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High River's mayor says horses can be ridden in town after online uproar

Shelby Opheim's situation caused a stir on social media after peace officers told her she was no longer allowed to ride horses in town.
The Town of High River said recent issues about horseback riding in town have been cleared up.

The question of whether a horse can be ridden on roadways in High River has been resolved.

The issue arose when, in a Facebook post on Jan. 30, Shelby Opheim said peace officers told her she was no longer allowed to ride horses in town. Opheim said officers were responding to resident complaints, and the issue entered the spotlight after the post went viral.

Opheim, who rehabilitates horses and rides them in town to help condition them, posted videos that show a horse being ridden through a Tim Hortons drive-thru and across the Centre Street Bridge in High River. 

“We couldn't find anything online about a bylaw that you can't ride in town,” Opheim said. 

Mayor Craig Snodgrass said the issue was the result of a misunderstanding between enforcement officers and the Town's legal team. 

Snodgrass said complaints were made regarding horses being on the road and being ridden across a bridge in town. 

“People felt the horses were holding up traffic,” he said. “They called bylaw and, of course, anytime you call bylaw, bylaw has to look into it.” 

Snodgrass said officers talked with the horseback riders and then looked into several bylaws for options on how to proceed.

“They found that there wasn’t clarity for them there, so then they went to our Town lawyers.” 

The legal opinion was that the horseback riders should stop, but Snodgrass said that’s an incorrect interpretation of the rules. 

“Nowhere in our bylaws does it state that horses are not allowed to be on the road,” he said. 

He said he considers the issue resolved and doesn’t expect it to come up at Town council.

“If any councillor wants to bring that forward in the future, they're more than welcome to,” he said. “But at this point in time, I've talked to all of them and nobody's interested in adjusting anything.” 

He said he looks forward to moving on from what he called a “minor issue.” 

"Bylaw has the clarity they need now," he said.

Opheim said that despite the hassle, she’s happy it’s been resolved. 

“It’s a done situation,” she said. “A lot of people supported it, so that’s the main thing. We get to continue to ride in town.” 

Robert Korotyszyn

About the Author: Robert Korotyszyn

Robert Korotyszyn covers Okotoks and Foothills County news for and the Western Wheel newspaper. For story tips contact [email protected]
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