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The Man Behind The Lines

“They are very, very easy horses to work with, I find. They’ve got a look and a style to them that just oozes grace, in my opinion.”

– CHRIS ARTHUR

Visitors at the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair every year come to get an eyeful or two of the best horseflesh from near and far.

At the pre-eminent horse show in Western Canada running from March 29 to April 3 this year, there’ll be a good mix of slender Hackney ponies, agile jumpers and – a perennial crowd favourite – the towering drafts.

Decked out in gleaming harness, with a jingle and a jangle they clink and clank in and out of

the main ring pulling an array of wagons and assorted vehicles.

But if you see a fairy-tale carriage filled with dignitaries pulled by a tall pair of furry, fetlocked Clydesdales, take a moment to trace your way back from bits in the horses’ mouths and back up the driving lines to the man holding them firmly in the driver’s seat.

That’s Chris Arthur.

The horse farmer from south of Brandon has been involved in the annual event for longer than he can remember. His father Wayne used to drive the tractor that smooths out the sand in the main arena, and he took over that job in 1982.

After running a dairy and then a herd of Simmentals on Gentrice Farms just south of Brandon, he switched to growing hay, custom baling, and keeping 17 head of Clydes, which he likes for their calm manners and easygoing temperament.

The horses are a “childhood love,” he said that he returned to after years of not having a team on the place.

“As much as anything, they give me a reason to get up in the morning. The thing I like about the Clydes is their manners,” said Arthur.

“They are very, very easy horses to work with, I find. They’ve got a look and a style to them that just oozes grace, in my opinion.”

Aside from the Winter Fair, he drives the vis-a-vis carriage – so named because the passengers are seated face to face – at weddings and special events.

The “old reliable” team usually gets picked for driving the carriage, even though they are only five years old and still relatively young as far as driving teams go.

“We aim to present a really classy hitch, and do the best that we can,” he said. [email protected]

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