In 1981, Merv and Claudia Giles left their property Circle J Ranch in Cochrane, Alberta, for a trip to New York. They returned to Alberta with some unexpected cargo: miniature horses.aminihitch

The horses were the first miniatures they owned, but by 1988, Merv had them broke to drive in a four horse hitch. The hitch attracted the attention of UFA, who approached Merv and asked him to do parades as the UFA Mini Horse Hitch.

From 1988 until 2008 the Circle J Miniature Horse Hitch traveled each summer to parades and events as the UFA Mini Horse Hitch. Every year they travelled twelve to fifteen thousand kilometers and attended 260 events from La Crete in the North to Coutts in the South and from Dawson Creek, British Columbia to Swift Current, Saskatchewan, hooking up for around 400 appearances.

 

The four horse hitch grew to six and then to eight. Kendra Gale, Merv and Claudia’s granddaughter, comments, “Driving an eight horse hitch is a challenge, more difficult even than six.” Regardless of the size of the hitch, the horses were always black geldings and the vast majority of the geldings were bred in Alberta.

The eight horse team that did the parades the longest were all bred in Alberta. Some have them have since passed away or been retired, but they are all remembered by everyone at Circle J Ranch and the many people that watched them in the parades all across western Canada.

Sheep Meadow Gretz
aSheep_Meadow_Gretz1984-2008
Bond Turbo x Bond Chee Chee
Bred by: Roy & Mary McBride, Halkirk, Alberta.
Kendra says Gretz was truly a "’Great One.’" He was a halter, showmanship, obstacle and single pleasure driving champ, he came to live with us in 1989 and was a leader in the hitch up until his death in 2008. He loved applause, and pranced his way through every parade.”

 

 

Sheep Meadow Bunky
1988
Bond Exchequer x Sheep Meadow Bunny
Bred by: Roy & Mary McBride, Halkirk, Alberta.
Bunky and Gretz were the lead team and Kendra says they were “second to none. Bunky believes he is the most important horse and is quick to let you know if things aren't just how he likes them. He is enjoying his retirement, though he does help out with training young horses from time to time.”

PitRPats Pacoaminihitch2
1997
NFCs Night Wind x Wild Rose Rosa
Bred by: Owen & Winifred Baker, Calgary, Alberta.
“Paco was a breeding stallion,” Kendra comments, “siring 10 foals for us before he was gelded and joined the hitch.”

I'm Too Slick For You
1998
D As Sable x Easy Livins Chianti
Bred by: Tracy & Chantel Praud, Calgary, Alberta.
Kendra says, “Slick was a Reserve Canadian National Country Pleasure Driving Horse before he joined the hitch. Paco & Slick are a well matched team that have driven together for many years now.”

Little L Acres Clunkers Pendingaminithitch3
1999
Little L Acres Relics Clunker x Christensens Daisy
Bred by: Dawn Labine, Millet, Alberta.
Kendra says, “Pending was shown as a stallion in halter, driving, and, his favorite, jumping, before he was gelded and started his second career as a hitch horse.”

Sheep Meadow Nova
1990-2007
Bond Turbo x Bond Nutmeg
Bred by: Roy & Mary McBride, Halkirk, Alberta.
About Nova, Kendra says, “he wasn't as black as the others, but he was so good at his job that he was a member of the hitch for 10 years and was sorely missed after he died of colic in 2007.”

Chinooks Knight Rider
1992
Sheep Meadow Tut x Chinooks Flicka
Bred by: Bill & Eileen Monteith, Calgary, Alberta.
“Knight Rider took a while to get used to the excitement of parades,” Kendra says, “but he settled in to become a steady wheeler.”

aelvezsupremeCircle J Elvez
1994
North Stars Valdez Y Basan x Fleetwood Madonna
Bred by: Merv Giles, Cochrane, Alberta.
Kendra comments that Elvez was “the only the second homebred gelding in the hitch. Elvez also had a very successful show career.”