COLDSTREAM - They're known for herding cattle, but in Lavington, horses have been herding bears.
It was about a month ago that Luke Svard caught sight of a black bear in his neighbour's field, just off Park Lane, around mid-morning.
"I was walking out to my shop, and I had to do a double take. It didn't sink in right away that it was a bear," Svard says.
Also in the field was his neighbour, Ruth Moore's horse, a grey, seven-year-old Connemara gelding named Jack Frost. At 14.1 hh, Jack Frost stood considerably taller than the bear, and Svard says he seemed more curious than afraid of him.
"He didn't have his ears pinned back or anything," Svard says. "The bear was the one that was nervous. The horse was sort of herding him around."
Moore says Jack Frost is an inquisitive animal, constantly going up and looking at things.
"He's a laid-back guy," she says. "He loves people and things."
Jack Frost came to Moore last summer from Alberta, and when he's not in the ring practicing dressage, he's out trail riding.
"He sees lots of deer, but I don't think he's ever seen a bear," Moore says.
Which seemed to make him all the more intrigued by the cinnamon coloured creature in his paddock. For about ten minutes, Svard and a group of onlookers watched the bear scoot from tree to tree, trying to keep his distance from the eager horse. Moore wasn't home at the time, but isn't surprised by Jack Frost's bold advances.
"The bear took one little swipe at the horse to get it away, but didn't come close," Svard says.
He suspects the bear was a young adolescent, maybe a year old, and likely uneasy about his surroundings.
"He jumped onto a fence post and leapt onto a tree at least six to seven feet away," Svard says. "That really struck me. The bear, all solid muscle mass, was moving so easily, so fluidly. I'd never seen a bear move like that."
The final act involved the bear jumping the fence into Svard's yard and shimmying up a maple tree. Then he ran down the road and disappeared.
Svard notified neighbours of the bizarre incident, and kept a close eye on his dog after that. Meanwhile, Jack Frost and the bear have become international celebrities with an equine magazine in England picking up the story.
Nobody has seen the bear since his rough ride with Jack Frost.
To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at firstname.lastname@example.org, call (250)309-5230 or tweet @charhelston.