In The Corral Oct/Nov 2009


Photo by Murray McDonnell
There aren’t too many kids who’ll be able to tell their grandchildren, “I rode a horse to school,” that is, unless you’re a kid from Hillmond, Sask. This peaceful scene of some of the 55 kids riding to school was captured by Murray McDonnell.

Turning Back the Years
An entire community, backed by the school board, turned out to support Grade 5 student Shelby McKenzie’s dream — to ride a horse to school — and give the bus drivers a break.

McKenzie had written a letter to Shawn Larson, the principal, who took it to the Hillmond School Community Council, which took it to their division trustee, Bill Cosh, who also supported the idea. So Larson presented it to Glen Winkler, the Director of Education, who agreed, adding: “It was a very worthwhile activity for the school and the community.”

They obtained the horses by sending out invitations to parents, grandparents and the community. On June 18, 55 horses and one horse-drawn buggy left from three different locations (each about 6–7 km from Hillmond, near Lloydminster) to ride to the school. Another group of 40 students rode their bikes.

After arriving at the school, the community was able to take in the Elementary Awards celebration, games and a roping demonstration and lesson.

Hillmond is already planning next year’s ride — with more horses. Says Principal Shawn Larson: “If you listen to kids, and you really listen to them, sometimes they have the best ideas and it can be amazing what you can do.”


Photo courtesy of Martin Kemp/Calgary Police Service
Calgary Police Service officers will now be sporting cowboy hats year-round. Pictured (L-R): Cst. Jason Campbell and Cst. David Randell. Both are members of the District 1 Beat Team.

Maybe Cowboys DO Know A Thing or Two…
135 years after prairie weather forced the NWMP to pitch their pith helmets and slap on hats made by John Batterson Stetson, the Calgary Police Service (CPS) has acknowledged what the Mounties and hundreds of thousands of working cowboys have known for years; cowboy hats offer the best protection against the elements.

The City of Calgary and CPS will be outfitting the 65 police officers who walk the downtown beat with wide-brimmed cowboy hats, with the intention they’ll be worn year-round. The change in uniform will take place immediately.

“They need a broader-brimmed hat for those days when it’s really sunny out,” says Calgary Police Chief Rick Hanson. “The forage cap doesn’t provide the level of protection that a cowboy hat does.”

Mayor Dave Bronconnier says the hats will be good for the city’s image, and will make police appear more approachable.

A Calgary-based company, Smithbilt, will furnish the hats at a cost of about $180 each. Company spokesman Brian Hanson says the hats should last up to 10 years.


Photo by Liz Twan
Williams Lake, B.C., lived up to its cowboy reputation once again as the parade leading off the Canadian High School Rodeo Finals was powered entirely by horses. The wagons were filled with the contestants, allowing more than 150 enthusiastic competitors to ride in comfort and style. That’s Roy Mulvahill from Chezacut on the lines.

Canadian High School Rodeo Finals
The Williams Lake Stampede Association was the proud host of the 2009 Canadian High School Rodeo Finals Aug. 7–9, 2009.

The Top 5 high school competitors from B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario vied for the Canadian Championship in all of the traditional events: bareback, saddle bronc, steer wrestling, tie down roping, bull riding, team roping and barrel racing. Other events included breakaway roping, pole bending, goat tying and both boys and girls cutting.

The competitors, aged 14–20 are the best in Canada, qualifying through regional and individual provincial finals. The top three competitors in each event were awarded a scholarship.

Williams Lake is the first B.C. community chosen to host this prestigious event.

Photo by Mike Copeman
With the bronc rein dallied and Gary Rempel moving in behind, pick up man Travis Erickson makes his debut at “the big show” picking up at the Calgary Stampede

Big Break at the Big Show
Star pick up man, Wade Rempel, is back in the saddle again after suffering a back injury while picking up on the fourth day of the Calgary Stampede.

The call to “fill his boots” went out to Travis Erickson of Consul, Sask., an experienced pick up man in his own right who has worked with both Wade and Gary Rempel many times.

Travis hit the road to Calgary with three of his own prized pick up horses, while Wade lent him two valued mounts: the black gelding, Chip, and the bay gelding, Rio. Both horses are used predominantly picking up in saddle bronc. The remaining six days of rodeo went on without a hitch.

An interesting bit of trivia: A few years ago Erickson’s generosity helped out Gary Rempel. An equine virus had closed the U.S. border and Gary was unable to bring his pick up horses across the Medicine Line for the Canadian Finals Rodeo. Travis, a long-time friend, lent Gary his good mounts.

Meanwhile, Wade is back on the rodeo road. Fortunately, his back injury was fixable and he took some time to heal up. “He had to miss Shaunavon and Batoche,” said his wife, Cindy Rempel, in a recent phone interview. Wade successfully picked up at Strathmore.

Photo courtesy of Calgary Stampede
The Express Clydesdales take their victory lap after winning the Calgary Stampede’s World Champion Six Horse Hitch Competition

You Know How Everything in the West is Connected?
Congratulations to the Express Clydesdales from Yukon, Oklahoma, on winning the World Champion Six Horse Hitch competition at the Calgary Stampede. The head teamster and general manager, Josh Minshull is a mere 25 years old!

