Bates Bar J Ranch

I've mentioned the ranch a couple times on the blog, and I noticed in google searches when you type "Bates Bar J Ranch" in, my blog pops up quite a bit through the pages. So basically, this page is me asking the great internet gods, and the universe to help me out:

What I'm hoping is that people who purchased Horses from the Bates Bar J Ranch Dispersal Sale will see this, and contact me. 

Basically, if you purchased ANY of the horses that went through the sale, I would LOVE to hear how they are doing now - pictures never hurt either :). On the other hand, if we don't know each other, (perhaps you attended Bates Bar J before me), I would love to hear from you too - and hear your story about bbj. You can contact me through this blog, or over email at Please don't hesitate!

& here... just for good measure... is my story:

When I was 8, I started attending Bates Bar J Ranch and it completely changed my life. I have no doubt that I would be a totally different person had I not encountered the ranch that fell at the junction of the Little Red Deer River and the Grease Creek. My love of horses flourished, and all of a sudden I went from reading about them, and pony rides in a corral to riding them, on trails - through rivers, under branches, down massive hillsides! From my first horse Minnie, to Domino, Windsong, Sunshine, the absolute love of my little girl dreams - Legolas, and of course, Wolfdancer, every horse snuck into my heart and never left.

When I was 16, I applied to become a counsellor, it was one of the most nerve-wracking experiences of my life. When I got counsellor, I cried with sheer, pure, happiness. As a 16 year old girl, the greatest gift had been given to me - a new road, a new path to take. Just as the ranch sits at a junction, I was at a junction too. I needed the ranch to escape from bad influences, and my own self-destructive tendencies. I needed the people there to believe in me, as they did, because they raised me up - I believed in myself like I never had before.

When I was 19, I was asked to be a riding leader, and again my life shifted. My paradigm went from, "I like horses", to "Horses are my life." As corny as that saying is, it really think its true. I knew that I needed to get better, to constantly work, and read, and learn, to become better with horses.

Finally, a year later, I was 20. I found myself in the precarious role of "barn boss", and I also discovered the ranch was for sale. I wept for days, I mourned the loss of a giant in my life. How a place can encompass not only physical boundaries, but can also take on a complete life of its own, still escapes me at times. Most days, it is still a heavy burden on my heart that this place said goodbye to me, before I was ready to say goodbye to it.

& then there was the horses, I don't think there was a horse there I don't have a story about. I could tell you every detail of every one of those ponies, and my whole heart was wrapped up in their well-being and happiness. I spent every moment I physically could with those animals when I was out there, whether it was sneaking in more brushing time as a camper, always volunteering for "barn" duty as a counsellor, or spending nights laying on a hay bale, soaking in their essence, or sneaking out and spending time with them in their pastures as a riding leader. Those horses, were my life. The string has changed so much since even I first started working there but there are the greats. In my head I can still picture their stalls... Blue, Marcus, Dude, King, Tad, Ballet, Rockinstraw, Franc, Contessa, Hughie, Hoover, Scram, Shilo, Samara, Wolfdancer, Tom, Wiggles, Windsong, Domino, Fleur, Coy, Butterfly, Mandy, Coltan, Soren, Bobbin, Blackjack, Show n' Tell, Tippy, Penny, Marchessa, Della, Josie, Dunee, Casino, Cindy, Dandee Eyes, Carobu, Timber, Jessie, Ditto, Bertha, Birdie, Wizard, JR, Flare, Slim, Sass, TFR, Misty... and of course, my non-dude string crew, Jed, Siss, Navy, Huckleberry, Hobo, Cash, then there was those gosh darned babies I loved too... Doc, Caesar, Brutus & Gus and who could forget the Donkey, Fred?! & finally, my boy that I just couldn't leave behind - Jingle. It's funny because in typing out there names, so many stories just flooded into me. How can you leave something like that behind?

Which is why, it is with a happy heart I saw them all go to such good homes, but with a heavy heart I had to say goodbye. It would be so wonderful to know where they are now, and how they are doing.

So there ya go, a little plea to the universe - what can it hurt?!


