Tag Archives: Horses


MY ARIZONA ADVENTURE (Pt. III) – a western ghost town & a cowboy shoot ’em up!

Just like in the movies, the real wild west has plenty of ghost towns and my hosts, AJ and Tom, took me to the Goldfields ghost town north of Phoenix.  It used to be a real working gold mine town back in the late 1800’s complete with mines, a saloon, general store, a prairie apothecary and bordello (a genuine whorehouse). We arrived in time to enjoy a train ride around the town, play in the shootin’ gallery and witness a noisy shoot-out with the local Sheriff and bad guys. So much fun and the views of the spectacular Superstitions rocks/mountains were breathtaking. 20190407_113004 20190407_124038 20190407_121441 IMG_7518I dropped in to the Siphon Draw Apothecary where lovely pharmacist/medicine woman Colleen (pictured below) created a beautiful refreshing & healing body spray for me using natural aloe and geranium oils.  www.siphondraw.com 20190407_132057AJ took some great pics of the saloon, the bordello and other buildings (below)…IMG_7529 IMG_7534 IMG_7563 IMG_7558…as I saved seats for the big showdown at the OK (for now) corral!

What a hoot! After this, we decided we needed to try our own hands at shootin’ so we headed to the shack out back and took up laser rifles…20190407_122435Didn’t feel much like the real thing but for 2 bucks, I ain’t complaining. Bang…bang bang. Gotcha, ya vermit!  AJ & Tom took a time-out at the big saloon and posed for me in front of the horses and the big mountains in the background.20190407_124152Next, we rode the choo choo train that circled the town, giving us a great view of all the buildings and mining activities.20190407_133136 20190407_135505

If you want to visit Goldfield ghost town for yourself and experience the excitement of the wild west, here’s all the info your need:  www.goldfieldghosttown.comIMG_7593Tomorrow…join me in Sedona (below) the new age capital of Arizona, where I experience a “vortex” and marvel at the rock formations and mesas, and the stunning beauty of the desert during the rare “super bloom”.20190408_121116



URBAN GALLERY‘s artist for December 2018 offers up a whole herd of colourful, vibrant horses galloping across the gallery walls: VANESSA CUARTAS presents lively abstract equine portraits in her solo show BRIO that runs now until December 29th….a glorious exhibition on which to end the year!

Of Colombian heritage, Vanessa is originally from Miami, and now resides in Toronto. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Central Florida with an emphasis on graphic design, later receiving an Art Direction Diploma from the Miami Ad School.  Throughout her school years and any personal time, Vanessa always found time to paint as much as she could, and rode her family’s horses regularly. She became passionate about the Puerto Rican Paso Fino breed and if you look carefully at her paintings, you can see their influence in the  conformation (stance) of each subject.20181208_132318 20181208_132234We spoke with Vanessa just before the gallery doors were opened and here is what she shared…

A designer by day and artist by night, her passion for painting has grown stronger in recent years. When she first moved to Toronto, she was without an established circle of friends and struggling to find an artistic focus so Vanessa decided to do what she loved most: paint horses. Her unique contemporary style has found an appreciative audience and her circle of friends has grown exponentially, many of whom attended the gallery on Vanessa’s opening day, Saturday Dec. 8th (below).20181208_15345720181208_145619 20181208_145604Her bold colorful BRIO series conveys movement and a lot of positive energy that attracts attention, even from the littlest art fans….20181208_152742Joining Vanessa at the opening were her husband, Mario (below R) and brother JP (below (L)20181208_132939And gallery curator, Allen Shugar (below L) and gallery director Calvin Hambrook (below R) joined Vanessa to celebrate her opening.20181208_135152If you love horses, you will LOVE this exhibition….20181208_132332 20181208_132959 20181208_141302_001…and within the first half-hour of her opening reception, Vanessa had already sold one piece, titled “The Journey”(below)20181208_142046

20181208_132149 20181208_132114 20181208_135547 20181208_135803If you missed the opening reception, you can come meet the artist Saturday Dec.15th (2pm to 4pm) and you can also visit the gallery weekdays and Saturdays throughout the month of December. Log on to www.UrbanGallery.ca for hours and directions – located at 400 Queen St East, Toronto.IMG_3165




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



Thanks to Barry Finn, publisher of THE RIDER newspaper (www.therider.com), I made a flying visit to this year’s ROYAL WINTER FAIR in Toronto armed with my cellphone camera and a media pass!

