Bonding Time with Friesian Horses
and Their People


By Enny Van Aken

November 20, 2020


“Covid 19” during 2020: no horse events or clinics, no “keuring”, shows or parades..., but a group of AFHA members didn’t sit around and wait it out...

On July 6, a convoy of seven trucks and horse trailers got on the road to ride and drive part of the Iron Horse Trail, located in East-Central Alberta, Canada. The trail is 300 kilometers long and offers year-round adventures for horses, snowmobiles, hikers, and bikers.

The Trail

In the mid 1800’s the trail was used for fur traders. In the 1900’s the route was used by CN. In 1999 people from across the Lakeland came together to preserve this historic route. In 2020 a group of Friesian horse owners from Central Alberta took advantage of everything this area has to offer!

In preparation of the trip one family did scout out the area: where to camp; where to find staging areas, water and space for the horses; checked out the challenges and the length of the trails; organized transportation after the morning moves etc. A job well done and a very important part of a multiple-days group experience!

St. Paul

The adventure started in St. Paul, at the Iron Horse Trail staging area. Upon arrival camp was set up, horses turned out and fed in their individual pens, and the group got together (as we did after every trail ride) for a relaxing happy hour, a nice meal and a fire followed by a good night of sleep.

Mornings came early: feed the horses, enjoy coffee and breakfast, get lunches and supplies ready to bring on the trail, clean up and then it was time for the guys to move the units to the next place, while the ladies kept an eye on the horses.

Elk Point & Heinsburg

Every morning the volunteer drivers from the St. Paul/Elk Point community bus picked our drivers up from the new staging area and brought them back so we could finish hitching/saddling up the horses and get on our way.

From St. Paul, the trail brought us to picturesque Elk Point (30 kilometers), from Elk Point to Lindbergh (17 kilometers) and from there to Heinsburg (18 kilometers).

The Views

We were impressed, sometimes almost overwhelmed while “exploring a new piece of the beautiful nature around the Iron Horse Trail.” It led us through the most amazing scenery!

Although the trail is mostly a straight path, the views are spectacular! From trees and small lakes to farmland, the hills with the grazing beef herds, from resting railroad ties to a bear and a bald eagle. We finished the route passing the “Windsor” salt mine while the North Saskatchewan River quietly looked at us...

And all those kilometers we were together with our Friesian horses, who pulled the carriages and carried their riders. These Friesian horses are super friends, always willing to work and always taking on the challenging situations on the trails without hesitation!

Besides increasing bonds with our horses, we also grew closer to each other. We were a team
in every possible way. Summarizing it all, one of us worded it like this: “I had a fantastic time on
a beautiful trip with great people who all came together because of the lovely Friesian horses!”

Photos from AFHA

AFHA at Alberta's Iron Horse Trail

AFHA's Other Stories

Enny Van Aken is an AFHA member and regular writer for AFHA, owner of Friesian horses, avid driver in indoor and outdoor derbies, driver in the Alberta Quadrille, and a loving mother and grandmother.

Alberta Friesian Horse Association