Monday, 28 November 2016

15 Truths for the Cutting Horse Enthusiast

1. You head out for dinner with friends, and wonder if the Multiple Elastic Bands on your wrist are a socially acceptable form of jewellery

2. Leggings are a style of shotgun chap, not the tight yoga pant variety

3. What are "Show Saddles" and "Show Bridles"? If people mean that old Roo-Hide you use on atleast five horses per day at home then yeah, that's a show saddle because it made it to the show.

4. Herd-Side and Cow-Side make a hell of a lot more sense to you than Left, or Right.

5. You will fully admit you're a Crazy Cat Lady... High Brow Cat, Smooth as a Cat, Bet Hesa Cat, Metallic Cat.. you're crazy about them.

6. Your most-read piece of literature? Draw Sheets. (Mostly because you are terrified to mess up when your horse goes, "When did I draw again?" "What set again?" "What day again?" "What show again?")

7. After attempting to explain Cutting for the 150,000 time to someone, and they respond, "oh right, with the numbered cows? Team Penning?" you've sighed heavily and just nodded, "Yes, that's what I do. Exactly that."

8. Speaking of other disciplines, many might see us as the Slightly Grubby Cousin. Okay, we don't paint our horses hooves, but, only you know how many tears you shed when your horse ripped a massive chunk out of his tail. RIP.

9. You know these are Insults... "Absent" "No Heart" "Counterfeit"... and that these are Compliments... "Cow Pony" "Lots of Try" "Crawls Around"

10. Forgot your mom's birthday, but can remember every horse in your own Horses Pedigree and how they are individually bred, how much money they've won and how much their offspring have gone on to produce.

11. All together now - "Can't, I have a Show"

12. No shame in our game. You've exchanged tips with just about anyone about how to prevent and remedy Chaffing. Loping cutting horses = the struggle is real.

13. Is it 2016? Or is it "Princess' Futurity Year"

14. You forgot to turn the volume down on your computer at work, so your boss caught you watching the Live Feed of a major show due to the high pitched "Yee's" and "Yeo's".

15. December can be a very stressful time for you. It can make or break friendships and families. It drains your bank account. It can be trying and exhausting. Sometimes you just don't know why you do it. The amount of time you spend shopping is outrageous! No, I'm not talking about Christmas, I'm talking about The Futurity of course!

Friday, 25 November 2016

Product Review: Boot Slip

I was asked to review a product called Boot Slip. For those of you that are cowboy boot obsessed like me, i'm sure you have a pair of boots in your closet you can't get on. It's a common problem, we get roped into sale boots, or super cute boots that kinda-sorta-maybe fit, and we buy them thinking we can make it work. I remember buying one pair of boots, for super cheap, and attempting to stretch them with frozen bags of water in my freezer... desperate times ladies. Boot Slip claims to be a product made to combat the issue of hard to put-on boots. The simple design, basically a big plastic sock, is easy to use. You just slip on the Boot Slip sock, shimmy it up onto your instep, slide your foot into your boot, and then pull the Boot Slip sock out!

I tried the Boot Slip sock in two pairs of boots, the ones pictured above that are very tall, and a lower shaft pair. Both times my foot glided super easily into the boot. The only small issue I had was that the Boot Slip sock itself required a little bit of pulling to get out of my tall boots because they are so tight onto my calves. However, overall I thought the product worked awesome for those hard to fit boots, especially the ones you may have trouble sliding your ankles into.

It seems like a pretty novel product, but it's pretty handy to have around. It comes in a small compact little cardboard box, and you get 20 Boot Slip socks in a package. For $7.99 it's relatively inexpensive to try out on your own hard to fit boots. Plus, I think it will make a super cute stocking stuffer for the cowboy in your life who has that one pair of boots he refuses to throw out, but can barely get into. The only other quam I had with a bunch of plastic booties was if they were environmentally friendly or not. Thankfully, Boot Slip is an environmentally conscious company, and the Boot Slip socks are non-toxic and recyclable, as well as the packaging they come in!

So, overall, if you are sick of shoe horns, or gels, and wrestling your feet into boots, I would for sure recommend trying Boot Slip. It may just be your lucky charm so you don't have to throw those cute boots out that sit in the back of your closet! ;)

For More Information on this Product - www.BootSlipSock.Com
sock on your feet each time you want to slip in your boots.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Bruises; Of Ego. Of Body.