  1. louisa,
    boy am i glad i found this blog. i was beginning to think i would never get to talk about bates again! I miss all the horses sooo much i have a hard time thinking! do you remember me? i rode tippy and you had to make me ride a different horse because he was to slow but i REALLY didnt want to. and my second year i rode flare and he ran away with me on him. anywho i miss bates and i totally get what it means to people to me it means the reason i am alive. hope you remember me, Desree Burrows

    1. Des, your dear old dad went to bates too ;) I'm sure you could chat about it with him!

      Of course I remember you silly!! I would love to chat about the ranch with you (or how you are doing or anything like that). If ya ever wanna talk just shoot me an email at! I'm glad you found my blog too :)

  2. I am a Bates Alum - it was many moons ago (probably a good 14 years ago) and reading your blog brought back many memories. I too can still name the horses I rode - Patches, Frosty, Drifter, Agot, Hot Sauce, Louise and remember many of the counselors and staff there. I remember that colt that Jack (I think that was his name) had following him around because it's mother died and it would think it was human and stick it's head right in the window or if the front door was open it would walk right on in! I was looking into sending my son this year but saw that it was sold in 2012 - wish my kids could've experianced the BBJ Ranch like I did.

  3. Louisa, I just found this blog while looking for information on a older mare we just purchased from Horsin Around in Calgary. I was told she was purchased from the Bates Bar J dispersal sale. Horsein Around has used her as a lesson horse for autistic children since the time of the sale. With the drought southern alberta has seen in 2015, horsin around put a number of horses up for sale due to staggering feed prices. This is how we ended up with "Mandy". She is a amazing horse, and we truley lucked out. My 2 year old daughter is in love with her and my wife is learing to ride on a trustworthy mount. Id love to send you a photo of her if I knew how. If you can remember any details about her time at the ranch or her duties there, Id love to hear about them!! Thanks.

    1. I remember Mandy well, hopefully you are able to see this comment! Please feel free to email me at and we can chat!

  4. Love your Blog. I'm a Bar J Alumni from 1978. spent a week there and it was the really a crucial time in my life. Pam was my grade 5, 6 home room teacher and an increasable influence on my life all around. I would really love to contact her to just say hi and thank you for so much ! Is there a way ? Tom 7803335034

  5. MARCUS!! i still think back and remember how much personality he has. This camp was the time of my life, too. Heaven on Earth.

  6. I am an alum from 1977 and will never forget the experiences I learned out at the BBJ along with my sisters. I can still remember my horse "Tarken". I learned a lot about how horses (an other animals) read humans and how they interact with emotions. One of the best times of my life. Would love to hear from anyone who was there the same time (the day Elvis died - while we were at the swimming hole). AnneMarie (

  7. The best experience ever
    Went in 75 and 76
    My horse was flash, ther was Mary leg, And Suzy, and the Big “Banjo”
    Thank you Joe, Randy, and all

  8. I had the similar great experience years ago. I hope you dont mind if I use your photo of the lodge on

  9. Louisa,

    I too was worried I'd never get to be able to talk about Bates! When I heard about Bates being sold it really truly crushed my soul. I started going to Bates when I was 12 and my first horse was Heidi. I remember it all like it was yesterday. I remember being shy and so scared I was going to be at this new place all by myself. Little did I know this place would soon come to create my most cherished memories. Every year I just couldn't wait to come back and I hoped and prayed my parents would be able to pay for me to go for 2 WHOLE WEEKS! I finally got to do that on my last year as a camper, when I was 16. It was heart wrenching to know that I wouldn't be able to keep coming back to this place that truly had my heart and still does.
    On my last year week one, we were riding bareback (with helmets then thank the lord because we didn't when I first started going) I slipped off and of course my first thought was to reach my arms out and BREAK my fall - which ended up with being broken in 2 places (oops!!) I will never forget how gut wrenched I felt in that moment - not from the embarrassment or the pain, but from the fear that this was my last year and I wouldn't be able to stay for my second week cherishing every last second. I remember calling my parents and asking if I could stay.... and they said yes! So a big orange cast on one arm and Marcus beneath me, we made that last week one to remember.
    This place will always be home to the many beautiful memories created here.

    Caitlin - (Heidi, Koko, Checkers, Josie, Timber, Marcus)