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How more than 20 Yellowknife horses made it to safety 


Footage of the horses reaching a safe location.

With a wildfire threatening Yellowknife, Sienna Hart Kellar gathered friends and horse trailers to make the 18-hour drive from southern Alberta and help get 21 horses to safety.

Hart Kellar, a former Yellowknifer who learned to ride at the city’s North Country Stables, now lives outside Innisfail and owns her own barn, North Hart Equestrian. She knew that with so many horses and only a four-horse trailer in Yellowknife, the stable would need help.

Friends jumped to help her.

On Wednesday night at 7pm, a team of eight people – one from Edmonton, one from Manitoba, plus Kellar, her husband, her father-in-law, her 16-year-old daughter (who had never driven a horse trailer) and two other friends – hit the road with four trailers.



Horse trailers on an NWT highway. Photo: Sienna Hart Kellar

Hart Kellar said the people in Fort Providence, a lifeline community offering supplies and gas on the road to and from Yellowknife, were amazing when they drove through.

“There were a whole bunch of people with coffee and sandwiches just trying to keep everyone’s morale up,” she said. 

When they got to Yellowknife, it was time to load the horses – and most of the horses had not been in a trailer since they arrived in the North. For some, that was 15 or 20 years ago.

“We had some good hands, lots of help and we got them all loaded, which is impressive,” she said.



“The drive back has been pretty easy sailing, other than just needing one nap there and a lot of coffee.”

The horses, she said, are “doing fantastic.”

“We have two senior citizens in the trailer. Daisy Mae is 28 years old or 29 years old, I believe. She’s the pony I learned to ride on when I was seven. She’s hanging out with the donkeys and she’s happy.”

There’s also Norman, a 29-year-old horse who retired last year.

“Old man Norm … has mobility issues,” Hart Kellar continued, “so we were really concerned. There was talk of maybe needing to euthanize him because he wouldn’t make the trip. But he’s doing fantastic.

“We got him squished in with some dividers to help support him, and he is still standing and doing well. I’m impressed.”

The horses are going to be spread over three ranches: one in Peace River, Hart Kellar’s property, and Rock’n Horse Ranch in Innisfail.

“I just want to thank the horse community for rallying around us when we needed help finding trailers. It was amazing,” she said. 

She also gave her family and friends a shoutout for jumping in trucks to drive 18 hours both ways to rescue the horses.

“We made this trip super smooth. I was really concerned about how rough it was going to be, but everyone’s just been absolutely amazing.”