The COVID-19 pandemic may have slowed down his social activities, but Garnet Stephens maintains a positive attitude.

“Honest to goodness, I’m not bored,” says Stephens, who describes himself as a “touch over 80”. “I watch an awful lot of TV, I go for a lot of walks.”

“What I do miss is going out – going to the (Windsor), or going out to a restaurant, but what the heck.”

The long-time owner/trainer of Standardbred race horses could for many years be spotted in a sulky, driving one of his steeds from his home in the center of town down to the Vankleek Hill fairgrounds for a training session. Stephens kept his horses in stables behind his home, until selling off his last horse just over a year ago.

For more than three decades, Stephens took his animals to Standardbred races at the now defunct Blue Bonnets and Richelieu racetracks in Montreal, also competing at Rideau Carleton Raceway in Ottawa. When local Standardbred racing would take a break, he would travel throughout the United States, pulling his horse trailer from track to track.

“When the Thoroughbreds would come to Blue Bonnets for eight weeks every summer, I got to go to the States,” Stephens says of his days on the road. “We’d race in Buffalo, Saratoga, Vernon Downs – all kinds of different places.”

Traveling to unfamiliar locales would often require some scrambling to ensure both the horses and their human companions could find accommodation upon arriving at their destination.

“It could be a little difficult to get stalls – if everybody went to the same place we wouldn’t have a place to stay. You had to make a lot of phone calls to make sure you got your 10 stalls,” the avid horseman recalls.

“I loved every moment of it.”