In which we visit the Great White North and meet very Nice Brown Horses

I'm probably dating myself by referencing the classic Bob&Doug McKenzie skits on Saturday Night Live, but seriously, that's how Swamplandic Murkens where I live refer to our friends in British Columbia, which is less than an hour drive north of Haiku Farm.

Last weekend, we went there.

Not just to Canada. 
racing sulkies

We went to the harness races at Fraser Downs!


Marga toured us around.  She's a mutual friend of Greener Pastures, the standardbred adoption agency that paired Fiddle and me together all those years ago.
Proud Standie fans: Ryan, me, and Marga

First stop: the barns!

The barns were quiet and peaceful. 

Marga introduced us to some of the drivers. 

We bet for him in almost every race!

 Everyone was so friendly, and happy to answer our "we-clearly-ain't-from-here" questions.

We figured that we wouldn't be able to touch any of the horses scheduled to race,

Red Star Kash is hoping that somebody will feed him some black licorice

but we were wrong.

A kiss for luck!

Ryan is a sucker for a pretty horse-face

I'm a big fan of huge-headed horses

Somebody come and kiss me-e-e-e-e-e-e-e!
(See, standardbreds do come in grey...but not very often)

Remind anyone of somebody back home in the pasture?

The last time that Ryan and I visited here, we asked about the gear hanging from the rafters.  We were thinking that they keep it up there to keep it out of the way, but they told us that the stuff hanging up high is less-likely to be eaten by rats!
Tell me: was the rat-thing just foolin' the dumb Murkens?

Enough chit-chat, time to warm up.  The horses and drivers headed out to the track...

Have fun, Tim!  Pace fast, Kash!

and we headed for the betting desk.  If there a proper name for that place, I didn't learn it, but Wilma (the betting teller) did her best to educate us on other matters.
Wilma offered advice and also gave Ryan a quick horoscope reading.
Now THAT is above-and-beyond.  We bought tickets from her all day.

We placed our bets. 

Total gibberish, until you get used to it.

Most bets are $2.  Can you say "cheap entertainment"?  

$2 Canadian is about $1.99 Murken.  We mostly called it even.

We didn't have much of a betting strategy.  We bet on the horses we had petted in the barn, the drivers we had talked to while we were visiting there,

or the horses owned by friends
#2 Semper Fortis, son of Ryan's mare Whiskey (Millbank Counsel)
is just starting his career as a racehorse

Spectators aren't kept far away from the track. 
Yes, we are pretty much standing on the track as they race by.  Awesome.

In between races, we petted the pickup horse
Not a standardbred, but still a very Sensible horse.

and talked about how much fun it would be to ride in the Cadillac that they use as a combination starting gate/camera vehicle
Notice that the car is zooming along right next to the racing horses.
And people wonder why standies don't worry much about fast-moving
traffic when they start working under saddle...?

and how much fun it would be to RIDE IN THE SULKY!!!

Like heeling out on a sailboat, but way more fun.

We definitely had more than $2 worth of fun during each race.  We won some money and lost some money.  Semper Fortis finished 2nd, and we each won enough on him to pay for lunch. 

Overall, we all came out a bit ahead if you count all the smiling we did all day.

We want to go back and have more fun.

Some of our friends think they can arrange a sulky-ride if we return.  

What think ye, local blog readers?  Want to go up to the Great White North with us this fall?  We could caravan up and cheer for all the fine standardbreds, and have ourselves a fine time.

Leave a comment if you're interested.  If you're too far away to join us, tell me where you are and I'll try to find a harness race near you to attend, okay?

It's so. So. SO. GOOD.


  1. This makes me miss racing life so much :(

  2. I'll join you form the right side of the border next time!

  3. i worked with millbanks counsel for a few years and she was a treat to work with and im glad she is in good hands.

  4. i worked with millbanks counsel for a long time and she was one of the best horses to be around and during her racing career she had the biggest heart.I am glad she is well taken care of

  5. I love racehorses :) They are all beauties. Hey, the browner the better I say!

    At the TB tracks its called a mutual window, I wonder if its the same at the harness track?

    The Cadillac cracks me up, do all the tracks use Cadillacs? Thats all I've ever seen.

  6. Did you know the weather vane on the top of your page is Dexter a Standardbred trotter?

  7. Bob and Doug are two Great White Northern icons! Their version of the 12 days of Christmas gets played on the radio a lot here during the holidays! I'm happy to hear of a few Murkens who have heard of them!

    Sounds like a nice day with friend and horses.

  8. How fun was that?! Nothing like seeing horses doing what they were born & bred to do!

  9. Fun!! Don't think there's anything down here in Central Oregon. Drat!!

  10. I hope you get to ride in the bike next time. WAY too much fun. I was a Standie groom for a couple of years. Best part of the job was driving my horses every day. I liked it so much that the old timers used to pay me $5 to drive theirs too when the weather was bad :-)

  11. Hey, welcome to my beautiful province (I'm on the island, but my mom's care facility is just a block from Fraser Downs). Come back soon - we Canajens are always happy when you Murkins spend yer money here! :)

  12. Lucky you!! Love Standies, love harness racing. If you ever get a chance to ride in the car, grab it - it's a trip and a half of fun. I'll think of you all as I hang over the rail at the Red Mile this fall.

  13. It never gets old, and I still miss "my" racehorses dearly. :) If I'm ever on your coast that will be one place we have to visit!

  14. That looked like a lot of fun to be able to get into the barns. I think I'd have to travel to Illinois from southeast WI to find a harness track, we have to trek to Chicago to watch the TB's at Arlington.

  15. That looked like lots of fun to be able to get a tour through the barns. I think I'd need to go to Illinois from southeastern WI to watch harness racing.

  16. Oh me!!! I can fit Becky and our assorted colts in my car :) I need a passport? Drat.

  17. Ohhh me!!!! I can fit Becky Bean and our assorted colts in my car. we need passports? Drat.


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