I grew up in a mining town, where the emissions from the nearby smelter that processed the ore, totally devoided the landscape and waterways of most plant and aquatic life. I don’t recall many animals grazing around outside the city limits, and although the north part of the Sudbury Basin is now famous for quality potatoes there wasn't much prosperous farm land in the area which I can remember.
My point is, that from my background I don’t know anything about farming or keeping farm animals, and so it's quite a quandary to me why so many people are raising horses in the Algoma District. It seems that everywhere you drive along the North Shore people have horses grazing in small patches around houses, barns and fenced-in areas all along Highway 17 and on the backroads. I’m not talking great droves – often just two, three or a half dozen horses – no Ponderosa type ranches here.
I had worked in the past, land surveying in the countryside all over Alberta from north west to south east, and I also spent many years criss-crossing the roads in the rich farmland of the Fraser River Valley outside greater Vancouver, but in all my travels I have never seen so many individual horse owners as we have locally.
Here there are big horses, tiny miniature horses (maybe they aren’t even called horses?) and mostly regular sized horses – black ones, brown ones, blond ones, white ones and ones that are a bunch of colours. Young ones, old ones and again mostly regular aged horses as far I can tell. They seem to be happy with their diet of hay bales or small pasture. Sometimes we take carrots with us on our drives and feed horses along the fence lines – we know they like carrots!
I understand that the Amish and Mennonites need horses to sustain their daily lifestyle – they need the plow horses (big beautiful Belgian work horses) and they need a lot of horses to pull all the carts they use for daily errands and for bringing produce to the local markets. The thing that puzzles me though is why does everyone else have horses?
Laura and myself love animals and we certainly love horses – we’d love to go horseback-riding but I don’t recall seeing people actually riding their horses? Just raising them I guess must be a joy in itself, which is a good thing as far as I’m concerned.
Anyway I just brought it up because I have been noticing it more and more and I plan to talk to more people to try to find out exactly what is going on with “Algoma’s Love Affair with Horses”.