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New Quebec Family!!

     It all started with an email, as do many of our stories, and our ability to enlarge someone else's family and change their lives with a Curly horse, but this one ended with me feeling like I found a new family..

Visitor’s from Quebec!

        The beginning of March I received an email from a fellow that told me he had found our website while cruising the web and he said that he was very impressed with it and thought he might like to fly out and meet us and our horses. Little did I know from that first email that we would be travelling to Quebec and building a friendship with an entire family! Pictured below are shots of Marie Claude and Bernard on their first visit to the stables. By the end of only a short weekend we all felt as though we had known each other for ever.
        Bernard's initial reason for calling was the fact that Marie-Claude has extreme allergies to regular horses. As I was to find out, her niece, Daphne, has a passion for horses, and Marie-Claude's father knows horses very well. He had been out to the OH Ranch in Alberta a few years ago and he had spent many hours working with horses. So it has been a dream come true for Marie-Claude to finally have horses in her life and in her family.
        On their initial visit we spent two days orienting them to the horses. Bernard had not ridden much and he was very willing to try anything. He was very patient with the horses (and me!) and it wasn't long before he was up in the saddle and trotting around the arena. Upon their return to Quebec he and Marie-Claude took some more riding lessons to better prepare themselves for the arrival of their new family.


April 14th, 2004 - Tres bon! Fantastic! Three super days in Quebec. Thanks to Bernard and Marie-Claude and her family, and Luke, our new Quebecois cowboy friend. Our journey started with Gary picking up SS Tulsa Jackpot and Commanche in Paris Ontario after our friend transported them from Sunnybrook for us. I left Alberta at midnight on Thursday, April the 8th, flew into Montreal, where Bernard and Marie-Claude picked me up. We then headed to their country house in Piedmont, where we picked up Marie-Cluade's mother, Janine. A few miles up the road we met Gary (who had been on the road for almost two weeks via Texas) and the horses. Up to Val -Barette where we met Marie-Claude's father, Philippe, and stopped for lunch and I had my very first Poutine - Real Quebec style! We arrived at Domaine Frigamo in Chute Saint Phillipe, Lukes ranch, in the Laurentians 3 hours later to unload the horses. Awaiting our arrival there was Marie-Claudes' brother (Pierre) and his family plus many friends of theirs, all excited to see the new Curly horses. Then we finally headed to the summer house of Marie's parents. She had been apprehensive about us spending time there as there was no running water. But trust me, this only added to the quality of the time we spent there. A special supper of Raclette was prepared for us.


Saturday was a cold, windy day. We started it off with Marie-Claude preparing French Toast with apples cooked in Maple Sauce. It sure took the bite out of the blustery day. We headed back up to Luke’s ranch and found that the horses were not settled at all. They had, after all, traveled 3,000 km. In the morning Pierre took us for a tour of a Sugar Shack to see how they make Maple Syrup in Quebec. The plan was for Bernard and Marie-Claude to ride with the group for a trail ride. Since the horses were not used to the new horses, sights and smells we felt it better if Gary and I took the horses out for their initiation to their new world. We left at 3 PM and returned at 11 PM!! Then back to the summer house for a Chinese fondue - this meal was VERY tasty. Sunday Pierre took us for a drive so we could see the only two covered bridges over the region. In the afternoon Bernard FINALLY got to go on a trail ride with the group. I worked with Mari-Claude and Tulsa, just to refresh her riding skills.

