“The best place to view the ride is from up high,” says Inge Sumanik. “But, for me, it is standing next to the fence and feeling the ground shake.”
“The ride” that she refers to is the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Musical Ride. Since 1876, the RCMP have displayed the riders’ abilities to control the power of the horses in a show of cavalry skills, pageantry and stirring music.
Sumanik, the co-chair of the host committee that is bringing the musical ride to the Yukon on Aug. 12 and 13 for Canada’s 150th birthday, remembers the last time the 32 horses and their riders were here in 1995: “It was just awesome. They were warming up in front of the SS Klondike and the energy in that space was amazing.
“It looks like chaos to someone who doesn’t know much about riding, but minutes later they are absolutely precise and making these precise and connected patterns with music.”
Sherillynne Himmelsbach, her co-chair, agrees. “It is pretty special. It has been 20 years since it was here and it could be another 20 years before it comes again.”
“And that is why we did this,” Sumanik adds. “Everyone we talked to who had seen it in 1995 has a memory of watching that ride and this is about having that opportunity again.
“It was very powerful.”
Himmelsbach continues: “It’s tradition; it’s the animal involvement and the relationship between the riders and the animals and the precision involved.
“Most people have a memory of seeing the ride at one point in their life.”
Vikki Quocksister, the coordinator of the event, said she was checking out the musical ride’s website: “It is fantastic how many hours it takes to train a horse and we were just wowed in 1995.”
“Hopefully the sun will shine on us,” says Himmelsbach.
“Well, it will happen rain or shine,” replies Quocksister.
“But lightning can be an issue,” says Sumanik.
“Can you imagine horses and lightning and those lances?” Quocksister asks, as they all laugh.
It should be explained that the three of them are getting a little punchy as they get close to the end of much work and many hours of meetings as they organize the Yukon event on behalf of the North Ridge Community Association.
As the host association, it is responsible for covering the expenses of caring for the horses and setting up the McIntyre Ski Stadium for the performance.
Any money that is left over at the end will be divided among the non-profit organizations that are helping. They include the Girl Guides, the Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club and the Spirit Riders 4-H Club.
North Ridge Community Association will use their share to help fund a new indoor dressage arena.
“That’s one of the things the musical ride promotes,” says Sumanik. “They always leave good things behind.”
The horses will arrive on Aug. 9 in three large trucks. Their home for the next four days will be the Takhini Arena as it is transformed into a stable.
The public is welcome to visit the horses, riders and caretakers, when possible, beginning Aug. 10 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. to have a chat and take pictures.
On Saturday, Aug. 12, at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m., the Musical Ride will take place, at the McIntyre Ski Stadium beginning with a pre-show including local performers and the 4-H Club with its own display.
A third performance is scheduled for Aug. 13 at 1 p.m. at the same location.
In between these shows, they will try to get some riders and horses to continuing care facilities for a visit.
It is a huge undertaking, so the organizers are asking for volunteers to help with setup, takedown, parking and other duties. The volunteer coordinator can be reached at 333-9640 or [email protected]
And it is very expensive, so they are asking for families, organizations and businesses to host a horse. These donations will get them a family picture, two tickets to a show and a welcome barbecue, a horse and rider pin and recognition.
Of course, the community can also support this event by buying a ticket online at www.Musical-Ride5.Webnode.com.
“I am looking forward to seeing the community come out and support the ride and enjoy them as much as we do,” says Himmelsbach.
Quocksister adds, “I love seeing such a small population with so much to give.”
“A small organization taking on a very big project,” Himmelsbach says.
“As usual,” Quocksister agrees. “And that is the Yukon… we do that… Yukoners are fantastic.”