Just arriving was a lovely surprise…look how pretty the boulevard in front of the Enercare Centre looks (below)20171107_101441I met up with Barry at the media office then headed straight for the Ontario Equestrian booth to drop of copies of the current issue of The Rider.  Here’s Barry delivering newspapers to Saskia Samaroo, the organization’s administrative coordinator who laughed at me when I asked her to “strike a pose”!20171107_113909And then Barry corralled Saskia & Brandon Hall, OE’s marketing & communications coordinator, to show off their new logo.  www.ontarioequestrian.ca20171107_114105(0)Below – Barry met up with horsewoman and tack shop owner, Laurence Authier, of Laurastackroom.com  who will soon be moving to Ontario (from Quebec) to train for eventing competitions. Good luck, Laura!20171107_121700Over the years, I’ve attended many Royal Winter Fairs, sometimes working in the Australian Shop booth to help promote my home country and sell Aussie clothing and accessories to the horse and cattle folks. Owner John Keating always reminds me of “Mantracker”…what do you think?20171107_123056In the Spirit of the Horse exhibit, I found these kids enjoying a ride on mechanical horses – personally, I would prefer a real pony ride but at least these beasties don’t get tired or upset with screaming, kicking kiddies…LOL!

And check out this friendly horsey who was right into the patting and cuddles. The kids adored him!

Me? Well, I just love my chooks!  That’s what Aussies call chickens and these little red hens were so cute to watch. I felt kinda bad for them, not being able to run around and peck at worms and bugs, but it seems they were pretty contented hens…

And speaking of contented critters, check out these lovely heifers….20171107_124209 20171107_124216This year, there were a number of fine artists in the Heritage Court and I ran into one of my faves, Kari Serrao, surrounded by her fabulous (and very elegant) beasties.20171107_12003520171107_120049And don’t you just love the little piggy top right corner? Such an adorable wee face…  Kari does pet portraits, too, so check out her site: www.kariserrao.com

Across from Kari I found this comfy cozy display…hello, Santa – I want one of these cushions please.20171107_120831 20171107_120836Do you remember seeing the news about “goat yoga”? The lovely folks from Haute Goat brought in the Dwarf Nigerian goats for the yoga session last week. Here’s their booth inside featuring all their goat-milk products. You can also stay at their farm B&B outside of Port Hope, just 50 minutes east of Toronto  www.hautegoat.com  Below, co-owner Shain was busy today selling products and sharing the Haute Goat story with visitors.20171107_122239 20171107_122337 20171107_122313OMG…what the heck are these? Giant pumpkins…wow!20171107_124536And here’s the butter carving display (below) – it used to be a major event at the show in previous years, with massive carvings being displayed in giant “storefront” type windows around the equestrian ring. Now, just a few smaller carvings in a refrigerated trailer. How sad.  They also used to crown the annual Butter Queen but I think she, too, has gone the way of the dodo. 20171107_124433As I left The Royal, the cityscape looked beautiful but oh my, how all those new condos and office towers have dwarfed the once-proud CN Tower now. 20171107_130739 20171107_130925Thanks again to Barry for his media pass, and to all the folks I met today. Hurry on down to the fair to check out all the animals (I didn’t go into the barns as I forgot to take my allergy pills) but there are horses, cows, sheep, goats, chickens, bunnies and even a llama or two – the show closes on Nov. 12th. Details & directions: www.royalfair.org


