Thursday, 25 September 2014


Heartland logo (fair use)
The eighth season of the Canadian TV (CBC) family drama Heartland starts this Sunday. I'm not really one for family dramas, but this one is set locally (south of Calgary, Alberta) and features life at a horse ranch ― so I got hooked.

The main character is the young "horse whisperer", Amy, but my favorite character is the horse ranch patriarch, Jack. He reminds me of a cattle rancher I met many years ago. The characters are all very well written and the acting is excellent.

For horse-lovers, it has examples of almost every type of riding, from the lowly trail ride to the show-jumping of the elite. Being set here, there is also a lot about rodeo events too, but even dressage and liberty horses have been included. Some of the horses bring back memories of horses I have ridden. Foremost in my memory was a horse I borrowed called Sky who seemed almost psychic ― going wherever I was thinking of going. Riding on a trail through a wood, he would slow down after passing a low branch so that I could duck, or if it was small enough, move it above my head. Then there was a retired cutting horse, an attractive palomino quarter-horse mare, apparently docile, and easy-going, that is until anything living started to move away from her. Then it was quite the ride, especially when she turned at a right-angle! At the other end of the scale, was a twitchy pinto stallion who had never been trained to neck rein. As I rode along a gravel road, an idiot in a truck sped by me showering the horse with gravel. He bolted and I couldn't stop him by even pulling his head up high. I decided to ride it out, but he tried to go into a driveway, missed the turn and went under a tree where a low branch hit me in the chest knocking me out of the saddle. I remember getting one foot jammed in the stirrup and then waking up in a field with the horse grazing quietly about fifty yards away. I had been dragged through a wood. I was very lucky to end up with only a broken arm and scratches and bruises. I could have been killed. Of course, I then had to catch the damned horse and walk him back to the barn. With my broken arm, I could not get back on him, anyway ― not that I wanted to!

After injuring my back badly in a car accident and subsequent spinal surgery my riding came to end, although a few years ago I went on a (boring) trail ride without suffering too much pain. The show brings back many memories, though, so if you like horses, or just want to see some great scenery then check it out. Most of the towns mentioned in the show are real, save for the town near the ranch which is fictional. It is syndicated in a number of countries and you can find it on Netflix, too. Long may it run!


  1. Bolting horses! that brought back memories, though I never broke my arm or fell off. The first was a very lightly schooled gypsy horse, which I should never have got on in the first place as it careered madly down the field. The second time, one evening going for a ride in a small forest with Sue my pony, we got lost on the path, it got darker, I got scared, she spooked and took off with me clutching her neck ;) It makes me laugh the way horses spook themselves but scary when you are on top of them. I'm sure Canada must be a marvellous place for riding.

  2. Hi Thelma, the foothills of the Alberta Rockies make for wonderful riding in beautiful scenery. I'm not so sure about Saskatchewan though -- although there are many areas that are fenceless, it is so flat and lacking trees that they say you can sit on your porch and watch your dog run away for two days.

    I had the same experience with the pinto. When I first saw it, it was wild-eyed and twitchy and I thought its owners must have just bought it from a local Indian reserve. I wondered whether I should even try to ride it. When we are young, we often ignore those gut feelings.

    I once had a date with a girl who had a couple of horses boarded just outside of Calgary and we rode them bareback. Rather hard on the thigh muscles, but I suppose it must get easier with practice. At least I stayed on that time!

    1. Forgot to mention before, here's one to tell Paul about conservation. It came from a copy of American Artist about 35 years ago. Someone wrote in to ask ow to clean a black velvet painting. The reply: Place the painting with two live ferrets in a dryer and set to "air-fluff".

  3. Hi John, will tell him, he has just made public on the net that he is selling up the stuff in his studio, as we contemplate moving, there is quite a bit of interest but not sure how it will pan out.

  4. Thanks Thelma, I thought he would get a chuckle over that story. Best of luck with the moving plans!