Category Archives: Equine

My new addiction….south-western style purses from COWGIRL BLING WESTERN BOUTIQUE!

Several weeks ago, I started seeing posts on Facebook from a Texas-based boutique featuring stunning (and very affordable) purses, totes and fashion accessories featuring hand-tooled leathers, fringes and the most exquisite south-western Native American woven fabric designs.  I watched online as business owner Hannah Leib presented her own QVC-like live showcase of a variety of purses and totes…and I was hooked! RaeHaving grown up with horses & ponies in Western Australia (at least that was as western as I could get as a kid), I’ve always wanted to be a cowgirl and each year when I visit Arizona, I get pretty close to my dream. Now, thanks to some inspired purchases from Cowgirl Bling Western Boutique, I can live the Annie Oakley life here in downtown Toronto via my fashion accessories.

I recently spoke with Hannah and asked her to share her story….

Congratulations on your new website, CowgirlBlingWestern.com, where anyone who loves south-western style can find gorgeous purses, totes, wallets and accessories. What inspired you to launch this fashion business?  Thank you! I was recruited to join the Cowgirl Bling Western Boutique a little over a month ago. The whole thing was brought about by happy circumstances, and I was just lucky enough to have met the right people and be available at the right time! The business has been exclusively an online boutique with sales being conducted through Facebook lives. We decided that a positive shift for the business would be to offer a website where customers could shop at their leisure or review a product that had been shown on the Facebook live. Wrangler Photo Shoot (2)How do you find and choose the purses you carry? Are they all American designed and made?  Cowgirl Bling Western Boutique has carried a variety of products, but we are currently focusing on western designed purses, wallets, clutches, etc. that are produced by the company, American Darling. Western fashion dates back to the early settlers who explored the southwestern United States. While we have modernized western elements, we are committed to providing high quality and affordable pieces all across North America.HarlowShimmerCodi WalletI understand you were a Rodeo Queen – for which State and what were your official duties?  I was honored to represent the Evergreen State as Miss Rodeo Washington 2019. State titleholders travel around the country and within their state to help educate the public and promote the sport of rodeo and western industries. When schools were in session it was not uncommon to have a presentation from a local titleholder, see a friendly queen doing a hospital visit, or greeting guests at westerns events. As a rodeo queen we wear many hats so to speak, but my favorite way to combine my passion for education and my love for rodeo was through my platform: #HatsAndHearts – Promoting Rodeo and Agriculture One Hat and One Heart at a Time. I was able to cultivate educational presentations, videos, and connections during my year as Miss Rodeo Washington that I took with me to the Miss Rodeo America stage last December in Las Vegas, NV. It was an honor to walk away as 1st Runner Up and open a new chapter in my life.MRW 19.Has that rodeo royalty honor inspired or heightened your fashion sense and your new business?   Oh my gosh, my style has totally changed! I never wore styles that were “out of the box” before, but that is all a thing of the past now. My favorite part about western fashion is that you really can’t make a mistake. There is so much texture in the patterns, products, and styles which offer more variety in the day to day that you simply cannot get from other fashion genres.KaylaTell us about your horses?  And have you sought out matching bags and saddle blankets for your customers?  I have three horses: Willis, Tater, and Moose. They are all different colors, sizes, and they all have different jobs however each horse’s personality is very distinct. I like to pick out a color that best suits a horse’s color and attitude, and it’s easy for that to carryover to helping my customers. Being able to help find products that best bring out their personal style and attitude is really the biggest perk! MRW 19You’re located in Texas – can Canadians purchase your bags and accessories? Absolutely! We’re able to ship internationally and our website offers shipping options so that customers from all over can choose their preferred shipping method.at the post office (2)Do you plan on expanding the brand, adding more items to the catalogue?  We’re definitely planning to expand the product selection! Our big focus in the coming months is to find unique western jewelry and fun graphic tees. We are open to suggestions and mainly want to provide the best customer experience we can!turquoise earringsHow can people follow you on social media?  The best way to see what’s new is to follow our Facebook page (Cowgirl Bling Western Boutique) and to follow us on Instagram. If you want to see what items we currently have in stock and ready to ship today just visit: www.cowgirlblingwestern.com

Thanks, Hannah, and I hope all my fashionista friends visit your website and find their own fabulous cowgirl bling!  This past week I purchased a few more items as Christmas pressies for friends and family and my own latest prized purse from Cowgirl Bling Western Boutique is this stunning orange design (below) which is perfect for brightening up a grey Toronto winter’s day.
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URBAN GALLERY LAUNCHES “WOMEN AT WORK” SHOW FOR SCOTIABANK CONTACT PHOTOGRAPHY FESTIVAL

Toronto’s URBAN GALLERY has become known for showcasing exciting and unique multi-media artworks in their monthly exhibitions, and for May, they present 4 outstanding photographers as part of this year’s Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival.  In their “Women at Work” show, Urban features images of women going about their work-a-day lives, be it as horse grooms, boxers, ballerinas, mothers, fashionistas….and the photos are simply gorgeous.20180505_141503Dorothy Chiotti (below) is a horse-lover as well as photographer and her images of barn life illustrate the exhausting round-the-clock life of caring for our 4-legged friends. Apart from simply exhibiting her work here, Dorothy is donating 10% from sales of her work to Whispering Hearts Horse Rescue of Hagarsville so please choose your fave photo and know that your purchase will help support the great work Whispering Hearts does for abused and abandoned equines. Bravo, Dorothy!

And here are some of Dorothy’s photos…Chiotta 2 Chiotti 4 Chiotti 6I next spoke with Wally Jay Parker – this is her very first time exhibiting her work publicly and she was so excited!

…and big CONGRATULATIONS as one of Wally Jay’s photos was the first to be sold at yesterday’s opening reception!! 20180505_135247_001 _MG_0424 THE-PLACE-MY-VOICE-IS-HEARD-by-WJ-Parker-at-URBAN-GALLERY.-975x650Digital & analogue photographer and collage artist Erin McGean joined me next for a quick chat…

…and two of her works were next to sell at the opening party. Congrats, Erin. Her family was there, too, and showed off their favourite picture of mum’s (bottom)BE FEMININE by Erin McGean20180505_135110 20180505_142251The only male photographer in the show, Lyndon Wiebe, is a well traveled photographer as well as celebrity chef. Lyndon and 2 of his chef pals traveled the world for the popular “Chefs Run Wild” tv show. Lyndon is also the executive chef for Urban Source Catering (the gallery’s yummy caterer for all their opening receptions). Lyndon is bashful when it comes to video interviews but I managed to grab a few quick photos of him (below), including one of him with the subject of his charming ballerina photos.20180505_14201720180505_14050120180505_140455 20180505_140514 20180505_142500 20180505_140523There were lots of family and friends who came out to show support for the artists and the gallery was humming with positive comments and kudos from all…20180505_141450 20180505_144543…even Erin and Dorothy exchanged artistic visions (below)20180505_142326KJ Mullins, publisher of NEWZ4U.ca (below left) checked in at the door with gallery hostess Kellyyes, you’re on the guest list!20180505_141847“Women at Work” runs throughout May as part of the city-wide CONTACT fest so do come down and support your local photographic artists.  Check the gallery’s website for hours & directions:  www.urbangallery.ca CONTACT May

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AWARD-WINNING ARTIST BRUCE K. LAWES LAUNCHES NEW WEBSITE WITH GREAT PRINT GIVE-AWAY

Congratulations to Bruce K. Lawes who has just launched a gorgeous new website via the US-based Fine Art Studio Online (FASO), artists’ web template company.  http://bklawesart.com/

I’ve worked with Bruce over the past 2 years and have witnessed his portfolio expand with commissioned portraits of beloved horses, commemorative Civil War scenes and historic re-imagining, canvases capturing African endangered species, stunning fall and winter landscapes….but this little cowgirl is always pulled towards his horses – the shaggy mustangs, the fancy dressage steeds, and the craggy rugged western range themes. the-power-of-one close-encounters

marmot-basin-on-high master-of-his-domain a-pryor-engagement paint-over-timeI asked Bruce to share his experience using FASO to launch his new website with my readers as I know there are a lot of painters and sculptors out there whose own sites need a serious upgrade in order to compete in the highly volatile art markets around the world, and here is what he said…..