The hitch is owned by Express Employment Professionals whose CEO, Robert A. Funk, is also the owner of the Oklahoma City Blazers hockey club.

Quite possibly the most popular man at the Stampede was none other than the legendary Doug Sauter, coach of the Oklahoma City Blazers. Riding a leopard appaloosa, Sauter carried the Express Clydesdales flag each night before the ’chucks as the winning hitch flashed by the grandstand.

Now, how is this connected to the Canadian West, you ask? Well, the winning hitch included Jack and Emmitt on the wheel, Simon and Rocky in swing, (who are all U.S. horses) and the leaders, Ruger and Troy—who are from Saskatchewan. They also brought four spare horses; Lance, Dillon, River (from Sask.) and Tim from Ontario.

As well, one of the two Clyde handlers is Ryan Hardy, who was born and raised in Redvers, Sask. He has worked as a farrier and trainer since childhood. Hardy joined the Clydesdale team in 2007 when he moved to Yukon, Okla.

Sauter is not only a hockey coach, but he was also the long-time chute boss at his hometown Moose Mountain Pro Rodeo near Kennedy, Sask. Sauter could have a close connection to Albertans soon — rumour has it that El Mustachio could be coaching the Edmonton Oilers farm team in Oklahoma City a year from now. One final bit of trivia: the name of the river that runs through Yukon, Okla.? The Canadian River.

And that’s how everything is connected in the Canadian West.

Immortalizing Cassidys’ Willy
An effort is underway in the Cassidys’ home community of Donalda to create a life-size statue of their multi-time champion steer wrestling horse, Willy. Becky Clement is spearheading the project, to be created by artist John Beaver. Early plans are for a cement sculpture of Willy at work, which also would include a mounted rider and a steer.

“I’m excited about it, and so is John,” says Clement. “The statue is far more intricate than we anticipated, but John is anxious to get started.”

A fundraising campaign will help get the Willy-work rolling. If all goes according to plan, it could get started in the town of Donalda this fall.

Photo by Jon Bowie
Ranch horses line up for the opening of the 22nd annual Maple Creek Ranch Rodeo. Notice the Canadian Western Agribition spade bit on the 2nd horse from the right; it was won at the first annual CWA ranch rodeo.

Hereford Cup Winners
Rodeo fans packed the High Chaparral Arena in Maple Creek for the 22nd annual Ranch Rodeo. The rodeo is limited to 10 teams; all money raised through the team auction goes to the Jasper Centre Museum. The winners receive no money, but get their names engraved on the Hereford Cup — good for one year’s bragging rights.

The rodeo features local cowboys/girls and range riders who complete practical ranch tasks such as doctoring, branding, penning, milking and horse catching. The grand finale is bronc riding.

The team to take it all was the Group of Eight, whose members included: Cody Thomson, Kirk Thomson, Nolan Pharis, Clint Stokke and Darren Cooke. They won with 17 points, including Cody’s winning ride on the bronc. Second place was won by the Mary Shepherd team with 10 points. In third place was the Slippery Moon Ranch team with eight points. Fourth place was secured by the Cypress Cattle Co. team with six points.

Chances are you’ll also see this winning team in competition at the fifth annual Heritage Ranch Rodeo Nov. 8-10 in Edmonton and at Agribition Ranch Rodeo, Nov. 21–23 in Regina.

Photo by Paul Easton
Buddy Bensmiller enters the Hall of Fame

Cheyenne Frontier Days Hall of Fame
Congratulations to the great chuckwagon driver, Buddy Bensmiller, on his 2009 induction into the Cheyenne Frontier Days Hall of Fame. Buddy joins fellow Canadians Harry Knight (considered Canadian), Orville Strandquist, Harry Vold and the great bronc, Midnight, in this prestigious hall.

Bensmiller holds many titles: two-time World Champion Chuckwagon Driver; three-time Calgary Stampede Rangeland Derby Champion driver; winner of three Calgary Stampede Aggregate titles; the WPCA’s Chuckwagon Person of the Year in 2000; and recipient of the Calgary Stampede’s prestigious Guy Weadick Award in 1994. Buddy has won a record four WPCA Clean Drive Awards and two Calgary Stampede Mullen Transportation Safe Drive Awards. He has also qualified for the Calgary Stampede’s Sudden Death Championship Final Heat nine times. Buddy outrode for Bruce Craige’s 1981 Calgary Stampede Championship outfit, won the CPCA Championship eight times, and the Cheyenne Frontier Days Championship nine times. Buddy hails from Dewberry, AB.

Photo by Kent Pashko
Me, Doug Richards, Dianne Finstad and Bruce Flewelling in the arena after the 2008 FCA Finals in Red Deer, Alta.

Next Generation Rodeo
Contestants and fans alike will be struck by how many ‘rodeo’ last names they recognize at the 2009 Foothills Cowboy Association Finals in Red Deer, Oct. 9–11.
It’s a showcase of the next generation clicking the latch and giving the nod at these finals. In many cases, they are second- and third-generation rodeo contestants, whose parents or grandparents set the bar. The three days of rodeo held at the Westerner is the highlight of the FCA Finals.
Bruce Flewelling, Doug Richards and a host of others will bring their best stock to match against this hard riding bunch so I guarantee it’s well worth the price of admission!

