I’ve had a fun, hard-working, eye-opening , passionate journey working with horses and riders. Today I will start to tell that journey. My background isn't in writing or journalism so it will unfold as a story ...
Growing up in Toronto, Ontario Canada one doesn’t have the best exposure to horses in a big city. I was always very athletic and played many sports, fastball being the one that I was passionate about. A “disruptor” moment for me happened when I was around 14 years old when a high school friend said “would you like to come and see my mom’s horse”. And so began my co-evolution with horses.
I started taking weekly riding lessons at a lesson barn in Toronto, the old Sunnybrook Farm. After 6 months there my family drove me weekly into the country to another lesson barn (back then a lesson a week for a month cost $40!) and that continued for about 4 years. Oh the days of Pony Club and taking whichever school horse was suitable at the time to do Rally, Dressage or Tetrathlon. I never experienced the world of ponies. However, my daughter rode ponies given that her equestrian journey started at the age of 8. She had some memorable experiences with the ponies, good and bad! At about 18 years of age I was fortunate enough to be a decent enough rider that I was asked to start riding other peoples horses. Eventing was always my primary discipline but I have competed in the dressage and hunter/jumper rings. I spent 10 years training and working with Thoroughbred racehorses and that is an association that teaches you so much about soundness and figuring a horse out.
I was a Technical Delegate for eventing for 21 years. Lots of time to watch horses in all 3 disciplines. You see horses and riders that are developed correctly, you see horses and riders that are rushed up the levels. I was fortunate enough to clinician with some of the best - Mark Todd, Albert Voorn, Ian Stark. The horse can be such a wonderful teacher if we take the time to listen to them.
I am a huge fan of Pony Club having acquired my A in 1974 on a 21 year old Standardbred/Pony, Chiron. What a wonderful safe mount he was. The year before he and I had been named to the Ontario YR Team, back in the day when we did the full format. What a learning curve that was having to train a horse for steeplechase and the roads and tracks. Happy that my daughter achieved her C1 before she left Pony Club. Its a fantastic opportunity to get your horsemastership skills to a fairly high level as you progress. Great reference for the industry.
I've been a competition coach for 30 years and I will elaborate on my beliefs for training horses and riders in subsequent blogs. So stay tuned!
I attended the University of Guelph 1983-87 and graduated with a B.Sc with a major in Wildlife Biology. Horses had my attention so good or bad I never used my degree. If I had, I think I would have been a game warden or zoo specialist.