When we were finished, Luke had prepeared a fire and cooked pototatoes, bacon and coffe over the open fire. That evening we had a super we will never forget. ALL of Marie-Claudes family had come for Easter dinner. In recognition of our lack of Maple trees in Alberta the theme was of course, Maple. We had pork tenderloin in Maple sauce, asparagus, and of course Maple pie and Maple cake for dessert. And to finish of a perfect day we had many toasts with liquer in chocalte cups. There are no televisions or phones here. We then played card games and showed each other our magic tricks, much fun was had by everyone. We drank some excellent wine, and some shooters in chocolate glasses (when you shoot the shooter you consume the glass and all!) and I even had a puff on a Cuban cigar! We were all sad to see this day end as we knew tomorrow would be goodbye. Monday morning we headed back to Luke's to load our two horses to head to Ontario. There were a few tears and many promises for "next time!". Gary and I arrived at my home town of Woodview about 6:30 where we unloaded Charmer and Star and rode up the road to my fathers place to surprise him. He was very surprised, he thought somebody was lot in his yard! We then drove to my mothers place and surprised her. Tuesday morning we went to my Uncles and Aunts and surprised them and then to Peterborough to surprise my grandmother. I LOVE these kinds of surprises. Then off to the Toronto airport where I headed for home and I arrived back in Alberta at midnight.


Meeting the Quebec Cowboy

This was a huge surprise. I never expected to meet a real cowboy on a real ranch in Quebec. Luke had spent some time riding bulls in his younger years. He is more of a cowboy than many of the gents in Alberta that call themselves cowboys. His true love of horses is apparent after spending only 5 minutes with him. He has made a little ranch for himself in the Laurentians and has access to over 100 KM of trails for riding. He has made the back of his shelters into a Western town with the Sheriffs office, jail, etc and a big sign Welcomes visitors to "Buffalo Bill – Wild West". He built the barn himself out of local logs and it is very rustic and cozy for the horses. His horses are his children and it is apparent in the way he handles the horses and trains them.


The Trail Ride

Our trail ride on Saturday was real adventure. Both Tulsa and Commanche had a real work out for their first ride in Quebec. We traversed rivers, (not the little trickles of Alberta, real rivers), creeks, climbed 500 feet, scrambled through rocks (the size of your kitchen table) and trees. Luke showed us most of his favorite spots on his trails. A beautiful view from the high point of his trails. A water fall (although it was frozen!) a cave and we saw may deer along the way. One hapless rider even fell into the freezing water attempting to take a drink!


There were twelve of us on the trail ride and by the end we were all good friends. Along the trail we would stop for a break and Luke brought out a unique cup that he had made from a knot of a tree. He had carved out the middle and burnt it to seal it and from this work of art we drank Jack Daniel’s! Before we left Gary gave Luke his 60' lariat to practice with and Luke then gave him the treasured cup! Luke will be taking English lessons and plans to come to Alberta next year. You will always be welcome at my doorstep Luke!


Part of the Family

Marie Claude’s family is one I will NEVER forget. They are all so close and loving it brings tears to your eyes to witness such a bond. Her father, Philippe, purchased the land where their summer house is in Val-Barette, in 1955 from his father who, rumor has it, purchased it in 1932 for a couple of cows. They have 800' of water front on Gauvim Lake. The view is peaceful and tranquil. Pierre has built his home beside his fathers and Marie-Claude’s other brother, Jacques, has a summer house on the other side. There is a stable for Daphnes horse behind the house. This stable area will be enlarged for Bernard’s and Marie-Claude's horses to spend the summers. Pjillipe is a fortunate man. Not often is a father blessed with the joy of spending the summers with their entire family. Marie-Claude was impressed with her father as she had never really heard him speak English, and his command of the English language was very impressive. He made certain that our needs were looked after and made every effort to make us feel at home in his home. Daphne, Pierre's daughter, has a beautiful Arabian horse, Fringal, that is her best friend. Fringal was lame before we arrived. Friday we took a trip to the stable to see her and Daphne was thrilled to hear that we did not think it was serious. She rides her horse every minute that she can and is thrilled that her Aunt and Uncle now have horses and they will be able to go riding together. On Sunday she found a book for me with the breed of horse that Luke loves in Quebec. They are called the Ardennais and Luke feels this horse is a perfect cross with a Percheron for a mountain horse. I had never heard of this breed. They originate in France and were a multi task, family horse. I will have to look for one when I go there in June.


