The RCMP Musical Ride
We wish to thank our volunteers for all their hard work
Musical Ride a Hit with WindReach Farm Patrons
On a beautiful Tuesday afternoon in Ashburn, ON, some 3,500 visitors came to WindReach Farm to take in a piece of Canadian culture, the RCMP Musical Ride. Normally abuzz with activity on a summer day, the Farm was an especially busy place this week as four tractor trailers of RCMP troops and horses rolled up the driveway in preparation for two memorable presentations of the RCMP Musical Ride.
It all started with a request to the RCMP for a few horseshoes for our 2017 “Horseshoes for Hope” campaign that brought a senior member of the RCMP Musical Ride to the farm last summer. As so many people do, he referred to the “sense of peace and tranquility” he began to feel as he drove up the driveway. From that moment on, he knew WindReach Farm was indeed a special place and our quest to bring the Musical Ride to WindReach Farm began.
The RCMP Musical Ride is performed by a full troop of 32 riders and their horses. Their performance consists of intricate figures and drills choreographed to music. These movements demand the utmost control, timing and coordination. The Musical Ride performs in up to 50 communities across Canada between the months of May and October. They help raise thousands of dollars for local charities and non-profit organizations.
When we found out the Musical Ride was coming to the Farm, we were both excited and nervous. Attracting an event of this caliber to the Farm was rare and the opportunity to put on this show for our regular participants and welcome a whole new audience to the Farm was one we wanted to get just right. As the date ticked closer, preparations kicked into full gear as we built a back road out to Chalk Lake Road, trucked in bleachers, erected a tent and stalls to house the RCMP horses, oriented volunteers and staff and pored over the event script.
Finally, Monday, June 18th arrived and with the troops and horses on-site, WindReach Farm Foundation hosted a beautiful reception to welcome the RCMP officers to the Farm and to recognize the generosity of all our event partners that allowed us to make this dream a reality. The event was a hit. Amidst good food and company, everyone took a moment to relax and celebrate all the hard work done to prepare for the event before the big day. Even the weather waited to downpour until everyone was gathered in the Farm’s museum. Highlights from the evening included the presentation of an RCMP puzzle assembled by one of our Learning for Life participants, Jennifer Novakowski that was autographed by all the members of the Musical Ride and will now be hung permanently in the Learning for Life Centre; and a felted wool portrait of an RCMP officer that was crafted by one of our Homespun Wool Program volunteers, Rosemary Oliver and gifted to the officers of the Musical Ride; and finally the presentation by Elizabeth Quig of the Canadian Para-Equestrian Committee of a new Owner of the Year award to recently deceased WindReach Farm founder, Sandy Mitchell, which was accepted by Sandy’s grandson, Noah Semerjian.
With the reveling behind us, morning came quickly and along with it all the necessary last-minute preparations. At just after 9 am, the school buses started streaming up the driveway and before long the property was alive with the sounds of excited children as they met our animals and explored the Farm as they waited for the event to start. At a quick glance, the organized chaos looked like the world’s largest daycare!
At 12:30 pm, the fist show kicked off and the audience was graced with a beautiful dressage demonstration by Karen Davis and a memorable rendition of O Canada performed by WindReach therapeutic riding participant, Mitch Daniels, not to mention the gifted narration of Alec Jeffery, who was narrating his 26th Musical Ride. As the pre-show came to a close, the RCMP officers entered the ring atop 32 majestic, black horses, looking striking in their crisp red jackets to take the salute from two of our therapeutic riding participants, twin brothers, Gavin and Hayden. The maneuvers they completed demonstrated a level of expertise that can only come from tireless training and repetition and it was breathtaking to behold. The show concluded amidst raucous applause and the first wave of over 2,000 onlookers headed home.
A mere two hours later cars started coming up the driveway for the evening show. It felt as if we had all already worked a full day, but the electric energy of the event kept all of the staff and volunteers going and everyone leapt into action to direct the constant flow of cars through the property to the event happening in the north field.
The script for the second show contained a fun twist, with a truly unique performance by the Highland Creek Pipe Band, led by WindReach Farm Foundation board member and NHL alumni, Glenn Healy. The group was made up not only of pipers, but also a drummer and a couple of guitarists. The band played their take on some classic hits, most notably “Ahead by a Century” by The Tragically Hip. The performance was a terrific way to get the audience on the edge of their seats for the main show. The evening show also included a tribute to our recently departed founder, Alexander (Sandy) J. Mitchell when his long-time horse, Alex was led out to take the opening salute from the RCMP to commence the Musical Ride alongside RCMP Superintendent, Andy White.
The second show was equally majestic to the first, even to those of us who were lucky enough to have seen both. The energy of the officers and the horses completing two shows in a matter of hours was unbelievable. As folks filtered out of their seats, they took the time to peruse the WindReach Farm program tents and to partake in the delicious treats being sold by Hy Hope Farm, Stuttering John’s, Frantastic Events and The Meat Merchant. As the last car departed down the new back road, the remaining staff and volunteers all wore a tired smile, knowing that we had just seen something special and sent everyone home happy, and we started to think about what we could do next…
We’d like to take another opportunity to thank everyone that made this event possible: the staff, volunteers, our event partners and everyone that pitched in their time or services along the way to make this event a huge success. We look forward to seeing all of you at future events including A Night at WindReach (September 15), our Halloween Spooktacular (October 20) and the Holly Jolly Jubilee (December 9).
Hosting the Musical Ride was a joint project of WindReach Farm and WindReach Farm Foundation.