It is 6 o’clock in the morning on July 19, 2021. Horses are being fed, breakfast is made, the porculator is brewing the perfect cup of coffee.
Eight carriage drivers and two riders, all members of the Alberta Friesian Horse Association (AFHA), are getting ready to start their five-day trail ride in central Alberta. The back country roads are scouted out, places to camp are organized and the horses are ready to work.
Although the schedule of the day was the same all week, the trails were surprisingly different. Starting in the Blackfalds area, we drove along Gull Lake, heading more North-East towards the Battle River valley, circling around the Chain Lakes and ended up west of Bashaw.
From dirt roads to gravel, from places with a view to a dip in Gull Lake, bushy trails changed into wide open roads going up and down. The horses crossed a few highways and now and then we met a truck or a car.
The drivers in these vehicles often took pictures and they were very considerate of this different style of traffic. Every trail showed the beauty of the country we are allowed to live in. One person said at least once a day, “Thank you beautiful Alberta!”
The weather also behaved typical ‘Alberta style’: sunshine, smoke, a tornado warning, thunder and lightning, wind, rain and hail came our way, only to add to the unique experience.
Traveling for five days at a speed of only four miles per hour makes you think back about the pioneer days. Of course we can’t compare ourselves to them because we make use of the luxury of our time. But it is definitely a way to renew an appreciation for what those people accomplished in the early days by settling in this area and creating opportunities for themselves and the future generations.
In conclusion, the participating AFHA members can wholeheartedly say it again, “Thank you beautiful Alberta!”
– Submitted by Enny Van Aken