Social media is really interesting sometimes. In the competitive horse world, it makes sense that people celebrate their successes. Trainers often have their own Facebook pages that highlight how well their shows went. They definitely don't highlight their horses that ran off, or quit them. Non-Pros quickly post videos of their winning runs, with captions exclaiming how much they love their horse. They very rarely post about how their rides went to crap, and they are willing to sell their horse for one dollar and a bottle of stiff liquor. Why would they? When you scroll through your own "timeline of life" sometimes it's nice to see all the highs, all the good stuff, to recap the greatness. However, I think the double edged sword here comes from the people that are watching. When I have a really bad day with my horse, and I log on to Facebook or Instagram, and see a post talking about how amazing it is that a fellow competitor has won their 18th straight show in a row? Yeah, it stings a little. We are all human people, we can allow ourselves a little jealousy, a little griping, and a little moping from time to time. Just not all the time, that aint cute.

Sometimes, it would be nice to know when those people you may look up too, or compare yourself against, on social media, make a mistake. Everybody makes mistakes when it comes to horses, it is inevitable and it is why horses are so uniquely humbling. Big mistakes, small mistakes, and mistakes in between, we have all had our share.

I didn't properly latch the gate and the horse got out. I put the wrong saddle on a horse, and my boss got mad at me. I forgot to give meds to one of our horses. Did I turn the lights off when I left? My trainer has been telling me to use more leg, and yet, I just can't seem to use more leg. I tied the stud up next to a mare, and a bunch of vocal commotion occurred. 

All sorts of things can go awry when it comes to horses, from basic maintenance and care of them, to riding and training on them. Sometimes these types of posts do pop up, but they are usually cute, glossed over accounts of what happen, that make people chuckle. They are very rarely the truth, "I lost my cool and my patience on my horse, and I got into a wreck over it, and I'm embarrassed and ashamed."

I have mulled this post over for awhile, contemplated this post, and thought up a lot of ways to gloss over this post to still make it look all cute by the end. The truth is, that's not the reality of horses, and for the sake of sharing my own life, and my own truth on this blog, I thought I should share a story with you guys that happened to me last week. Do you all remember my beloved first horse, a Paint horse named Jingle? I don't talk about him much anymore because he has a lower leg lameness that means he has been retired since he was 11. Two years of attempting to find out what was wrong with him, to no avail, left me emotionally drained and taxed. Jingle is still alive and well, he is still quirky, and he is fat and sassy. He is currently turned out and he has pretty much reverted back to his wild horse ways. The thing with Jingle is, he was the type of horse everyone tells you NOT to have as your first horse. I learned a lot of things because of him, and with him, but they were hard fought lessons. Jingle is terrible about his mouth, and his head, stemming back to having a broken jaw that was never treated by a veterinarian when he was four. He is naturally a very flighty horse, which resulted in him pulling back a lot when he was younger. Not like little pulls, big time pull backs that would break halters and rails, and wreak havoc in their path. (Remember, not the ideal first horse) We worked through all of it, slowly and surely we plodded through a green as grass rider attempting to train a pretty wild five year old with barely any training behind him. Now he has become a pasture ornament, which still stings a little from time to time. Jingle and I were just kind of "getting it" when he went lame, and so it always feels like unfinished business with him.

Last week, when I went to deworm him, he wouldn't let me. This is classic Jingle by the way, and I've worked through it before, but it's taken a lot of time, and a lot of patience. Last time he was dewormed, my boss was able to do it quickly without any fuss. My boss who is a true horseman, where I am just stumbling along the path of attempting to even head in that direction. So, as Jingle was thrashing around, ripping his head out of my hands, pushing in to me, and generally just acting like an ill broke donkey that I know he isn't, I had all of this in my head. I lost my patience, I lost my cool, and I wrapped the lead shank around a post in an attempt to stop the head shaking. Anyone who knows bad-mannered horses, knows exactly where this is going. In fact, so did I, because as I did it, a voice in my head said, "You know he's going to pull back and come forward and on top of you." I ignored it. That is exactly what happened. Thankfully I had the small smidgeon of sense left to not tie him hard and fast, but he still connected hoof to leg and left me with one of the biggest, baddest, bruises I have ever received. I was lucky, had I not turned away from him he would have caught the front of my leg, and likely would have broken it.

It got progressively worse by the way, at one point my entire lower leg was black.

So was it idiotic, and dumb, and truly unfair to my horse? Yes, it was very much all of those things. Am I embarrassed, and ashamed, that I wasn't able to keep my emotions in check? Yes, very much so. Will I do it again? Absolutely not. But, there is something else in this story, and that is that we all have done something stupid and irrational with horses before. Maybe it wasn't as bad as my story, or maybe it was much worse. It is an art form in and of itself to keep your emotions in check when you are around horses. Just remember, that sometimes you have to forgive yourself and you have to learn from your mistakes. Sometimes, you think you've come a pretty far way, and you suddenly revert back to an old, less informed, version of yourself. Remember too, that very rarely do people share the bad, especially the bad that left them embarrassed or ashamed. Even the people you look up too, or compare yourself against, have stories that they don't share because it will dim their light, if only for a second. Don't compare yourself to others, if anything, let other people's success drive you harder for your own. However, and I firmly believe this, with horses your true concern should be your own growth, and your focus on that growth will get you farther than any comparison will. But maybe, someone reading this, had a similar bad day that they caused, and this post will remind them that deep down, we are all human and we all make mistakes.

"You can learn great things from your mistakes when you aren't busy denying them."

A lifetime ago, a girl, and her first horse.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

The Centre Arena with Paige Callaway

Paige Callaway is a force to be reckoned with and a true girl boss

With a Western Twist’s Centre Arena Series is all about girl bosses, women who chart their own course, and competitors. Paige Callaway is all of the above, and will be the first clothing designer I have interviewed for the series - but she is so, so much more than that! She’s a professional trick rider, barrel racer, helms four different clothing lines and is also a certifiable girl crush. I mean, any girl that says to throw on some large turquoise rings and your favourite shade of lipstick to finish off an outfit is good in my books! Even just compiling this interview was tough for me because she is up to so many different cool and exciting projects that I was about to split this into it’s own series! But, for the sake of keeping you guys guessing just a little, let me introduce you into the wild and wonderful world of Paige Callaway.

Paige, with her beloved Grandpa
Callaway grew up outside of Calgary, Alberta in a town called Priddis. She currently calls Okotoks, AB home, but is constantly on the road. She has already been back and forth to the states 13 times this year, so she admits that her home is “where I do laundry and sleep when I am around.” She’s the middle child of three girls, graduated High School in Okotoks, and then went on to attend college in Odessa and Stephenville, TX. On an average day in Paige’s life, you will find her working on a variety of projects - Pursue Victory, C5 Brand and Paige 1912 all have big things coming on the horizon. On good days, she will take a break and go for a ride, but most days you will find her responding to emails, running errands, designing, sewing or on the phone. She says, “the thing with working for yourself, is that you essentially work for so many other people. Your success and income is based on other peoples acceptance of your service or product. Some days, plans can change in a heart beat and being flexible is key. I have learned, I do better when I give myself time to go through what I would like to accomplish in the day, figure out where I am personally and then work.  As much as work integrates into my life, its important to not loose yourself in it.  A lesson I learned the hard way.”

Before she was a business woman, Paige was a horse woman. When she was younger, her grandfather sowed the seeds of her passion for horses. He was a salt of the earth cowboy that taught her love and respect for animals, and set an example for how one should live their life. From her earlier years of gathering cattle in the forestry with her grandpa, to showing horses and being involved in 4-H, Paige quickly found her passion in the form of barrel racing. Her mother had barrel racer, Toni Dixon, come over to help her when she was younger and that kick started a sequence of events that led her to rodeoing. One of her earliest successes with horses was with a 3 year old palomino that she was given to ride when she was 11. His name was Trigger, and they went on to win everything there was to win showing a horse at that age, and then she started him on barrels. She then moved into rodeo with him, and competed on him in all events through the first few years of high school rodeo. She roped on him in college, and now her mother is roping on him in SR Pro Rodeos! It was while at rodeos, Paige would watch the Trick Riders perform for the crowds, which peaked her interest and shortly thereafter, she was practicing and honing her skills as a trick rider!

