Plans to improve the Centennial Park are that much closer after sold out RCMP Musical Ride shows at the Calnash Ag Event Centre last weekend.
The event was a fundraiser for the Ponoka Lions Club, who want to improve the lighting at the park and replace the wooden playground there. Organizer Barry Neath was pleased with the sold out shows.
He was unsure how much money was raised as the club still has to pay for stalls and rental of the building, but Neath did say their ticket sales were $1,000 over the forecasted amount.
“It’s a great show,” he stated.
The event was also an opportunity to honour Cpl. Travis Ogilvie, a Mountie originally from Ponoka injured in a gunfight in Vegreville in January. Ogilvie and his family were honoured at each of the four shows over the weekend.
When he first heard of the Lions Club’s plans, Ogilvie was hesitant to agree as he did not feel what he did was worth the recognition. However, he was honoured with an overwhelming response. On the afternoon show July 20, attendees gave Ogilvie a standing ovation.
“Ponoka’s a very strong, family oriented community,” said Ogilvie.
“I’m really grateful for the Lions Club and the Town of Ponoka to be honoured in this way,” he added.
Many training hours for RCMP riders
For the last 21 years Sgt. Paul Benoit has been training Mounties to ride the Hanovarian breed horses that tour the country every year. He says they used to ride thoroughbred horses but that breed was sometimes too much for riders.
The Hanoverian breed is a cross between a draft horse and a racehorse, explained Benoit. “It’s a warm blood…it’s a quieter horse.”
He says Mounties apply to be in the show and will commit to a two-year stint riding the horses and travelling the country. Usually there are 32 people that are chosen to try out, and of those 32, approximately half are picked.
The majority of applicants have never ridden a horse before either, so Benoit says they screen to ensure a person can be trained to ride. Once picked, riders train for 16 weeks, five days a week before going on the road.
Each year the Musical Ride travels to two Canadian provinces, this year was Quebec and Alberta. The first official Musical Ride was performed in Regina in 1887.