Photo by Calvin Johansen/Johansen Photography
No one said she couldn’t pick her own horse and that’s precisely what barrel racer Kim Munroe did when her name was drawn as the lottery winner. From left: Lee Phillips, Arnie Johansen and Gary Barnett representing the Carseland Lions Club, Kim Munroe and her horse, Mitos Ramon.

It Was a Good Day to be Named Kim!
Jerri Duce and Lee Phillips have set another record — again. Their innovative barrel horse lottery proved a huge success; with sold-out tickets and overflow crowds on their Diamond P Ranch by Strathmore, AB. “We had over 1,200 people here and they were the best kind of crowd,” says Duce. “Cleaning up 40 acres I don’t think we even filled one garbage bag!”

Some 325 lottery tickets were sold on the unique barrel race and the holder of the winning ticket got to take home a barrel-racing horse. The owner of the barrel horse received a cheque for $30,000.

There were two big winners at the first annual JDP Classic Lotto Race. Congratulations to Kim Senkoe for winning the race on her 11-year-old gelding, Molson. She received a saddle, buckle and cash.

The other big winner was barrel racer Kim Munroe, whose name was drawn for the winning lotto ticket. Munro, who competed on her seven-year-old gelding, Mitos Ramon, has been barrel racing for 20 years. She considered not entering the Lotto Race as she didn’t want to sell her horse. When Munroe’s ticket was pulled, she promptly claimed her own horse and stuck the 30 grand in her jeans pocket.

Said Munroe: “The Phillips were just awesome, the trade show — everything was great! I told them when they hold it next year; I want to be the first entry in!”

Here’s some trivia: Kim Munroe is the sister of barrel-racing legend, Deb Renger.

Photo by Terri Mason
The legend, Ian Tyson, nominated for Will Rogers Award

2009 Academy of Western Artists
Congratulations to 2009 Academy of Western Artists Will Rogers award winners Mike Puhallo of Kamloops, B.C., for male poet of the year and to rawhide braider, Wayne Bevan of Glenwood, Alta., who received one of the prestigious gear makers awards.

As well, the legend, Ian Tyson, is nominated in the western music (male) category and Eli Barsi was nominated for two awards; female western singer and for her western music album; Eli Barsi—Tribute to Wilf Carter.

The Academy of Western Artists Will Rogers Awards took place Sept. 22 in Garland, Texas. (Complete results were not available at press time.)

Photo courtesy of Calgary Stampede
The jubilant 2009 World Stock Dog Champion, Pam Boring, and her dog, Mirk, shake hands with the Halliburton rep

World Champion — With a Second to Spare
Congratulations to Pam Boring of Pink Mountain, B.C., and her dog, Mirk, who won the world at the Calgary Stampede’s World Stock Dog Championship with one second to spare.

Boring and Mirk’s winning time of two minutes, 17 seconds, clipped the 2:18, maximum-point time turned in by Diana Gauthier of Lumby, B.C., and Keen-Eye-Teag. The heart-stopping finish allowed Boring to take home a $10,000 winner’s cheque in North America’s richest indoor stock dog trial.

It was the closest finish in the 13-year history of the Stampede’s World Stock Dog Championship.

Gauthier, who won the trophy in 2007, collected $4,000 as reserve champion. Milt Scott of Airdrie, who handled two dogs in Monday’s 15-team final, placed third with Ben and fourth with Moss.

The two-day World Stock Dog Championship, presented by Halliburton, saw two go-rounds and Monday’s final. Dogs had four minutes to guide three sheep around an obstacle course of barrels, through a chute and into the pen. Competition had begun with 80 entries.

Defending champion Dale Montgomery of Maple Creek, Sask., whose name is engraved on the trophy five times, came within agonizing inches of a sixth Stampede championship. But with two sheep already in the pen and only 1:45 showing on the clock, the rogue third sheep veered right at the last minute and his dog, Zip, was unable to seal the deal.

Photo by a kind stranger
Dana and Douglas Barlund of Penhold, Alta., at the Taj Mahal

Where in the World is Canadian Cowboy?
Taj Mahal, Agra, India
The Taj Mahal is the most famous mausoleum in the world, located in Agra, India. In 1631, Shah Jahan, emperor during the Mughal Empire’s period of greatest prosperity, was grief-stricken when his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal, died giving birth to their 14th child. In her dying breath, Mumtaz Mahal urged Shah Jahan to build a mausoleum for her, more beautiful than any the world had seen before. Construction began in 1632 and the principal mausoleum was completed in 1648.

The Taj Mahal is considered the finest example of Mughal architecture, a style that combines elements from Persian, Indian, and Islamic architectural styles. In 1983, the Taj Mahal became a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was cited as “the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage.”

Some four million visitors tour the site annually, including Douglas and Dana Barlund from Penhold, Alta., who were there in January, 2009.