Paige is not only an accomplished designer, but also a trick rider!
From her earliest start, she had big dreams in the rodeo world, and one of those goals was to run barrels and trick ride at the same pro rodeo. She managed to do this a few times, once in Bryan TX and again in Utah. However, in Utah, she admits she should have been a little smarter. She got herself into a wreck trick riding, and then had to get on her horse to barrel race right after. It may not have been the smartest life choice, but she was hell bent on accomplishing her goal multiple times that she did what she thought she needed too. Her fondest equine memory also falls under the trick riding category. In High School, Paige along with RaeLynn Armstrong entered the group competition together at the World Trick Riding Competition in Oklahoma. During the finals they had a very solid performance, it was one of the funnest shows she had ever done, her horse ran hard and she felt her tricks were really solid. After leaving the arena, she got goosebumps and felt as if her grandpa would have been proud of her, and that he was watching down on her in that moment. She ended up winning that world championship, and she says, “it will be a memory I think of forever, and I am sure Grandpa would have been thinking, ‘she sure has come a long ways from gathering cattle in the forestry!’”

Although she was hell bent in the world of trick riding and rodeo, her passion for creating and designing evolved slower. She always loved designing, but never really thought she could make a living doing it. For the majority of her life she bought into the idea of the 9-5 job, not the 7 am to 10 pm kind that you have when you work for yourself. Paige was always creating though, her first foray into design was sewing her own scrunchies as a kid. In high school she would embellish her own rodeo shirts and even made herself a “sweet” pair of Sid Steiner jeans. Steiner was a bull dogger who was famous for wearing crazy and loud prints, like a sequin shirt during the NFR. Paige’s replica jeans were bleached from the knee down and faded to their regular colour, and in her opinion, “Sid did the tie die look right, and I followed his lead!” She also drew inspiration from Audi Roy, the designer behind the line, and now storefront in Nanton, called Classic Rodeo. Paige would save up her money to buy pieces from her line, and still thinks she is the “coolest lady ever.”

An image released from her upcoming line, Paige 1912
Paige currently helms four brands, Wild Rose Clothing, Pursue Victory, Paige 1912 and C5 Brand. The first, Wild Rose Clothing, is where she does more custom work. She recently made a wedding dress, and has also done custom jean jackets. She calls this brand a “fun, creative space, basically to do what ever I feel the notion to do.” In 2014, Wild Rose Clothing found itself racing down the alley of the Thomas and Mack with a custom designed outfit for World Champion Barrel Racer, Fallon Taylor, after Paige won a contest to design an outfit for her. She called it a “confidence booster and a cool experience” for her career. Pursue Victory, on the other hand, has a lot more structure as a brand. It’s a large company and the goal is to bring the most functional shirt to the table, while also looking classy and professional. Paige 1912 requires a lot of design and is where she has been able to collaborate with others to create a complete line from clothing and jewelry to hats and purses. Then there is C5 Brand, which is completely different, as it is a brand that she has been contracted to build for C5 Rodeo company. It’s a totally innovative, fresh idea for the sport of rodeo. She says, “It’s a brand with a goal that I haven’t heard being done before. If I were to compare it to something, I would say its like a pro sports team merchandise line, except for bucking horses.”

Personally, I have always loved and lusted after the Pursue Victory line of Power Collar shirts, which seamlessly transition from the arena to the office. The shirts themselves were born from a passion for garment construction, and the lack thereof in the western world. When she was launching PV, there was space on the market for a brand to focus solely on quality and functionality, plus, she was able to bridge her equine world with the fashion industry. The name, Pursue Victory, is also important to Paige, and she says, it brought her a lot of realization. She says, “Everyone has a different perception of what their victory is.  In the barrel racing world many people dream of running down the alley at the Thomas & Mack.  There maybe just as many that would love to make the NBHA finals or place in the 3D.  Its not about what victory is to others, its about what it is to you and what you are doing to get there.  For most of my life I had this assumption every person wanted to be the best in the world.  One day I was talking to Mom and telling her about this rodeo and that rodeo in the states and she said she had no interest in being on the road that much.  My mind was blown! That really drove home the point to me, and whether the arena or in life, its about doing your best and being your best.  Now in all fairness to my Mom, i think if we were discussing roping she would sing a different tune!”

