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Equine Enterprise Profile – Donna Murray Custom Horsehair & Wool Designs by Carol M. Upton

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   April 13, 2013 10:12

Custom Horsehair Artist Donna Murray was raised on a mixed farm in southeastern Saskatchewan and horses were always a part of her life.  She says that she and her siblings were involved in 4H, fairs, rodeos, trail rides and wagon trains. During the summer months, their family operated a Vacation farm, hosting children from the city for horseback riding and other activities.
After graduation, Donna obtained a Farrier Sciences Certificate and worked with horses at racetracks and guest ranches. A serious injury in 1989 stopped her in her tracks. Unable to physically work with horses now, Donna looked for another way to stay connected to them. She became a self-taught horsehair braider and hitcher.  She credits the mentoring she received from Ron and Shoni Maulding – Authors of Hitched Horsehair Books I and II - with helping her work to evolve into what it is today.
Collaborating with other creatives meant more opportunities to attend trade fairs and other equine events, and Donna’s business grew. She started getting requests to make custom pieces – items made from the hair of specific individual horses. Donna says the majority of her custom work is done using the hair from deceased horses and she understands the desire many people have to keep a memento of their horses that have passed.
“Losing a horse is an emotional experience for the person,” Donna says, “and sometimes it is hard to take the step of cutting their hair.”
Items range from small pieces like zipper pulls to big pieces like hitched belts and the item/s made can be dictated by how much hair has been saved. Donna can also supplement a specific horse’s hair with additional horsehair she has in stock.

Southern Alberta is an area rich in artisans, and Donna has been fortunate to work with others to complete items - silversmiths, leatherworkers, potters, picture framers, and wood carvers. She is always open to suggestions from her customers, and some beautiful pieces have been created using their ideas.
Every day at Donna Murray Custom Horsehair can be different, depending on orders. Time of completion for an item depends on the item, what type of work is needed and whether there is dyeing involved. Donna receives orders from around the globe, but the majority of her customers are from the U.S. There is a lot of competition in this field of work, with Made in Mexico and China horsehair products readily available. Donna says the adage "You get what you pay for" really holds true, with her work being higher priced than imports but also much higher quality.

Anyone who wants to become a horsehair worker will need tons of patience, perseverance, creativity and another source of income. Donna says that is all offset by her enjoyment of working with clients and seeing that they are satisfied with her unique products.
Customers can purchase horsehair items without having to have horses, or take hair from their own horses. As well as the horsehair items, Donna makes hand-latched wool products - saddle blankets, wither pads and tush cushes. The saddle blankets are very popular, and she has many repeat customers for them.

Donna says her website has been a great tool for clients to find her work. Her site is newly redesigned, along with a Facebook page. She welcomes all enquiries and looks forward to an exciting New Year.

Donna Murray is a self-taught horsehair hitcher and braider, who resides in Lethbridge, Alberta. She started working with horsehair in 1992 and, with patience and perseverance, has learned to create high-quality, functional items. Visit Donna at:   www.customhorsehairandwoolcreations.com 

Carol Upton (604) 886-8951
Dreams Aloud Promotions
~ Linking your dreams to the world
Website:      www.dreamsaloud.ca
Twitter:         http://twitter.com/#!/Karolka
LinkedIn:      http://linkd.in/qyQNxy
Facebook:   http://on.fb.me/dTidfK

HOT:          http://www.horseownertoday.com/vendor.aspx?vid=79


Equine Enterprise Profile: Paper Horse Photography with Andrea Blair By Carol M. Upton

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   December 18, 2012 07:48


Photography began for Andrea Blair when she was only 5 years old. Andrea’s family had always been creative in film and photography, so she naturally absorbed a love of this art through them. Today, she is renowned for her work from her Paper Horse Photography studio in Salmon Arm, B.C., showcasing the intense connection between people and animals, particularly horses.

Whether a client wants a farm family session, fun photos of horses and dogs, or a professional equestrian event shoot, Andrea is there with the skills to create a relaxed combination of client bond with her vision.

“I believe stepping out of the box is important,” Andrea says, “ embracing myself as an artist and following my own path.”

For Andrea, that means illuminating the love between pets and their people in the most creative possible ways, while still reflecting individual spirit. Only a trip through her online gallery can possibly do justice to this sensitive and patient work.

Andrea started in wedding and family photography, but quickly realized that her heart is with photographing animals and the lives that people build around them. Several years ago, she began connecting with the equine community via horse sport events and has never looked back.