Photo Credit: Shane Kuhn


Last night I had an absolute blast with the folks from the CALGARY STAMPEDE and their local PR reps, Immedia PR at the Boots & Bourbon Saloon on Queen St East. All us city-slicker media types had a hoot’n’hollering good time pressing the flesh with all the cowboys, rodeo queens, the beautiful and charming Indian Princess and marketing representatives of the “greatest show on earth” taking place out west this July. 20160428_174224So nice to be greeted at the front door by such pretty cowgirls (above) who were all well-versed in the history of Canada’s premiere outdoor western festival. I brought along my singer/songwriter friend Laura Rock (www.lrockmusic.com) who immediately became a fan of country music!!20160428_180430The drinks and food were simply outstanding! The catering was handled by Good Son Restaurant as well as Boots & Bourbon’s own team, and the mouthwatering BBQ treats would satisfy even the most jaded old trail hand. They were all served by the cutest waitresses and bartenders. Ladies, you looked after us so well, thank you, and the massive buffalo cheesy balls (2nd pic) were incredible….yummmmmm20160428_183007 20160428_180159(0) 20160428_180007Lots of great photo opps with all the Stampede celebs and mgmn’t….here I’m flanked by (LtoR) bullrider Kynan Vine plus dancer, language keeper, traditional storyteller and cultural presenter Treffrey Deerfoot and chuck wagoneer extraordinaire Mark Sutherland.20160428_181118I participated in the event social media challenge, hashtagging all my Instagram pics and videos…whew, that was exhausting, but I was thrilled to see Likes and Follows from as far away as Texas, Florida, California and even Mexico!20160428_175935I was particularly excited to see that a Ft. Worth boot designer liked this pic I snapped of our lovely Indian Princess’s stunning hand-tooled boots…what do you think of them?20160428_194116Even shots of the Boots & Bourbon interior garnered lots of social media attention…20160428_17452220160428_183032We were all a little nervous about seeing the mechanical bull set up…no, don’t make me get on. I wouldn’t last 2 seconds let alone 8, especially after a couple of drinks…yikes!  Fortunately it disappeared before the intro’s and official announcements were made. Whew!20160428_182933Everyone was excited to hear the entertainment line-up at this year’s Stampede, especially these folks from Budweiser who were particularly impressed with the announcement of Aaron Pritchett as one of the musical guests.20160428_192212 20160428_192446The entertainment was provided by The Washboard Union band who had everyone up on the dancefloor…20160428_193319

I followed (stalked?) sponsor Jonathan Welsh of Banff Trail Riders through the crowd….great jacket!20160428_193449I then ran into one of my fave reality TV hosts Kevin Brauch (formerly The Thirsty Traveller, from back when reality tv really was fun and entertaining!). Kevin (below) had received his souvenir white Stetson earlier and had spent time “decorating” it for the event….LOL20160428_184853 20160428_185433…and I loved all the cowgirl fashion. When I was little, all I wanted to be when I grew up was a cowgirl. These ladies are lucky to be living MY life…grrrrr20160428_182257 20160428_182304After all the western fun, food and friendship, Laura and I rode the rails (subway rails, that is) home. I’m sure we scared a few fellow riders with our antics. LOL!!

20160428_200842 20160428_200915And when I walked in my front door I just had to share my adventure with my own western compadres….20160428_202336 20160428_202422Check out some of the goodies in my gift bag…20160428_202642Thank you to EVERYONE involved in presenting such a fun media launch. If you’ve never been to the Calgary Stampede before, this is the year to go. All details can be found at www.CalgaryStampede.com and please visit their sponsor sites, too.

Banff trail Riders  www.horseback.com

Alberta’s group of Fairmont Hotels:  www.Fairmont.com 

Boots & Bourbon Saloon: www.bootsbourbon.com

The Washboard Union band: www.thewashboardunion.com/

Jelly Modern Donuts:  www.jellymoderndoughnuts.com

Immedia PR: www.immediapr.com

Blog title photo courtesy of Shane Kuhn

Photo Credit: Shane Kuhn

Photo Credit: Shane Kuhn

Photo Credit: Chris Bolin/ Calgary Stampede

Photo Credit: Chris Bolin/ Calgary Stampede

Photo Credit: Bill Marsh

Photo Credit: Bill Marsh

Bruce Lawes- Partners (web file) SRGB watermarked


Is this not the coolest cowgirl painting ever? Yes, this is a painting… not a photo. I must say it brought back many happy horsey memories of my own youth, spending hours in the saddle and in the barn with ponies and horses at the local riding stables back home in Australia.

