Amberley Ferguson was surprised a casual ride through the Town of Qualicum Beach on her horse, Angel, has generated plenty of attention.
“I do this all the time,” said Ferguson. “But on that day, I was badly needing a coffee. I saw everyone was getting take out by the door at French Press so I said ‘I am going to take advantage of that’ as I didn’t have to tie my horse up anywhere. She can just walk into the curb. I grabbed my coffee and hopped back on. The manager also gave Angel a carrot. That was awesome.”
Ferguson and her horse were spotted trotting along Second Avenue in the early morning of April 21. Resident Carol Michayluk was able to snap a photo of the unusual sight.
“I just wanted to exercise my horse,” said Ferguson. “There were lots of people wanting to say hello to my girl, taking selfies with her. It was fun and I am glad it put so many smiles on people’s faces. I was not intending it to but I am glad it did.”
Ferguson said it was a pleasant stroll for them as there were not very many cars on the road. But she reflected on days when there is more traffic on the road.
“Lots of the times drivers don’t understand that horses are road users,” said Ferguson. “When I am at a stop sign, there will be people annoyed and wondering ‘what is this horse doing right here?’. It should be on the side similar to how people walk on the curb. They will go around me before the stop sign even when it’s obvious that I have the right of way to stop at the stop sign. I had that happened to me at least 10 times.”
Ferguson said they have to obey the rules of the road just like everybody else. When she’s turning, she does the hands signals if she’s heading right or left, similar to what people do on bicycles.
“I have to follow all those rules,” said Ferguson, who encourages other horse riders to do the same to avoid unfortunate accidents and misunderstandings. “So I just want to remind people that horses are almost like bikes. We have to follow the same rules.”
Ferguson said it’s also tougher for them on the road as her horse can easily be scared and react in an unexpected manner.
“My friend was riding along the side of the road when a motorcycle came zooming so close by her that it spooked her horse,” said Ferguson. “It’s unfortunate. I had one of those incidents where a car clipped the side of my horse. It’s not a fun place sometimes for a horse to be on the road. But I am allowed to be out there. I respect the drivers and I respect the people walking.”
Although Ferguson’s stroll generated a good feeling for many, there were those who questioned about incidents where the horse has to defecate, and who’s is going to do the scooping.
“My horse dumped on someone else’s driveway but I came back right away after my ride and I got it,” said Ferguson. “I put it on a bucket and took it back home. There were times when I went back to collect it and someone has already picked them up and threw them on their garden for fertilizer.”