Jim Dixon watches his grandchildren take part in Sunday’s gymkhana., the first event of the year hosted by the local equine club. (Photo submitted)

Jim Dixon watches his grandchildren take part in Sunday’s gymkhana., the first event of the year hosted by the local equine club. (Photo submitted)

Sunshine and smiles all around Bella Coola Ridge Riders Horse Club gymkhana

The event was the first of the year, with COVID-19 safety precautions in place

Sunshine and smiles were in full abundance at the Walker Island Rodeo Grounds Sunday, April 25 as members of the Bella Coola Valley Ridge Riders Horse Club (BCVRRHC) hosted their first gymkhana of the year.

With a focus on safety, between eight and 10 eager youth, as well as a handful of adults, participated in the event, which took place from 1 to 3 p.m. offering barrel, keyhole and stake racing along with a flag race and the always-entertaining egg and spoon race.

“Seeing the kids out there enjoying the sun and fresh air was the highlight for me,” said Joy MacKay, one of the event organizers.

“I think everyone’s spirits were lifted.”

While it was only the second event to take place in as many years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, MacKay said she hopes the club can slowly and carefully plan for more small, outdoor events.

“We have a clearer picture this year of the COVID guidelines. We would like to have small-scale events to broaden participation and expand the range of opportunities our equine club brings to the community,” she said.

Larger events, such as the Bella Coola Rodeo are on hold again this year, the BBVRRHC announced this week.

MacKay herself has been a member of the club since she was eight years old and said she appreciates all the benefits horses have brought into her life.

“Horses have such a nice, calming influence and are such great teachers.”

With that in mind, MacKay, who is a certified equine-assisted learning and riding coach, said she is also trying to offer more opportunities for community members to connect with horses, an initiative supported by the club.

On Sunday MacKay and the club welcomed families to stop by after the gymkhana to meet the horses.

Read More: Bella Coola Valley Rodeo cancelled for 2021


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Bella Coola Valley Ridge Riders Horse Club director Joy MacKay gives Aiden Han a ride after the gymkhana. (Photo submitted)

Bella Coola Valley Ridge Riders Horse Club director Joy MacKay gives Aiden Han a ride after the gymkhana. (Photo submitted)

Three-year-old Calvert Beisel feeds Mac a few fresh dandelions Sunday afternoon at the Walker Island Rodeo Grounds. The horses were made available to visit by Joy MacKay and the Bella Coola Valley Ridge Riders Horse Club for interested families following the first gymkhana of the year held under strict COVID-19 precautions. See photos page 5. (Photo submitted)

Three-year-old Calvert Beisel feeds Mac a few fresh dandelions Sunday afternoon at the Walker Island Rodeo Grounds. The horses were made available to visit by Joy MacKay and the Bella Coola Valley Ridge Riders Horse Club for interested families following the first gymkhana of the year held under strict COVID-19 precautions. See photos page 5. (Photo submitted)

Mackenzie Meeks, 9, takes part in a gymkhana Sunday on Bug with her mom Janna Sunday. (Photo submitted)

Mackenzie Meeks, 9, takes part in a gymkhana Sunday on Bug with her mom Janna Sunday. (Photo submitted)

Nathaniel Schooner, 13, and CoCo take a break Sunday while participating in the gymkhana at Walker Island Rodeo Grounds. (Photo submitted)

Nathaniel Schooner, 13, and CoCo take a break Sunday while participating in the gymkhana at Walker Island Rodeo Grounds. (Photo submitted)

Shady Beloin, 10, takes part in the Bella Coola Valley Ridge Riders Horse Club gymkhana Sunday. (Photo submitted)

Shady Beloin, 10, takes part in the Bella Coola Valley Ridge Riders Horse Club gymkhana Sunday. (Photo submitted)

Wendy Kingsley is all smiles with her Icelandic horse Suzie Sunday at the Bella Coola Valley Ridge Riders Horse Club. (Photo submitted)
Wendy Kingsley is all smiles with her Icelandic horse Suzie while and Nathaniel Schooner, 13, rides CoCo at the Bella Coola Valley Ridge Riders Horse Club. (Photo submitted)

Wendy Kingsley is all smiles with her Icelandic horse Suzie Sunday at the Bella Coola Valley Ridge Riders Horse Club. (Photo submitted) Wendy Kingsley is all smiles with her Icelandic horse Suzie while and Nathaniel Schooner, 13, rides CoCo at the Bella Coola Valley Ridge Riders Horse Club. (Photo submitted)

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