Peer Recognition – Dr. Wayne Burwash

Distinguished-Service-Award-2On January 10, 2015, at the 33rd annual Horse Breeders and Owners Conference, the Horse Industry Association of Alberta (HIAA) proudly presented the Distinguished Service Award to Dr. Wayne Burwash in recognition of his lasting influence and contributions to the equine industry in the province.

Dr. Burwash grew up on a mixed dairy farm in Balzac, Alberta. He graduated with distinction from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) from their first graduating class in 1969 and, after an internship, joined The Animal Clinic in 1970. Early in his career, he was the first to do Commercial Embryo Transfer in Canada with Bob Church from the University of Calgary. In 1977, the clinic split up from being a mixed practice and Dr. Burwash decided to open his own clinic specializing in equine: Burwash Equine Services.

Along with his clinical duties at the practice, he served as a mentor for other veterinarians including Dr. Claude Piche, who is now a leading diabetes researcher in humans and Dr. Gayle Trotter, who was the head of surgery at Colorado State University. Since 1980, Dr. Burwash has been the President Veterinary Commission of all international competitions at Spruce Meadows. His success as a veterinarian has led to accolades such as being named Veterinarian of the Year by the Alberta Veterinary Medical Association in 2000 and the Communicators Award in 2004. Burwash Equine Services have been a part of the Distributed Veterinary Learning Community with the University of Calgary, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine since its inception.


However, his leadership in the Alberta horse industry is not limited to the veterinary profession. Dr. Burwash was a founder of the Alberta Quarter Horse Breeders Group, helping to establish quality horse sales locally as well as internationally by marketing Alberta-bred horses to Europe. As a producer of American Quarter Horses for over four decades, he has been a leading breeder for the Alberta Horse Improvement Program, breeding champions such as Kilomax, Lopin Foran Invite, and Soo Good. Dr. Burwash has served on the executive and on numerous committees, within leading organizations such as the AQHA, ABVMA, Equine Canada, FEI, AAEP, and at the local equine colleges. He has demonstrated exemplary leadership in equine welfare, breed improvement, and research.

HIAA President, Jean Kruse, states, “Dr. Wayne Burwash truly fits the definition of what it means to offer distinguished service. His contributions to the equine industry past and present have not just been based in Alberta but globally. I’m thrilled that he was chosen as this year’s recipient and is definitely a worthy member of this exclusive club.”

The first Alberta Horse Industry Distinguished Service Award was presented at the 2000 Horse Breeders and Owners Conference to Bill Collins. Since then the outstanding recipients have included: 2001 – Marg and Ron Southern; 2002 – Hans Hansma; 2003 – Joe Selinger; 2004 – Bruce Roy; 2005 – Dave Robson; 2006 – Dr. David Reid; 2007 – John Scott; 2008 – Doug Milligan; and in 2009 – Eldon Bienert and Peggy McDonald.

Nominations are accepted annually and given on merit of the nominations; candidates are evaluated based on significance of accomplishments, public benefit, industry credibility, and potential for continued contributions. The award is be presented to the nominee that has had the greatest impact on the growth and development of the horse industry in Alberta in one or more of the following areas: breeding, manufacturing, facilities, organization, education, auction sales, export sales, training people and horses, or communication.

Win Dinner With Amber Marshall


Photo by Denise Grant.

Sometime in the spring of 2013, we undertook an ambitious endeavour and focused our editorial attention to the ernest task of finding 25 youth under the age of 25, who, in a nutshell, embodied and rang true to a modern Code of the West. We wanted young people who embraced independence, a love of the outdoor life, close connection to animals (in particular, horses), showed a fierce determination to follow their own path, buck convention, (and occasionally, conventional wisdom), and radiated all of these western measures of character through their daily lives.

As we worked our way down the long list, we were constantly reminded that the dreams often fostered in young minds and hearts can translate to adulthood, and that good old fashioned determination can still achieve what many think is impossible. We loved the true western code of ethic each of our top 25 exuded.

Included in that issue’s Top 25 Under 25 was the then 25-year-old Amber Marshall, star of the CBC hit television show, Heartland, a talented actress, who has managed to segue her passion for horses into a successful acting career.

