Sicamous and the Eagle Valley have produced their share of champions – of both the two- and four- legged variety.
Several of those four-legged champions have come from Bent Tree Farm on Solsqua Road. Perhaps the most famous is 2007 Canadian Sovereign Award-winning racehorse Dancing Allstar. Other victories for the chestnut filly include the Whimsical Stakes at Woodbine and the Ernie Samuel Memorial Race.
“We’re very proud of her,” says Bent Tree Farm owner and award-winning thoroughbred breeder Valerie Hiebert. “But all of her brothers and sisters did very well….”
As a thoroughbred breeder, Hiebert says her focus is on quality over quantity, noting she currently has about a half-dozen horses in her care. However, the current apple of her eye is Mr. G (short for Gorgeous), a yearling being groomed to follow in the footsteps of his successful relatives.
“We knew this was a good horse from the very beginning because he stood up right away, he was smart, he went on his mom’s milk and sucked on right away…,” said Hiebert. “He’s really athletic and he’s got the priceless quality of instant acceleration – from a standing stop he can just fly. And he’s got speed, agility and so you can tell.”
Mary Rendleman, Hiebert’s horse trainer for the past 20 years or so, also sees great potential in Mr. G, who she could tell was going to be a good horse from the get-go.
“You can tell temperament,” said Rendleman. “Most of the horses all have a different personality and temperament. The ones that are calm or quieter are usually the ones that go farther. The ones that are really nervous…, it’s harder for them to keep their concentration when they’re working with you or on the track or anywhere else.”
Hiebert emphasized the success of her horses is owed in part to how they’re trained, with kindness and love, at a rate determined by the individual horse.
“There’s no roughness or wild cowboy rodeo stuff – It’s all gradual, nice, kind stuff,” said Hiebert. “If you’re doing something nice they respond positively.”
Studying pedigree also plays big behind the successes from Bent Tree.
“I can stay up until two in the morning reading and studying and underlining and figuring out who to breed to who and why,” says Hiebert, who also looks after the birthing of her horses.
Not surprisingly, Hiebert has a great affection for her animals and much pride in their successes. She says the only thing that comes close to her passion for horse breeding is her passion for art, including watercolour and acrylic painting, of which her horses are often the subject.
“I’ve been drawing and painting since I was a little girl,” says Hiebert. “But the painting of horses has been going on for, I guess, 30 years. I love the horses and I love to paint. So I don’t know which I am first and foremost, an artist or a horse breeder. One day I’m an artist who paints her horses and the next day I’m a horse breeder who just happens to paint horses.”
In September, Mr. G. will be transported to the Lower Mainland for show and sale. While somewhat anxious about the event, and about the market in general, she is confident in Mr. G. and his abilities, and expects he will easily follow in his family’s footsteps, perhaps even as far as Dancing Allstar.
“I’ve watched them (race) in person – I go to the races if I can… and I watch them on TV or on the computer,” says Hiebert. “It’s fabulous to see Dancing Allstar in Woodbine winning the Ernie Samuel Memorial Race – to be at that level, watching something that I bred on my little farm, is a miracle.”