In the May/June issue of Western Horse Review, we searched out some of the most accomplished and influential youth in the western horse industry and compiled our first-ever Young Guns – Top 25 Youth Under 25. We came up with six categories: Ambassadors, Artisans, Entertainers, Competitive, Entrepreneurs and Science. From self-discipline to unwavering focus, we were 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 exude.
It evolved into such an inspiring piece we decided to recreate it online, with the fuller interviews and stories of each of our deserving Top 25. Look for them here at Screen Doors & Saddles over the next six months, as I\’ll reveal one every week or so!
Cait McLean(Nominated for Artisans) Age: 24 Longview, Alberta
Little did the brown haired, ranch raised girl know that her childhood nickname ‘Cattle Cait’ would not only stick with her well into her twenties, but would be the namesake of a burgeoning leather business.
“I grew up on the family ranch southwest of High River, AB. As kids, my brothers and I used to dream about leaving the ranch and living in town, of all things! My father’s nickname for me was Cattle Cait, and that didn’t help much either,” she remembers fondly. “Little did we realize that the time spent with the horses, dogs and cattle were some of the best years of our life.”
Despite growing up in the 4H ranks and being immersed in the world of horses, ponies and ranching, McLean did find her way into the city. But things don’t always turn out the way we plan.
“I went to school to study broadcast journalism because I wanted to be a news anchor. I was really fortunate to graduate the program and land a job as a morning show host and reporter on an FM station. However, after a year I was told the station was “reformatting” and they let me go. I was pretty down in the dumps. It was while later that I was on the couch one night, eating another gallon of ice cream, and I looked at my boyfriend\’s stock dogs ratty collars and thought, \”I can do better than that!”
And with opportunity and an eye for fashion, better she has done. Although those were the first two dogs to bear a Cattle Cait Custom Collar, since then the enterprise has exploded. She makes stunning and creative custom collars, belts for men, women and kids, halters, camera straps, bracelets and pretty much anything else someone can dream up.
McLean, with a self-professed cowboy boot addiction and a great adoration for the style and class of the sidesaddle ladies, was meant to find her way to a career path carved out of form and function.
“None of this would be possible if it wasn’t for my wonderful boyfriend, Lee Bascom. He’s a saddle maker (which really comes in handy for this new career of mine) and he lets me tag along when he cowboys – which means I’ve been lucky enough to live in some of the most beautiful places in western Canada.”
Most people that have accomplished great things and set out on their own paths credit a strong family standing behind them, and Cait McLean is no different.
“What I’ve learned from all of this change over the last couple of years is to surround ourselves with those who love us, whether they’re people or animals. It’s tough enough finding out what we’re meant to do and what we love to do when negativity is so influential. I have a wonderful support team and Cattle Cait wouldn’t exist without them.”
~ Dainya Sapergia
See Cattle Cait\’s work at her Facebook Page.