Amber has been around horses as long as she can remember. She has been riding since a very young age and says that the two things she loves the most – acting and horses – have come together to create this dream role of Amy on the Heartland series.

In between filming and occupational commitments, Marshall lends her time and celebrity to a multitude of causes. Most recently she appeared with Niki Cammaert at Cowboys for Kingdom House, a fundraiser for special projects in Africa.

As Heartland films in Alberta, Marshall has made a home for herself on a small ranch outside of Calgary where she is surrounded by her many animals, including horses, dogs, cats, rabbits, chickens, turkeys and Jerseys. She stays true to her western roots and honours the people and animals around her while enjoying great professional successes. Grounded and focused, she is well on her way to creating a fulfilled, enriched life.

Her latest venture is partnering with Rustic Ranch, a furniture, home decor and gift store, located just 10 minutes north of Cross Iron Mills Mall, in Airdrie, Alberta. Located on the Giles family farm, the unique store shares a 30,000 square foot showroom with Airdrie Trailer Sales and Decked Out Vinyl, and specializes in log, reclaimed and rustic furniture and decor.

I’m pleased to let you know Rustic Ranch is offering you an opportunity to win a VIP evening with Amber Marshall!

Ballots are available in the store, and entries close on December 31.

Take the opportunity to meet Amber on November 1 when she’ll be in the store for a signing from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Perfect timing as Rustic Ranch’s yearly clearance sale is Oct. 31 to Nov. 2.

In the meantime catch up with Amber Marshall at her site, and view Rustic Ranch’s latest offerings at here.

August in Photos

My Stable Life August in Pics

August. The month of horse shows and weddings. And ice bucket challenges, lol! I didn’t even have time to blink in the last 31 days. Our weekends ran nine-O. The first weekend was a horse show, followed by a wedding. Then a horse show, a wedding and finally, another horse show. However, it was a joyful, happy month and the two weddings I write about were for some of the most precious people in our lives. Here’s a photo summary of how August played out for me.

Breast Collar, My Stable Life

The beginning of August started with a horse show. It was my first time getting back into the pen after a 6- month hiatus. I love the cow horse folks and was happy to see them again. It was also lovely to feel the power of a cow horse underneath me again. Although I did have  a bit of a “hat issue” to start with…


The following weekend was the wedding of some dear friends to us – Kirk Shaw and Crissy Santangelo. Kirk has been a beloved friend for many years, was the best man at our wedding and is also our farrier. Many of you may know Crissy as one of the hardworking gals behind the scenes of Silver Slate Arena (check out Featuring a charming tiny white church, a long-stretch Hummer limo, black cowboy hats, hot pink dresses with cowgirl boots to match, horses for photos, and a fantastic gathering and pig roast at Silver Slate to celebrate with friends and family – this was one of the most beautiful western weddings I have ever had the pleasure of attending. Congrats to Kirk and Crissy and we wish you many blessings to come!

Photo by Judy Doiron.

I think all kids love cowgirl, Kelin Doiron. Mine certainly do! Photo by Judy Doiron.


The following weekend, we were right back at Silver Slate arena, but with horses this time. A number of other “horse show kids” were there as well and many of them contend in the Future Stars class – one of our all-time favorite divisions to watch.

Photo by Natalie Jackman,

Photo by Natalie Jackman,

Warm August weather provided an ideal chance to snap a few shots of our upcoming yearlings. Taking photos of youngsters is an exercise in patience but we’re certainly glad Natalie Jackman has the know-how and tolerance to work with us in this venture <smile.>



Almost immediately following that show, I’m sure you can guess… we hit the road for another wedding. This time, we headed for beautiful Kelowna, BC – to attend the wedding of my beautiful sister. Along the way, there are many fabulous tourist places to hit. This year, we stopped at D Duchman Dairy – a farm fresh dairy store that kids can delight in the animal interaction as much as they can the ice cream at the end! Featuring exotic animals like llamas, birds and goats, D Dutchman Dairy also offers a hands-on approach to their calf barn. We tried taking our kidlets over to the other animals but they kept running back to the calves! I guess, you just can’t beat an up-close and personal interaction with friendly Holsteins.

Albino Kangaroo

Our son petting an albino wallaby at Kangaroo Creek Farm in Kelowna, BC.