Internationally renowned artist Bruce K. Lawes has just completed this 18″ x 13″ oil on linen painting of a girl and her horse titled “Partners” in time for The Great American West art show and sale at the Settlers West Gallery in Tucson, AZ. taking place Nov. 21st.  http://www.settlerswest.com/html/gaw.html

So if you need to feed that inner cowgirl (or boy) soul, check out Bruce’s brand new website for more details of this and other horse paintings. “Partners” will soon be available for sale as a Limited Edition print – but why not sign up for Bruce’s e-newsletter and you could actually WIN a print of “Partners” or other Limited Edition prints (see samples below) as Bruce will be drawing a name each month from his subscription list to win a Limited Edition print of your choice, valued at US$195.00.   http://bklawesart.com/a-pryor-engagement gypsy-blu-sunrise in-the-ready




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

18_2 20130601_113337



A beautiful, sunny Good Friday dawned early as I headed up to the Markham Fairgrounds north of Toronto to hang with all the horsies, courtesy of publisher Barry Finn (pictured below) of The Rider newspaper and Barnmice.com. The annual Can-Am Equine Expo features stars from the horse world such as horse-whisperer Guy McLean (my Aussie mate) and his four-legged friends, Amber Marshall, star of Canada’s most successful teen/young adult TV series Heartland  and the Encore Trick Riders along with leading clinicians and champion equestrians.

20150403_112349 20150403_111611 20150403_111036Needless to say, one has to start the day off with a fully tummy so I grabbed a bacon, egg & cheese sandwich from the friendly folks in the show cafe (below).

20150403_100158I started off walking thru the various vendor barns and met up with old friends from The Edge (below) http://theedgeup.ca/index.html a super blue-green algae supplement that promotes wellness & nutrition.

20150403_102359 20150403_102407Also ran into Sarah Bohan from KOOL Designs who makes fashionable & functional totes, purses, wallets (pictured below) from recycled animal feed bags. http://on.fb.me/1FrKTDD

20150403_103739 20150403_103806 20150403_103812I hit the Dirt Road Denim store pretty darn quick for western fashions and bling…boy those cowgirls know their sparklies!  http://www.dirtroaddenim.com/

20150403_100236 20150403_100659I was suddenly blinded by the Bling It Girls booth (below) with lots of shiny conchos, earrings, belts & buckles. Annie Oakley would be proud! http://blingitgirls.com/

20150403_101626 20150403_101639 20150403_101643Wanna get your boots buffed? Best place is the Leather Better crew who did such a great job, I was tempted to ship them ALL my boots and shoes.

20150403_101124 20150403_101134

The ladies “manning” the booth at Equine Guelph (www.EquineGuelph.ca) were happy to pose for a few snaps, especially as they have a new horse health tracker App to promote to all horse owners. And if you see a horse in distress or being abused, they encourage you to call the OSPCA hotline: 310-SPCA or report online at www.ontariospca.ca

20150403_100759 20150403_100902The Ontario Equine Federation (below) was well represented, too, and they gave away copies of their wonderful magazine, Whoa!  https://horse.on.ca/

20150403_101316 20150403_101322We all love farmers, right? Without them, we wouldn’t eat and neither would our wee beastie companions. Check out the Ontario Federation of Agriculture website and support Ontario farm families.  http://ofa.on.ca/

20150403_101433Speaking of good works, the ladies from the Cdn Breast Cancer Foundation handed out Easter treats to the crowds coming thru the entrance, along with information.

