Monthly Archives: July 2014

ABC Race for STARS – Raising Money for Saving Lives!

The ABC Race for STARS fundraising season is in full swing, having started May 1 and running through to October 13.  We have 96 riders signed up. Given that number of riders, we should have a good year! Click here to see the ABC Race for STARS listed in the STARS calendar of events.


I don’t think there is one of us that hasn’t been affected by STARS in one way or another. Our own Deb Dombosky, friend, ABC Rider, and ABC Race for STARS committee member, knows first hand. Her grandson, Tyler Hribank is now one of STARS VIP. 

However I think it is easy to put to the back of our minds just how important fundraising for STARS is.  It is almost an expected service for us now, especially here in Alberta. But unbeknownst to most of us, it doesn’t come cheap. I know we all know it costs money, but do we know just how much? And STARS has also now expanded across western Canada and serves Manitoba and Saskatchewan as well.

Did you know that the money you raise for STARS through the ABC Race for STARS, goes directly to STARS in your own province?

Let’s give you some background info on what it takes to operate a STARS mission:

STARS helicopter on mission

STARS helicopter on mission

  • an average flight costs $5400
  • STARS averages 4 missions per day
  • the BK117 medically equipped helicopters are $5 million each
  • on each mission there are at minimum a??flight nurse, flight paramedic team??and of course a pilot
  • STARS total operating expenses per base is approximately $10 million a year.
  • Patients are never asked to cover the cost of transport in a STARS helicopter. ??

How do they get money to operate?:

  • STARS is a charitable, non-profit organization
  • Funding is met through donations received from individuals, service groups, business and corporations, municipalities, and through collaborative agreements with provincial governments.
  • Approximately 20%of STARS total mission costs is funded by Alberta Health Services
  • The remaining 80% comes from fundraising and community partnerships.

Who do they serve?:

So if an average mission costs $4500, last year ABC Race for STARS riders, raising over $19,000, helped 4 people get the life-saving medical attention they needed. Pretty cool when you look at it like that!

That means this year, with 96 riders signed up for the ABC Race for STARS, if each of us raised a simple $1000 each, we would be able to donate $96,000 to STARS and be helping over 210 people!

That’s incredible!

Together we make a big difference.

Together we make a big difference.





So here’s the call to action…I challenge each of you to raise a minimum of $100, and then build on it if you can, – $500, $1000 or more. As one person it may not seem like much, but together we can make an impact and save lives!

Join the ABC Race for STARS ??or Donate Now!

~Check out the ABC Race for STARS contests running this season!~


Amazing Backcountry Trail Guide

“Oh yay, another trail guide,” you might be thinking. We’re familiar with a few notable publications, hiking guides, and we can even pick up map books at service stations.

So what sets the Amazing Backcountry Trail Guide apart?

What makes it cool?

Easy (and fun) answer – it’s written by you!

How does this work?

The limitation of any printed or static trail guide is that it can be out of date even before it’s published. In some areas, trails and staging areas have been drastically altered in the last several years by flooding. Also, online and printed trail guides are local, so you’ll need one for every area you ride in. And most areas – and some incredible riding areas – are not covered in any trail guide at all!

Amazing Backcountry Trail Guide

The Trail Guide can catalog every trail in the world.

Imagine an unlimited Trail Guide that covers every equestrian trail, staging area, campground and related park in the world.  A Trail Guide that is comprehensive, featuring trail information and photos from many users – allowing you to pick trails that suit your adventure level and skill level of you and your horse.  A Trail Guide that is as up to date as you want it to be. A Trail Guide that lets you search for all trails out of a certain staging area, park or even geocaches.

A Trail Guide that actually wants your input and updates!

Well, that Trail Guide is right here at Amazing Backcountry.

And it’s entirely free.

Amazing Backcountry Trail Guide

Let members know about changes in trail conditions.

And this is also where you come in. Because the only way to make it extensive and comprehensive as it can be is if you add to it.  We’ve rebuilt our Trail Guide to allow you to easily add a trail and link it to a staging area or a park.  Add equine campgrounds too!

And now comes the fun part.  You can add an Adventure to any trail.  Tell the story of your ride on the trail and include all your great photos.  If the water levels were high in the river, let everyone know;  take a picture and share it. And when you’re scoping out a new trail to ride, just check the Adventures other members have added to the trail.

Here’s how the Trail Guide works.  It’s super easy.  Take a minute and try it out right now.   Sign in to your Amazing Backcountry account, and click on Trail Guide.  You can search by entering text, or better yet, just find a staging area on the map and click on it.  You’ll see a list of all the trails originating from that staging area, along with a description and when it was last updated.  Click on the trail of your choice and view all the information on it.