However, just when I thought we couldn’t top that experience, my sister took us to Kangaroo Creek Farm – a farm that been breeding kangaroos and wallabies for more than 20 years in Lake Country near Kelowna. This is an incredible experience – operated entirely on donations alone. Guests are invited to walk into the farm and see wallaroos (a type of kangaroo, not a cross between a wallaby and a kangaroo) and Bennett wallabies roaming about, freely amongst the people! The animals are so friendly and tame, kids and adults alike can walk right up to them and pet them or offer a treat provided by farm operators! The farm also features emu, peacocks, fancy chickens, goats, parrots, a baby albino wallaby (*see the albino mother my son is petting above), baby kangaroos and potbellied pigs. There are also a pair of capybara, the world’s larges rodent (up to 150 lbs.)



And if you wait your turn, you can even have the chance to hold a baby kangaroo! This experience was worth posting a picture of myself (sans make-up) for…


We had one day of down time to visit with family and friends before the big day. But I definitely could have gone for a few more here… My sister Nicole and her husband choose a beautiful setting to host a wedding!

Next, it was on to the big day! Held at the historic Hotel Eldorado on the rooftop patio overlooking a marina, my baby sis and her new husband did a hilarious exchange of vows. My little family and I were truly honored to be a part of it and we watched with pride as she begins this new chapter in her life. The wedding was beautiful, the photos are insanely idyllic and the reception was all about the details. I should almost post a blog on that specifically <grin.> Congrats Nick and Jay – we love your dearly and thank-you for allowing us to be part of your special day!


The drive to Kelowna also provided us the perfect opportunity to pick up the newest member to our animal family – meet “Taylor,” a miniature gray-dun Donkey. I’m sure there will be more adventures about this little guy to come.

Cow-nightThe day after we returned from my sister’s wedding (at 2:00 am, I might add,) we unloaded Taylor, doctored a colt that had become injured over the weekend and headed straight for bed. For the following evening, Clay was hosting a practice cow night for over 40 people at our place. Cow nights make for a busy schedule but a great opportunity to practice for upcoming events. On this particular evening, a crop duster was hard at work nearby. It’s that time of year.


As I’m sure you can guess, the very next weekend we were back showing horses at the Back On Track Snaffle Bit Futurity hosted by the Alberta Reined Cow Horse Association.

Phew! August was a busy month.

Photo by Natalie Jackman

My husband, Clay riding “Bob” in a powerful fence turn. Photo by Natalie Jackman,






Earl Bascom Honored On National Cowboy Day


Earl Bascom pictured with his bronze “Old Time Bronc Rider”

The name of an old time Canadian cowboy has been placed into the national spotlight.

Out of the many great cowboys and cowgirls from across America, the cowboy artist and rodeo champion Earl Bascom was chosen to be honored as part of the National Day of the Cowboy celebration.

The National Day of the Cowboy has been celebrated for the past ten years throughout North America. The commemoration is held annually on the fourth Saturday of July in honor of the cowboy and the cowboy way of life – cowboy culture.

Earl Bascom posthumously received the prestigious 2014 Cowboy Keeper Award in honor of his international contributions in the promotion and preservation of the pioneer and cowboy culture.

Bascom was born on a ranch in Utah but raised on a ranch in Canada.  His father John W. Bascom, was a true character of the Old West being a frontier lawman and rancher who furnished rodeo stock for local stampedes.

Cowboying and rodeoing was a way of life for Earl Bascom and his brothers Raymond, Melvin and Weldon.  They rodeoed throughout the west.


Bascom rode saddle bronc at the 1932 Calgary Stampede

Earl Bascom competed in the three rough stock events of saddle bronc, bareback and bull riding. A rodeo pioneer often called the “Father of Modern Rodeo” and the “Father of Bareback Bronc Riding,” Earl Bascom is considered the world’s greatest inventor of rodeo equipment.

The rodeo equipment that Bascom designed and made includes the modern bareback rigging (1924), modern rodeo bronc saddle (1922) and the bucking chute (1919).  He and his brother Weldon produced a rodeo in Mississippi in 1935 which has been noted in rodeo history as the first night rodeo held outdoors under electric lights.

These rodeo innovations, all of which helped shape the sport of rodeo from its early beginnings, are still used today at rodeos around the world, almost 100 years later.

