THREE riders cross the line together to win the 2016 Mongol Derby!

At 9.51am local time, Will Comiskey from Australia, Marcia Hefker-Miles from New Mexico and Heidi Telstad from CANADA crossed the line, arms together, to take a triple dead heat in the 2016 Mongol Derby, the world’s longest and toughest horse race.

They gave thanks to the horses, herders and people of Mongolia for an incredible experience and said they wanted to share the experience of winning as a team just as they had shared the experience of the trail.


The pics show the three winners finishing the Mongol Derby and are credited to Richard Dunwoody @ Mongol Derby.

Will Comiskey, 28, ‘Dingo’, a cattle rancher from Longreach , said:
“There were slow ones, there were wild ones, but ****, we had fun!!
Marcia Hefker-Miles, 45, from New Mexico, said her most memorable memory was:
“Riding through a high mountain pass, past a boy and a girl both herding goats; making eye contact with them and waving. I saw myself in that little girl…”
Heidi Telstad, 43, a lawyer from British Colombia, said hers was:
“Camping one night with a poor family; they gave everything they had to spare to me and my horse and treated me as one of their own.”

Next to finish in the Mongol Derby were Tatiana Mountbatten and Venetia Philipps, from the UK and Courtney Kizer from Texas.

Congratulations to all who managed to finish this race but especially to our Canadian Heidi Telstad. We are so proud of you.

Mongol Derby 2016 Set For a Nailbiting Finish!

The 2016 Mongol Derby, certainly this year living up to its name as the world’s longest and toughest horse race (“and it’s raining again….”) is set for a nail biting finish with any of five riders in a position to take the title.

At horse station 27, the last station before the finish, are William Comiskey, nicknamed ‘Dingo’, a cattle rancher from Australia, alongside Canada’s Heidi Telstad, a lawyer – and these two have been riding together for most of the race. With them is New Mexican cowgirl,  Marcia Hefker-Miles.


Photo credited to Richard Dunwoody @ Mongol Derby

Closely following are Courtney Kizer, a Texan showjumper and UK ‘Riding for Rangers’ team Tatiana Mountbatten, a professional dressage rider and 499th in line to the throne, and her team mate, Kenyan based Venetia Phillips who have stuck together like an Olympic duo throughout the race.
Behind these and also set for a top 10 finish are Shannon Nott, an Aussie bush doctor, UK rider and Qatar Racing’s David Redvers who has made steady progress as the race has progressed, and two more Brits, Alice Newling and Alexandra Hardham.

The race is set to finish tomorrow – with the leaders having just 40kms to go.


Photo credited to Richard Dunwoody @ Mongol Derby

Of the 41 riders who set out, 14 have now retired due to injury and general knackered-ness. Some of those hospitalised earlier on in the week are currently en route to cheer on their team mates at the finish.

Team Household Cavalry (was 5, one in hospital, so now 4) perhaps summed up the race yesterday with this:
“600kms ridden and a combined count of 20 falls, 4 days to go.”

Canadian Among Leaders In World’s Longest Horse Race.

Heidi Telstad, the only Canadian entry in the 2016 Mongol Derby is among the leaders as they come to the half way point.


Photo Credits to: Richard Dunwoody @ Mongol Derby

The 2016 Mongol Derby, the world’s longest and toughest horse race, looks like being the closest yet as riders from all around the world are battling it out up front with just under 500 km to go!  These include:

  • William Comiskey, nicknamed ‘Dingo’, a cattle rancher from Australia
  • UK ‘Riding for Rangers’ team Tatiana Mountbatten, a professional dressage rider and 499th in line to the throne, and her team mate, Kenyan based Venetia Phillips MongolRaceMountbatten.jpg
  • Heidi Telstad, a lawyer from Canada
  • Marcia Hefker-Miles, a New Mexican cowgirl
  • Shannon Nott, an Aussie bush doctor
  • Courtney Kizer, a Texan showjumper

A few km’s only separate these riders – plus the rest of the field are also within striking distance.


