I’m a 24-year old Canadian rider, living in Southern Ontario. I’ve been riding horses since childhood, and have competed in both hunters and dressage. My main focus is dressage though and I’m happy to be able to share and chart my progress with you all via this blog.
I’ve been fortunate enough to spend the last decade leasing and co-boarding a number of amazing horses. Feel free to read below about some of the horses who made an impact on my life and riding career:
Flash Gordon – 10 year old – Hanoverian/Thoroughbred
When I first moved down to Southern Ontario for my Master’s (in 2013), I began riding at a prestigious dressage barn in the area. However, the barn really didn’t have the atmosphere that I was accustomed to – it was one of those barns where you had to pay big bucks in order to be treated personably. I also missed having a connection with one horse, as the coach there made as switch mounts every two lessons.
In January 2014, I found my answer in a new coach, Jenn, and her horse Flash Gordon. Gordon is a 10 year old TB Hanoverian cross, and I fell in love! He taught me how to ride with my seat and body weight more effectively, and allowed for me to gain my first competition experiences at the provincial level. However, in the fall of 2014 I had to make the painstaking decision to move to a new barn. Since January, my coach had relocated to a new barn that had no riding ring (indoor or outdoor). I spent show season 2014 training in a muddy field! With winter approaching, and no clear indication of much progress being made, I knew that it was time to find a new horse to learn and grow with.
Quilla – 5 year old – Oldenburg/Selle Francais
Summer 2013: So I never leased Quilla, or “Q”, or developed a really close bond, but she definitely warrants mentioning because she helped me to regain my confidence over fences in a big way. This mare is completely honest – a mainly point-and-shoot, yet very talented, jumper. I had some bad experiences on a horse I was leasing before (see Fonzi below), and she helped me to remember how much fun jumping can be. I still ride Q every time I’m home in Ottawa for a visit and there’s no other horse that I trust as much over fences.
Katie – 10 year old – Canadian mare
Summer 2012-Summer 2013: I experienced a huge drop in my confidence when I had a bad show where I couldn’t get Fonzi (story below) to jump anything, followed by a lesson where he bucked me off and I really damaged my neck. I had to take a little break from riding after that while my neck healed, but six weeks later I was ready to ride again. My coach suggested riding Katie to regain confidence, as she was a lot calmer than Fonz. I fell in love with Katie’s movements and disposition and ended up leasing until I had to move away for my Master’s. Katie reminded me how fun riding can be, and that it isn’t always about striving for goals and competing. She helped me to rebuild myself after experiencing a real shake to my confidence. I still visit Katie every time I’m home on vacation.
Fonzi – 10 year old – Quarter Horse
Fall 2011 – Summer 2012: This horse made me feel so accomplished. I felt like I had really made it when my coach asked me to begin leasing her horse. Together we introduced Fonz to over fences work and converted him for a Western Pleasure boy to a hunter horse. Fonz gave me a lot of confidence over fences, and I learned so much about striding, pace, flying lead changes, and riding forward and low, from Fonz.
However, things went awry in our partnership. Fonz liked someone who could keep him busy all the time or he would test his rider. He doesn’t enjoy riders that aren’t very stable with incredibly still hands. He had only ever been ridden by my coach before, who was an outstanding rider and he wasn’t willing to make do with a mediocre leaser. He started acting out to show his frustration. He refused to jump at shows. He bucked me off when I tried to mount up and I hurt myself pretty badly. I had to take six weeks off riding, and almost quit altogether because my ego was so badly hurt. Fonzi is a good reminder to me to stay humble and work through my fears. There’s always the potential for unfortunate accidents to happen around horses and I should have persevered. It would have made me a stronger rider and person not to take the easier way out.
Duke – 12 year old – Quarter Horse/Draft
Fall 2010 – Summer 2011: Duke was a really special boy to me. We had a great connection. After modelling and putting riding on pause for a year and a half, he helped me to find myself again. Duke provided me with my first real experience of schooling on my own. I rode Duke three times a week all fall and winter of 2010, and five times a week all spring, summer and fall (2011). Duke and I made huge leaps together and finished our season by consistently winning Division Champion in the Open Hunter Division (2’6″) at local schooling shows, and scoring well on Training and First Level dressage tests.From there my coach advised me to seek out a different horse because Duke’s joints weren’t reacting great to jumping higher than 3′, and the time jumping higher was something that I really wanted to work towards. I still miss the horse and he helped me to grow so much as rider – I learned how to round up properly and to do a few fun dressage movements like the shoulder-in on him. He was also the first horse that I jumped higher than 3′.
Fox – 18 year old – Thoroughbred
2004-2006: Fox was the first non-school horse that I leased. Before that I casually leased a popular school horse for a year or two, but he was the first horse that I took the larger leap with. I learnt so much about horse care, and the responsibilities of horse ownership from this boy. I also had a lot of great showing experiences at local schooling shows on Fox – doing especially well in dressage, but also dabbling in some hunter work together. Fox is now unfortunately deceased but I’ll always remember this sweet boy and everything that I owe him.