Making Cariboo Memories Behind a Team of Horses

By LeRae Haynes –

When it comes to enjoying a unique, fun, unforgettable family experience in the Cariboo, what could be better than a wagon or sleigh ride behind a beautiful team of horses in the spectacular countryside?

Karen Sepkowski at Cariboo Carriage with her team of Suffolk Punch horses. Photo: Cary Olson Photography

Countless locals, as well as visitors from places like France, Australia, Texas, and Japan, have made memories for a lifetime thanks to Cariboo Carriage, owned and run by Kim and Karen Sepkowski and their daughter Deena Sepkowski.

“When they come to visit, their families think of something they might like to do—what’s more Cariboo than this?” said Karen, who added that she developed Cariboo Carriage when she was with the Cariboo Draft Horse Club.

They are hired out for events like weddings, graduations, birthday parties, anniversaries, seniors’ activities, and family reunions, and are sometimes booked a year in advance.

This is unique Cariboo fun year-round. “We have a cutter for couples, a chuck wagon for larger groups, and a wedding carriage,” said Karen. “We’ve been in the Santa parade, the Stampede parade and the Grad parade, done horse rides for children, and did fundraising ride for a family burned out in the fires.”

The well-trained team at Cariboo Carriage is made up of Hope and Grace, a mother-daughter Suffolk Punch pair. “The breed is critically endangered; there are fewer than 2,500 in the world,” she said.“We’re so lucky to have them.

“We’ve had them about five years. When one of the geldings in the previous team died suddenly, a Suffolk breeder in Lewis Creek, BC made us a wonderful offer—she would trade Hope and Grace for our remaining gelding.

“An interview with CBC resulted, and messages poured in: such a beautiful story.”

She said when they got them, Grace was three years old, Hope was 10, and they were both halter-broke. “We sent them to Roy and Gwen Mulvahill, who have been breeding, selling, and training draft horses for generations, and who trained my previous team,” she stated.“He took this new pair on for me, had them for three or four months, and they came back perfect: trained and ready.”

The pair’s first public event was the annual Williams Lake Harvest Fair, and they did well.

Karen said Cariboo Carriage is a wonderful adventure. “I love meeting people from Canada, from the US, and from around the world,” she explained.“We had a couple here from Japan, visiting family for Christmas, and he proposed to her here.”

People also enjoy the connection with horses. “Our team is very personable, and people can pet them and talk to them. Some people are just happy to be here: to be near horses. We often get seniors on the rides who grew up with horses, maybe went to school on a team and wagon, and they miss the horses,” she added.

“This is a great hobby: fulfilling, enriching, touching lives, and doing what we enjoy.”

Cariboo Carriage has welcomed people from newborn to nearly 100 years old: families, elders, teens, toddlers, and couples. The farm is fun place to visit, with miniature goats, cows, and donkeys.

Kim said they’ve always had a passion for horses. “We liked wagon rides ourselves originally, and said, ‘Let’s do this for other people.’ It’s fun to watch people cuddling up under a moose or buffalo hide, and some people sing.

“You know they’re enjoying it—we always have a bonfire and hot chocolate, and there is a fire pit and picnic tables set up in the back yard, as well as a cute outhouse,” he continued.“It’s perfect for a family outing.”

Karen said when people come for a Cariboo Carriage adventure she wants them to go home having done something completely new. “People have told us this was the best Christmas ever,” she said, “and that their visiting family felt at home.”

Cariboo Carriage looks forward to booking you for wagon events through spring, summer and fall! To book rides with Cariboo Carriage, phone (250) 392-7537.

LeRae Haynes is a freelance writer, song writer, community co-ordinator for Success by 6, member of Perfect Match dance band, and instigator of lots of music with kids.

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