Trudy Andrew | Canadian Author

Horse Tails

I didn’t have access to the Internet on Boxing day, yet wanted to do something special to make note of the day. Boxing day got its name from a old-time custom. The day after their Christmas feast, the rich used to box up leftovers and give them to the poor and needy. Now, I’m not saying any of you are poor, but possibly, since I missed a couple of days of posting, you may be a tad needy? Well, to remedy that, here’s a story that’s somewhat special. The origins are long gone yet it’s supposedly from a true event. I hope you all enjoy, this somewhat different from the usual ‘Horse Tail’.

The Legend of the White Horse

Just west of Winnipeg, Manitoba there’s a statue that always caught my attention as a child. It was sculpted by George Barone of Winnipeg. There were times it suffered a bit of tomfoolery, becoming a zebra and more, but still remained impressive. It was erected as a joint project between the Manitoba Tourist Association with financial support of the Scottish Whiskey company, The White Horse Distillers Limited, of Glasgow Scotland. It was unveiled way back on the tenth of September, nineteen sixty-six. From the moment I first caught sight of it, I was entranced. Funnily enough, the attraction it held for me, has never waned over the years. I thought I would share the story, at least as far as I know it. There’s a legend surrounding the statue, one that’s both romantic and brutally tragic.
In the sixteen hundreds, the area that became known as White Horse Plains for well over three hundred years was inhabited by many native tribes. Like the area not far away that would later become the city of Winnipeg, it was known as a gathering place for many celebrations. There were Assiniboine, Cree, Sioux and more. The Cree and Sioux were always in conflict. The Cree had been in control of the area for a very long time, but were pushed northward by the warring, ever advancing Sioux. The Cree were finding life very difficult away from their traditional lands, away from the life they were accustomed to living. It was the arrival of fur traders, to the area of Hudson’s Bay that turned things around for the Cree. They traded furs for guns as well as supplies, and were able to push back the Sioux from the land that had traditionally been Cree. The Cree tribes became more powerful, than the Sioux had ever been. The Assiniboine tribes allied themselves with the newly powerful Cree, and this caused hard feelings between the Sioux and the Assiniboine, for you see, the Assiniboine used to be allies of the Sioux. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist, to figure out that the Sioux wouldn’t be very impressed with the turn of events, but there wasn’t much they could do against the firepower of the Cree, or their allies.
Now that I’ve set the scene, I can tell the story of the white horse. In the later part of the sixteen hundreds, there was a large gathering of Assiniboine tribes along the bank of the Assiniboine River not too far from the forks of the Red and Assiniboine rivers. Now, there was a chief who had a most beautiful daughter, or so the story goes. Two different suitors sought her hand. One was a Cree chief, or son of a chief, from the North by Lake Winnipegosis. The other was a chief or son of a chief, from the Devil’s Lake area of what it now, North Dakota. The Cree suitor had a leg up in the quest, as he had a beautiful, white stallion to offer for her hand. This stallion was said to be so fine an animal, so fleet of foot and stamina that all who saw it, wished to own it. Of course, the Assiniboine Chief favoured the hand of the man who offered the white stallion. The problem with that was, there were those in the tribe who weren’t pleased with this plan. After all, the Sioux had been their allies for centuries, and the Cree alliance wasn’t as deep. The memory of war with the Cree was still fresh, and for many, very hard to let go of.
Despite the objections, a plan was made for the maiden to be married with the Cree suitor, at a time when the young Sioux who also wanted her hand was known to be away warring. The young Cree arrived on the appropriate day on a grey horse, leading the white stallion. The gift of horse and more was received by the Assiniboine Chief, and the trade was made. From all accounts, this sat well with the beautiful, young maiden, as she was in love with the young Cree. Alas, their story wasn’t to have, a happily ever after. The other suitor had been tipped off about the wedding. He and a band of warriors came to exact their revenge. The sight of the telltale cloud of dust in the distance, created an uproar in the encampment, and the Assiniboine Chief understood what had happened. His first thought was to save his daughter. He urged the young Cree to take his new bride and flee on the horses he’d arrived with.
They did as told, galloping away, she on the white stallion, he on the grey. Though they had a bit of a head start, the Sioux slowly gained on them. The grey wasn’t quite as fast as the white stallion, and the maiden held back her mount, to keep pace with her new husband. As fast as they were, as wily as they tried to be, there was no hiding a snow-white horse on the plains. In the end, they couldn’t escape the vengeance of the Sioux pursuers. Both were slain by the Sioux, the grey horse was captured, but the white stallion galloped away.
For years, it was said that it could be seen roaming the plains, and many believed, it held the soul of the young maiden. For this reason, no one tried to capture this beautiful, white horse of the prairies. This is how the legend was born. Some say, the white ghost horse still gallops there.

  1. Such a cool legend but very sad typical grey couldn’t keep up😕loved the picture you took of my horse you know the gorgeous one that has eyes only for me😜

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About Trudy Andrew

Trudy Andrew lives on a small farm just east of Winnipeg, Manitoba, where she enjoys her Morgan horses. A dreamer since she was a child, its no surprise to those who know her well that her imagination would find an outlet in writing, as it has in the past through artwork.
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 Oakbank, MB