I have been very lucky to have had some very special horses and inspirational people in my life. I have bounced around in the hunters on the Ontario Trillium circuit, dabbed in the jumpers, and started up a college team to join the Ontario Collegiate Equestrian Association circuit. All of the riding experiences I have had in my life have made me the rider and the person I am today, and I am still enjoying the journey.
Having been around horses since I was a young child, taking weekly lessons, and going to riding camps all summer, the horse that started my dedicated equestrian obsession was a little paint horse named Stryder.
STRYDER was the first horse that I didn’t have to share with a barn of other lesson kids. His knowledgeable owner drilled into me her experience in tack, grooming, riding, common sense, and overall horse care and safety. I competed in my first couple years of horse showing with this experienced little fella, and gained oodles of confidence in the show ring – he just knew his job and was a patient teacher (he was named Flying Colours after all!).
Then came along TICA, a western pleasure trained AQHA. Tica was owned by the sister of Stryder’s owner and moved to the same barn as us about a year into my time with Stryder. She was a typical chestnut mare who was a very sensitive ride due to an aggressive rider in her past; this was a new type of ride for me. I took lessons on her from a well known Western Pleasure trainer, and was introduced to an entirely different type of riding. Soon I was a western pleasure, show jumper, cow cutting, hunter princess!
When Stryder and Tica were moved to a private barn without an indoor arena, I decided it was time to move on to the next step in my riding career. I wanted to show hunters on the Trillium Circuit!
By chance, I ended up part boarding another chestnut mare named SUNNY at an Equestrian Facility that competed on the Central West Trillium Circuit. I soon discovered that this barn actually produced very competitive horse and rider combinations on the most competitive zone on the Trillium Circuit, who knew! Then the next realization was “hey, I’m a million years behind most of these girls, but what ever, off to the horse show on my spastic eventer thoroughbred turned jumper turned.. hunter?”. Needless to say, our year was not full of ribbons and medals, but of sliding stops and steeple chases. To sum it all up, it was the summer of Sunny Daze of Romance.
Next came the best year of my life – I was leasing an Arabian x Thoroughbred named SIMBA. Finally, I had a horse ALL to myself again! Between the time of Septembers 2013 to 2014 I gained the most knowledge and experience in my riding career to date. He took me confidently into the 2’9 hunters, took home champion at our first show out, had a few lessons in riding through the spook and just FINISH THE COURSE, then mellowed out again for the remainder of our season together with competitive year end placings. I owe this horse so much and he will forever hold a huge space in my heart.
Towards the end of my 2014 season with Simba, I purchased a gorgeous little dapple grey thoroughbred mare named GRACIE (MY FIRST HORSE!!!). I brought her to the barn while I was just finishing up my 2013/14 lease on the horse of my dreams, sat on her a few times, then left her at home while I went off to Trillium Championships to finish off a great season with my lease horse. I came home with fists full of ribbons and a heavy heart with the realization that that part of my riding career was over for now. So it was back to the basics.
I spent the next month doing baby things, and introducing poles and cross-rails into our lessons. By mid – October we were cantering a small course with simple changes (and the occasional flying change by chance). I couldn’t be happier with our progress together, and every little improvement felt like a huge accomplishment. Unfortunately, the grey mare sustained a pasture accident, successfully tearing all the muscles in her lower back and hind leg. She was put onto strict stall rest with a lot of uncertainties as we waited for the swelling to go down enough to reevaluate. Fortunately, we dodged a bullet this time, and Gracie was deemed back to gradual work by December 2014, and soon we were right back to were we had left off.
Over the next 3 years, Gracie and I competed in the Trillium hunters for her first green year, and then moved right into the adult amateurs for her second season. Upon her third season in the year 2017 is when my mare and I briefly parted ways. I had moved an hour away for College, and after a month of bringing her to school with me, I was not happy with the care at her new barn. Gracie was returned to my home barn before Christmas, and by April an in-barn leasing opportunity appeared that I felt I couldn’t turn down. Gracie had a great 2017 season with a young girl, and added “Children’s hunter” to her resume.
When September of 2017 rolled around, I had things more settled for myself at school. With as much excitement as if I was buying a new horse, I brought Gracie home with my new barn on the last day of Trillium Championships. Gracie settled in no problem to her new home and routine, and I was so thankful to have my first pony back.
But wait, I can’t forget about RILEY! This little bay horse came into my life right before I purchased Gracie. He was inconsistent, sassy, and had a TERRIBLE work ethic. With patience and a lot of trial and error he gradually began to get better, and became a much happier and willing horse under saddle. It just so happened that the grey being doomed to stall rest for a month kick started Riley’s eureka moment when I started using Riley in my lessons.
Despite his quirks, I adored this horse and his puppy dog personality. We went on to show for two seasons along side Gracie, and we even qualified in a close 3rd place in 2016 to compete at Trillium Championships.
There is one more horse left to fill in the gaps – the summer of Jamiro. During the time that Gracie was home on lease, I stayed in my College town to work for the summer, but by mid-summer I decided I still needed my showing fix. This wasn’t just going to be another season in the Trillium hunters.. this season I was entering Jumper land.
Jamiro was a lesson horse at the European Warmblood breeding barn I had made my new home at school. He was lovely, inside and out, and I will forever be thankful for the fun summer I had with him. He confidently packed me around my first 1m jumper courses, and jumper medal classes all summer. I focused my entire time with Jamiro on enjoying showing again, and he made me fall in love with the sport all over again. I made the decision early on to go enjoy a few weekends at the cottage, and to not do enough shows to qualify us for Championships. I am still 100% confident in that decision as it did not allow me to “point-chase”, and instead I could just have fun again.