A Bright Outlook for 2021
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
Manitoba horse riders certainly made some interesting varieties of lemonade in 2020. But what doesn’t harm you makes you stronger, and Manitoba Horse Council (MHC) and its member clubs definitely rose to the occasion in 2020.
Member Clubs comprise 24 local associations ranging from polo to hunter/jumper, and working equitation to dressage. Their individual members are the lifeblood of MHC, and representatives of the clubs have a say in the important decisions of the organization. At the fall Council of Clubs meeting, we heard about the many ways our clubs managed to hold clinics, competitions, and other events while still following the COVID-19 rules. Many clubs had to use home-grown clinicians to avoid the travel restrictions and others missed competing against US riders. By the end of the meeting, the message received was that although no club was untouched, all were looking forward to a good show season in 2021.
At the Council of Clubs, we also heard from four groups who were recipients of MHC Recreation grants, meant to improve recreational facilities across the province.
In 2019, Myna Margetts received the grant to improve the trails at Souris River Bend. This area of natural beauty in southwestern Manitoba started as rough equestrian trails in the wilderness, and over the years much volunteer work has resulted in maintained riding trails at levels from easy to extremely challenging. Bush was cut back, access roads were mowed, and this year the river crossing was made easier by a team of stone pickers who removed the larger stones and marked the crossing channel.
The Distance Riders of Manitoba and the Manitoba Trail Riding Club worked in tandem to clear ground and build dedicated horse corrals at Spruce Woods Provincial Park. This work will be completed in 2021.
Thanks to a grant and a team of hard-working volunteers, the rough trails at Souris River Bend have been transformed into maintained riding trails with varying levels of difficulty.
In Birds Hill Provincial Park near Winnipeg, the Manitoba Driving Society carried out maintenance and upgrading to their marathon element, the under-and-over bridge. In addition to the Driving Society, many trail riders use the bridge as training for their horses. And many a bride and groom have had their wedding photos taken here.
The under-and-over bridge at Birds Hill Provincial Park was upgraded by the Manitoba Driving Society.
Springfield Horse Community
Birds Hill Park News
One of six welcome signs identifying the area around Birds Hill Park as the Springfield Horse Community. L-R: Fred Gutoski, Sharon Corr, Rick Hurst, Carolyn Lintott, and Barb Rutherford. Missing is April Keedian due to Covid restrictions. Photo: Darice Whyte
What excitement! In the fall of 2020, the Regional Municipality (RM) of Springfield installed six welcome signs identifying the area around Birds Hill Park as the Springfield Horse Community. This area, comprising approximately 153 square kilometres, is home to over 1,200 horses, 166 horse properties, and 39 large equestrian facilities with 22 active arenas.
The RM has also installed 39 signs on all of the roadways in this area. These signs encourage motorists to SHARE THE ROAD with residents engaged in active transportation: horseback riders, carriage drivers, walkers, and cyclists. How was this accomplished?
Seven years ago, the RM began the process of consultations around transportation, development, and recreation. A group of us decided that it was important that active transportation and the equestrian community be well represented in those plans. A huge amount of work was done to create a constitution, recruit members, and get letters of support from MHC, equestrian groups, the park, and stables in the area. We made several presentations to Council outlining our vision. Then we fundraised for signage and sought sponsorship. We were not asking the RM to fund the signage. What we needed was their approval, and their willingness to install the signs. We needed them to believe in our vision for the area.
We are delighted that this has been achieved. The equestrian community is firmly embedded in Springfield, with visible recognition in both their plans and community signage.
Committee Members were Sharon Corr, Fred Gutoski, Rick Hurst, April Keedian, Carolyn Lintott and Barb Rutherford.
Main Photo: The dedicated horse corrals at Spruce Woods Provincial Park will be complete in 2021.