One of the designs for the C5 Brand, bucking horse Virgil
Now Paige is finding herself in the midst of launching and promoting her two newest lines. C5 Brand was launched at the beginning of October. Paige took some of the most famous bucking stock that C5 Rodeo has to offer - horses like F31 Virgil, 80 Rockstar and D39 Make Up Face, and turned them into artistic and fashionable renderings of themselves with the help of former Calgary Stampede Princess, and Tattoo Artist, Whitney Thompson, of Copper Top Arts. It is one of the most innovative ideas when it comes to branding in the rodeo and western fashion world that I’ve ever seen - you need to check it out! Then, Paige 1912 will be launched in Vegas during the National Finals Rodeo in December. She is also working on a launch for the line next summer which will be a fashion show, bronc riding AND concert. I mean, again, how cool is that people?! Meanwhile, her dreams for the future are big when it comes to her self-named line. She hopes to one day see this line in the racks of Nordstroms or the Bay. She calls it, “a very unique line” and says, “the timing is good with the trends of mainstream fashion. I think Paige 1912 has a lot to offer with the variety within the line itself.”

So, what does someone that helms four different brands of clothing, two of which are currently launching, do in her spare time? Not a lot. She has a nice horse currently and had plans on rodeoing this year, but life got busy and her horse, “Chase” was turned out. Lately, her goals with horses have shifted from achieving success to enjoying a mental break with her equine companions. She says, “life is about choices, and I am confident that the time invested now, will give me the freedom in the future to go down the rodeo road and achieve some other goals I have for myself.” In life, Paige loves travelling, seeing new places, experiencing new things and meeting new people. Her work allows her the excuse to hit the road to fulfill a lot of these things!

Paige, alongside Paige Albrecht, who is a collaborator with Paige 1912
Paige has learnt a lot through rodeoing, trick riding, and designing. When she first started her brands, she discovered how much courage it takes to press on when people criticize or questions what you are doing. She looks back on those days, and now wishes she had tougher skin back then, but these days is able to manage the criticism and soldier on. As far as her advice for woman that are embarking on following their own dreams, she says to keep your eyes on the prize. “Some days aren’t fun, and what keeps me going is the big picture. Both company wise and personally. Each are important to know and work towards!” What I really like about Paige is how down to earth she is, after working through this interview and all the questions I threw at her, she said she truly enjoyed the reflection it allowed her to have on her own path. She says that, “As a busy person, and many I am sure can relate, we don’t often celebrate where we are at. I am a much different person than I was a couple years ago when I started Pursue Victory. Being an entrepreneur is a definite personal learning journey and I am lucky to have so many great people along for the ride!”

Finally, I would just like to extend my thanks to Paige Callaway for being involved with The Centre Arena series. She is a wicked example of how you can merge so many different passions you have in life into a path that sets you on an incredible and fulfilling journey. Be sure to keep an eye out for the launch of Paige 1912, and if you would like more information about any of the brands I talked about today, I will link to the different sites below! 

For more information on the brands talked about today click the links below & make sure to like the pages to keep up to date with Paige Callaway's different lines...

Paige 1912 

Pursue Victory

Wild Rose Clothing

C5 Brand

Friday, 28 October 2016

G3 Events: Grit, Glamour & Goals - A Night at the Marquis

Credit: Tara McKenzie Fotos
Better late than never, right? (Story of my life when it comes to blogging these days!) Last weekend my best friend/fellow girl boss/spirit animal Brigitte Meyer of Vitality Equine basically told me, without any question, that I was attending the Grit, Glamour and Goals - A Night at the Marquis event held in Red Deer, AB alongside her. I had heard about the event, but it had sold out before I could get tickets, but Brigitte managed to snag some and away we went! Billed as, "one of the best girls night Alberta has to offer", we were definitely not disappointed!

Brigitte & I, we had so much fun!
(okay maybe too much fun.. shout out to Billy Bob's)
The event was the brain child of Brittany Forsyth, Cassie Hausauer and Rayel Daines. The event was intended to

"celebrate the modern western woman, to bring people together, to encourage, celebrate and support one another, and for a night of fun and motivation." 

Ten of the top boutiques from Alberta set up store fronts for some amazing shopping, there was a fantastic fashion show, and a delicious roast beef dinner accompanied with wine at the table. Tara McKenzie was photographing the event, and I've used some of her photos in my blog today because I simply forgot to use my phone at the event! G3 Events also had people drop off grad dresses for Cinderella's Closet, a charity that provides dresses to girls that can't afford their own. PLUS, had a scholarship set up for a young woman in the rodeo committee that is furthering her post secondary education!