In 1933, Earl Bascom’s name was placed in the rodeo record books for setting a new world record time in the steer decorating event.

After graduating from the Brigham Young University with a degree in fine art, Bascom followed the example of his cousin Charles Russell and became an internationally known cowboy artist.  He spent the last years of his life recording his many cowboy experiences into works of art and bronze.

Bascom was declared by the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Artists Association to be the first professional rodeo cowboy to become a professional cowboy artist and sculptor.


“Broncs Wait For No Man”

During his art career, Bascom was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts of London, England, being the first cowboy to ever be so honored since the society’s beginning in 1754.

Earl Bascom even threw his hat into the Hollywood arena as an actor in the western movie “The Lawless Rider” and other film media, riding horseback alongside of the famous cowboy actor Roy Rogers.

When it comes to cowboy culture there probably is not anyone more cowboy than Earl Bascom.

During his lifetime he was an open-range cowboy, a bronc buster, cowpuncher, rodeo cowboy, rodeo champion, rodeo world record holder, rancher, trail drover, horse trainer, stagecoach driver, blacksmith, saddle maker, spur maker, bit maker, rodeo equipment designer, rodeo producer, rodeo announcer, rodeo clown and bull fighter, trick rider, freighter, wild horse chaser, dude wrangler, Hollywood western movie actor, as well as a cowboy artist and sculptor.

He took part in cattle drives out of the Canadian Rocky Mountains and across the Texas plains, drove bands of horses through the Teton Mountains, over Milk River Ridge and along Kicking Horse Creek in Montana.

“Once when I was working on the 5H Ranch outside of Lethbridge, I helped in the gathering of horses off the Canadian prairie.  7,000 horses were gathered all in one bunch a mile wide.  You’ve never seen a prettier sight in all your life,” recalled Bascom

In 1994, on the Shahan Ranch near Uvalde, Texas, Earl and his son John took part in the historic longhorn cattle drive over the hills and through the streets Alamo Village where actor John Wayne once roamed, commemorating the 500 years of the American longhorn.


Earls father John, and his brothers.

Bascom personally knew and talked to pioneers and homesteaders, outlaws and lawmen, gunslingers and bootleggers, prospectors and gold miners, Mormon Battalion soldiers and Civil War soldiers, Indian Chiefs and Indian War fighters, muleskinners and pony express riders, squatters and sheepherders, cattle rustlers and horse thieves.

“The life of a cowboy, I know,” Bascom said of his life which stretched from 1906 to 1995.

It’s no wonder that Earl Bascom has been called the “Cowboy of Cowboy Artists.”

The National Day of the Cowboy is a celebration for the heritage of the cowboy, promoted by a non-profit organization that works to preserve North America’s cowboy and pioneer heritage.

Being honored on the National Day of the Cowboy is a befitting tribute to one of the great cowboys of Canada and North America – Earl W. Bascom.

Jonathan Field Giveaway

We seem to be contest-crazy lately, and this latest is a fabulous once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!


And, if you’re a fan of Jonathan Field (and who isn’t?) and Recovery EQ, this is one contest practically tailor-made for you.

Whether our horses are our teammates, our best friends, or part of the family, we take the necessary steps to make sure they are as happy and as healthy as possible. For many supplements such as RECOVERY EQ is an important part in making sure our horses perform to the best of their ability.

Designed to unlock your horse’s potential, Recovery EQ aims to provide healthy joints, circulation, and works to help fight tissue damage. This is all achieved through a unique blend of anti-oxidants from foods that have been proven to support cellular health such as green tea, and red grapes.


Seeing the effect Recovery EQ has had on his own horses, proven horseman and trainer Jonathan Field personally vouches for the life changing product. The supplement has allowed him to take his horses down the road and to be confident in the fact that they are healthy and sound enough to make the journey.


Now, we want to hear what Recovery EQ has done for you and your horse!  In the comment section below, please tell us about the positive effects this supplement has had on your animal in 200 words or less.

The best story will receive two VIP tickets to the Jonathan Field and Friends International Horsemanship Education Conference in September!


Total value for this prize is $520, so get to pennin’ about your success with this fab product.

Small print: The contest will run until August 20, 2014 and the winner will be announced the following day. Prize does not include transportation to the venue. Winner must agree to have their story published in a future issue of Western Horse Review.

A High & Wild Adventure



People often talk of amazing places they have seen or their own adventures to foreign places, but this experience and my own adventure to Glenn Stewart’s High & Wild is one that I will treasure forever. And it is only the first day.

Flying out of Calgary to Fort St. John’s B.C. I had no idea what to expect. The website created an epic picture in my mind of horsemanship and beautiful scenery, and so far it has definitely delivered.

We started the morning off early to drive a quick three hours to a landing strip down the Alaskan highway. We sat at the treeless clearing meeting and greeted each other.

Questions like: “Where are you from?”, “What do you do?” were obvious favorites and then the inevitable, “What kind of horses do you ride?”

Quickly our small red and white airplane landed and loaded the first couple of people and their bags. It was only about an hour until the plane came back to pick up it’s second load of baggage and people.

Sitting with my camera lens pressed to the window of the plane, the view was breathtaking. Pure green with openings of water and some random cutlines here and there. We were headed for the mountains and they were spectacular. The further and further in we flew the harder it was to believe that people actually were out here. There were no highways, no roads, and barely a trail leading us to our destination as we floated high above.

Across the river and at the base of Gary Powell Mountain lies the Big Nine Outfitters Lodge. Truly a little oasis in a mountain range, the lodge is a two story house with the most beautiful mountain ranges for a backdrop. Home of the High & Wild Adventure with Glenn Stewart, the lodge is laid out on over 640 acres of wooded area, streams, rivers, marsh land and open grass.


The plane touched down just in time to put our bags in our rooms and come back out for lunch. With a quick bite to eat we headed out to the pen of multiple shades and sizes of horses that were really the reason why we were all here.

When you picture wild horses that have lived on their own all year, you might picture (or at least I did) scraggly, flighty, and well, wild! But these horses were quite the contrary. The plump horses obviously wintered well and there were still weanlings suckling from their mothers.


That is not to say they aren’t wild, because they are but it is very easy to forget that tiny detail.

After a quick head count of the 87 horses the wranglers managed to bring in this year, Glenn gave us a run down of the place. This included an introductory walk around the expansive perimeter of a fence that keeps the wild horses in while they are being used. After a couple of hours we made it all the way around with tips and great stories from Glenn.

We made it back to the corrals just in time to see some elk grazing and a big mother moose wander across to our side of the river. We got an up close encounter with her before she sauntered back across the river to find her calf.

Next was picking out tack to use on our horses for the week ahead. Although we haven’t been assigned one yet, we all point out the horses that look promising and secretly hope we get.

While we had a quick inspection of our saddles and tack, some of the wranglers and Glenn’s daughters came over the hill with 20 more head of horses that had been missed in the initial roundup. Thundering hooves pounded the ground and another herd was brought in.

Their grazing range in the off season spans the whole size of the valley from the mountain peaks we can see poking the skyline on one end to the big towering range off in the distance to the other end. They wander from place to place in their own packs and herds until it is time to round up for another year.

Pushing and shoving around salt licks, the latest batch of wild horses appear to be happy to be back. They run out of the corral and over the hill into the distance just as the sun sinks behind the distance westward mountain.

After a juicy moose roast and a homemade spread for supper, the events of the day begin to sink in.

“Is it really our first day?”

“Did we honestly just all meet this morning?”

These were common comments around the supper table. And it was true. It did feel like we had at least been here for a week when we hadn’t even spent the night and our group really felt like friends even though we had just learned each others name.

Our first day left us in awe of what we accomplished, what we learned, and where we were. I write this from the front porch of the lodge facing the horses grazing around the “yard” and the mountains in the backgrounds and sounds of the river making a quite rushing sound, to truly remind myself where I am and that today wasn’t a dream and that tomorrow promises to be even better!

Here is video of our day or you can find it here.

Check out Glenn Stewart on Facebook or at his website.

Interviews – Dick & Brenda Pieper

Playgun, Pieper, Pieper Ranch

Brenda and Dick Pieper, with Playgun.

