Montana Roots Road Show

I recently received notice of this travelling road show via the Western Folklife Center in Elko, Nevada. The concept of boarding a bus with a group of talented poets, songwriters and storytellers, and travelling through the state of Montana on an “American West” tour seems pretty inviting. Here’s the details. .  .

“The Montana Roots Road Show is a traveling concert tour featuring nationally acclaimed poets, songwriters and storytellers from Montana. These artists, along with 30 fellow bus travelers, will bring memorable performances to communities in southwest Montana the week of July 7-14, 2011. Good-time cowboy band Wylie & The Wild West, acclaimed singer/songwriter Stephanie Davis, and cowboy poets and Montana Governor’s Arts Award winners Wallace McRae and Paul Zarzyski will perform at the Montana Folk Festival in Butte, July 8-10, and will be joined by Montana’s Poet Laureate Henry Real Bird and by cowboy poet and songwriter DW Groeth at points across southwest Montana including Dillon, Three Forks and Paradise Valley.

“For the featured performers, the Montana Roots Road Show is all about sharing a passion for their home state and its traditional culture, and creatively sharing stories of everyday experiences through verse, song, humor and narrative. Inspired by the majesty of the Big Sky State, the songs, poems and stories performed by this troupe are universal at heart and carry an emotional punch, whether gut-bustingly funny or heart-wrenchingly poignant. These are some of the West’s finest troubadours, singing of hope, respect, courage, compassion, good neighbors, community, heroes, pranks, horses, love of the land and the lifestyle of a rural Montanan.

“The tour participants will enjoy a one-of-a-kind opportunity to experience the arts and culture of the American West. In addition to the concerts along they way, they’ll visit museums, artist studios/galleries, gearmakers’ workshops, historic ranches, Yellowstone National Park and some of the most beautiful scenery the U.S. has to offer. This is a once-in-a-lifetime tour of the traditional and contemporary arts and culture of Montana, shared with some of its greatest poets, musicians and songwriters.

“There is still room on the bus for anyone who would like to participate in the Montana Roots Road Show Tour. For a full itinerary and tour costs, visit The Montana Roots Road Show is produced by theWestern Folklife Center and made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.”

Arizona Riding

I’ve been fortunate enough to head to Arizona a couple of times this winter. The area we’ve settled on as a winter getaway and home is roughly east of Cave Creek. It is a horse lover’s utopia. Regardless of sport, discipline or breed – mild winters, incredible views and national park enveloping on three sides is undeniably perfect for all manner of horse folk.

Unless you are unlucky enough to be genetically disposed with a phobia of snakes, lizards, scorpions, spiders and wild little pigs called javelinas, this is a paradise found, for Canadians fleeing the snow and cold.

When we get together, there is plenty of joking about the weather and the folks back home, which I won’t repeat, out of respect for the friends and family I still want to be friends and family with, when I return home. But, the truth is we all consider ourselves really blessed to be here.

Down here, Wee gets to rise in the morning and head over to Rio Estancia, an Arabian ranch, where she takes daily lessons on a variety of older and wiser Arabians. It’s a beautiful facility. Quiet, calm and completely at home in the environment.

This trip she was re-acquainted with her old friend, Colleen, a pretty Arabian schooling horse. Part-bred Arabian, full-time mentor.

Colleen has the patience of a saint, and possesses a set of the kindest eyes I think I’ve ever seen. Yep, this is the sort of horse I can trust with my child.

Though we have been here a scant seven days and have to head home to winter in less than a few more, I have to appreciate the “firsts” this trip has afforded us.

Like riding in the desert. I’ve ridden in the desert down south, closer to the Mexico border often, but this was my first opportunity to head out right from our home to the park paths, thanks to two friends who were down with horses and staying with us. When they graciously offered up their mounts to us one afternoon, we jumped on and headed out. The National Parks northeast of Phoenix are prime riding areas and I love hanging out in these areas.

Of course, I don’t have a fear of spiders and snakes, which helps.

There are well designated paths, or washes to head through. It sure beats loping in circles as far as conditioning goes.

