By Steve Hubrecht

Every school kid in the country knows that the click-click-click of reindeer hooves on the rooftop means Christmas is well and truly here, and Santa Claus is about to slide down your chimney. But the sound of horse hooves clip-clopping to herald Hallowe’en? Well, as it turns out, yes indeed. At least here in Invermere this year, where a bunch of local kids and horses are getting set for the first Hallowe’en Horse March this coming weekend.

The march will involve anywhere from 10 to 15 kids dressing themselves and their horse in costumes and trotting from Pothole Park around Invermere in a loop past each of Invermere’s four senior care facilities as well as past the hospital’s acute care ward.

The idea for the march came from Heart and Soul Medicine Horse business owner Luraina Oddy. Oddy’s 96-year-old grandmother lives in Ivy House and she, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, greatly enjoyed getting out now and then to see her great-grandchildren (Luraina’s kids) ride their horses.

“But this year, with COVID-19, she has not been able to leave (Ivy House) as much. She’s not in the best of health, and she really wants to see the kids and horses again. So I thought about how I could, instead of taking her to the horses and kids, bring the horses and kids to her.”

Oddy outlined that the Brisco Riding Club often holds a dress-up ride or competition sometime around Hallowe’en, and said it just made sense to her that “if we go to all this effort to get costumes on horses for that event, we might as well make a show of it in Invermere too, bring the kids to the seniors and let everybody enjoy it. It’s about bringing a bit of joy to people who have been stuck in a lockdown for a while now.”

The march is taking place on Saturday, Oct. 24 and those involved plan to stay off of main thoroughfares as much as possible, sticking to the gravel at the side of the streets rather than the pavement, and in general trying to interfere as little as possible with whatever traffic may be out.

What is it like to dress a horse in costume? “It’s actually quite a lot of fun,” said Oddy. “You need to get really creative. You have to make everything yourself, because there aren’t websites you can visit or stores where you can go to buy horse costumes.”

Part of the fun comes from matching the costumes of horse and rider. For instance, one of Oddy’s daughters will be a Ghostbuster for the march, and her horse will be dressed as Slimer, the lovable gooey green Ghostbuster sidekick.

“The one thing I have to stress is that there can’t be any crowds,” said Oddy. “We are in a pandemic, we have to follow protocols. People absolutely must maintain their social distance. Feel free to come and watch, but maybe stay in your car.”

The Hallowe’en Horse March will start at 1 p.m. in Pothole Park.