Andrea is a busy mom who also works another full-time job, so organization and tight deadlines are the watchwords of her day. She often fits her photography work, image editing and email processing long into the night.

Andrea describes herself has having “…. a big heart and big dreams.” Always seeking another challenge, one of her biggest joys is traveling across the provinces meeting new people and their animals. She is now spearheading the second year of her Senior Horse Project.

“I am inspired by life in all its stages - every wrinkle, pucker, protrusion, sway back, grey hair or lack of teeth that tell the story of who these horses are at this stage in their life. As I photograph them I am further intrigued to hear their story as told by the people who love them.”

Once she has enough senior horses photographed, Andrea will compile their images and stories together to produce a book. She invites queries on this project and the focus in early 2013 will be on miniatures. Sales of prints have been particularly popular this year for Paper Horse Photography and Andrea is excited about the new energy her work is bringing to her in 2013.

Andrea Blair | Paper Horse Photography is a portrait photographer specializing in equine and canine photography with a style consisting of candid, heartfelt and emotional imagery. Based in Salmon Arm, BC Andrea is always eager to capture the bond between people and their animals. Visit her gallery at http://www.andreablair.com or her Blog at http://www.ablairphotographyblog.com


Carol Upton (604) 886-8951
Dreams Aloud Promotions
~ Linking your dreams to the world
Website:      www.dreamsaloud.ca
Twitter:         http://twitter.com/#!/Karolka
LinkedIn:      http://linkd.in/qyQNxy
Facebook:   http://on.fb.me/dTidfK

HOT:          http://www.horseownertoday.com/vendor.aspx?vid=79

Equine Enterprise Profile: Canadian Natural Horsemanship Inc. with Nettie Barr

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   June 8, 2012 19:02


By Carol M. Upton

Nettie Barr is the founder of Canadian Natural Horsemanship Inc. and a recognized Horse Specialist, leading an extraordinarily busy life as a program developer, consultant, clinician and guest speaker for various clubs, businesses, organizations and universities. Her road to success included the challenge of a serious riding accident that saw her give up horses for a number of years. Over time, Barr’s husband introduced her to Natural Horsemanship and with his encouragement, she began taking and eventually teaching professional clinics.

As happens with so many equine businesses, one thing led to another. Before long Barr was studying Equine Behavior and not only facilitating clinics. but also speaking at conferences on such diverse topics as Natural Horsemanship principles, Equine Behavior, Effective Horsemanship and Safe Handling Procedures.

“I believe it is important to work as a team with other experts and organizations,” Nettie says, “Together we are stronger and can make a difference.”

Canadian Natural Horsemanship Inc. has the mission of setting both horse and handler up for success with lasting results. It effectively reaches all levels of equine enthusiasts and applies to all disciplines of horsemanship.

A typical day at Six-Barr Ranch includes a 5 a.m. horse feeding, office work for a few hours, back out to the horses, and into the office again from lunch until 2 pm. When there is a clinic at the ranch, it will begin at 8:30 a.m. after a busy night of greeting participants and getting their horses settled in their stalls.  Clinics run on a tight schedule over 4 days. Another typical day may include catching a 7 a.m. flight from Grande Prairie to a speaking destination, perhaps being away for 3 – 5 days.

No matter what’s on her plate, Barr’s love of her work is evident. She says that everyone has a dream with their horse or their horse-related profession, and her greatest joy is to see her client dreams come true.

Time management is a huge challenge. Barr prioritizes diligently and focuses clearly on what’s next. She sees the most important quality in her work as desire to learn and keep on learning. Added to that is caring about people, maintaining focus, and remaining professional in all circumstances.

There is a misconception that Natural Horsemanship is linked to anthropomorphism, giving horses human qualities/emotions. Barr quickly clears up that dangerous notion. A horse, she says, is 1200 lbs of opinion and it’s important that the handler be the leader.

Barr rejuvenates through family time and also by going on a peaceful ride through the woods with no particular destination in mind.

Barr attributes the success of her business to the love and commitment of family and friends. She now has a certification program in place for Canadian Natural Horsemanship Inc. Future plans include having the entire program on DVD and on Audio CD, and continued speaking engagements, with the intention of reaching as many equestrians as possible.

Nettie Barr is a passionate force in the horse industry. As owner and founder of Canadian Natural Horsemanship Inc., Nettie has been conducting clinics since 1999 and has developed her own style and teaching methodologies. She is on the board of the Horse Industry Association of Alberta. For more details, please visit: www.canadiannaturalhorsemanship.com


Nettie Barr with horse in River

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