In my career, I have many perks. One of them includes the opportunity to interview people in the horse industry. People who making a difference. People who are famous. People who are exciting. And people who are just amazing with horses. In April 2008, I had the opportunity to visit Pieper Ranch in Marietta, Oklahoma. Pieper Ranch is home to the legendary Playgun and both Dick and Brenda are legendary breeders, riders and owners in the western performance industry. Here is the interview that resulted from that visit:


Q. Brenda, you are originally from Canada. When did you move to the States?

BP – I was born in Kitchener, Ontario. Dick was born in Ohio. I met him for the first time when he came to Ontario to compete in an AQHA show we were hosting. He was showing a horse named Mr Jim 45. It was a real boost for the reining industry in the province of Ontario. In that day, Mr Jim 45 was a really good reining horse. It was also a difficult era to make a living showing horses.

A couple of years later, Dick took a job with some folks around the Toronto area. He helped a lot of people. I knew him as a friend for 14 years before we ever were involved. We started seeing each other in 1986 and Dick was president of the National Reining Horse Association at the time. He had been since 1983 – the first year the NRHA Futurity paid $100,000 to the winner, when it was still held in Columbus, Ohio. 1986 was the first year the NRHA Futurity was held in Oklahoma City, so it meant we had to come to Oklahoma. Bob Loomis had moved here (Marietta) the prior year. He told us, “Bring your horses early to my place and that will make it handy to run back and forth.” We packed up four trailers, moved into Bob’s barn and went to work. We first arrived late in the evening and when we drove out in the morning from our hotel in Ardmore, I remember how beautiful it was down here. I loved it! We were able to purchase the ranch we live on today, in March of 1987.

Q. Both you and Dick have expressed that Playgun is the ideal horse to move the Pieper breeding operation into the future. You knew this from the moment you spotted him too. How could you both be so sure at the time?

BP – Looking at his conformation, you can see Playgun’s balance up close and from far away – it just hits you in the face. Dick and I are so fortunate that our eyes see the same things on a horse. I can’t think of one horse in 21 years that we didn’t agree on completely. Both of us had a very strong gut feeling when we looked at Playgun and got that “Wow!” feeling, as soon as we looked at him. His breeding is impeccable and his show and produce record have lived up to what his conformation and pedigree promised.

Q. Have you come across your ultimate broodmare yet?

BP – Oh lots of them! Many are our own and many are other peoples’ mares. There are many I look at that his me like Playgun did. Nearly all of our mares are like peas-in-a-pod. They’re similar to Playgun. They may be different sizes, but they all hold the same balance. It you apply that principle (breeding like-to-like) to your breeding program, your offspring are going to be very consistent as well.

What you can’t do is try to offset a flaw in one parent by going to the opposite extreme in the other. The best chance at consistency in the offspring is breeding like-to-like.

Q. Is there a horse from history you would like to ride?

BP – Many. But one that Dick and I both would like to ride is Miss Silver Pistol. She was so expressive, busy and frantic on a cow. Boy, it would be fun to try her out with today’s methodical approach to working a cow, with the Ferrari engine she had, speed expressiveness and big stop. Today’s cutters have to run and stop a cow more than they used to. Miss Silver Pistol always had the cow mesmerized in the center of the pen. It would be so cool to see if you could train that mare with today’s methods (end to end without letting her cow up so much), and having to show on today’s cattle – how great she would be now. Having had the opportunity to have that mare here at one point, studying her conformation and balance, I know she had all the great parts to be competitive today also.

Q. What has held your passion for the horse industry all these years?

BP – The pure, pure love of horses. We love the way they smell. Brushing them. Turning them out. The learning curve into cutting has kept our passion for the industry. Playgun has become the catalyst for our success in that industry. To have met all the people we have met, training, the pursuit of being able to do this event: Dick always had the passion, but Playgun was the ticket in. That horse made the relationships for us. He helped us meet the people.

Q. If you could sip coffee with anyone dead or alive, who would it be?

BP – I think it would be anyone who really loves horses. To talk and discuss and analyze horses. There’s such a huge list of people who like to do this! You get to Fort Worth and the person you look forward to sitting beside is the person you can do this with. Dick says he would love to be able to visit with Don Dodge for the same reason.


Calgary Stampede 10-Day Highlights

Photo By Kelsey Simpson

A beautiful horse rode in the RCMP Musical Ride Sunday afternoon. Photo By Kelsey Simpson

Calgary – There’s a reason why the Calgary Stampede’s posters usually depicts a horse, or horses. Simply put, the Stampede has its origins in the horse-powered agricultural world of over a century ago and it remains the world’s greatest celebration of the Western horse culture.

There has always been an unbreakable bond between cowboys and their horses. This year, in the annual Cowboy Up Challenge, the Extreme Cowboy Association’s annual big Canadian event, it was a cowgirl who won the big buckle. Kateri Cowley of Exshaw, AB, and her faithful steed Kokanee demonstrated the combination of trust and training that is the only formula for success in this most-challenging competition. Kateri, a former Stampede princess, was among the first competitors when extreme cowboy racing came to Canada and her victory came over a very strong group of riders, including some former World Champions.

The Working Cow Horse Classic is another test of the partnership between horse and rider. In the 15 classics to date, the name of John Swales of Millarville is listed as the winner of the Open Bridle Class an amazing ten times. This year Swales rode Maximum Echo, owned by Flo Houlton of Caroline, AB. Longview, AB.’s Clint Swales, John’s brother and perhaps his closest competitor, won Open Hackamore riding HR Chic Nic, owned by Bruce Bamford of Calgary. Another Calgarian, Suzon Schaal, rode her mare Genuine Brown Gal to the Non-Pro Bridle title for the fifth time.

When it comes to hard work for both horse and rider, there’s nothing quite like Team Cattle Penning. Finding three cows in a herd of thirty and then persuading them to move downfield and into a pen, when they don’t really want to go, makes for a real challenge, and some great entertainment. In the super-competitive 10 class, the Millet, AB father and daughter combination of Brian and Paige Cardinal teamed with Calgary’s Alex Hansen to take the buckle. In the 14 class, the multi-generational team of Pat Bolin from Stettler, AB, Lesley Marsh of Arrowwood, AB, and Josie Abraham of Carstairs, AB combined for the win. The top-ranked riders compete in the Open class, and it was Donna O’Reilly of Millarville, AB, Kirk Cottrell, also of Millarville, and Devin Antony of Calgary, AB, beating the best of the best. In the 7 class, Mason Cockx of Millarville, AB, Bruce Stewart of Canmore, AB and Mike Street of Penticton, BC, finished on top.

Stampede visitors wanting a little closer look at light horses were welcomed to Horse Haven presented by TAQA. There were 17 different breeds of light horse on hand, along with their passionate owners. There were also demonstrations of the capabilities of these remarkable animals in a Wild West Show format, presented four times during the Stampede.

Not too far from Horse Haven was Draft Horse Town, where the heavy horses hung out. There was more than horses there, however, as equipment from the age of horse-power was on display to illustrate the technology of days gone by. Each day in Draft Horse Town, Lady – the beautiful Belgian mare whose visage graced this year’s Stampede poster – made an appearance in Draft Horse Town to meet her public.

The Stampede’s oldest event, the Heavy Horse Show and World Championship 6-Horse Hitch happened for the 128th time. The Eaglesfield Percherons of Brian and Randi Thiel of Didsbury, AB won their fifth World Championship 6-Horse Hitch title as the musicians of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra played in the background. Y.E.S. Mystique, a Percheron belonging to Chad Munns of Garland, UT, won the class and was also Best of Show.

For those who like to watch the powerful heavy horses in action, the Heavy Horse Pull is a must-see. On Friday night, Randy Dodge of Albany, OR, drove Belgians Bud and Red to the Lightweight crown. The team is co-owned by Stan Grad of Airdrie, and was sponsored by Calmont Leasing. On Saturday night, it was another Dodge/Grad outfit winning the buckle. It took a pull of 11,500 pounds and 11 rounds of competition for Simon and Mike to take the win for New West Truck Centres. It was the same sponsor, but a different team that topped the nine-horse Heavyweight class. Martin Howard brought Joker and Sandy, the two biggest horses in the Stampede pull this year, down from Rocky Mountain House and took them home as the Stampede heavyweight champions on Sunday night after outpulling the outfit of Randy Dodge and Stan Grad by all of a foot.

For those who like their equine entertainment in smaller doses, there’s the Canadian National Miniature Horse Show and the miniature donkey exhibit. They may be little, but these little animals will really perform for their owners and never fail to win the hearts of visitors.

From cow ponies to draft horses, fans of horsemanship and horseflesh got a full helping of both at this year’s Stampede. The cowboys and teamsters have packed up for another year, but they’ll be back with their beautiful horses in less than 51 weeks.

Interviews – John Lyons


John Lyons.

John Lyons.

In my career, I have many perks. One of them includes the opportunity to interview people in the horse industry. People who making a difference. People who are famous. People who are exciting. And people who are just amazing with horses. In March 2008, I had a thrilling opportunity to sit down with John Lyons, America’s most trusted horseman. Here is the interview that resulted from that visit:


Q – Why did you choose horses as a vocation?

JL – I had a cattle ranch in the 70s and I went broke ranching. I was already showing horses at that time and I had enough people coming to me wanting to know how to do what I did with horses. Then I went to a horse clinic – while I was going broke – and thought it was extremely dangerous. I saw people getting bucked off and hurt and what I learned was how badly people wanted to learn. I didn’t think I needed to be the best trainer in the world to teach people how to do what I do. That was the exact moment I choose horses as a vocation. It was 1980.

Q. I have heard you say the horse is God’s favorite animal. Why?

JL – I could give 20 different reasons why I know this is so. The first reason: The horse is the second most mentioned animal in the Bible. Sheep are mentioned 714 times. Horses are second at about 356 times. Cows are 86. Dogs are 41. And cats are mentioned 0 times.

There are less reasons for horses today to be on Earth than ever before and yet, there are more horses than ever. That’s because they are adaptable. They can adapt to styles of training, temperatures or doing things their body isn’t designed to do. Think of all the things horses do for people and the different situations they live in, we have to admit they are very adaptable.

And the horse forgives people similar to the way God forgives us. His forgiveness is based on the fact that we can admit we’re wrong and we can change. Someone can abuse a horse and have him head shy for 20 years and then someone else can come along and do two things to fix his head-shyness. Of course, this depends on two things: that human stops hitting him in the head and convinces the horse that we won’t do it again. Since the horse’s memory is so long, it’s not that he just forgot about the 20 years of abuse. The horse is now looking at us and sees that we have changed. He doesn’t hold the past against us for the rest of his life.

Q. Do you think the horse industry is fading or changing in any way?

JL – Yes. Change is inevitable. We will go in cycles with everything we do (kind of like the cattle market goes in a seven-year cycle.) The horse industry will continually evolve and change. I think the educational revolution that’s happened since the mid 90s is high! In 1988 I made my first VHS training tape. There were maybe three to four of them on the market at that time. Now there’s probably 10-15,000 available. The number of expos throughout the world has really exploded.

Q. Tell me about your “Dream Ranch” in Colorado?

JL – I live there with my dream wife, Jody. She is perfect in lots of different ways. The ranch isn’t a typical ranch, we don’t have thousands of acres with a lot of cattle. Instead we have 70 acres and no cattle and just a few horses. It’s a nice place, but I don’t think of it as being extravagant. I love it. I have a good time there.

Q. Is there a horse from history you would like to ride?

JL – If I was given a chance, one more time it would be “Dream.” He was a Quarter Horse stud I had. I would like the opportunity to have ridden him just once more and I would have changed how I rode him. The last ride we took together was up in the mountains and I was getting ready to go to a show. It was a gorgeous place, but I missed the whole ride because I was focused on lead changes and whatever else. I ended up losing Dream a few days later in a trailer accident. If I could have that ride back with him, I would just ride through the mountains and let us both enjoy it.

Q. What CD is in your stereo right now?

JL – I have no idea. I like western music. George Strait is my all-time favorite singer. I really like that song, “I Just Want to Dance With You.” It’s a perfect song to ride to. The song is about asking a girl to dance, then twirling her around on the floor and moving gracefully. It has a really nice rhythm to it, and beat. And a nice message. It makes you want to lope and turn and do nice pretty maneuvers.

Q. If you could sip coffee with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?

JL – Jesus Christ. I would love to sit around the camp fire and talk to him.

– Interview by Jenn Webster, March 2008, Western Horse Review