In 1990, I embarked on a grand adventure, one that would take me away from Echo and all things horse, a nine-month journey of the South Pacific—Fiji, the Cook Islands, New Zealand, and Australia. I couldn’t afford to travel and keep a horse so Echo was leased while I was away.
The young woman who’d leased him had enjoyed every moment and was keen to have me come to watch her in what would be their final competition together before he was returned to my care. He looked fabulous—fit, shiny, and ready for the show ring. I couldn’t resist taking him for a short ride before she tacked him up and below is one of my favourite photos of the two of us, a black & white taken by my Australian friend Matthew who was visiting Canada.
After a bit of a summer break, on with the story of Echo the Wonder Horse!
Following his quarantine period, Echo was turned into a 3-acre pasture with a few other horses where he went right to work establishing himself as the alpha. This took about ten minutes. He was a confident, dominant fellow.
It was the dead of winter, 1987, and Stan the Arabian had been sold to one of the other students at Calta Stables. I wasn’t looking looking for a horse, but I had mentioned to one or two people that I might be interested in buying if the right horse came along. Hilton and Kristin Hack had been out taking a clinic in Bragg Creek in the fall at the same time the annual Elkana Ranch fox hunt was being held (a mock hunt with no actual foxes). They’d run into friends Rob and Jacquie Bishop, who were participating in the hunt, and Rob was riding a 7-year-old, black, Anglo-Arab gelding that he mentioned was for sale, for $1000, if they knew anyone looking. At the time they didn’t but a few months later, there was me, considering buying a horse. Continue reading →
When we last looked in on my journey with horses, I’d just rehomed my sweet, fat pony, Houdini, and moved to Alberta. Calgary … home of the Calgary Stampede, Spruce Meadows, and many more things of a horsey nature. I actually arrived in Calgary in the middle of Stampede week, an auspicious beginning to what would be a long residency. Continue reading →
Off to college and then to Edmonton for my first “real job”, life was filled with the distractions of young adulthood and my interest in horses placed on a back burner. After a year in Edmonton, I was homesick for BC and headed west, my 1977 Chrysler Cordoba (loved that car) filled with all of my earthly possessions. I thought my destination was Victoria on Vancouver Island, but fun intervened during a visit to my dad and I unpacked my car in a little place called Broman Lake, a stop on the side of the Yellowhead Highway between Burns Lake and Houston.
Shandy was off to his new life (after attempting to exit the buyer’s horse trailer through the escape door) and I needed a horse. I don’t recall just how many horses I looked at or tried but I clearly remember going to see Bonnie. She was owned by a fellow Charlie Lake School alumni, who I knew but not well since she’d been a couple of years behind me. There’d been rain, but I wasn’t going to let a muddy paddock deter me from my goal–a horse for the upcoming jumping lessons, clinic, and horse show being hosted by the North Peace Light Horse Association.
It was 1978 and spring had arrived at last! After a winter of studying up on horse care and fantasizing about my next trusty steed, it was finally time to go shopping for a new horse … two new horses, since my sister’s pony had been sold the previous year, thinking she’d need a larger mount.
The horsey dreams of young girls (and old ones) have been portrayed in many pieces of literature and film over time–National Velvet and The Horse Whisperer to name a couple of my favourites–and there’s a reason for this. Girls, at least a lot of girls, are drawn to horses. For some, it’s just a passing childhood attachment, for others, a lifetime passion. My hand is in the air on that second one. Continue reading →
Writing last week’s blog about my lifelong obsession with all things horse brought up a pile of old memories of my equine friends through the years. It inspired me to turn this into a series that I’m calling “To All The Steeds I’ve Loved Before” (cue the Julio and Willie duet). Continue reading →
Since I was twelve, it’s been horses, like the home plate of my life. I often said in my twenties, and even into my thirties, that horses were my rock, the place I returned to, the constant in an ever-shifting landscape of homes, jobs, and relationships.