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.