Warming up for the Calgary Stampede: Ranch hosts horse visits for seniors

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WATCH: With the big show kicking off in just three days, a lot of people in the Calgary area already getting into the Stampede spirit. For some local seniors, that means getting back in touch with their rural roots and doing a bit of horsing around. Gil Tucker has the story – Jul 2, 2019

Some seniors in the Calgary area have been enjoying an early chance to get into the Stampede spirit.

Days before the start of the Calgary Stampede, the seniors had fun visiting with several miniature horses.

Residents of the Bethany Care Centre in Cochrane were on one of their monthly trips to the RiverCross Ranch in Springbank, petting and grooming the horses.

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“Oh, they cheer me up!” David Rayko said. “Yeah, I love it.”

RiverCross also hosts regular visits from Calgary seniors.

“Just seeing the smiles on their faces is really amazing!” RiverCross’s Stephanie Gillis said. “We’ve seen people come and they’ve been kind of sad. And then, they come over time, and you see them get happier.”

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Some of the seniors have favourites among the miniature horses.

“They know me,” Sharry Lasseter said. “They like to take my slipper off!”

For many of the seniors, the visits help them reconnect with their western roots.

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Ray Martin, who recently celebrated his 100th birthday, began ranching before the Second World War.

“I sold my horse when I went in the army for $100,” Martin said. “You’ve got to treat them right. If you don’t treat them right, they don’t treat you right either.”

And when asked about what advice he might have for someone hoping to life a long life, Martin’s response was simple: “Play with horses.”

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