One of my favourite looks from Renegade Ranchgirls

Credit: Tara McKenzie Fotos
Not spending all the money I don't even have was very, very tough. I did buy one small squash blossom necklace from Renegade Ranchgirls but otherwise did very well. I will say that at the end of the night, after some of my fellow attendees had indulged in some wine, it looked like the credit cards were coming out in full force. You go girls. Truthfully though, I LOVED the vast array of different western fashion that was on display, both within the boutiques and the women that were shopping in them. Often, I find the common gripe with Canadian cowgirls is the lack of trendy fashion up here, compared to somewhere like the NFR at vegas. G3 Events introduced me to some amazing boutiques in the area that are pushing the envelope for western fashion, and showing everyone that Canadians can look on point too! Furthermore, one of my absolute favourite parts of the entire event was seeing so many beautiful, different, eclectic styled women showing off their outfits, having fun, and letting loose. Everyone, whether a friend or a stranger, was complimentary towards each other, laughing and mingling. I got the chance to catch up with some old friends, and meet some new friends, and all the while got to do it in a super fun western outfit while feeling really good about myself, and also empowered. Who can complain about something like that?!

The amazing, Amberley Snyder, enthralling the audience

Credit: Tara McKenzie Fotos

The highlight of the night, however, was the inspirational speaker, Amberley Snyder. If you aren't familiar with Amberley's story, she was a highly competitive and successful barrel racer, when in 2010, a rollover in her truck left her without function of her legs, and in a wheelchair. Remarkably, she was back on a horse in 18 months, and has since gone on to race at The American, and is back just as competitive as she ever was before. I won't divulge too many details, because if you get a chance to go see her speak, you honestly really should. Her story is absolutely incredible, and her drive to push herself, get back on the horse (her slogan), and become a competitive rider who trains her own horses, had me in awe. One thing I really took from her talk was a quote she displayed that said, "Attitude is a Small Thing That Can Make a Big Difference." Here is a cowgirl that woke up to her entire life changed in a blink of an instant, but she loved horses, and she loved competition, and she found a way to be on top again thanks to her attitude about life. It just shows you the power of attitude, and intention, ESPECIALLY when it comes to horses. Anyone that rides knows that horses pick up on your attitude before you even walk into their stalls to halter them. Hearing someone like Amberley speak on her journey really reminds you to check that attitude, and bring positivity, strength and light into your life.

Another favourite look from the fashion
showthis one from Classic Rodeo in Nanton!

Credit: Tara McKenzie Fotos

So here's to G3 Events, thanks for putting on such an amazing event that empowers and celebrates western women. I know myself, and everyone that attended, can't wait for the next one!

Here's some links for you #BossBabes to check out if you want more information:

G3 Events Facebook Page

Lipstick & Cowgirl Boots

^ This is a must read blog for those of you who have never read it. Cassie was one of the creators behind G3 Events, and I linked to a review she posted about the night, be sure to give her a follow!

Amberley Snyder

Tara McKenzie Fotos

Sunday, 16 October 2016

They Don't Know The Score

Well, that's it, that's all folks....

The Calgary Stampede Cutting Horse Futurity wraps up today and with the final cutter entering the herd, it will signal the end of show season in Canada. For some cutters, they will head down across the border to more small futurities, pre-works and then maybe even the big daddy of them all, The NCHA Futurity, held every year in Fort Worth, Texas. Other cutters, who have hauled all year long will also head down to Fort Worth, but they will instead take their place among the other top 15 riders who have made it back to the World Championships in their respective classes.

After getting off of our Derby horse this year at Calgary, and realizing that she did not make it back to the Open finals, I was admittedly a little sad. As I was pulling off her wraps, and loosening her cinch, I thought about all the other competitors that brought horses to Calgary and had felt the same thing. As I got back on her to cool her out, I couldn't shake the nagging voice in my head that was telling me, "she doesn't know the score." She had made it through two clean runs, she doesn't know what a "go round" is, nor what a "finals" is. The only reason she could have "known" that she didn't make it through (I know, I am anthropomorphizing her, but for the sake of explanation...) was if she could read my own feelings. Anyone that knows horses, knows they are in tuned to their riders, and their feelings. So, I tried to pick my attitude up a little bit, and got to thinking about what the judges, the crowd, and the other trainers and riders don't know about every horse that walks to the herd. Just as our horses don't know the score of their runs, the judges also don't "know" the score of our horses. Meaning, they don't know the history of the horse before it walks to the herd. You aren't allowed to walk in front of the judges before your horses turn in the herd to tell them a synopsis of training. You can't say, "He was a tough two year old that we thought we'd never get broke", you can't say, "She was lame most of her three year old year and it's incredible she's even here." You can't say, "This horse is more like a three year old, and it's amazing she even made it through two runs."

