Silver Spur Riding Club’s president Barbara Smith and Alina Coonce, 7, get their steed ready for the annual Equestrian Toy Ride that was held in Parksville, Saturday, Nov. 25. The event drew over 20 riders who collected toys along the way from Ballenas Secondary, where the ride started, all the way to the SOS office and ended at Stanford Seniors Village. — Michael Briones photo

Silver Spur Riding Club’s president Barbara Smith and Alina Coonce, 7, get their steed ready for the annual Equestrian Toy Ride that was held in Parksville, Saturday, Nov. 25. The event drew over 20 riders who collected toys along the way from Ballenas Secondary, where the ride started, all the way to the SOS office and ended at Stanford Seniors Village. — Michael Briones photo

Parksville toy ride brightens spirit on gloomy day

Annual Silver Spur Riding Club event gathers toys for SOS

Despite the dark clouds hovering above, members of the Silver Spur Riding Club got their noble steeds out on the streets of the city for the annual Equestrian Christmas Toy Ride, held in Parksville Saturday, Nov. 25.

“We cancelled the ride last week because of the rain and today we got lucky because the rain stopped,” said Barbara Smith, club president, who has been participating in the event for the last 20 years. “We love riding and it’s fun to be in the streets.”

More than 20 riders took part, some sporting Santa hats and other Christmas apparel. Some of the nicely groomed horses were also colourfully decked out with Christmas decorations, which helped make the spirit bright on an otherwise gloomy day.

Participants started the ride at Ballenas Secondary and trotted along Morison Avenue before making a stop at the Society of Organized Services office on Hirst Avenue, where the riders were fed hot dogs and warm beverages — and the horses fed some juicy carrots. They made their final stop at Stanford Seniors Village.

The joyful ride for a good cause has been going on for more than 25 years and coordinator Carol Wolver said they the equestrian club is motivated to hold it each year because of members’ deep desire to help make Christmas brighter for families in need.

“There’s a need in the community and the SOS provides a really good service for the community,” said Wolver. “And at Christmastime there’s an extra need. We’ve enjoyed coming out and just continue to do it every year.”

The ride generated a nice collection of unwrapped toys that will go to the SOS Toy Fund, said Wolver. The haul included more than $700 worth of toys from Stanford Seniors Village.

SOS executive director Renate Sutherland said the society appreciates the work Silver Spur Riding Club does for the SOS.

“Every year they come out and take great effort,” said Sutherland. “The horses are beautiful and the people are friendly. The gifts that they bring are so important to the families in need in this community. We couldn’t do Christmas without the support of groups like Silver Spur. They have been supporting for many years now and we so appreciate that.”

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