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All I Ever Wanted...

*written on June 8th


Another hot day here, and still no rain… As I’m watching the Cowboy Channel in the evenings I see some wet arenas, so I know it still can rain, just apparently not here.


I’m glad I saved some grass last year so I can kick my heifers out onto it while I keep them off of other pastures ‘til they get some more growth on them. As all farmers and ranchers will know, responsible field management is a huge part of keeping your land and your livestock happy and healthy. Raising livestock, be it horses or cattle can be a struggle sometimes. Sometimes I wonder and ask myself, “Why do I do this? There has to be an easier and more profitable way to make a living.” Shortly after pondering this, I realize I probably wouldn’t be happy doing anything else. It was what I was meant to do because that is who and what I am.


The other day I was working with some folks and their horses and we started talking about what got them into the horse world in the first place. Most people in the horse industry were born into it or felt a strong pull toward horses. Me, I never really had a choice, because as a child that's just how we got around back in the mountains. As I got older I did have a choice and if I so desired, I suppose I could have gone another route with life, however, that truly never occurred to me.


A horseman and a cowboy were all I ever wanted to be. The horse has always been front and centre in my heart and mind.


Photo by Trent Schlamp Photography.


For some background, for those of you who don’t know me yet, as a youngster my brothers and I would attend and compete at local horse shows and gymcanas. My mum, enthusiastic to share her passion for riding with us, would haul us around to all the local fairs and horse shows. Brett, Mark and I would compete in both Western and English classes and learnt early on to ride and appreciate both styles. But it was always the Western events that I felt called towards… much to my mother's disappointment.


This interest soon led me to rodeos, where I competed on both ends of the arena in both the rough stock and timed events. It was my intense love of horses and riding that I believe led me to finally settle on bronc riding as my main event. And to this day I still much enjoy watching a really good saddle bronc ride and cheering on our local Albertan cowboys, of which we have many talented young men. But honestly, even in the bronc riding, it has always been the horses that kept me coming back for more.


As I have talked about before, later in life I got into training and showing cutting horses. I always trained my own and when I was starting out there were many frustrations... I can remember arriving home from many a show that didn’t work out as planned and I would ask myself “Why I would put myself through the frustration and disappointment?”


Anyone who has competed in this game has experienced these moments. It can be draining both emotionally and physically, but come Monday morning, propelled by my passion, I couldn’t wait to get back out and train and work my horses, trying to improve my skills. There’s an often-told joke that horses are more addictive than cocaine and twice as expensive! I believe this to be true. For so many of us, we don't really have a choice, it’s who we are and what we do. We wouldn’t be happy doing anything else.


Photo by Trent Schlamp Photography.


My friend and mentor, Buck Brannaman, has a saying “You're either in this to feed your soul or feed your ego.” Wise words from a wise man. It’s very important to me that it’s my soul, not my ego that’s getting nourished. In my collaborative horsemanship approach, I strive to put the horse first. As humans, we all have egos to some level, but it's our job to keep them in check and be mindful and diligent of the mental and physical well-being of our horses.


So, I’ll be doing what I’m usually doing, each day, enjoying my horses, and praying for rain.


– KJS


You can take my Key Ranch College Training Program horsemanship online-clinic inside the Cowboy Campus Club Group Coaching Program. Join the waitlist and be notified when enrollment to the club opens on July 1st 2023 here → https://www.cowboycampus.com/join-the-waitlist


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