Rooted in the present but ghosting back across time, these foam-flecked greys were captured mid-gallop at the Anchor D, a historic 1912 Alberta ranch nestled in the foothills just west of Turner Valley. Consider it pre-season training. As the snow vanishes and wildflowers bloom in the high mountain passes, some 110 horses – bred and trained on-site – take more than 2,000 riders a year on afternoon escapes and week-long treks that wend skyward for colossal views of the Continental Divide and Kananaskis country.
Anchor D owner/operator Dewy Matthews looks for agility, strength and an even temperament in his stock, though one of his brood mares, Blossom, “was a wild one roped off in the muskeg near Forget Me Not [Mountain] . . . her kind are real savvy when the climbing gets tough.”
The herd – including Skookum, Lexus (“a shiny-looking thing when she hit the ground, so we gave her a high-end name”) and the teams of Herc and Zeus and Rum and Coke – continues a tradition begun by the spread’s original owner, Bob Carey. Although he lost a leg at the Battle of the Somme in 1916, Carey continued to ride hard the rest of his life. “He was a tough old bird who didn’t let anything keep him from what he loved.” Like most of Alberta’s cowboys, that about sums up Dewy himself.
“Mountains and horses,” he muses contentedly. “I can’t imagine a better life.”