition schedule.  “We do 30 to 50 events per year serving as marketing ambassadors for Express Employment Professionals,” Minshull says.
The Stampede is actually my favourite event to go to all year,” insists Minshull.  “It carries a lot of prestige.  It brings in a lot of good competition from everywhere.  It’s a big event.  We were lucky it all worked out.  If it had been a little later, we probably wouldn’t have been able to show.  We just got it in in the nick of time.  We’re happy about that.”

World Plowing Championship

World Horse Plowing Competition

Photo submitted from the 2012 World Plowing Championships, in Croatia.

With just less than 100 days to go, organizers are getting excited about hosting the 60th World Plowing Championship at the Olds College. This major, international event is a major part of the College’s Centennial celebrations.

The match will feature 60 competitors from up to 30 countries vying for the prestigious title of World Champion for 2013. While plowing is the cornerstone, there is much more going on during the two days at Olds.

“Plowing is nearly a lost art on many Alberta farms, but Plowing Matches are big events. They’re a great way for farmers from around the world to get together and celebrate what they have in common – agriculture,” commented Olds Plowing Match chairman Mark Kaun.

He’s attended world matches in New Zealand, and last year in Croatia.

World Horse Plowing Competition

Photo submitted from the 2012 World Plowing Championships, in Croatia.

“We’ve got so much going on, it’s something Albertans won’t want to miss,” commented Joel Gingrich. “There’s entertainment, food, displays and a large vintage equipment component. With the enthusiasm of the visitors as well, it will be a very festive atmosphere.”

“It’s a great opportunity to show off Alberta talent, and there will be a real family focus for entertainment on the Saturday of the Championship.”

Vintage organizers confirm some 400 pieces of antique farm equipment from as far away as Montana, North Dakota, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan will be at the site, along with an antique tractor pull, and a daily parade of old tractors, machinery, trucks, and cars. There will be demonstrations of plowing with tractors and steam, and some draft horse plowing as well.

Registrations from international visitors have been pouring in to the Olds Plowing match office.

“We’ve already got over 400 people signed up to come for the entire ten day package,” confirmed coordinator Kerry Moynihan. “There’s a large group from Austria, lots from the U.K. and New Zealand, and Sweden too. These top competitors are like rock stars in their own countries, and they have fans that follow them wherever they compete.”

“This year, for the first time ever in the history of the World Plowing Match, we have two female competitors, representing Austria. They’re so serious, they’re arriving in Canada in mid-June to practice!”

Canada will be represented at the World Plowing Match by Barry Timbers and Brian Fried, both from Ontario.

Competition is keen when the plowing begins, with several international competitors even shipping over their own tractors and plows. There is plowing with both conventional and reversible plows, on stubble and grass. Judges use a scorecard to assess the finished plot, which contestants have had to keep straight and accurate with every pass up and down the plot, using mid-sized tractors.

Another highlight will be the unveiling of the World Peace Cairn, designed by Olds College students and including a stone from every participating nation.

Anyone interested in being part of this historic event as a volunteer can contact the Olds College Centennial office.

To get more details, head to the website or call Kerry Moynihan at 403-556-4762 or email: [email protected]

Christmas in the Country

I love this time of year! Christmas is in the air and there’s just something about the way people come together to celebrate the season. The babes and I already went for a sleigh ride and this month, the scenery is particularly striking. The trees are heavy with snow. Even the barbed wire seems beautiful…

With the weather we’ve been having lately, my husband might even be able to put together that skating rink he’s been dreaming about!

Inside the house, I’ve been trying to figure out whether or not I will decorate. With two busy munchkins – a tree and all the trimmings could be interesting, to say the least. Here are the cowboy Christmas lights we’ve been toying with:

We’ve had a great time checking out all the local Christmas markets lately…

The Market at Millarville, AB, was a cold weekend, but it was fabulous shopping nonetheless!

And, there is just something about Christmas splendor at 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!


Weinberger Sets New Stampede Record

Heavy Horse Calgary Stampede

Dennis Weinberger of Cochrane, Alta., and his Copp’s-supported team of Belgians, Jesse and Sam, rewrote the Calgary Stampede’s Heavy Horse Pull record books on Sunday night, pulling a 13,400-pound weight sled the full 14 feet after winning the heavyweight division under the Big Top.
Photo credit: Calgary Stampede

The Calgary Stampede releases a team of heavy hitters who have stepped up to the plate… and, to no one’s surprise, they swatted it out of the park.

The heavyweight division final of the Calgary Stampede’s Heavy Horse Pull, which traditionally closes out The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, shaped up as a doozy Sunday evening. Because among the nine-team lineup were the 5,288-pound pairing of Big Roy and Bob, owned by Stan Grad’s Airdrie, Alta.-based Soderglen Ranches and teamstered by Randy Dodge of Albany, Ore. – one horse of which had helped author the existing Stampede weight record of 13,300 pounds set in 2011. And also in the mix were the 5,475-pound Springbank Belgians duo of Jesse and Sam, teamstered by Dennis Weinberger of Cochrane, Alta. – one horse of which was involved in setting a world weight record in Michigan last fall.

The result was a heavy-duty display of might and muscle. Because after the Copp’s-supported team of Jesse and Sam had won the division by pulling a 12,500-pound weight sled a distance of 154 inches, they came right back into the infield and rewrote the Stampede’s Heavy Horse Pull record books – dragging a 13,400-pound sled the full 14 feet.

“That felt pretty nice,” beamed Weinberger. “And I think there’s still more room to keep resetting that record. On good, hard ground, there’s quite a bit more room.”

Last September, Weinberger’s team of Jesse and Doc had set a new world record in the heavyweight division at the Hillsdale County Fair in Hillsdale, Mich., pulling a weight of 4,850 pounds a distance of 30 feet, 10 inches.

And this year, the new team of Jesse and Sam is batting 1.000, noted Weinberger’s longtime horse-pulling partner Scott Fisher of Edwardsburg, Mich. “This is only the second time we’ve pulled together with them,” he said. “We took the Appalachians Mountain Bounty in Pennsylvania with this pair in May, and set a record there, too. Two pulls, two records.”

Heavyweight division teams tip the scales at a combined 3,501 pounds or heavier at the Stampede’s Heavy Horse Pull, which is Canada’s premier pull and the richest pull in North America.

By the time the weight sled had been loaded down with 10,500 pounds’ worth of concrete on Sunday, five teams were still alive. One round later, at 11,000 pounds, it was just three. And at 12,500, the tape measure needed to be employed to determine a winner.

Weinberger’s duo set the bar, with that 154-inch pull. Next up were the Antony Family-supported pair of Little Roy and Lane, Grad’s second outfit teamstered by Nicolas Pouso of Mercedes, Uruguay, which managed 45 inches. And when the New West Truck Centres team of Big Roy and Bob could only manage 91 inches, despite the best teamstering efforts of Dodge, it was all over – with Weinberger earning a first-place cheque for $3,000, Dodge collecting $2,500 for second, and Pouso accepting $2,000 for third.
“All three teams that were left have horses with an incredible level of ‘try,’ ” said Dodge. “I think we put on a pretty good show for the crowd. I hope they liked it.”

With the vast majority of the Stampede’s Heavy Horse Pull field consisting of Belgians, the next stop on the horse-pull circuit for many of these teams is the seventh North American Belgian Championships in Brandon, Man., which begins Tuesday.

Owing to the Stampede’s 100th birthday bash, the Heavy Horse Pull committee has introduced a Centennial Trophy this year. The horse-pull hardware will bear the names of the winners in each weight class for 2012 and beyond.