RCMP Musical Ride. (File photo)

RCMP Musical Ride. (File photo)

After COVID-19 quashes Musical Ride, rider pens children’s books set in iconic event

Plan includes stories for each province

PENTICTON, B.C. — Retired Mountie Katherine Hansen was overjoyed when she was offered a second stint in the RCMP’s iconic Musical Ride this summer, but just days before she was to join the team in March, COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the tour season.

Hansen took the setback as an opportunity to do something she’d wanted to do since she first served on the Musical Ride from 1996 to 2000 — write stories for children about the ride, which sees 32 riders and their horses that perform intricate figures and drills choreographed to music.

“During the performances you can see how the Musical Ride really resonates with people, makes them feel deeply Canadian and everyone wanted something to take home with them and very often I thought, wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was a children’s story that we could hand out at the end of each performance?” Hansen said, speaking from her home in Penticton, B.C.

“I just never had the time after I left the Musical Ride. I went to Newfoundland and then I came all the way back to B.C. It wasn’t until COVID hit that everybody started working from home that I thought, now is the time to write my stories down.”

Hansen has written three stories, with plans to write one for each province. The first, “Harry the Musical Ride Horse,” has just been released and introduces Harry and his best friend, Stephan, a little field mouse that lives in his pack box, travelling with him and acting as his voice of reassurance.

It’s for sale through the Mountie Shop, and Hansen is donating ten books to charities for every 100 that are sold.

The RCMP Musical Ride performs in up to 50 communities across Canada between the months of May and October.

Hansen was transfixed when she first saw it as a child. At seven, she wore a red cape and rode her black mare over the hills around Penticton, imagining herself as a Mountie in a Musical Ride performance.

“I was completely mesmerized by the performance and the horses and the team drills, the music, but the whole spectacle spoke to me, even as a young child.”

In 1992, she joined the force and got to be on the Musical Ride four years later. She retired from the RCMP in 2016 and returned to Penticton, but was immediately asked to be a reserve constable, and since then has taught elementary children in schools about the hazards of alcohol and drugs.

Then in January, the Musical Ride contacted her. They said they were short of riders. Would she be interested in touring with the Musical Ride in the summer?

She was only a week away from boarding a plane to Ottawa to prepare for the summer tour schedule when COVID-19 blew it all apart.

It was a terrible disappointment. But Hansen decided it was a good time to write the children’s stories she’d imagined compiling years ago.

“Everybody’s feeling anxious, and a thousand dreams have been kind of crushed by this pandemic. Maybe I can take this pandemic to put out something positive into the universe at this time. Maybe this is the time to do it,” she said.

The second book, which she hopes will be released next month, is “Harry Goes to Newfoundland.” The third, “Harry Goes to the Calgary Stampede,” is planned to be out before Christmas.

Cover art for the current book is by a Vancouver Island artist, Joan Larson. Illustrations are by Trish Lafrance of Campbell River, B.C., who like Hansen is also a former team member of the Musical Ride.

Hansen said she hopes the stories of the mouse encouraging the horse will encourage children to speak with someone when they have something that’s bothering them.

“Of course, I’m also trying to reach that horse-crazy little girl that I was at one point,” she said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 14, 2020.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

NDP MP Heather McPherson pictured in Edmonton on Friday, March 6, 2020. Alberta’s legislature may have been silenced but its partisan warfare has relocated to the House of Commons as MPs hold an emergency debate tonight on the province’s soaring COVID-19 cases. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Kenney under fire during Commons emergency debate on Alberta’s COVID-19 crisis

Edmonton New Democrat MP says Kenney ignored the evidence of science

An electric car is seen getting charged at parking lot in Tsawwassen, near Vancouver, Friday, April, 6, 2018. Should Canada introduce a national mandate requiring the auto industry make or sell more zero-emission vehicles is a question facing the Liberal government as it’s not on the road to meet its own sales targets. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Should Canada mandate sales targets for electric vehicles? Report says ‘yes’

Parliamentary committee studied how to incentivize the purchase and production of electric vehicles

A Torrington School music program is one of 95 beneficiaries across the country of grants from MusiCounts, Canada’s music education charity. (Black Press file photo).
Torrington music program gets grant to purchase instruments

A Torrington school will be able to replace worn out band instruments… Continue reading

Paul Harris, owner of Tribe restaurant downtown, said a lot of the blame for the latest restrictions that will close outdoor patios on Sunday can be blamed on those not obeying health regulations and the government for failing to enforce the rules.
Photo by Paul Cowley/Advocate staff
Restaurant owners frustrated by patio shutdowns

Outdoor patios must stop serving by midnight Sunday to stem rising COVID infections

LtE bug
Letter: Restrictions are a crime against humanity

I was distressed to note the seemingly superficial understanding of the holocaust… Continue reading

LtE bug
Letter: Follow restrictions so pandemic can be behind us

From one who feels that COVID could have been overcome long ago… Continue reading

LtE bug
Letter: Westerner needs help now

I have spent the last few days sifting through many pieces of… Continue reading

Jets beat Flames 4-0 to snap seven-game losing streak and clinch playoff spot

Jets beat Flames 4-0 to snap seven-game losing streak and clinch playoff spot

Team Canada skip Kerri Einarson, left, directs her teammates, lead Briane Meilleur, right, and second Shannon Birchard, against Estonia at the Women's World Curling Championship in Calgary, Alta., Wednesday, May 5, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Canada’s Einarson extends win streak to four games at world curling playdowns

Canada’s Einarson extends win streak to four games at world curling playdowns

CF Montreal head coach Wilfried Nancy, left, talks with midfielder Lassi Lappalainen during the second half of an MLS soccer match against Columbus Crew, Saturday, May 1, 2021, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The game ended in a 0-0 tie. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Canadian MLS teams try to make best of relocation

Canadian MLS teams try to make best of relocation

Damian Warner, of Canada bronze, smiles during the medal ceremony for the decathlon at the World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar, Friday, Oct. 4, 2019.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Nariman El-Mofty
Decathlete Damian Warner says being a dad has brought balance and new perspective

Decathlete Damian Warner says being a dad has brought balance and new perspective

Toronto Blue Jays' Vladimir Guerrero Jr. gestures rounding third base after hitting his third home run against the Washington Nationals during the seventh inning of a baseball game Thursday, April 27, 2021, in Dunedin, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)
Blue Jays shuffling back to Buffalo starting June 1

Blue Jays shuffling back to Buffalo starting June 1

Most Read