There never seems to be a long face around when Chris Murray takes his two horses into town to grab himself a coffee.
It seemed like an urban myth or a local legend, but Tuesday afternoon BarrieToday lassoed Murray into an interview while he and his horse, Oreo, were standing at the Five Points enjoying some Tim Hortons coffee.
“We’re kind of making Barrie a two-horse town again,” Murray told BarrieToday.
He has become a bit of a local legend, but Murray, who lives by Allandale Station, said that his two miniature horses, Oreo and Ember, are the real celebrities in town.
And he doesn’t mind that at all.
“Nobody recognizes me once I put them in the backyard, but they’re famous all the time,” Murray said.
“I love seeing people’s face light up when they see us out and about,” he added. “So many people are enjoying the horses, it's amazing the community that comes out to see them. I had one woman last summer who told me that her husband died the year before and she hadn’t smiled for the whole year, until she saw the three of us walking.”
Murray admits the horses technically belong to his mother. And while he has become fond of them both, it wasn’t his idea and he was kind of guilted into getting them.
“My mother is not in the best of health and she used to own a full-sized horse when she was about 22 years old, but she had to get rid of the horse when she had me and that’s how she sold this idea to me,” Murray said. “I told her she was crazy, but I wasn’t about to deny her this wish. I even told her why don’t we just get you a dog, but she wanted a horse before she left this Earth.”
A steady diet of grass is what Oreo and Ember eat, and Murray is thankful for the farmer friend they have who brings lots of it for the horses.
As far as any misconception from people that Murray may be contravening a city bylaw, he says there isn’t one.
“They’re considered a work animal. The Mennonites have been doing it for years and it's not a religious thing; it is a choice,” said Murray. “They had chosen to drive a car or use certain technologies and that is their right as it is every Canadian’s right.
"The bylaw states you can’t have chickens, pigs or goats, but the horses are considered a work animal and you can’t deny a person the right to work," he added.
"I get officers come up to me, but it’s not to give me a ticket. They want a selfie with Oreo and Ember.”
Another law that most don’t know about that dates back many years is one that Murray admits he’s not about to make a big deal about, but it could very well make Barrie look like the old west.
“Folks used to go up to this bar over here,” Murray told BarrieToday, pointing to the Bourbon Street bar at the Five Points. “They would hitch up their horses and go in and have a drink, so apparently in the books here in Barrie there is a law that states that if I pull up to any establishment, they have to provide me with a horse-hitch to tie my horse to while I go in."