A quick word: we’re just in the midst of converting all the old trail descriptions and photos our riders have added to Adventures. There are quite a few but we’ll get them all done soon.  But if you’ve ever ridden one of these trails, please add an Adventure too it. The more stories and photos of a trail, the more useful it is to other members.

So how about adding your own trail? Or staging area…or equine campground…or park?
First of all, It’s a good idea to make sure it isn’t already listed.  Next, to add a trail for example, just follow these simple steps:

  1. Sign in to your Amazing Backcountry account.
  2. Click on Trail Guide
  3. Click on the ‘add a trail’ button – it’s the one with the horse and the plus sign on it
  4. Follow the steps to add your favorite trail.  You can select your staging area right on the map, and go from there.  It’s easy, and kind of fun too!
Amazing Backcountry Trail Guide

Trail Guide – Share your Photos

Remember that the Trail Guide is only current if you keep it up to date. So every time you ride a trail, it’s sure helpful to other members if you can update any or all of the staging area, campground, park or trail information for the area.

Have fun out there!


Great Trainers and Horsemen. How can you tell?

We have all been there. You want to improve your riding, move up from the trainer you have, help with a “problem horse”, or start showing and now you are on the hunt for that elusive great trainer that can help you.

Honestly this will not be easy and I don’t believe it should be.

I have been there myself. I was one of the lucky ones when I was a teenager riding. I had a great teacher, Gerry. He was, in all respects, very tough. I mean that in a complimentary way. This pertained to riding and life. He knew I had talent that required guidance. My lessons were very demanding. He put me on any horse he had. Green or Grand Prix dressage. Gerry coached with all of his heart. He explained himself and drilled me until I got it. And when I got it, Gerry was elated and full of praise!

This was a balanced teacher for me. Too tough for others but exactly what I needed.

Now it is your time to hunt for your teacher. Balance in life is a continuous search. Your relationship with your horse is no different. Your Trainer should be able to help you find balance with your horse, physically and mentally.

Here are a few points to note when you are looking for the right trainer for you and your horse.

Is he/she professional?

I mean this in more than how they dress. How do they communicate to you? Do they listen to you? Are they respectful? Or do they only talk about what they know?OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

What is their education and experience?

This is a big one. Experience and education gained by a trainer solely in the show and competition ring to me is a red light. The greatest trainers in the past and present may have competed but they understand that a life with horses and teaching people is much more than that.

A great trainer has apprenticed, worked for or spent most of their education budget to learn from the best. Find out who this or these people are. This will give you great insight into the philosophies of your trainer candidate.

Continuing education. Do they do it?

Education never stops. If your candidate does not continue their education, this is a red light. Maybe they feel they know it all. No one knows it all.

Where and who are they continuing their education with? This does not mean the only in the competition ring.

Everything from anatomy courses, horse and human, to self improvement is very positive.

Watch their teaching sessions and training sessions.

I once took some reining lessons. The trainer rode the horse I had. He proceeded to say, “Do not let your clients watch you train!” I wondered why, and later saw him ‘ train’. Abuse is what I saw. To the horse first and then verbally demoralizing the student. Red light.

A great trainer/ horseman will welcome you into their classroom to observe them teach. The student being taught should look relaxed and engaged with their teacher. Deep concentration is a good thing.  The teacher and student relationship can be intense during the learning process. Enjoy this opportunity and ask questions at the end of the session.

Keep in mind that everyone, horse and human are individuals. Some teaching sessions may be intense while others are relaxed and playful. A great teacher can tailor their lessons to each individual pair and their needs. There is no formula lesson for everyone.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Horse. How do they respond to the trainer? Another big one. Probably the most important in many aspects. I have seen horses shy away, get stiff and have big eyes when the trainer approaches the horse. Red light.

I have also seen and experienced horses immediately relax and soften their eyes in the presence of a trainer. Yawning and deep breaths are a good sign as well.

So you’ve settled on a potential candidate for your trainer. Take a lesson or two, maybe more. See how you two mesh. Are you learning new things about your horse and yourself? Does your horse enjoy the session? Does this trainer give you help with “holes” in your riding?

Finally, references are important but not the holy grail of a great trainer. It really depends on where you and your horse are at this moment. If your friend is a high level competition rider the trainer may be great for them but not for you.

Having horses and learning from them is a beautiful thing. There will be ups and downs in this process, that is for sure. But just like any great relationship in life it is all worth it!