Email from Marie-Claude upon my return –

"We really enjoy your stay and anytime you want to come you are more than welcome. Try to plan your trip in September or October, the colors are nicer in October, we all want you back. I want to thank you again for the lesson and for all the confidence you give me with my horse.
Je n'aurais jamais pensé avoir un cheval à mon âge mais c'est fait et je suis bien heureuse de cela. Lundi, après votre départ, nous avons sellé Commanche et Tulsa et avons passé environ 2 heures de leçon avec Luc il donne ses leçons assis sur son cheval à côté de nous, c'est différent mais cela nous habitue aux autres chevaux et tout a très très bien été pour nous. Pendant que Luc nous donnait notre leçon, les enfants ont sellé l'âne et l'ont fait courir. Mais l'âne n'aime pas les chevaux et ils ont commencé à courir après un cheval avec l'âne. Le cheval a eu peur et s'est mis à courir et à sauter, Samuel qui montait le cheval est tombé, la selle s'est déserrée, et le cheval s'est mis à courir partout, il a brisé des clotûres, il est passé à la grande course à 10 pieds de nous lorsque nous étions sur nos chevaux et Tulsa et Commanche n'ont pas bougé C'est incroyable, je tremblais de peur, heureusement, Luc était avec nous sur son cheval et il nous disait de rester calme, de retouner nos chevaux du côté opposé au cheval en furie et de ne pas bouger. Ça a duré quelques minutes puis, le cheval s'est éloigné. Luc nous a demandé si ça allait, on a dit oui. Il a donc dit de rester sur nos chevaux et qu'il irait chercher le cheval qui était rendu assez loin dans les champs. Je n'ai pas aimé cette expérience mais cela m'a donné confiance en moi et en Tulsa. Ensuite, nous avons diné au ranch puis avons continué une leçon pour 30-45 minutes. Puis Bernard est parti à cheval avec Luc, Daphné et Roxane pour environ 45 minute, j'étais un peu fatiguée et je préférais rester sur le terrain, j'ai continué à monter Tulsa pour quelques minutes puis je l'ai désellé et m'en suis occupé. Pour ce qui est de la randonnée de Bernard, il n'a pas eu de problème et Commanche a très bien été et Bernard était très fier de son cheval. Nous sommes revenus seulement en fin de journée. Lundi soir à 22hres tout le
monde était couché, on était fatigués.


Lundi matin, à 8hres lorsque l'on s'est levé, il neigeait et tout le sol était blanc,mais on a déjeuné et sommes partis avec Olivier, Daphné et Guillaume chez Luc. On a sellé les chevaux, on a eu environ 1 heure de cours avec Luc et nous sommes partis dans le bois avec Luc et tout le monde. Tulsa a été un amour. Luc nous a fait faire à tout le monde, plusieurs exercices dans les bois: lorsqu'il disait tout le monde tourne à gauche ou à droite, il fallait tourner même si il n'y avait pas beaucoup de place et qu'il y avait beaucoup d'arbres. Il nous a fait enlever et remettre les étriers en marchant, arrêter les chevaux, reculer de deux pas, descendre, serrer la selle, etc. On a descendu une côte assez haute avec 3 pieds de neige, Tulsa a eu une petite hésitation mais on l'a fait, puis on a monté une montagne dans le neige, il a monté. La seule fois que je n'ai pas aimé c'est lorsque Tulsa a marché sur de la glace et a glissé un peu. Par la suite, je le faisais marcher plus dans la neige. C'est incroyable tout le changement qui s'est effectué depuis l'arrivée de Tulsa. Je ne pensais jamais qu'en si peu de temps, j'aurais confiance en moi et en mon cheval. Nous sommes revenus mardi soir, tristes de quitter nos chevaux mais si heureux de notre première fin de semaine. On a bien hâte à vendredi pour être avec Tulsa et Commanche.
Nous avons bien aimé votre présence parmis nous et espérons que vous pourrez passer une semaine avec nous en septembre ou octobre, les couleurs sont plus belles en octobre. Luc va continuer à apprendre son anglais; il était tellement heureux de vous avoir sur son Ranch."

Bernard and Marie-Claude with SS Tulsa Jackpot and Commanche.

April 26th I received the following pictures from Bernard. He wanted me to see how beautiful it is there in the fall, and I wanted to share these with everyone else: