FASlink Fetal Alcohol Disorders Society

Great FASD
Ride Across Canada

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Great FASD Horseback Ride Across Canada


FASD Ride Logo

The Great FASD Horseback Ride Across Canada has completed the Atlantic to Pacific journey.

Halifax, NS - May 17, 2007

Victoria, BC - August 20, 2007

We will all need some time to digest and internalize the events.

A significant part of the physical journey was accomplished on horseback, but we suffered the loss of Brandi, Errin Weigel's Arabian mare. We continued on with our little plastic horse on the roof of the van and 215 horses under the hood.

The journey covered some 22,000 km round trip over 4 months, involved hundreds of people, shared knowledge among hundreds of people and made thousands of people more aware of FASD. There were many organized public and private events and hundreds of teaching moments on the trek. It was not an immediate financial success but it was a practical and moral success.

My descriptions in the Blog have been more of a travelogue nature than in-depth FASD story sharing. Those will come. We returned home with more than 2,700 digital still photo images and 7 1/2 hours of video. These have been transferred to my office computer and presentations are a work in progress. There is much to add to the material we collected, much to digest and many more stories to compile into the finished works. Obviously that volume of material cannot be gelled into a 60 minute presentation. It will be broken into many short sessions that will serve various parts of the country and various constituencies.

I have omitted many names in the blog for brevity and because it is impossible to remember the names of all the people we have met on the journey. However, as I sort through the Ride Registry and the business cards, those names will be included in the presentations.

I will also be transferring the names of the eligible riders on the registry to a database to produce the draw tickets for Errin Weigel's foal. Please be patient. I am also catching up on shipping of CD's and T-shirts for those who made on-line donations. I am one person doing this job. "My Kingdom for a horse"? Nae. My kingdom for a good secretary. :-)

For those we have met on the journey, if you have photos, video or personal stories you want included in our final works, please send them to me at:

Bruce Ritchie
2448 Hamilton Road
Bright's Grove, Ontario
N0N 1C0


E-Mail: info@faslink.org

Thanks to all those who have been so kind and generous to us across this incredible land. The Great FASD Horseback Ride Across Canada has accomplished much and is only resting. It has not ended. We have touched many communities along the main routes of the country, but many remain to be seen. We have discovered lessons on the journey which also need to be shared with those we saw earlier in our travels. We also have some ideas for 2008 that can continue what was started in 2007.

Our hearts are with Brandi, who died in the course of this journey. She joined so many of our children who have lost their lives directly or indirectly because of alcohol.

I extend a deep sense of gratitude and thanks to Steve Thomas who inspired the Great FASD Ride and is our lead rider and cowboy. Although he could not be physically with us on the journey after Brandi died, he was there in spirit, and still wants to make the entire trek, step-by-step.

I also extend a deep sense of gratitude and thanks to Claudia Julien, our Ride Coordinator. She dedicated hundreds of hours to contacting people across Canada in the FASD community and the horse communities. Dozens of events would not have taken place without her efforts.

And I thank my son, David, and his best friend, Casey Newby, for their help, work and dedication for the summer break. They were excellent travel companions and extremely helpful at events and the camps. We all climbed mountains - on the landscape and within ourselves. A summer to remember.

I am available to present at workshops and can be contacted at the above address or by phone at:
Landline (519) 860-8026
Cellular: (519) 331-6408

Stay tuned. Miigwetch. Thank you.
Bruce Ritchie

DonateContact Us

Who: FASlink Fetal Alcohol Disorders Society, Bruce Ritchie, lead rider Steve Thomas, ride coordinator Claudia Julien, David Ritchie, Casey Newby, individuals, saddle clubs, First Nations, runners, hikers, youth groups, service clubs, and other volunteers across Canada.

What: Horseback ride and van across Canada.

Documentary Film: The ride was filmed and still photographed.

Where: Coast to Coast across Canada. 30,000 km round trip.

When: The ride began May 17, 2007 in Halifax, NS travelled to Victoria, BC and returned to Bright's Grove, ON.


  • Raise awareness for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.
  • Provide and maintain resources for grassroots.
  • FASD supports.
  • The TRIUMF Project.

Route: Rather than the shortest distance from coast to coast, the route took us through more populated areas. Moose don't booze. We needed to see people. There are also areas in which horseback riders are prohibited by law or practicality.

Tragically, Errin Weigel's Arabian mare, Brandi, was injured in an accident and eventually had to be euthanized. We continued on without our own horses but worked with local riding clubs at events across Canada. The original schedule was adjusted in some areas as we were able to travel faster than we had anticipated.

Events: Many groups organized events to help raise public awareness as the ride passed through their area and to help financially support the ride.

Rolling Summer Camp: The ride was very much a rolling summer camp providing opportunities for children, youth and adults and a means to raise awareness of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders and other disabilities affecting about 20% of our population. Our camps were open to visitors to enjoy chatting with participants, singing campfire songs and sharing experiences and ideas.

The Ride Registry was signed by those who actively participated and by community leaders.

How can you help?

  • Fundraise
  • Sponsor equipment, supplies, food, feed, fuel, accommodation, etc. Although the 2007 Ride has been completed, the need remains to recover the costs and prepare for 2008.
  • Plan an event. Invite your friends, groups and neighbours.

Ride T-shirt

For those who donate $20.00 CDN or more, we will send an Official Ride T-shirt as a "Thank You" gift. Please specify which size you prefer.

Lead rider Steve Thomas (Golden, BC) is a retired civil servant who has spent many years working with horses, in park services, and avalanche control. Inspired by a young girl with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Steve became determined to use his skills, talents and endurance to raise awareness of FASD by taking the message across Canada on horseback. Steve found FASlink, and the ride became a reality.

Brian Hatfield with Steve Thomas

The ride was organized by FASlink Moderator Bruce Ritchie and Ride Coordinator, Claudia Julien. On May 17, 2007, Steve, Claudia and Bruce launched the Ride in Point Pleasant Park, Halifax, NS.

Claudia Julien with Teresa Murphy at Hatfield Farm, Halifax, NS

After the Ottawa events June 12 to 15th, Claudia returned home to New Brunswick.

While in Ottawa, Brandi was injured in an accident. In spite of medical treatment, a week later she had to be euthanized.

After Brandi was lost, Steve returned to Golden, BC and Bruce Ritchie carried on by van, but riding local horses at events. Steve is still determined to make the entire ride across Canada at a future date.

From June 22nd on, Bruce was joined by his son, David (age 17) and his son's friend Casey Newbey (age 16).

David Ritchie, Bruce Ritchie, Casey Newby

Bruce Ritchie

Two Eagle Feathers
To be given an eagle feather is the highest honor that can be awarded within aboriginal cultures. One feather is to be worn on my hat and the other is for smudge, the traditional sacred purification ceremony. They are an indication of the high value placed on our mission.







Métis Sash. Honour presented by the Métis Nation

Arabian Foal donated to the Great Ride

Prairie Majik Arabians will donate a registered Arabian or Arabian/Saddlebred foal to the Great Canadian Horseback Ride for FASD. Each rider who registers will have the opportunity to enter the draw. The only stipulations for winning the foal are that you must be able to guarantee that you have a home for the foal and are able to provide acceptable care. The winner is also responsible for the cost of transporting the foal to his/her new home. Therefore, only enter the draw if you really want another horse. I need to be able to ensure that my foal will go to a good home. " Errin Weigel, Prairie Majik Arabians.

It's a Boy!!! A Prairie Majik newborn.

We had a wonderful response from across the country and many communities held events. Members of the RCMP Musical Ride joined the ride as it passed through Ottawa and again at the Saskatchewan Legislature in Regina.

People were welcome to ride, walk, jog, ride a bike, or follow along in a vehicle to show support. We sold T-shirts and other items along the way as well.

The ride left from Point Pleasant Park in Halifax on May 17, 2007 and arrived at the Pacific Ocean August 20th. Events were also held on the return journey to Bright's Grove, ON.