The carefree cowboy seen riding horses around Sooke’s beaches, trails and town core is none other then 63-year-old George Gibson.
Adorned in a plaid shirt, jeans, ubiquitous cowboy hat and single earring dangling from his right ear, Gibson is a bonafide horseman.
The Manitoba native has spent his life working with horses, a predilection grown in his early childhood, where he fashioned his first horse from imagination.
“I used to play cowboys. I had guns and I had a stick to ride before I ever rode a horse,” Gibson says.
It wasn’t until Gibson was 12 years old and his family moved onto a rural farm in the prairie province that he received his first horse — an unbroken, head-strong, two-year-old stallion.
“He bucked me off more times than I could count because I was just learning to ride,” he says.
“I had to break him and I didn’t have a saddle because I couldn’t afford one, and he just kept bucking me off and I just kept getting back on.”
Young and determined, Gibson recalls impatiently jumping onto the horse without a mentor or guidance. The stallion’s obtrusive protest only motivated Gibson more, and in the end the animal submitted.
“In the end I could ride that horse with nothing on him, no bridal, no halter, no nothing.”
From there, Gibson’s love for horses burgeoned and much of the work he has done has involved the animals in one form or another: from guiding hunts and nature walks on horseback through the ridges of the Chilcotin mountains to teaching pack horse guiding lessons and working with sled dogs in northern B.C. and the North West Territories.
“Since we moved to the farm, I’ve been around animals most of the time,” Gibson calmly states.
But work is balanced with play, as he and his partner, Adrian Moncur, 54, take off for summers at a time and travel throughout cities, mountains, and country-sides on horseback.
Throughout his lifetime, Gibson has learned one thing when working with animals — approach with love, not abuse.
“My dad was really hard on animals, and he’d take his temper out on them, but I learned that’s not the way to handle animals,” he says. “You get more done with love than you do being cruel.”
Now living in Sooke for the past 30 years, coming and going, Gibson owns two foals and seven horses. Gibson, his nine horses and Moncur, live on a 30-acre property along the 6000-block of West Coast Road.
The cost of owning nine horses doesn’t come cheap, and as a response, Gibson has the animals working so they can, “Earn their own keep a little bit.”
He currently runs a horseback riding business called Horse’N Around BC, and holds western-style riding lessons and trail rides throughout Sooke, in areas of his client’s choice.
“I give lessons and take people for trail rides or anywhere they want to go,” Gibson says.
Check out Horse’N around BC at: www.horsenaroundbcg.webs.com