Lucky was a tall, chestnut gelding, an ex-eventer, who was donated to Camp Chief Hector by T.P. Luzi in 1996. He was 18 years old at the time and, after interviewing the owner, the camp Program Director decided he would be a good fit. She went to pick him up and when she was just about to leave with horse in trailer, the owner ran out with arms full of show ribbons and offered them to her as if to say “look he’s really a champion!” They decided the owner should keep the ribbons as mementos and Lucky headed to his new home near Kananaskis Country in the Bow Valley.

 

Lucky was initially used for day rides for kids 12-14 years old but he physically struggled with the length of time out on the trail. They decided to try him in the Chiniquay and Mistaya programs for young children doing light arena riding. During the first few days of Lucky’s new job, his rider would take him down the hill to the arenas only to have him come cantering back to the home corrals ears forward and proud as punch, carrying a crying child, tightly gripping handfuls of mane. After a few days of the same routine, the Program Director decided it was enough and they started leading Lucky to the arena.

 

Despite the somewhat rocky beginning, Lucky was an amazing horse for the next 13 years. He would greet every child with his head down at their eye level. If a child was riding and starting to slide to the left or right he would adjust his body to put them back in place. During his 13 years at camp, he averaged some 2-3 kids per day, 5 days a week for 8 weeks a summer. Given that many of these kids would have been first time riders, it is possible that Lucky is one of the all time leaders in first rides for the province of Alberta.

Lucky was put down in the fall of 2008 at 30 years old, but will be fondly remembered by the campers and staff of Camp Chief Hector over his many years of service. Ben Reed is the current Horse Director at the camp and he will always carry an image in his mind of this grand old gelding wearing a bareback pad and bridle, patiently carrying a pint-sized camper around the arena for the umpteenth time. With this image comes a smile and the thought, "Thank God for horses like Lucky.”

For more information on Camp Chief Hector and their horse programs, visit www.ymcacalgary.org