Your new site looks absolutely stunning, Bruce – can you tell me about FASO and how easy it was to use/upload (as a non-tech person)?  I’m very pleased with the new website as I feel it’s easy to navigate and shows the art in my portfolio very well, and it offers e-commerce for my prints. FASO is dedicated to artists’ websites and truly assists the artist to showcase an exceptional representation of their work with ease and at a very reasonable price. The initial setup is a long process of uploading image after image, however, the individual process is made so easy to upload and place in each collection. If you have any problems FASO’s superb customer service techs are not only prompt, knowledgeable and courteous, they are available almost 24/7!shades-of-blues-and-graysHow important is it for artists to have a site that looks current and “responsive” (readable on smartphones & tablets as well as computers) and offers interactive elements like sales and newsletters?  For any artist, their website is paramount to their success. The ability to carry around your portfolio on your cell phone is invaluable. I’ve had many situations in casual settings where an opportunity to show potential collectors/buyers your work presents itself and out comes the cell phone. You never know who may be interested at any time. For those who know my work, the ability the website has to send out my monthly newsletter allows me to share my journey with my collectors on a more personal level. In fact, if you sign up to receive my e-newsletter “Bruce’s Monthly Palette”, you could be eligible to win a Limited Edition print of your choice valued at US$195.00. Each month, I will randomly pick a name from the list of subscribers and that lucky person will receive a print as a special thank you for joining my online gallery. Below are just a few of the Limited Edition prints from which you may choose.12113537_10156151524280154_2167750672140814310_oSince uploading all the pictures and text content, how much more can you do with your new site than before?  The new site not only allows me to do all that I’ve already mentioned but also the ability to merge with my Facebook and other social media networks plus enter monthly FASO art contests where winners are introduced to FASO’s email list of over 50,000 art enthusiasts! Overall I could not be happier.custer-before-the-storm

As Bruce says, FASO is a great website creation & promotional service for artists of any level and having worked with Bruce on his new website, I, too, can recommend their ease of use and their patient, caring customer service (great for non-techies like myself). So if you’re an artist looking to create a more competitive sexy site, you MUST visit http://faso.com/

And don’t forget to visit Bruce’s website and sign up for his monthly e-newsletter…you could be the next WINNER of a Limited Edition print. FYI: Bruce does not share your contact info with 3rd parties.

http://bklawesart.com/

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CALL FOR ENTRIES: URBAN GALLERY TO HOST EQUINE PHOTOGRAPHY SHOW DURING NEXT YEAR’S “CONTACT PHOTO FESTIVAL”.

My friends down at URBAN GALLERY (400 Queen St East, Toronto) are putting out a “call for submissions” for next year’s Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival (May 2016) so they’re looking for professional or semi-pro  photographers and emerging photographic artists to submit photos of horses, ponies, donkeys, mules…even zebras!…for next year’s city-wide festival.logoDeadline is Sept. 30th so hurry up and email Calvin at Urban Gallery (urbangalleryart1@gmail.com) for fest info and eligibility. Am sure you can do better than my efforts (below)…LOL

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I TURN INTO “MUSTANG SALLY” AT HOTDOCS SCREENING OF “UNBRANDED”

I always wanted to be a cowgirl, ever since I watched my first Roy Rogers tv show. And I love it when I get a chance to live out my fantasies…like when I pretended to be Annie Oakley as a 5yr old, getting my first pony, or my visit to Fort Worth, TX in the 90’s where I hung out with rodeo cowboys and the real Texas Rangers (below).

Li'l sharp shooter Riding on her pony Texas Ranger in Ft.WorthOne of the joys of writing for The Rider, a Canadian equine newspaper is that I get to read books, listen to music and watch movies all about cowboys! Today I watched a brand new horsey documentary called UNBRANDED that was having its world premiere at the HotDocs Festival.   Talk about serious cowboy overload!

home-slider-slide-2This gloriously shot film features four young Texas cowboys: Jonny Fitzsimons, Tom Glover, Ben Thamer, and Ben Masters whose idea the mega-ride was and the leader of this once-in-a-lifetime adventure through several States starting at the US/Mexican border all the way up to the Canadian border.

“Unbranded” started with cheap tequila and greasy enchiladas in one of the few places in the world where you can find people crazy enough to ride a horse for thousands of miles—Texas A&M University. Ben Masters.

