Sunset Trail Ride

A Mother-Daughter Dream Comes True at Brudenell Stables

The excitement rises as nine-year old Leila and Mom leave from Charlottetown. We will soon be entering the world of fairy tales: saddles, stables and sunsets. Maybe it’s the leftover adoration from a land of magic and princesses, of galloping horses and hair in the wind that push the butterflies into Leila’s stomach, but either way, she rides the thrill all the way there.

Welcome to the Rodd Brudenell River: home of the Brudenell River Resort, the Brudenell River Provincial Park, two expansive golf courses (Brudenell and Dundarave) and of course — to the Brudenell Riding Stables. The groups operate seamlessly hugging each other’s boundaries, creating the perfect adventure for any mindset or price-point, from tent camping and kayaking to deluxe cottages, spas, and fine dining, all set on the majestic Brudenell River.

Leila and I arrive in plenty of time to photograph the beauty of the shoreline, the setting sun on the resort and the curious squirrels who come out to greet us. I regale a much-disinterested Leila with tales of my own youth and coming out to the river resort with my parents when I was just a girl. Even then, the place was a fantasy—the perfect weekend ending to a long summer for any Islander.

It’s time to head to the Brudenell Riding Stables for the last trail ride of the day: the sunset tour, a 4.5 km ride through wooded terrain and onto the shores of the Brudenell River. When we arrive, we are greeted by Alexa Dill, Morgan Duncan and Danielle Lavie. They are the keepers of Brudenell’s twenty-six horses, and routinely operate four tours a day with them, although none of the horses go more than twice a day, their civic duty.

The only other participants tonight are another mom and daughter team vacationing on PEI from New Brunswick. We get outfitted with riding helmets and saddles, and asked to jump on board when our horses are brought over to the platform. Leila will be riding Patches, who the girls describe as an “old man who’s great with kids”, and I will be riding Ceithe, who sports a determinedly Gaelic name that the girls pronounce as Kay-a.

And with that, we’re off and trotting down a small hill and into the woods, backcountry marshes and all. The horses are mostly well behaved, although Ceithe is easily sidetracked with an overwhelming urge to munch the tall grass below. I struggle a little. Leila, on the other hand, holds the reigns like a champ, with control and respect, patting old Patches down the nose from time to time, saying, “There you go, Patches, straight ahead boy,” like she’s done it a hundred times.

We pass through marshes and along the water’s edge and within earshot of family tenters in the provincial park, until we land on the shores of the Brudenell River. The sun’s hues in the sky cast a warm glow on our excursion and I can’t help but wonder why we haven’t done this before—a tradition I realize is now in the making.

The 45-minute ride passes all too quickly, and soon, we are tucking through the trails and back up the hill into the stables. After the horses are fed and watered, Alexa and the others let the horses — Echo, Fax, Destiny and Lily, out of the stable. They trot into the fields to spend the starry night together as they choose, grazing, sleeping, and rolling, as horses do, exonerated from their day’s duties at the stables. There is an impenetrable freedom that arrives with the sunset.

Somewhere between the stables and the beach we left the world behind and connected with the great beyond, a magical journey for both sets of moms and daughters. I can’t help but imagine that together, Leila and I might have galloped away into history, into freedom, into a storybook. The blood of a thousand queens courses through our veins and into eternity.

Brudenell Riding Stable is open from 9am-8pm daily, with tours every two hours. They also conduct horse camps and riding lessons. To reserve your spot or to inquire further, please call the Stable at (902) 652-2396. And don’t forget to find Brudenell Riding Stables and Brudenell River Resort on Facebook!