Do follow the race via twitter or if you use the + arrows on the tracker you can home in and hover your mouse over the blue dots so you can see exactly where the riders all are and how far they have travelled

Other race news includes:

  • There have been six people retiring so far – including a dash to hospital, a dislocated shoulder (the rider Hanna Backstrom from Sweden has carried on!), and currently some suspected broken ribs
  • David Redvers (UK) and Peter Molony (Ire) lead the Qatar racing team, which includes Sheikh Fahad al-Thani.  Redvers said that “yesterday ranked as one of the ten best days of his life”
  • The weather is also pretty dire on the steppe.  Last night race chief Katy Willings said as the three leaders left the comfort of Horse Station 14:
    “They’ve passed up some world class Khuushuur at U14 and a dry bed surrounded by racing medals to hang onto a 30 minute lead and sleep in a ditch. Plus U14-15 is the most beautiful ride. Perhaps the most stunning on the course except that it’s hammering it down with rain, so they won’t see much of it.”

Thanks to Liz Ampairee for the information about the race.

All Photo Credits to: Richard Dunwoody @ Mongol Derby

A Horse Breeder’s Dream – Part 5

Young horses are prone to accidents but most often they grow up strong and healthy and now after a couple of years of watching Marco grow up the scariest part of the dream arrives. Finding the right human for him.


Young Marco loved visiting people. In fact, it was nearly impossible to visit any of the other horses without him trying to get your attention back over to him. So we needed someone who is going to give him lots of attention.


He was sweet natured and easy to work with so it didn’t have to be a highly skilled professional but, of course, someone who had the skills to bring him along without spoiling him or destroying the trust he had already developed.


He likes to “use” himself and loves to be learning new things. He likes life to be “interesting” not boring. He would pick up the plastic tarp or the ball and intentionally try to stir up some excitement with his buddies. Round and round in an arena was probably not his calling.


As soon as we offered him for sale (on Northernhorse of course) we got a call and a visit from a young lady who appeared to be just what Marco needed. You know his whole future depends on the handling, care and training he gets. People who don’t raise baby horses probably don’t understand just what it feels like when just the right person arrives to look at purchasing him.  The perfect person arrives and your heart soars with hope that they will choose him. Your dream is that you will get to see him in the future and that he will be happy and loved and well cared for.


Kayla is making our dream for Marco come true. Watch for more stories about Marco. Kayla has offered to update his story from time to time here on the blog. It will be interesting to see her dreams with Marco and how they unfold.

A Horse Breeder’s Dream – Part 1

A Horse Breeder’s Dream – Part 2

A Horse Breeder’s Dream – Part 3

A Horse Breeder’s Dream – Part 4

A Horse Breeder’s Dream – Part 4

Summer goes fast in Alberta. Seems the snow is barely gone before the grasses along the ditches are heading out. The countryside changes from greens to golds and yellows and hints of red. The days shorten even more rapidly than they lengthened or so it seems.


Before you know it, it’s weaning time.

At first it is all very exciting to be back in the paddocks you were born in and racing around with Mom and mates.


Then Mom is gone and you are left with old George and your buddy Hawk. George waits patiently while his newest charges figure out that looking for Mom is a waste of time. He soon lures them over to the nice hay and bed that have been set up and gets them learning about “life after Mom”.


Marco got busy figuring out what it was he was good at.

Slope sliding…


Racing in the snow…




A few dressage moves…


He made some mistakes…


For which he appeared to almost lose his head…


But soon he learned how to get along in the herd and join in the dance.


Not everyone has the opportunity to watch baby horses grow up. Only the very luckiest. When you spend lots of time out watching this process, they get into your heart. They become your friends.

A Horse Breeder’s Dream – Part 1

A Horse Breeder’s Dream – Part 2

A Horse Breeder’s Dream – Part 3



As Dave and I stood watching Josie and Keeper who were showing obvious signs of impending birth, we discussed how cool it was that both Josie and her daughter were foaling at the same time and how bad it would be if they did the same as a couple of our cows a few years back and lay down together to give birth and then walk away with the wrong baby.