A camera crew mounted on horseback themselves followed the guys  through every laugh, every disagreement, every runaway horse incident and the occasional tear or two. Director & cinematographer Phill Baribeau (below) has delivered a superb piece of filmmaking, employing dynamic camera angles and overhead shots via drones that show the vast expanse of prairies & deserts, mountain pastures, cliff faces, rivers….and the Grand Canyon in ways few of us have or will ever see. And the mustangs made it over all of these!

home-slider-slide-5The long-standing conflict between the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), private ranchers, wild horse preservation societies and animal rights activists threads through the documentary, and the issues are dealt with by the filmmakers in a very balanced presentation. All sides of the argument for wild horse open ranges vs. cattle/sheep grazing rights, public access and recreational use of the land the cowboys ride through are shared. We learn about wild horse population stats, we hear intelligent opinions and logical options for land mgmn’t & usage via sympathetically inserted interviews, never losing the main storyline of the ride as we get to know the cowboys and each of their horses….and one cute little burro called Donquita.

UNBRANDED is currently looking for a North American theatrical distribution deal but those in Toronto can attend the final HotDocs screening on Sat. May 3rd @ 10:30am (see the HotDocs website for tickets) but you can see the trailer and meet the cowboys and their horses on the official website: http://unbrandedthefilm.com/

In the interim, here are some great pics I grabbed from today’s screening and watch for my film review in next month’s www.TheRider.com

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20150426_152801Above: the fimmakers were treated like rockstars after the screening with lots of new fans flocking to the front of the theatre, wanting to say howdy and get an autograph.

20150426_153916Above LtoR: director Baribeau, producer Dennis Aig and horse wrangler & cowboy poet Val Geissler pose for post-screening photo opps.  and below, are joined by cowboy star Ben Masters to frame their poster.

20150426_154004Below, I get hog-tied by Val as Ben, Phill and Dennis look on nervously, and Ben’s dad records the event for the family photo album.

20150426_153941 20150426_154139Follow UNBRANDED’s Facebook page:  www.facebook.com/unbrandedthefilm/

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GIDDY-UP AND DANCE! ODYSSEO HORSES MESMERIZE AT MEDIA DAY

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of attending the media preview of Cavalia’s “ODYSSEO” show featuring 70+ horses and dozens of riders, trainers and gymnasts performing under the big top down in Toronto’s portlands.

20150407_132204 20150407_132420We all crammed into the press area and pulled out cameras and spent 55 minutes clicking and rolling as the horses jumped, galloped, and danced to haunting live music, many horses working without reins or any sort of tack – it was amazing to watch how gently and calmly the trainers worked with them.

20150407_133420 20150407_133835(0) 20150407_134020There are many vignettes featuring medieval style dressage (above), and energetic cowboy rough-riding (below) demonstrated….

20150407_135340 20150407_135445 20150407_135703It was difficult to capture the fast galloping trick riders (above) but soon the mood changed once again….

20150407_140127 20150407_140145Wow….they filled the giant arena with water, turning the scene into a beautiful waterfall pool where the horses danced like 4-legged water sprites.

20150407_140815 20150407_140910 20150407_1409273 years ago, I attended Odysseo when the show first came to town. But on Tuesday, I still got the chills watching these breathtaking beasties charge around, perfectly choreographed. Congratulations to Artistic Director Normand Latourelle for maintaining such a high standard of professionalism and inspiration. And bravo to all the creative team, the riders and trainers, the musicians and the beautiful vocalist who brought the “middle earth” vibe,  and those astounding gymnasts who jumped, bounced, climbed around the arena with such energy and gusto.

20150407_141402 20150407_141424Equine artist, Bruce K. Lawes (http://bklawesart.com/) came with me to shoot additional photos and he was in horse heaven!

20150407_143154 20150407_143513 20150407_143225 20150407_143211Local horsewoman, Amanda from Mississauga, rode in the show, too. (below)

20150407_142245And here’s the amazing trainer who worked with 12 “free” horses earlier in the show.

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20150407_133219So if you love horses, if you enjoy theatre, if you’re passionate about dance – you MUST visit ODYSSEO while it’s here in Toronto. The show has already been extended for another two weeks so check your newspapers or visit their website for show times and ticket information: http://cavalia.net/en/odysseo/tickets-info/toronto-can

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