First in our series on Western Innovators is Hailey Stewart. Hailey is a real horsewoman and a proponent of the West. One needs only to meet her to feel the impact of the western values she carries. A scroll through her Instagram is enough to see that Hailey is someone who is truly doing what they love and is authentic in who she is.
To learn more about this cowgirl, read our interview below.
Where do you currently reside? Longview, Alberta
How and when did you get started with horses? I’ve always been around them, my dad is a horse trainer so I got my start riding in front of him and my mom when I was a baby.
Tell us a little bit about your horses Right now I have three very special geldings – Tadpole, Bubba and Pete. Tadpole I bought from my dad as a yearling. He’s one you can do anything on, I competed in High School Rodeo on him, start colts with him, rope, skijor and he’s was my side saddle mount in 2018. Bubba was a wild colt but has become a gentleman. He’s my main barrel horse now but he’s also my sister, Shelby’s go-to guy. Pete is probably the most popular! He’s a flashy Paint Horse and a head-turner for sure. He’s a ranch horse that we use to turn back at cuttings, go to the mountains, pull skiers for skijor, start colts and this summer he made his debut as a backup barrel horse.
Tell us a little bit about your dad, Keith Stewart, your role working with him in the Cowboy Campus, and how that’s changed as you’ve grown up. My dad has been a huge influence in my life especially when it comes to horses and training. He has been a horse trainer for longer than I’ve been around. I really respect that he always puts the horse first, not everyone is going to be a world-beater but doesn’t make them any less valuable as an animal. He puts a really solid foundation on every horse he trains so that they have the tools to go in any direction, they aren’t railroaded into being a cutting horse with no coping mechanisms. I look up to him for that. Cowboy Campusis actually my sister, Shelby’s brainchild! She’s had the idea on going online with my dad’s training for years and 2020 was the year she and Keith made it happen! They, along with Devan Karl created a module delivery system of horsemanship lessons that the members can go back to a review. The membership comes with access to a Facebook group, where they, the members can talk with each other, ask Keith questions and share the progress they are having. It’s been really cool to see this come to life and there is a lot more on the way!
How does embodying the West affect your life? I’m very fortunate that the community I am apart of is very western, most of my people would consider themselves western so there is a lot of support and comradery. I think for me, embodying the West is staying true to my values, giving things an honest effort, caring for and respecting our livestock and trying to be a good example of my western lifestyle, and how I was raised.
Do you have a favourite rodeo event? Do you have a favourite rodeo?Barrel racing is my favourite event to watch and compete in, but I truly enjoy watching every event.
What is your favourite book? As of right now, all the reading I do is strictly academic! By the time I’m done reading for my college classes I don’t have any will to read for fun. That being said I have loved my Children’s Literature classes where we studied classics like Robin Hood, Treasure Island and Wind in the Willows. I guess my favourite book that I read as a young person was My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George.
Who are some western women that you look up to and take inspiration from? Oh, this list could get long! My mother Denice Stewart and Tammy Pate come to mind immediately!
What advice would you give to women who are involved in the western lifestyle? Saint Francis de Sales said, “Nothing is so strong as gentleness. Nothing so gentle as real strength.” This is one of my favourite quotes, I think it’s a beautiful reminder for women in the western world that we don’t need to be the strongest or toughest to add value. There is so much power in being gentle and kind.
Where do you get some of your western inspiration from? I remember watching Kassidy Dennison running at the NFR, I think it was 2014 and she just looked like the epitome of class. Silver, turquoise and a wildrag. She doesn’t dress over the top. She wears the clothes they don’t wear her. She’s one that really stands out in my mind.
On a typical Saturday, you can be found where? If I have the day off, I work at Cowboy Country in Nanton, I’ll be in the saddle whether that is at my parent’s place, an arena or in the hills!
Outside of horses and riding, what are your hobbies? Honestly, that’s really my only hobby. It’s all I do with my time!
What is your main goal for 2021? Aside from doing well in school, I’ve been itching to start another colt. I’d like to have a prospect to train and eventually sell. We’ll see if that’s in the cards or not!
What are some of your favourite western accounts on social media? Another long list! I love Alex Callaghan Photography, Emily McCartney Photography, Horsemanship Collective, Kelsey Johnson, Joy Wargo, Scott Slusher, Mark Maggiori, Matt McCormick and Heath Herring. There are so many I could go on for ages!
Who are the western influencers who have had the biggest impact on you?BK and Taylor Karl and Marisa Anderson have been incredibly positive influences in my life and social media! They are incredibly kind and accepting but also hold true to their values which I admire.
What were your biggest takeaways/lessons from 2020 with it being such an unprecedented time? Probably to not take anything for granted, our health, time and freedom stand out to me. It was definitely a time of adjusting priorities and making time for what really matters. I was so very thankful to live where I do and to be able to carry on with life mostly, as usual, riding and working horses, having the space to be outdoors.
Are there any pieces in your closet that you can’t live without? Good fitting jeans, bamboo long sleeves, wool sweaters, denim jacket, a ball cap, felt, cowboy boots and tees for the summer. Is that too many, haha?
When it comes to fashion, what is your motto?I would probably fall under the classic and timeless category. Pieces that fit nicely, high waisted jeans and a white tee shirt I don’t think will ever go out of style. Quality and custom pieces are what I’m drawn to.
What advice would you give a younger version of yourself? The lows will make you appreciate the highs, looking back on the valleys and mountains.
What is the most valuable thing you’ve learned from horses and horsemanship? Timing is everything. Also the importance of setting your colts up to win so they can build their confidence.
How have you changed or grown in your style of horsemanship over the years?I think over the last couple of years competing in skijor events and racing sidesaddle has made me even more aware of the importance of foundation for your horses. When things get fast you need to have built a base that can support you and your horse.
What is the greatest piece of advice that you’ve received? Taking the high road has less traffic and a better view. But I also really like “never miss a good chance to shut up,” a bit of wisdom from Will Rogers.
What is your favourite show you’ve been watching? I really enjoy Peaky Blinders.
Is there anything that you’re endlessly curious about? I find horse whirl very interesting! I don’t make any judgments based solely on them but I think it’s neat, to see what personalities have which whirl types.
Where can people find you and keep up with you? I’m on Instagram @haileyraestewart
What item in your wardrobe can you not do without? My favourite item in my wardrobe is probably my light wash, vintage Levi’s!