Saturday, December 9, 2023
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Dashing through the snow: Bristol business offering sleigh rides

Cheryl Bezoine (left) and Vince Perrier (right) posing with their Belgian horse team Trigger and Tony.

To some, winter is a cause for dismay. Cold weather, blustery winds and short days keep them indoors as they try and ride out the weather in hopes spring will soon return and deliver them from the elements. To others, winter is a cause for celebration. Rather than viewing it as a season to be wished away, those who embrace winter do so in response to the many gratifying activities the season’s snow and ice permits. Cheryl Bezoine and Vince Perrier are definitely in the latter group. As the owners and operators of TNT Belgian’s, a newly opened guided sleigh-ride tour in Bristol, Cheryl and Vince have fully embraced the perks of winter to create an unforgettable experience.
When it comes to horses, Cheryl and Vince are no strangers. As longtime competitors in the Draft Horse Pull circuits of Quebec and Ontario, they have been breeding, raising and working with horses for years. Throughout competition season – which runs from spring to autumn – Cheryl and Vince travel with their horses to compete in Draft Horse Pulls. A contest that involves two horses and their handler working together to pull as much weight across a distance as possible, Draft Horse Pulls demand horses that are powerful and properly trained.
As their name would suggest, Cheryl and Vince employ the Belgian breed of horse for their Draft Horse Pull competitions. Large animals with muscular frames, Belgians can weigh over 2000 pounds. Known for their gentle nature, the Belgian has long been revered for its abilities as a working horse. Speaking about them with discernible tenderness and warmth, Cheryl likens them to athletes with rigorous training schedules and meticulously prepared diets. Cheryl and Vince clearly love their horses.
With such a long offseason for these working horses not to be competing, Cheryl and Vince are constantly looking for new ways to keep them entertained and in-shape. With an extensive 10 km trail system on their 245 acre property and some extra wood laying around, the two thought it would be fun to build a sleigh to take their horses out. Just for the enjoyment of it. What started out as a casual pastime quickly evolved into something else however, as they realized the extent in which the experience was one that people would enjoy.
“For us, it’s something that we love,” Cheryl said. “This is something that we do every day, even when we don’t have sleigh rides, we’re out with our horses. It makes us happy, and we wanted to share that with people.”
With a newfound drive to facilitate an experience they knew people would be drawn to, Cheryl and Vince opened for business in January of this year. Offering one hour packages throughout the week and advertising through Facebook and word of mouth, they started receiving bookings from as far away as Gatineau and Pembroke. Families, couples and all manner of groups travelled to Bristol to meet the horses and indulge in an adventure reminiscent of a Christmas card or yuletide carol.
With the horses drawn to the sleigh and the barn door open, the power of the two Belgians can be felt as they heave the sleigh forward onto the trail. The melody of sleigh bells fills the air as the trail enters a wooded area and narrows. As the midday sun beats down overhead, the leafless branches cast shadows along the pathway’s crisp white snow. It is quiet except for the jingle of the bells and the trotting of the horses hooves.
“We believe everyone should be able to experience this,” Cheryl said.
When Cheryl and Vince say that they want everybody to be able to experience the magic of a sleigh ride, they mean it. In order to provide a barrier free experience for their guests, Cheryl and Vince have custom built a wheelchair ramp for their sleigh. With the ramp built, the sleigh and barn are completely wheelchair accessible. Amongst the many groups who have come to relish in the adventure of a sleigh ride and company of the horses, Cheryl and Vince have welcomed community living organizations from Renfrew and Pembroke. Beaming with pride as she does so, Cheryl explains the ubiquitous therapeutic effects that horses have on people, and recalls the reactions that many have when they first lay eyes on the imposingly large, yet undoubtedly gentle Belgians.
“Very excited,” Cheryl said. “Even when they come through the door, they don’t realize how large the animals are.”
Cheryl and Vince insist this is just the beginning. The two have big plans to expand the business with a new website in the works and unique programming ideas to draw in a wider demographic. They imagine daycare and school programs with an outdoor education element to teach kids about the natural world and the skills needed to enjoy and protect it.
“We need to bring them back to earth,” Cheryl said. “Back to the old ways.”
For now however, Cheryl and Vince are enjoying the fruits of their labour, one horse-drawn sleigh ride at a time.

Vince Perrier, a long time competitor in the Draft Horse Pull circuit, expertly guiding the sleigh.
TNT Belgian’s boasts an extensive 10 km of groomed trails.