20150403_101832 20150403_101843Did you know Cavalia is bringing back its stunning Odysseo show to Toronto? I’ll be covering media day events next Tuesday so you can read more on my blog next week. http://www.cavalia.net/en/odysseo

20150403_102016I met the lovely lady from the Horse Country Campground, a 5,000 acre wilderness property in the Ottawa Valley that offers riding vacations, camping and trail rides. She told me all about the tons of choices and great family-friendly prices so check their website for all the horsey things you and your family can enjoy there. www.horsecountrycampground.com

20150403_102612I then met my new BFFs, Deb and Danielle (below) from Pony Express Girls, Canada’s only equine-themed subscription service that delivers a box of hand picked premium products for you & your pony every month. You can spoil your horse with items from the best grooming products to gourmet treats plus goodies for humans, too!  http://www.ponyexpressgirls.ca/

20150403_102901 20150403_102908 20150403_103453The PEGs were kind enough to give me one of their sample boxes which included a great grooming brush, a pair of horsey socks (cashmere ones, too!), a big pack of apple treats that I passed on to a young friend who had just acquired a new pony (and she squealed with delight saying her new stable mate just loves apples), also there was a pretty silver purse charm, a fabulous avocado-based hand lotion “for barn hands” (it worked immediately on my dry winter elbows) plus a stunning, silky dark blue scarf decorated with cute red foxes. Thank you, D&D.

20150403_102441 20150403_102454The Country Girl Canada booth was hosted by the cutest young ladies (below) who were so enthusiastic about their fashions and accessories.  http://on.fb.me/1GT3n1C  Don’t ya just love ’em?

20150403_104032 20150403_104048As many of you know, I’m a big supporter of local artists but this one really amazed me – horse painters. Yes, actual horses painting on board and canvas. Wow!

20150403_104505 20150403_104617_001 20150403_104515Winsong Farm hosted a whole herd of painters and I found one horse, Kai, in the barn hard at work painting another masterpiece (below)  www.winsongfarm.com

20150403_110755 20150403_110841 20150403_110808RODEO! Yeehaaa….I love rodeo and I used to do promotions with the Ontario Rodeo Assoc. back in the 90’s. Great to reconnect and say howdy. www.ORArodeo.com

20150403_104957 20150403_105011The talented sculptor, Ann Clifford, displayed many of her beautifully cast “trophy” pieces and well as showcasing illustrations of her large format corporate and commissioned pieces (below)  www.acliffordsculpture.com

20150403_105818If you enjoy the sport of kings, here’s Racing Under Saddle Ontario – below. Check the website for races near you  www.rusontario.com

20150403_105924 20150403_105931Now into the barns and main show ring to watch Guy McLean, horse whisperer extraordinaire! probably the most popular special guest at the show; as I walked around the ring, I heard all sorts of ooo’s, aaah’s and complimentary comments from the audience. Nice to know my Aussie mate’s horsemanship is so well received and appreciated. He’s a great ambassador for horses and DownUnder  http://www.guymcleanusatour.com/

20150403_111249 20150403_111611 20150403_120211 20150403_120301Check out some of the breeds showcased today…gorgeous horses…I so want one but I doubt I could pee-pad train a Clydesdale for my downtown apartment, eh? LOL. First, here’s a miniature horse going thru his paces, and a Clydesdale called Spencer who was so gentle and sweet.

20150403_112745 20150403_113251 20150403_113320Then the Icelandic horses…wish I had their hair! www.onicehorsefarm.ca

20150403_113359Then the Kiger mustang (below)  www.clearviewkigers.com

20150403_113640And a horse who possesses the best blonde mane in the barn, the Rocky Mountain Gaited Horse  http://www.bonnieviewfarms.ca/

20150403_113944 20150403_115556 20150403_115540So it was time to make my way back into the vendor barns to hang out with The Rider and promote the subscription show special ($25/yr) – anyone signing up during Can-Am is entered into a draw for 2 Gold tickets to Odysseo valued at $250 (wow!) or a bucket o’ books valued at around $150. If you go to the show, you MUST visit The Rider booth (#222) and subscribe – you could win! Here’s Barry with Kelley (top pic) and with realtor Michael Webb, who specializes in prestige rural property sales (www.michaelstuartwebb.com) – he had a special promo insert in this double issue of the newspaper. Then I snapped John (bottom photo) chatting to our friendly neighbour.

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20150403_102504What a fun and exhausting day, hangin’ with the horsey set. Thanks to John for being my taxi this morning, and to Barry for making sure I was safely deposited at the subway for my return trip back to the big city. And thanks to all the horses for welcoming me with whinnnies, neighs and snorts.


The family-friendly show runs throughout the Easter weekend http://canamequine.com/