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Block horse drawing Block horse drawing

The Block Horse Information Site

The Horses: On Their Own

Some Block Horses

The following text is extracted,
with the author's permission,
from Arnold McKee's

The Forgotten Corner: The Roundup of 1994

The Horses Confined in the Bombing Area

In the early 1960's the word was, "Get the horses out!!" When the proper military boundary fence and locked or guarded gates were complete, there was no more access to work these herds. So the horses were gathered and worked and in some cases taken out, in other cases left in. This is where it really gets hard to pinpoint exactly what was left but there were some of these original old-line horses left to live their lives out.

We should get a perspective as to the horse market in the 50's and early 60"s to help understand why this evolved. There were a lot of horses in this area as almost everyone still had a horse or team and some were still breeding horses all over this Forgotten Corner. The most used market was the horse sales at Auction Yards. The Cereal Auction was started in about 1958 and before that the cattle and horses were collected and shipped by three-ton truck to Calgary Stockyards, or other distant stockyards. There was still a lot of livestock shipped on cattle cars by rail, east and west.

There were roundup horse corrals set up at various locations in districts throughout the Forgotten Corner, as well as what they called the OK Corrals in the Block and also always some mention of the Cold Storage Corrals. These were used to corral all horses in a district and sort ownership, mostly in the spring, after they had roamed on open range for the winter. There was usually a horse buyer or two present and anyone wanting to sell some would dicker for a price with these horse buyers...

Horses were bringing 40 to 80 dollars apiece during this time out of this area. If it was an exceptional horse, well turned out and good looking, it might bring 200 to 500 dollars if a person really wanted a particular horse. In BC and around the cities, horses were bringing around this dollar and actually for the price of gas at 25 cents a gallon, not a liter, it was good money for the time. Probably five hundred dollars in 1964 was like five thousand dollars today. In any case horses were not a lot of money.

A small silhouette of a line of horses galloping

So as the horses in the Block were gathered and supposed to be taken out, in some cases some were turned back out to live their lives out. Most cases these horses were getting up in years and some were favorites and they thought rather than send them for meat, turn them back out. Some people figured that they might be able to sneak in anyway and get the odd colt out. In most cases this didn't happen,

It is fairly certain that one Hancock Quarter horse stallion was turned back with his mares, and possibly two. It is known that one older average Thoroughbred was turned back out, probably with some old mares. It was reasonable to assume that one older half Percheron-half Thoroughbred stallion was turned back out. Also three years after the roundup I was able to confirm that a Clydesdale stallion was actually put out in 1965. If there were mares with him I don't know... This was done in hopes of getting some stock out of there to try for bucking horses, but this particular individual was never allowed in , so never got any out. There for sure is some Clyde influence in some of the horses that came out in the roundup.

There was also a fancy Thoroughbred stallion who had six mares, that was left in there. The safest place was to leave the horse and mares in there so they couldn't be found. Also later on a Pony stud and a few mares, which were raising chariot-racing Ponies, were turned out. This obviously was Pinto in amongst this bunch, as some Pintos, out of the Roundup, show Pony influence.

A Paint

What was turned back out and locked in at the 1965 date is actually totally unknown as to numbers for sure, or breeding stallions, or breeds. We do know there were some breeds specific and some unknown factors. For sure the mare lines were mixed in each herd, some purebred, some grade and some crossbreds. One thing for sure they were sound, strong using horses as even up to 1965 the weak didn't survive and cripples were sent for meat.

A small silhouette of a line of horses galloping

As to numbers turned out, we could believe that there were hundreds, but that is unrealistic. We could believe that most of these horses trekked in from California (and one such story was actually printed!!!)... We could believe they were a product of an Army Remount Program, but that is also an unrealistic story. We could believe that these were a total product of the horses left in when the people were kicked out, but we know this is not so. So we now have some background as to what and how these horses were locked in...

...like everything with the British block, records do not surface or they have a habit of disappearing...

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Last Updated: January 10, 2007

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