We stayed up late. For us. We even sat in the car for an hour or two after dark in the hope that something was happening. It is so hard to tell exactly when a mare is going to foal. They can keep you in suspense for hours if not days. Then you slip away to go shut a gate or make a coffee and sure enough… you come back to find she popped him/her out already. Finally we went to bed.

Dave went out at daybreak to check. Keeper had foaled. And, luckily we didn’t have to wonder if there was any trading going on as the other baby was still safe in Josie’s belly.


Keeper didn’t waste any time letting us know that she didn’t like Josie being around her baby. Josie had been there at the birth and being the boss mare she made Keeper feel intimidated. Mother or not. The baby was with Keeper but Keeper was worried so we moved Josie to another paddock to wait for her to foal.


Oreo, Keepers filly,  is just the sweetest little thing. Dave was waiting for a black baby with 4 white socks but when he laid his eyes on Oreo, he immediately claimed her. Keeper was my saddle horse for a few years and really likes me so getting my hands on her baby was no big deal. Like Maggie’s filly who is now a week old, she was instantly friendly and trusting.


Watched Josie all day. Even phoned a vet at one point but they were too busy to do much of anything and we ended up deciding we were just helicopter midwives and that really nothing much was wrong except that we were a bit impatient. She was still a bit crampy and it had been awhile but she wasn’t up and down or sweating or particularly stressed.


Watched Josie well into the night. Sure enough next morning at day break we had another baby. This time a nice big colt. Josie was proud and had him up nursing and all was well. Watched her teach him to tuck in by her shoulder and travel with her. She stood over him (right over him) almost every time he went to sleep.


By 4 in the afternoon we decided to put them all together – they have been together for years and all know each other. Josie will be boss but every herd has its boss and now Josie has the youngest foal which tends to make them more cautious for the first few days.

Checked a couple of times before bed. All was well.


Checked early the next morning. Josie parades by proud as punch with Oreo, her granddaughter at her side. Keeper is nursing Josie’s colt, Swap who is really her brother. Keeper has a confused look like she knows something is not quite right but… the boss mare has informed her they are trading, Keeper really likes Swap and Josie is making it really clear that the one she has is the one she wants and therefore the one she is keeping.


Both mares are good milkers. Both mares love the baby they have. Just going to let it be. Besides I had a premonition.

Here are some videos of the new babies.

Keeper and Oreo

Another one of Keeper and Oreo

A video of Josie and Swap (before she swapped him out).

A Horse Breeder’s Dream – Part 3

PART 3: He wiggles into your dreams

So it isn’t long before this soft and furry time sink has got you convinced that he is the number one, most wonderful horse ever born. SPECIAL. Very SPECIAL in fact. He could be or do anything in your mind at this point.

You admire his smarts when he hangs out under mom’s tail when the bugs are biting.


You love that every time he sees you he comes to see how you are doing.


He is, of course the best little Mama’s boy ever. Even she knows he is Very SPECIAL.


You could spend hours every day watching him and his friend Hawk play. And do.


And you love that he even breaks away from paying with his friend to come visit you.


It is all part of what makes up your dream for him. It becomes important, of course, to learn who he really is and to keep up his education so he can have his feet done and be easily wormed and handled when necessary. This is the real fun part. Getting to be the young horse’s first contact with people. A big responsibility with rewards that are beyond my skills to describe.


You start noticing who comes snooping around the barn door when you are working in there?


Who grabs the plastic bag from the tack store and removes the new ball before you get a chance to? He holds onto the ball handle while the bag blows away.


And you suddenly realize that you now have dreams for Marco. Dreams that might include all kinds of successes. Dreams that he will always have this happy, trusting look in his eyes. Will the trust you have been developing be tossed away by misunderstanding? Will he get the care he needs? Will his start be the kind of start that opens lots of opportunities for him? Or will he fall through enough cracks that his only opportunity will be at a slaughter plant? Many of us have seen it go both ways. There are lots of things that can go wrong. And right. But first he needs to grow up a bit. And where better than in a herd on a ranch in western Alberta.

