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August 8, 2019: The Smithers, BC Rodeo Grounds

At a rest area outside of Vanderhoof we talked with two families while the horses held court. I had them feed the horses Club crackers that I’d stashed in the trailer tack room. I joked with the kids that we were hauling animals that were on their way to an Alaskan petting zoo. As I said this, I thought to myself, this is not far from the truth.

After lunch, the search for hay was on. We were out. We pulled into a shady spot in Vanderhoof behind the local feed store and went inside and asked the clerk if he had any hay for sale. “Nope,” he replied. After assisting other customers, he gave us the names of local farmers. We contacted quite a few of them – the story was pretty much the same – it had been a bad hay year and so they didn’t have any on hand.

Pete went back inside and began talking with another customer, one who had just bought a used bailer from a farmer, and it turned out that he had extra hay on hand. Dave Campbell turned out to be most obliging, and filled our trailer hay closet and tack room with enough hay to get us back into the U.S., and maybe home.

I am constantly amazed – the places we stay each night are all so radically different. It is not like we check into a Motel Six and put the horses out back, in generic pens. Last night we truck camped in an agriplex, located in a teaming metropolis. Tonight we are tent camping in a rodeo grounds located at the edge of a small town’s fairgrounds. We’re surrounded by tall grass that needs cutting and dilapidated fair buildings.

Sign at Smithers fairgrounds
Sign at Smithers fairgrounds

The horse show area is in a sad state of disrepair. There is a sign that indicates one of the buildings is The Heavy Horse office, most likely meaning that at one time, the draft horse crowd conducted their show business here. There is also a large fenced in area – the wooden rails of the fence are badly in need of painting – it has dressage markers – the grass has grown up in clumps, through the gravel footing.

There are two blue booths at both ends – on the sides painted in blue are the words “Driving Rings. There’s also an adjacent jumping ring with wooden jumps piled up on the left hand side.

How I’d love to be hired on, so as to spend a summer fixing this place up.

We drove into the main area, two guys were putting up board and batten on the booths in the main exhibit area. Pete was wearing his Oxtoberfest Hoodie – it has a profile of a muskox drinking a stein of beer. The guy, Trent, noticed this and began talking beer with Pete. He said that a local ale is quite good – has a 9.9 alcohol content.

He said sure, we could put the horses in a nearby pen, said that the grass needed to be mowed. We noted it was quite high, waist deep in places. We did not say that we were concerned that this might be too much grass for the horses. Rather, we put them in the pen and walked around the premises. We then discussed the possibility of later putting them in a nearby round pen, one with no grass and gravel footing.

Next: 219. 8/9/19: If We Lived Here . . .

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