Ride to Remember
A Ride to Remember
By Sheila Sowerby- Aldergrove Chapter
Sometimes when you are out riding the trails the best ideas come to you.
That is what happened to Heather Tottenham out riding one Remembrance Day. At 11AM she stopped her horse to place a poppy on the nearest tree and have a private moment of silence for those who served. As she rode on she thought, “I wonder if this might be something other horse people would enjoy…?”
And so she organized a ride.
November 11th 2017 nine backcountry horsemen rode into the forests of Golden Ears with poppies on our lapels and breast collars. The weather was suitably somber but not yet raining and it was, as always, a great day to be in the saddle. We stopped in a tranquil clearing just before 11:00. The forest floor was covered with orange and yellow leaves and a lone airplane flew low, directly overhead. It was no doubt bound for a cenotaph somewhere, but it set the mood for us on our horses below.
The overwhelming number of people who have died in human conflict for a cause they believed in is awful to contemplate. Many, many millions. In recent years my thoughts have also turned to the horses, mules and donkeys who were slaughtered on both sides of many wars. An estimated 8 million died just in WW1. With this in mind I recited a poem written by Corb Lund, one of Canada’s great lyricists from a song called “I Wanna be in the Cavalry- Reprise”. One verse goes like this…..
We bowed our heads and had a moment of silence just like folks all over BC were doing. We were part of that but also something else. As horsemen we all take great pride and enjoyment in owning and caring for our horses. From all walks of life, we are drawn to these creatures and spend untold dollars on their well-being. When we hung a wreath in a nearby tree on behalf of BCHBC Aldergrove and horsemen everywhere, it somehow seemed to acknowledge the huge sacrifice equines have made since domestication because we asked them to. It felt very right.
Just as we tied up for lunch it started to drizzle. Heather, knowing that autumn was when we usually have our annual “Cordial Ride” (a ride which encourages both gracious behavior to fellow riders and yummy concoctions in the flask), rummaged in her saddle bag and dug out a huge pile of gummy bears saturated in Fireball Whiskey for our dining pleasure. Mighty cordial.
As we rode out of the quiet forest in the November rain (which was now getting pretty serious) our thoughts turned to how lucky we are to live in a peaceful country free to do what we love to do; ride our horses. We also thought a bit about staying dry!
It wasn’t the most exhilarating ride I’ve ever been on, or had the best views or the most laughs, but I will never forget it. Our chapter plans to make this an annual event, come join us!