In chapter 2 of my novel, Adeline’s Dream, Adeline and her new friend, Kat, go to the horse race in Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan, on the July 1st half-day Dominion Day holiday. It is Canada’s 43rd birthday.
In terms of the question young readers have asked, have I been to a horse race like this one, the answer is yes, although not in Qu’Appelle.
At the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century, Qu’Appelle was a hotbed of horse racing, so people and horses came from miles around for the events. Over the years, however, that activity has been lost as a sporting event, although there are still lots of horses and horse events held locally.
In fact, my family started the Qu’Appelle Appaloosa Ranch when I was about ten, so I grew up on a horse ranch. I participated in gymkhana events and horseshows all through my teenage years. Some of the events were very much like a horse race–in one all of the girls lined up on horseback at one end of the arena, and at the sound of the whistle we raced to the opposite end and had to grab a string hanging from a rope across the arena.
To win you had to be the first one to the other end and be holding a string, so your horse had to be fast at starting and stopping, and you had to be quick to grab a rope as there were always fewer ropes than competitors! It was a fun event, but not one I usually won, since my horse wasn’t great at sliding stops.
I also remember attending a horse race in another nearby community, so there were still some being held during my early childhood. Over the years I’ve often followed the Triple Crown of horse racing on television.
One of the horses I followed most closely was Northern Dancer, who came close to winning the Triple Crown, and who did end up in the Hall of Fame.
So, yes, horse racing has been a big part of my life experience.