Sisters Katie and Jewel Keca, 23 and 18, had planned on making the trip just themselves but were joined last minute by older brother Joseph, 25, who bought a bike in Mahone Bay and will ride alongside them, capturing photos and videos of the trip.
Their parents back home in Grimsby, Ontario, couldn’t be more supportive or excited and the siblings are having a blast so far.
“We bicker, but it lasts about ten minutes,” says Katie.
“We’re so fortunate we get to do this together,” says Joseph.
Planning the trip
Katie dreamed of riding across the country when she was nine. This dream became a reality at Christmas when Jewel surprised her with a rather generous gift: a horse, Lux.
“That was really how it started. I couldn’t let my sister go alone, and we’d dreamed about it for so long,” says Katie.
“I always knew she was coming with me,” says Jewel.
“How’d you know?” asks Katie.
“I just knew,” says Jewel.
The duo began planning the trek and Katie met up with another woman who’d made a cross-Canada trip on horseback – her teaching assistant at the University of Guelph, Kimber Sider.
Sider’s advice: don't do it.
“It was good to talk to her, because it made it real,” says Katie.
“We needed to hear what she had to say so we could know what to do and what not to do.”
The sisters are heeding two of Sider's main points – don't rush and prioritize the horses.
“Their health is our biggest priority,” says Katie.
“We’re planning our trip day by day because everything depends on the horses and how they’re feeling.”
The sisters are also raising money along their trip for the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides.
Jewel got her first guide dog last March and fell in love with the cause.
“We thought raising money for something along the way would be a good idea, and this cause seemed like the best fit,” she says.
Hitting the road
The horses are keeping the sisters entertained as their trip gets underway.
“The first day was definitely the worst,” says Katie.
Things have since settled, but the horses have their quirks.
“Ora is a typical mare, as ‘mare’ as it gets,” says Jewel.
“She’s really smart but she knows it.”
The sisters joke that Ora has a crush on Lux, but that he doesn’t care since he’s a “dumb dude.”
Despite being slightly stunned, Lux is the more spirited of the two.
“He’s definitely more excitable and likes to randomly pull left sometimes. Ora keeps him grounded,” says Katie.
“They definitely balance each other out,” adds Jewel.
The one hiccup so far happened when a horse in its field began chasing after Lux and Ora.
“Jewel was yelling, ‘Katie! Katie!’ and I looked around to see this little Arab sprinting towards us,” says Katie.
“It was like, ‘I’m going to come with you guys!’”
Loving Nova Scotia
The siblings have felt the love Nova Scotia has to offer.
“The hospitality here is so amazing. We’ve definitely been spoiled,” says Jewel.
The siblings are currently staying with Tom and Angela O’Neil and were given a truck to borrow by another Digby resident as the result of a wrong number dial.
“We called his number by accident, chatted for ten minutes and then he just gave us his truck to use while we were here. That only happens in Nova Scotia,” says Joseph.
They've had a blast in Nova Scotia and look forward to continuing across Canada, beginning with their May 16 ferry trip to New Brunswick. Jewel is most excited to ride through the Rockies' peaks. They expect the trip to take around eight months.
Just like their horses, the sisters also balance each other out. They say it’s uncanny how their personalities match those of their respective horse.
“Sometimes I’ll get overwhelmed with all the things we have to plan, and Jewel is there to say, “don’t worry. We’ll get it done,” says Katie.