From Endurance to Dressage
No matter where we travel, I am always on the lookout for a chance to interact with horses. Even my husband has gotten good at spotting foreign ponies for me. This trip was no exception.
We started our visit to Canada with a four-night stay in Quebec City. On the first morning of our visit, I heard that familiar clip clop of hooves on asphalt and the search was on. I am not sure who spotted the carriages first, my husband or me, but a tour of the old city was the first thing we did.
Before we even made it into the carriage though, I met one of the many vets who supervise the horses that pull the carriages. She explained that she examines each horse for wounds or injuries and monitors the number of hours that they work. Veterinarians patrol the carriage routes checking the horses multiple times throughout the day.
The workday for the horses is strictly regulated. They don't work if it's too hot, too cold, or if they have any wounds or are thought to be ill. The driver explained that horses can be sent back to the stable for the slightest nick or wobbly shoe. He went on to say that the carriage horses in Quebec are the most scrutinized in all of Canada.
I am not sure if we just landed a good guide or if ours was particularly friendly because I had horses - we had chatted a bit before our tour began, but we had a very interesting tour of the old city. Throughout our stay, we noticed that most of the drivers were pretty quiet during the ride while the passengers wore an expression of boredom.
It could have also been that we're curious travelers and were very interested in the history of Quebec City. Our driver seemed more than happy to show off his corner of the world, and we were an appreciative audience.
We left Quebec City by train and headed to Montréal for five more nights. The carriages in old Montréal were even more abundant, and my husband asked if I needed another tour. I am sure I would have enjoyed it, but I declined. The city just didn't have the same relaxed vibe that was found in Quebec City.
By about the third day in Montréal, we were tired of the noise and traffic and decided to spend the morning hiking around Parc du Mont-Royal, a 500 acre park within the city. From Chalet du Mont-Royal, we admired the view of downtown Montréal and then followed the trail to the 98-foot-high cross that sits at the top of Mont-Royal.
As we strolled through the forest, we came upon several large manure piles which my husband found strange since all of the carriage horses had worn bags to catch the manure. We wondered if the carriages could be found in the park or if trail riding was allowed. Within a short time, I heard the clip clop of a horse approaching.
To my delight, it turned out to be a female officer who was happy to stop for a chat. Her English was limited - French is the primary language of the province of Quebec, but with a shared love of horses, we were able to communicate just fine.
She explained that her job was to patrol the park, helping tourists who were lost or in some kind of distress. She also watches out for criminal activity. When I asked about a partner, she explained that he was on vacation so she was riding her own assigned horse as well as her partner's to keep him exercised. Unlike the carriage horses, the mounted officers ride in the heat and cold, adding studs to the shoes when it's icy and rump rugs to keep the horses warm.
We had a great time in Quebec and found our Canadian neighbors to be friendly and very welcoming. We're already talking about next summer's vacation. Not sure where we'll go, but I bet they have horses!
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2023 Show Schedule
2023 Completed …
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: