History & Heritage

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When Tracey Klettl is on the back of a horse on a beautiful woodland trail, her mind is always clearer and she feels so much more at peace. “I always hope that people feel that same peace that I do,” says Klettl, co-owner of Painted Warriors Ranch, located in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies about an hour-and-a-half northwest of Calgary, Alberta. Painted Warriors creates authentic outdoor experiences from an Indigenous perspective, based on Klettl’s Cree and Mohawk heritage and on the Ojibway heritage of Klettl’s partner and business co-owner Tim Mearns. Guests learn a variety of skills, from riding to natural navigation, medicinal plant identification, and backcountry basics.

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Sergeant Reckless was a small Mongolian mare who held official rank in the United States military. She was estimated to be three or four years old when purchased by the United States Marine Corps for $250 in October 1952. She was trained to be a pack horse and used to carry ammunition and supplies for the Recoilless Rifle Platoon of the 5th Marine Regiment.

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It’s hard to believe that the Government of Canada would own a spectacular horse ranch adjacent to the Rocky Mountains, where trail riders are welcome to camp and ride. But it exists. Ya Ha Tinda Ranch — owned by Parks Canada and the only federally operated working horse ranch in the country — turned 100 years old in 2017.

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Queen Elizabeth II passed away on September 8, 2022 having been the longest serving monarch in British history. In the short time since, much has changed. Her son, Prince Charles, has become King Charles III. Canada’s Royal Anthem is now God Save the King. Eventually, the King may replace the Queen’s visage on Canadian coins. But for the horse world, the Queen’s unceasing passion for horses will remain a lasting legacy.

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It used to be thought that using tools was one of the things that set us apart from the animal kingdom. However, it is now known that some species use tools. Reports include chimps using sticks to reach food, sea otters using stones to break open shellfish, and even elephants deactivating an electric fence by dropping rocks on it.

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In the July/August 2017 issue of Canadian Horse Journal, we celebrated Canada’s 150th anniversary with stories of 20 exceptional horses that have reflected our values and fired our national pride. One of those horses was Midnight.

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Representing Canada at the Olympic Games is the Holy Grail for many riders, but not every rider has the good fortune to get there. Those who represent Canada at the Games all have very different stories about how they qualified, the experiences they had, and the exceptional horses they were fortunate to ride. Canada’s top-placed three-day event riders from the 1976 through 2008 Olympic Games have had many years to reflect on their Olympic experiences and fortunately, five of those determined men and women were happy to share some of their life lessons, anecdotes, and wisdom with those who want to follow in their hoofprints. These are their stories.

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The relationship between horses and people in Canada is rich, deep, and ancient. And the story of horses in our country is as old as time itself. To understand the horse’s place in our lives today, we need to look back through the pages of history.

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A Treasure for Over 350 Years - Good things were happening in New France in 1665. The New World colony had been under the tight control of the Company of One Hundred Associates since 1627. It capitalized on the fur trade while expanding French colonies along the Gulf of the St. Laurence and the river valley. But they were sporadically under siege from either native Iroquois tribes disrupting the fur trade, turf wars with the British, or conflicts with Quebec settlers resenting the company’s monopoly on trade.

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Life for a 19th century cowboy was a steady routine of guarding cattle, moving them to grazing ranges, and driving them to market, often on long and difficult trails. But in those open range days, cattle belonging to one outfit would mingle and graze with cattle from other outfits. Twice a year in spring and fall, ranchers joined in a round-up of hundreds of cattle to sort out the different brands and reclaim their herds.

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