April 18, 2013 - 10:58 AM
A historic form of transportation is gaining new infrastructure in Enderby.
City council voted on Monday to install hitching posts and corals in the downtown area to accommodate those wishing to ride their horses into the city.
For the McGeachys, this is welcome news. Dean and his wife Naomi have been pitching the idea to Enderby city council for five years.
"We're trying to promote the presence of the western way of life," Dean says. "We have to remember where we came from, and we're losing that identity."
The McGeachy family love their horses. So much so, that they run their errands, from banking to grocery shopping to grabbing lunch, all on horseback.
"It's still a viable means of transportation," Dean says. "Why not go back to our roots? It's the greenest form of transportation."
The McGeachy's have a car, but whenever possible, they prefer to take the reins than get behind the wheel.
"The fresh air, the exercise, there's nothing like it," Naomi says. "Our 13-year-old daughter comes with us and she loves it. It keeps her away from video games and gets her outside."
"It's peaceful, relaxing, and you see a lot more than in a car," Dean adds.
Their trip into town can take as little as several minutes.
"Unless we have the pleasure of being stopped," Naomi says, noting they've been late for meetings because people want to meet their horses.
The McGeachys, and those involved in the Equine Rangers society, often act as ambassadors for the city, recommending places to eat and shop to tourists they meet on their ride.
"Them being out and about, it benefits tourism," Enderby Mayor Howie Cyr says. "Quite frankly, their proposal itself has already brought a lot of attention to the city. It's garnered almost as much as the doctor shortage."
Cyr and two other councillors voted in favour of the hitching posts, while two others opposed it.
"The number one concern was about when the horses leave their deposits," Cyr says.
The society will be responsible for clearing manure off the streets, either by dumping it in garbage bins or by shoveling it into a truck and transporting it away.
"I've already started asking businesses to donate trash cans," Naomi says, adding she'll mark each one with the sponsor's name.
While locations for the hitching posts and corals haven't been nailed down yet, Cyr says staff are getting on it right away, and expect to have the equine infrastructure in place by summertime.
Certain businesses, like the D&E Drive Inn, have already embraced the four-legged creatures and installed hitching posts of their own. The horses are parked and hitched alongside vehicles in the lot.
"We're right by the highway, so when the horses are here, people stop and take pictures," owner Kathy Oberle says. "Customers having lunch get excited when they see them coming too."
The contrast of old and new could practically be on the menu at D&E's. Just last week, Naomi was sitting by the window, drinking a coffee and keeping an eye on her horses when she saw a woman slam on her brakes and pull in.
"She asked if these were the famous Equine Rangers horses she kept hearing about in the news," Naomi says. "Then she held up her Ipad and took a picture of them."
Introducing people to horses is a big part of what the McGreachys are trying to do.
"We see kids all the time who have only ever seen horses from afar or in books. We're giving them the chance to actually go up and touch a horse," Dean says, adding the society plans to be at the Enderby Farmer's Market with their steeds this summer.
Tourists, locals, young and old are fans of the historic mode of transport. Naomi says there are regulars who come out to greet them with carrots for the horses.
"One guy said he hadn't seen a horse on the road since 1954," Naomi says. "It reminds them of the old days."
Dean thinks of the horse-and-buggy era as the good old days.
"A lot of people have forgotten that horseback riding used to be our mainstay. We're trying to bring that back; what's old is new," Dean says. "People are ready for change, even with all the technology around us. They're looking for a simpler way of life."
And Enderby is one of the only places they can find it.
"We're the first place in B.C. where the city has agreed to install hitching posts and corals. We've made history," Dean says.
To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at email@example.com or call (250)309-5230.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013