Similarly, you can't tell the judges, or anyone watching, how hard everyone involved in that horse has worked to get them there. You can't show them progress videos, you can't show them how good they look now, you certainly can't show bank account statements. Unfortunately sometimes, that's just not how it works, the only thing you get to do is get your horse ready, and walk your horse to the herd, and show your horse the best you can, and to the best of their ability. So many times in cutting we see horses that have come so far, but they still don't stack up against their competition. We see lameness success stories, and we see owners with tears in their eyes watching their horses walk to the herd. My heart just breaks every single time those horses don't make it through to the finals, I know that's the reality of our sport, but it sometimes doesn't make it any easier. On that note, you aren't allowed to tell those pesky judges, "But I love this horse, I love all his try, and his heart, and his cow. He deserves to be in the finals because of it." They aren't going to give you extra points for love, no matter how hard you will it to be true.

So what if the run isn't actually clean? What if you get a lower score than you expected? What if all three cows you choose run you wall to wall and you aren't able to really show your horses ability? What if your horse has a mis-step, a bobble, a slip, and it costs them? What if your horse misses the cow? What if, those damn cows, run you over? What if you walk out of the herd before time has expired? What if your horse quits, or runs off, and that's the first time it's ever happened?

Just like above, there are no re-runs, no re-tries, and no reviews in cutting in cases like that. You can't stop before you leave the pen and say, "Yeah... But..." no matter how much you want too. Hopefully you have a circle of people around you, trainers, lopers, friends and family, that you can say the "Yeah.. But..." too, trust me, they will listen a lot better than the judges will.

Finally, just like the judges not knowing the score on your horses, they don't know the score on the riders either. They don't know that she took twenty years off from cutting, and is just getting back to the sport she used to love so much. They don't know this is her first age event ever. They don't know his wife died, and she was the central part of their operation, and this is his first show back. They don't know how hard you've worked for it, until your hands have become so callused from bridle reins, and your mind constantly replays your runs. They don't know this is the only three year old in your barn that made it.

They don't know the heart break, the heart ache or the heart you have. 

So, just like how your horses don't know the score, maybe you don't always need to know the score either. All you can do is show your horse, that's all you get, is two minutes and thirty seconds, and in that time frame, anything can happen. It can be your fault, it can be your horses fault, maybe it's your helps fault, and maybe.. it's nobodies fault.. it just is. Sometimes run come together, and you watch someone and you say, "I have never in my life seen that horse work so good". Other times you say, "That's a truly great horse, and that was an absolutely terrible run." In a sickly comforting way to those of us that didn't have the show, the series or the year we wanted, these types of things happen all the time.

So, to conclude the 2016 show season, congratulate yourselves, your horses, your help, and everyone that was involved in your "team" this year. No matter the score, the highs and the lows, you were out there, and you deserved to be, so did your ponies. Give them some extra love, they worked for it.

Monday, 10 October 2016


Today is Canadian Thanksgiving, and what a better way to commemorate the holiday than take a moment to step back, and write out what I'm thankful for this year. This has been such a crazy year that has been full of a lot of personal growth and success, and I couldn't have done any of it without who I'm going to list below.

Photo by Sarah Mckenzie
First and foremost, I am thankful for the Queen of the Barn, otherwise known as Mates Special Lady, otherwise otherwise known as Lady. It hasn't exactly been easy for us to get together as a team, but I think after this year we are definitely on the right path to really come together. However, I can't discredit how hard she worked for me this year. She is my first "Show Horse", that says so much already. She won me classes, she won me my first buckle, she took me to Supreme, she allowed me to become an "NCHA Earner". She blessed me every single time she walked to the herd with me on her back, she made me elevate my riding, she made me start thinking smarter and quicker and faster. Above all, the fact I somehow ended up with a horse.. that I can show.. at NCHA events? It's still hard to believe. I am so thankful for her, her heart, her try, how nice she is to be around, and how quiet her funny mannerisms are. How she always "talks" to me when I come into the barn in the morning, and how I can turn her out with anybody and trust her anywhere. Lady is just truly a solid and nice horse to be around. I'm hoping that next year I can fully showcase how truly talented, and hard working she is too.

Lady enjoying a session with Brigitte, of Vitality Equine
How could I have an amazing show horse without an equally amazing health and wellness team? I want to send out my thanks and deepest regards to the people who keep us going, and who I think are some of the very best in the business...  Brigitte Meyer of Vitality Equine will drop anything to come massage Lady. She is kind, and nice, and everyone wants to be around her - horses and humans both. She's also incredibly talented and knowledgeable and each time she works on Lady, she feels better... what more can you ask for than that? Oh, that she sits on multiple practitioner boards, is always upping her education, and is insured? Right, all that too! Richard Reid of Reid Farrier Services has been my farrier on and off for a long time, I am so happy and lucky to have him back on our team this year. He listens to everything I say about Lady with incredible interest, he can adjust his shoeing depending on her needs and what my trainer and vet says, and he cares deeply for every horse he works on. Amazingly, he even badgers me when I forget about appointments and reminds ME it's time to shoe MY horse. Lady's feet have come a long way since Richard became her farrier, and I think he is truly one of the  most talented farriers in Alberta. Finally, Dr. Ty Corbiell of Cor-Vet Services is one of the best vets I've ever had  the pleasure to be around. He is mainstay at our barn which not always a GREAT thing to have a vet around all the time, is wonderful because he's such a talent. He will answer any question, respond to any text, and has the absolute best eye for lameness and how to treat it, manage it and ensure it doesn't happen! I know that because I have these three people in my corner, I am a lucky competitor indeed, and truthfully have an extra edge on others. Thank you all for being you, and being a part of our team!

Can't be a sappy thankful post without shouting out my number one supporter, my mom. Anyone that knows me, knows my mom. She doesn't fully "get" cutting, but she supports me anyways. She facilitated my purchase of Lady when I was in my deepest and darkest saddest place, and she comes to my shows to cheer me on, but only when I let her haha. I am thankful to have her support, and appreciate all her advice (even when sometimes I roll my eyes at you, because you are my mom and I'm allowed to do that sometimes). Also, you are the most bestest dog grandma in the whole wide world, and Cash tells me he doesn't know what a thanksgiving is, but he loves you more than he can even put into words, we both do!

Photo by Natalie Jackman
Finally, I am thankful for my boss and the company I get to work for, George Neufeld Cutting Horses. George, I know most days this year it probably felt like, as a student, I was similar to if a client sent you a two year old that was way behind and expected you to make them into the next futurity champion. I know that some days, you wondered why in the hell you were coaching a 2,000 Limit Rider, on a horse that we have discovered is definitely not deemed a "Practice Horse". I know that the highs of me winning and being on cloud nine, and the lows of me losing and sullenly moping around the barn was probably a little bit more than you were willing to take on, or had ever been really exposed too when it came to someone else. I hope that by now, you feel like you have a two year old, coming three year old, that probably needs a lot of work but you may be able to get through a run during futurity season next year. Thank you for all your time, all your patience, and all your wisdom. I don't ever take a day working for you  for granted, I know how truly lucky I am to have shown up to your place this time last year and said I needed some help with my mare and was bringing an unruly paint horse along for the ride. How little I knew, compared to now. Janet, thank you for keeping us on track, cleaning blankets and barns and buckets when we don't, or aren't around, thanks for being the best purchaser, and also thanks for always keeping me fed, really though, I wouldn't eat otherwise and you call me on it regularly. I know I have completely weaselled my way into your guys' lives, and I appreciate you, and am so thankful for both of you. The only complaint I have is that my dog is literally writing adoption papers as we speak and attempting to move in permanently to your house, and he's mine.

Photo by Sandy Hansma

So here is to a wicked year, one that I am so thankful for, and pretty amazed was a year of my own life. We have so much to be thankful in this world, and even if it's sometimes hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel (read: my bank account after show season ends), it's never really that bad when you're surrounded by such an amazing support system and such great animals. I am blessed.