Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Ste-Justine-de-Newton Sleigh Ride

On the first Saturday in February, the little town of Ste-Justine-de-Newton, Québec, population 850, organizes a sleigh ride. We went to check out the action this morning, and Eric made a new friend:

Eric fell in love with this lovely Belgian draft-horse...and he didn't even get his name!

I love this scene; there is something typically Québécois about the quilted horse-blanket and the lady in the fur coat and hat.

And they're off!

The majority of these sleighs were from the region; this is horse country, after all. This is one of a few local sleigh rides this group organizes every winter. The group follows a groomed trail made especially for them through the woods, and everyone packs a lunch that is eaten beside a bonfire. One team of horses stays in the village and offers free buggy rides to anyone who wants to ride up and down the main street.

The group then meets back in the same parking lot they departed from a few hours later, and a dinner and dance are held the same evening at the community centre. Anyone can attend; all you need to do is buy a ticket.

Here we've got a pair of Canadians. Horses, that is.

This looks like a fun ride. In the back ground, there is a little tent set up. Coffee with your choice of liqueur. Gotta love an event that sanctions hard liqueur before noon AND provides portable toilets, as well as ample free parking. Sign me up!

These Clydesdales were wonderful!

I loved this little Haflinger pair; they were lively and raring to go!

I am not sure if these were Gypsy Horses or Paints.

And a solo Cyldesdale. All told, there must have been about 20 or so sleighs, and about the same number of riders on horseback.

Everyone kept asking us which ride we were going with, but we didn't realize it was one of those events...we thought we had to be connected to someone to get a ride, but hospitality abounds here. Small-town Québec at its finest!

I am marking the date on my calendar for next year. Next time, we're going prepared with a nice picnic lunch and a flask of Bailey's-infused coffee. I told Eric I'd buy him an old mink coat at Value Village, and knit him a long toque à la bonhomme Carnaval especially for the occasion.

I better start knitting now...


Shepherd's Loft said...

What a great way to spend a winter day. So glad to see you got some time away from the renovation for recreation. The horse and sleigh photos are wonderful. Thanks for sharing. I am in awe of your renovation and that you are working at it while it is so cold. It's been a cold winter here but your cold is far colder than our cold.
We had a heat wave today. We worked at cleaning up the barnyard and cleaned a stable. Hope to tackle another tomorrow. Lambing is about 5 weeks out. It's time to begin preparing.

Anonymous said...

Hi there!! :) I just finished reading your blog post about ste-justine-de-newton. I was thinking of moving over there and wanted to know what the road conditions are like there at that time of the year. Do they get cleaned up regularly?? Are residents snowed in at all ever?? I was hoping you might be able to give me an idea of what it's like seeing as how you went there in the winter months. :) thanks!!

Ann said...

Hi Anonymous, I don't know how I missed your comment from waaay back, so my apologies on this late reply. The roads are plowed regularly in these parts of western Quebec, although not being a resident of Ste-Justine-de-Newton proper, the road and weather conditions are the same. Each municipality is in charge of their own snow removal, and in the case of our municipality, snow plows come by on a regular basis, day and night. Even if there is no snow falling, blowing snow will cause drifting. Plows are constantly out cleaning and sanding the streets. You'd probably have a harder time getting down your own driveway to reach the road! We'd have to have a really prohibitive snowfall, I'd put that at +50cm with high winds, before anyone can consider themselves "snowed in".

brycecanyonhorseback said...

Great blog. I really love reading it.

Sleigh Ride Bryce Canyon

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