Tom rides Rena in the Fall Fair parade. (Contributed photo)

Adventures with Rena the wonder horse, part 2

Tom reminisces about one of the best horses he ever knew

Part 1 of Rena the wonder horse appeared in the July 15, 2021 edition of The Interior News.

That was certainly some of the finest October weather in recent memory. Of course, that’s easy to say because I don’t actually recall last October’s weather.

I was sitting on the new benches outside of the Sausage Factory the other day and a fellow was just getting into his truck. He called out to me and said, “I enjoy reading your column, you are sure full of horse manure,” or words more closely related to a cow. Well, I’ve always been a horse guy and I do like horse manure and it’s always good to have a reader, so I took that as a pretty nice compliment.

And speaking of horses I did want to finish part 2 of my Appaloosa, Rena the wonder horse. We left off with the return to Smithers after a gruelling ride on the Walcott/Lawson from Houston. We crossed the Telkwa and carried along Tatlow Road to town. Fortunately, I was able to board Rena at my cousin’s place off Whalen Road. Now I could ride into town on weekends and look for trails to explore.

One fine day we were riding the trail at Riverside Park and had carried on down to the old bridge site at the end of Main street. It was one of those perfect moments you get now and then. Sunny weather, the river looked inviting and I said to Rena, let’s cross. She looked back at me and seemed to want to say, you’re kidding right?

No, I was serious. I jumped down and loosened the girth strap on the saddle. Horses need more room to expand their chests when swimming and I led her into the water. Your horse has to trust you and she did. The current was not too strong as we waded out into the river. The water came up over the saddle and I started to float holding on to the saddle horn.

Rena, on the other hand, sank. It was her first time swimming and I guess she had to figure it out. We were in about 10-12 feet of water around the middle of the river and she went to the bottom and just like a ballerina she sprung up to the surface and started swimming. I was just along for the ride and within seconds we were out on the other side. We finished the day visiting friends on Viewmount and returned to town crossing the Hwy 16 bridge. She was quite the horse.

We had many adventures around town and Rena was proud to say she was the only horse in the Terry Fox run that year.

She also rode in the Fall Fair parade.

Rena also placed first in a novice penning event out at Shorter’s Ranch. You have to ride into a group of calves and cut out your number and guide them into a pen. She had never worked cows before and I was quite proud as she stood beside a circuit horse valued at $75,000 and I purchased Rena for $850.

All good horses come to an end though and Rena was no different. We had our last ride up to Hunter’s Basin one fall. It’s about a 15-kilometre hike and I knew she was getting tired. We had crossed a ridge toward the Camel Humps and she was pretty shaky. Her eyesight was failing and I felt a bit sketchy on her back looking down either side of the trail. It might be time to retire the old girl. On the way back to Telkwa she kept stumbling and I decided to get off her back, carry the saddle and walk the last kilometre with her.

Rena spent her last years in retirement on our ranch in Telkwa where she is buried. Thirty-four years on this floating pasture was a pretty good accomplishment and that’s not horse manure, if you know what I mean.

Contact me at 250-877-1806 or email and we can share your story


Rena the wonder horse. (Tom Roper photo)

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