The DAC Farms, located five miles east and north of Virden. It is a pleasure to visit, with a large, sturdy outdoor riding arena and a barn surrounded by pens and paddocks, situated on the well-drained top land of the Assiniboine Valley.
Campbell and Gerrand have given years of leadership in the Virden Riding Club (Campbell was 20 years the president); Gerrand has worked with the 4-H horse club.
They were on the Virden Indoor Rodeo committee for 20 years. Campbell also served on the Virden Ag Society for two decades helping out with Virden fair and the rodeo.
“I had the dirtiest job of the whole rodeo for years,” he laughed. “I was one of the people who put the dirt in the old arena.” It was a demanding task, with no special equipment. A fire hose was used to water down the ring.
With sons who were strong roping competitors, Campbell was a key volunteer for high school rodeo in Virden and helped build the outdoor arena on Virden recreation grounds.
“Between the rodeo and our high school rodeo committees, we took on building that arena.” There, Virden hosted the high school Canadian finals for three years.
Campbell and Gerrand were raised riding horses and met at a horse show. They have been together going on 32 years now.
In their early days, they broke trail in the disciplines they undertook.
The Campbells owned Welsh ponies. Duncan also drove hackneys and road horses (standardbreds shown in roadster carts) for Jack and Carol Forsythe and drove racetrack standardbreds for Ray Dryden.
Campbell and Gerrand competed in shows, gymkhanas and rodeo events. Gerrand is best known for her barrel racing career, and in her early days showing in Western Pleasure.
Campbell says, “When I met Cathy I started to show more, got back into saddle horses, barrel racing and pole bending. I showed pleasure and reining at local fairs and at Manitoba Gymkhana Rodeo Association.
Through the 4-H club, Gerrand competed provincially and regionally. In the 1980s she showed more broadly, becoming a winner. “I was Champion Western Pleasure at Manitoba Winter Fair two times – two years in a row.”
With his experience in the saddle and driving, Campbell was called upon to judge horse shows and gymkhana events throughout southwestern Manitoba and into Saskatchewan.
As time went on and they were raising their two boys, Campbell supported his wife’s career.
“Cathy, when she was barrel racing, I team roped locally,” said Campbell. “We had children, it was difficult to promote both. She was a very avid barrel racer and was well-mounted, very competitive.”
In barrels, Gerrand was two-time Manitoba Rodeo Cowboy Association champion and one-time runner-up; two times a Canadian Cowboys Association runner-up. She competed at the Manitoba finals, both barrel racing and in ladies’ steer undecorating. Trophies gleam as a testament, taking up one corner of the living room.
Campbell worked with Manitoba Department of Highways for 17 years, then in 1992 a PMU contract with Pfizer launched DAC’s large breeding program.
Today, DAC breeds about 85 mares. Their registered Quarter Horses and Sport Horses (Draft cross QH/Thoroughbreds) are often purchased as foals, in demand across western Canada and into the USA. Many are used for competitive driving, three-day eventing, barrel racing, as cow-horses and for ranch work.
If he had to pick, Campbell’s favourite horse is his QH stud who is producing high-selling foals at the NAERIC Barrels of Cash Sale (Brandon). “Our grey Romeo stud. He’s such a nice horse to handle.”
Gerrand is hesitant about her choice. “I’ve been blessed with lots of really nice [horses]. Probably my Bits of Taffy… champion Western Pleasure horse at the winter fair would be one. The other one would have to be My Sunday Moon, also known as Lazer.” These mares back most of their bloodlines seen in today’s progeny.
Gerrand sees a field of up and coming youth. She says clinics and lessons are important.
“We were so blessed in Virden here, to have a great group of people.” She lists, “Devona Henderson, Audrey Forsythe, Merle Coleman, Gail McQuaker, Gerry Fowler - people very dedicated to help the youth.
Her father was her mentor. “He had a good eye for a horse. His motto was, ‘it costs as much to feed a poor horse as a good horse.’”