Saturday, June 1, two weary young women, their horses, dog and brother stopped on Railway Avenue East in Carlyle for a much needed break. They erected a portable pen and unsaddled their mounts and settled in for a rest. The van and the horses attracted some local attention, which is where I came into the picture.
As we watched the horses laying on the ground, one of them dreaming, they shared their story. Jewel, Katie and Joseph Keca are siblings, whose family began raising puppies for the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides program. Since Jewel really didn’t want to head to university, she decided to ride horseback across Canada and raise money for the group. She and her sister Katie, began the first leg of their adventure in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia on May 4, 2017 and after 116 days they arrived in Sault Ste. Marie. They slept in tents, carrying packs and feed on horseback, and raised $7,000, which they used to sponsor their first Canine Vision dog, Kazi.
Exhausted they trailered the horses back to Grimsby, Ontario, where they rested and regrouped. Almost two years later, in a van that Jewel modified for the trip and with their brother Joseph along as their driver, support person, videographer and photographer, they set off from Kenora, Ontario to finish their goal of being the first women to ride horseback across Canada.
They average between 30-50 kms per day riding. Ora, an Appaloosa mare, was part of the first leg of the trip and Phoenix, a Paint gelding, is new to this cross-country gig. Both horses are making the trip barefoot, but they have shoes for the times they can’t travel on the soft grass.
The ladies shared that Saskatchewan drivers have been the best so far, giving them wide berth and slowing down so they don’t spook the horses.
The goal for the siblings is to reach Vancouver in September, where they plan to find jobs and settle in. They are sponsored by Purina who supplies them with equine feed, and Neachai Equine Ayurveda, for equine supplements to aid in recovery, mood etc. The saddles are supplied by Barefoot Saddles Canada and the girls rave about the comfort, which would be important if you planned to spend 116 days on one!
Since they seldom travel through towns close to the highway, the threesome was excited to discover Michael’s Coffee Shop and made their way by horseback and bike to the shop to partake in a soy latte, much to the delight of passersby.
If you would like to follow them as they make their way across Canada, you can do so by a variety of means: Facebook.com/kecingcanada ; Instagram.com/kecingcanada; youtube.com/kecingcanada and kecingcanada.com. There is also a link to the Lions Foundation of Canada on the sites.