Is this the face of a man who is smiling at the thought of his compadres at home working in -30°C weather?

Nah, that thought never even crossed his mind.


NCHA Futurity Recap

For those of us in the biz, travelling to year end shows most often headlined in the southern states, whether the Ohio Congress, AQHA or APHA World Show, or NRCHA, NRHA and NCHA Futurities is not only a great excuse to escape the onslaught of a Canadian winter, but also a perfect opportunity to scope out new trends and get a handle on the health of the horse industry in the United States – a true marker for our own economy. Not to mention observe and cheer on the top athletes in our respective disciplines and sports.

So, I was happy to head to Fort Worth last week to take in a few days of the National Cutting Horse Association Finals. And, this year’s event turned out to be a must-see, with several world records being broken.

Cheering easily rivalled the most intense hockey game in Canada, when rider Lloyd Cox rode One Time Royalty (One Time Pepto), for Mathews Cutting Horses to an NCHA record-breaking score of 230, in the Saturday night Open Finals. I can tell you – the spirit in the packed house that night was electric!

It was clearly One Time Pepto’s year as a sire, as not only did he sire the Open champion, but the Non-Pro Futurity Champion as well – One Rockin Pepto, making One Time Pepto the only stallion to sire the winners of both the NCHA Open and Non-Pro Futurities in his first foal crop.

I’m guessing his 2010 breeding book is filling up fast.

Here in Canada, you might remember Janice Eaton’s success this year at the Calgary Futurity, where she won the Non-Pro Futurity on another One Time Pepto – Pepto Time – purchased from Top Notch Performance Horses.

A typical trip to the NCHA Futurity encompasses not only watching the cutting, but attending any one of six days of sales, where this year, Western Bloodstock recorded net sales of $11,332,100 on 792 head, for an average of $14,308, compared to the 2009 net average of $13,260 on 778 head.

I believe there might have been another record broken at this sale when a partnership of three Canadians purchased the high seller of the sale – nine-year-old NCHA world championship mare, Jazzys Pep Talk. With $500,000 in earnings, she sold in foal to Dual Rey, and came with three High Brow Cat embryos. That translates to four actual mares, (as the three “recip” mares are present, and sell with the matron mare). And four wee hopes and dreams in the oven.

Jazzys Pep Talk was purchased by Lyle and Sandy Reid, Moe and Maureen Stewart and Dean Ness for $215,000, making her the high seller of the sale.

Pictured here are the happy new investors, from left, Lyle, Moe and Dean.

Ah, one of you did remember to bring the trailer, correct?

And here are the happy new moms, from left, Sandy and Maureen. I got to be included in the photo for fun. Hey, it’s not often you get to pet a World Champion mare!

I really have to apologize for the quality of the photos. My camera – an iphone!

As well as the great sales and cutting action, our trip included visits out to training barns and ranches. . . .

. . . . such as expat’s Ian Chisholm’s. . . where I fell in love with a rooftop. . .

. . . the Rocking W. . . . where I unabashedly lusted a fabulously functional arena and barn.

. . . and Buffalo Ranch, where a gorgeous barn-front captured my view. We have an outstanding article lined up in the Feb/Mar issue of Western Horse Review, featuring an interview with Buffalo Ranch creator, Shane Plummer. Stay tuned for his candid remarks on the state of the western horse industry.

We also had a chance to visit with brothers and homeboys Paul and Winston Hansma. . . .

. . . and take a quick trip to the Fort Worth Stockyards, where Christmas – Texas style – was in full swing.

Another highlight of the trip was the Stallion Showcase, where elaborate booths are set up, and attendees are able to view top stallions in the flesh, and meet the owners and collaborators of their breeding programs. It’s stall to stall people by 10:00 a.m. so be sure to attend early if you plan on going.

As usual, I brought home a ton of promotional material. There were some truly unique ideas presented by stallion owners this year, not the least of which included this logo-stamped icing on a shortbread cookie. I’ll be compiling a post of the promotional ideas I ran into at the Stallion Showcase early in January.

Stay tuned!

A New Baby, Baby Horses & A Baby Sister

Christmas, to me, is about family and friends.

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

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

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

And this:

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

And this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Melodramatic Me

Today I gaze upon the morning sky,

Remembering those we loved, who are no longer by our sides.

Can they see the beauty of the Earth below?

I wonder.

From the clouds above, can they see the passing seasons?

Do they hear our complaints and all our reasons

We wish for warmer days,

Hours without insects,

Winds to dry up the mud,

And a break from the sun’s rays.

I wonder.

Do they smile when of life’s hardships we grumble,

Like us, do they cower when we hear the thunder rumble,

Can they feel the splendor a new season brings us?

I hope so.

Maybe it’s my melodramatic self

To remember our loved ones today. But I vow never to forget.

And the beauty of today’s world, I won’t ignore.

Yet, I’m still so excited to see the new life Spring has in store!

– JW

A Horse Trainer, In Maui

Alright, I’m back to My Stable Life! Clay and I flew home this week, returning from our quick vacation in Maui, HI.

Our return to Regina was accompanied with a quick dose of reality. The flip flops would no longer do. In 3 plane changes and 14 hours, we had traded palm trees and ocean breezes in for winter blankets and snow drifts. It always has to snow in Canada around Halloween, doesn’t it? It’s like there’s an unwritten weather law in our country.

Believe me, I could have handled the +30 degree Celsius temperatures, the flower leis and sandy beaches for another few days.

But I was more than happy to get the 5 days we had planned on. As I mentioned in my last post – Clay is not a big vacation guy. While sitting on a beach, he finds time to worry about all the horses back home, the hay supply, the trailer lights… yes, the trailer electrical systems… and a plethora of other things I would never have thought about. But he really impressed me on this trip. After allowing him one day to de-pressurize and get the worries out of his system (and with a kindly threat to throw his cell phone over our resort balcony), here was my transformed husband:

I find his T-shirt kind of ironic.

We got the opportunity to check out a few beaches. And we took time to visit the Maui Ocean Center, where we were able to view Tiger sharks, baby turtles and an array of beautifully colored fish in various tanks.

One of my favorite displays were the seahorses. I learned that there are over 50 species of seahorses in the world and all have coronets on their heads, each of which is distinct to the individual (like a human fingerprint.)

We also had the chance to take in a real Hawaiian luau, which features music, hula dancing and a huge feast of food representing traditional Hawaiian culture. It was a wonderful, exhilarating experience.

Oh, and I should mention – I also experienced my first earth quake during this trip. That was interesting… Sitting in a mountain top Maui house, all of a sudden I could feel the whole entire building shake. It was over just as quickly as it started and luckily, no one was hurt (we read in the newspaper the next day that it only measured to a 5 on the Richter Scale). Nonetheless, I’ll be happy if I never experience any more earthquakes in my lifetime.

Anyways we are back in Canada now, just in time to pack up the trailer and get ready to leave again. <smile> Oh, the life of a horse trainer… This week, Clay is preparing for the AQHA World Show in Oklahoma City, OK, where he has two horses qualified to contend. We are super excited and I will do my best to keep you posted on his trip and progress. At this point I am not sure I will be accompanying Clay on this journey.

You see, as it turns out, I am pregnant. With twins. <big smile> We still have a long way to go (I have only recently reached the 13-week mark) so Clay and I remain cautiously optimistic, but we are very excited regardless.

Happy Wednesday everybody!


Clay and I and the J. Drummond Farms horses are all back home from the SRHA Stakes & Futurity show in Moose Jaw and what an awesome reining it was! And I gotta say, I really like the trip home back from this show… Not trying to brag, but a 40-minute drive is very refreshing after years of traveling several hours in the past, to get back to Calgary. Having said that, I hope all our fellow friends and competitors who came from far and wide made it back safely!!

I hope y’all don’t mind but I’ll be taking a break from My Stable Life this week as Clay and I are off for a bit of a vacation in Maui. It’ll only be 7 days and then I promise, I’ll be back at it with some results and highlights from the Moose Jaw show. Plus much more fun, informative stuff here on the blog.

Clay doesn’t typically vacation well… He gets so wired on around the 3rd day away from his horses that he actually contemplates changing our flights and coming home early. Or setting up a clinic at the vacation sight. So keep your fingers crossed for me – I’m really hoping for 7 days filled with nothing but sunny beaches, pineapple treats and palm tree breezes.

See ya next week!

Out West Stallion Station

If you ever get the chance to travel down Rio Verde Drive in Scottsdale, AZ, take a minute to stop at Out West Stallion Station & Performance Horses. It’s definitely worth a look.

Owned by Bobbie Cook, Out West is a beautiful equine facility where you can find world class performance horses that are bred, raised and trained for reining and working cow horse events.

This facility features Sante Fe style barns and a full service breeding and foaling station.

The foaling stalls have been carefully designed to house little ones and provide plenty of space for mares to be comfortable.

Out West is additionally home to Matt Mills Reining Horses. Matt is a highly acclaimed reining and cow horse trainer with a long list of credentials to his name including, the NRHA Intermediate Open Reserve Champion and the Limited Open Classic Championship at the National Reining Breeders Classic. In 2006 he won the USET Championship on Easy Otie Whiz and represented the United States at the 2006 World Equestrian Games in Aachen, Germany.

Matt Mills (standing in center) instructs some of his students in the outdoor arena.

Other ranch features include a 150′ x 300′ outdoor arena, a 125′ x 250′ covered arena and fully covered and misted mare pens.

Horses stand in the tie up arena.

The covered indoor can be seen here in the background:

And a beautiful view can be taken in from the outdoor arena:

What a great place to ride! Yes, I admit. It’s possible I have the Arizona Blues already… <sad face>

If you’d like more information on Out West Stallion Station & Performance Horses, check out:

Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital

This week, I promised My Stable Life readers that I’d take y’all for tours of various equine facilities that I have traveled to over the last little while. Today, however, I’d like to share with you a facility that a friend of mine had the chance to tour (so not myself personally,) but I’m sure you will all agree, it is a facility worth seeing nonetheless!

Recently, Nancy Pratch had the opportunity to tour Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital near Lexington, Kentucky. She sent her pictures to me, so I thought I would share them all with you here…

Some breeding stocks.

Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital is a full-service equine hospital  established in 1986 as a referral center for horses requiring  specialized medical and surgical care. Today the center is known and respected throughout the world for innovative and highly skilled treatment of horses.

Various hoof xrays.

The hospital offers a full range of services including a focused podiatry center with advanced diagnostics including MRI and video gait analysis. This way, Rood & Riddle can provide optimum foot care from corrective shoeing to medical treatment and management of special conditions. This center possesses 2 treatment areas; 3 holding stalls, and a fully outfitted farrier shop. The treatment area is equipped with hoists to support severe laminitis cases in a sling, when necessary.

In this center of the clinic, farriers design and make therapeutic shoes, pads, and boots to fit changing foot conditions as well as custom-fit braces for surgical patients.

Rood & Riddle performs over 5,000 surgeries each year. The hospital has 2 surgery facilities and Surgery I in the main building houses 3 general anesthesia operating rooms, 2 prep areas and 5 recovery stalls.

Visitors are allowed to watch surgeries in progress from behind a window.

There is also a special procedures room for standing surgeries. Surgery II is available to support additional case load of the 5 surgeons and has 2 main operating areas with 3 recovery stalls.

Every case is handled by a surgical team headed by the chief surgeon, who is assisted by an anesthesiologist, a team of interns and a technical support staff that is responsible for monitoring every case from pre-op through follow-up care.

Following surgery, patients are then hoisted into a special recovery room:

In one area of the hospital, a treadmill endoscopy is also offered to clients. This innovative high speed treadmill allows clinicians to examine the upper airway of a horse while it is exercising at high speed. Certain types of abnormalities of the upper airway may only become evident during exercise and will not be seen during a resting endoscopic evaluation.

Rood & Riddle offers all this for the care of horses, plus much more. If you’d like to see for yourself, check out: