When Katarina (Katie) Keca was a little girl, she dreamed of riding a horse across the country with her sister and cousin. Time passed, life happened and she put her dream on the shelf. Years later, her sister, Jewel Keca, picked up the dream, dusted it off, and started making plans.
Jewel convinced Katie to join her and Ora, a seven-year-old Appaloosa cross mare, on the cross-Canada journey. She even bought Katie a horse for the trip – a 12-year-old Quarter Horse cross gelding named Lux.
The sisters decided to raise money alongside their adventure, and chose the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides as a recipient. The organization is close to the Keca family’s hearts, and between them they have raised five guide dog puppies.
With their older brother Joseph serving as support staff/videographer, Katie (25) and Jewel (20), set off on the first part of their journey in May 2017. They travelled from Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, over a period of 116 days and a distance of approximately 2,500 kilometres, raising $8,000.
Early on in the journey, they realized they would never make it across the country in one summer. So, once they made it back to Ontario, they trailered their horses home to Grimsby, ON. And once again, life and work took over, and the dream was set aside.
Earlier this year, the trio struck off on part two of their ride. With Lux retired, Katie is riding Phoenix, a 12-year-old Paint gelding, this time. Joseph is driving a new van, to haul their equipment and provide a comfortable place to lay their heads at night.
They left from Kenora, ON, on May 5th, with the hopes of arriving at their final destination, White Rock, B.C., by the end of August or early September.
They say they’re moving quicker this time, riding for six to 12 hours and averaging 40km each day. While they have a rough idea of their itinerary ahead of time, they often make decisions on where to stay and which routes to take on the fly. Katie and Jewel sleep in the converted van at night and Joseph camps in a tent. The horses are contained with portable, solar-powered electric fencing. Some nights they are invited to stay at people’s homes and stables.
After they dip their feet and hooves in the Pacific Ocean in B.C., they will take the ferry to Victoria and stay temporarily. Katie and Jewel intend to live in B.C. at the conclusion of the ride, while Joseph will fly home to Ontario.