A Horse Breeder’s Dream  – PART 1: He enters our lives and our dreams

A Horse Breeder’s Dream – PART 2: Marco Learns about halters and lead ropes



A Horse Breeder’s Dream – Part 2

PART 2: Marco Learns about halters and lead ropes

Friendly and curious described Marco. It wasn’t long before he was interested in the halter and lead shank when we would put it on his mom. We would let the rope drape over his back or over his nose when he was standing beside her.


One day we left the rope hanging over the fence (with the intention of getting Marco’s interest and maybe starting his halter training). He got Mom to come and check it out just in case


and when she showed no alarm about this new plaything, we were soon saving our rope from sure destruction.


I really don’t like chewed ropes so even when he gave us this cute pose we decided it was time to stop using the rope as a teething ring and move on to learning what it really is for.


You can see the trepidation in this photo. He had to use all his braveness to stay.


Soon he was more than willing to let me rub it on his face and put it over his nose.


We have been helping him learn to give to pressure every time we handle him. Just a little bit here and there.


We ended the lesson with a very relaxed and still curious colt.


From this point on Marco never refused to have a halter put on. In fact, he became one of those “Pick Me” horses. I didn’t have a photographer when we started actually leading Marco but it was pretty unremarkable. He figured out almost immediately that the pressure on the halter quit as soon as he stepped forward or towards the pull and he seems to think he is quite special when he has a halter on.

We have even more photos of Marco to share. Stay tuned.

A Horse Breeder’s Dream – Part 1

2016 Canadian College Finals Rodeo Final Performance Results

Congratulations to all the Western Canadian student athletes who competed in the 2016 Canadian College Finals Rodeo Finals proving why they deserve to be head of the class in 10 events – tie down roping, steer wrestling, saddle bronc riding, bareback riding, barrel racing and bull riding in addition to team roping, goat tying, breakaway roping and pole bending.

Some students prefer collegiate football, drama or even chess, but the young men and women of the Canadian College Finals Rodeo (CCFR) are most comfortable in the dirt. This year, up to 120 student athletes from 18 schools across Western Canada competed during their regular school semesters while maintaining a minimum grade point average and a current membership of the Canadian Intercollegiate Rodeo Association. By supporting the CCFR, you’re supporting the Canadian Intercollegiate Rodeo Association – a student run organization that promotes rodeo as an extracurricular activity. Their hard work and your support is what will ensure the future success of the rodeo and agriculture industries in this country.

Finals Results

A Horse Breeder’s Dream – Part 1

PART 1. He enters our lives and our dreams

When you witness a new foal being born into this world and watch as he learns to use those long legs and figures out where the lunch box is you can’t help but wonder what is in store for that little life. You laugh when he finally gets his belly full of warm milk and then  spends some time shuffling those long legs and tentatively bending them further and further until he can lay down and sleep.  You feel a special bond and dream that one day this beautiful little spirit will have a loving and patient human of his own to care for him and participate in his training.

Maggie’s 2013 colt Marco was born on a warm spring day in the back paddock. A beautiful dun colored colt with a cute head,



long straight legs


and a friendly, curious attitude.



Time sinks are what they really are. You run out to check on him after lunch and the next thing you know it is supper time.

It is very interesting to watch how quickly mother nature can prepare a helpless newborn foal to live in a world where being able to run fast beside their mother is their only hope for survival.


Or, at least it was that way, if not so much now but those instincts and the ability to run fast when only a few hours old still remain. Within hours they know how to balance on those long legs


and to watch out for obstacles


and to stay by their mom’s shoulder when she wants them to.


Of course we stop often to find the warm milk that fuels the energy needed for all this to happen.


You might think they are all very similar that first day but in reality they are all different.


Some like Marco are brave and curious.Some are almost impossible to see as they are always on the far side of their mom hiding from “strangers”. Their moms’ have something to do with this but if you get the opportunity to watch different foals from the same mare you soon realize they are all different right at birth. Often similar but still different.

Like us I guess.

There is more to Marco’s story. Check back.

A Horse Breeder’s Dream – Part 2