Our Featured Volunteer of the month is Andrea Andriopoulos!

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Andrea Andriopoulos has been involved at Lancers since 2008 when her daughter Sophia started riding here. In the early years, Andrea would volunteer for canteen and night hay, and would help out whenever she was asked! In more recent years, she has taken a more active role. She has taken a lead role in the Christmas Party/Silent Auction, the Wine and Cheese event, and most recently, as the Treasurer for the Lancers Pony Club. While some people might know Andrea as Sophia’s mum, she often works behind the scenes with her contributions so it is the due time she had the recognition that she deserves!

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Even though Andrea isn’t a rider, her favourite Lancers horses are Bud and Rupert! When asked what Andrea enjoys most about Lancers, she replied, “it is a family. We all come together for the horses. When you look at Lancers you see community”. Andrea highlighted some of the ways that Lancers relies on volunteer work: “we have volunteers who work, come in to feed the cats, who repair the barn, who feed the horses night hay (including all major holidays), who cheer for all riders, who set up and tear down events, sell at canteens, fundraise, and whatever needs to be done when asked. All of this is done with a sense of Lancer pride. We know that we are here for the horses and it is an honour and a privilege to be a part of such a caring and loving group of people”.

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While she has many fond memories from Lancers, one that stands out for her was this year’s Musical Ride performance on the Garrison Grounds. Of course, she was proud of the accomplishment of Lancers being the opening act for the RCMP Musical Ride but for Andrea, that wasn’t the treasured memory. Rather, her favourite memory of Lancers happened just before the riders were about to perform. A large group of volunteers worked tirelessly to put the finishing touches on by brushing and painting the hooves of each horse. She even witnessed mothers stop the traffic on Bell road with a glance and a raised arm to allow the horses and riders to safely cross the street. This act, which could seem like a small part of the Musical Ride, really illustrated all the hard work that volunteers, including Andrea, give to Lancers.

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We are very fortunate that Andrea offers her time to us here at Lancers. The horses and riding programs certainly benefit from it. While not volunteering at Lancers, Andrea is a yoga teacher and an active mother to two girls, Alexa and Sophia. The experience of being a mother has taught her to be open to whatever life has to offer! 
#FeatureFriday

Our Featured Horse of the Month is Rupert!

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Rupert is our featured horse of the month because he is such a character! The thing about him that stands out the most is his big personality. He is almost the class clown of the bunch. He is a fourteen-year-old bay, French Canadian cross and while small in stature, (standing at approximately 15.1), he is big in athleticism. Rupert always stands tall with his head held high and has therefore earned himself the show name King Rupert.

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He arrived at Lancers in 2016, when he not only quickly adapted to the life of a school horse and living in the city but he seemed to thrive on the extra attention. He only gets to go out with the mares though because he doesn’t get along with geldings!

Rupert is not really an easy ride. He has a really huge stride and loves to jump. His riders always have to work to make sure they don’t leave strides out between the jumps. He is notoriously bouncy and wiggly but he always seems to win the hearts of those who stick it through and figure him out. He gives people a hard time in a way that keeps them coming back for more. 

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You can always count on seeing Rupert as part of the Lancer gang when we take our horses to off-property shows, showing in the jumper ring. He excels in the low jumpers and has even brought home first place ribbons for some of our riders. He has taught several riders to transition from the hunter ring to the jumper ring. This year he joined the Musical Ride for the first time.

He is a barn favourite amongst many juniors and adults including one of our volunteer photographers, Julie, so we always have an excellent array of photos of Rupert! 
 

Our Featured Junior Rider of the Month is Julia Corsten!

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Julia is eleven-years-old and has been riding at Lancers for three years. She is in ride 5 and also rides in the three times a week program. While Julia may still be one of our smallest riders at the barn, don’t let her pint-size fool you as she is an extremely capable rider for her age and size! Her favourite horses are Alice and Tootsie. This year Julia started attending off-property horse shows and she did amazingly well! At her first off-property show (the Windsor Mega show) she rode Alice and came first place out of twenty horses in the cross rail division. Julia is also a Lancer Pony Club member and took part in the Pony Club quiz and the Prince Philip Games.

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Julia has spent some time at Saddlewood, a summer riding camp in Bethany, Ontario and in her spare time at Lancers, she can often be found with her fellow riding mates jumping over jumps on foot without horses. In fact, Julia’s whole ride is always around the barn together and it is great to see such tight-knit friendships growing here at Lancers.

 She (and her parents) were a great help at Spruce up the Barn Day in the spring and at the Downtown Horse Show. She is always very helpful around the barn and never says no when asked to help. She sometimes even helps with the junior beginner course on Saturdays.

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In the future, we’re sure that Julia hopes to have a long and successful show career ahead of her. She is such a hard worker and is so dedicated and determined to succeed in this sport. Thank you, Julia, for being such a committed Lancer. We look forward to having you at Lancers for many more years!

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Our Featured Staff Member of the Month is Charlotte Grace

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Charlotte does it all - no really, somehow she manages to juggle university, riding twice a week (J rides), volunteering, and working at Lancers as a barn monitor, stablehand, and this year, an instructor! She does it all to the highest standard and encourages others to do the same. While Charlotte could very well be selected as rider or volunteer of the month, we wanted to feature her as our staff member because she adds so much to Lancers in her all of her roles. After years of stablehanding and barn monitoring, we are so happy that Charlotte decided to complete all the training and prerequisites to become a certified NCCP instructor through Equestrian Canada and is able to join our roster of highly qualified instructors!

Charlotte has been riding at Lancers since 2001. She started in the City Rec program in 1999 and then had to wait two years to get into the Junior Beginner Course which she finally started in 2001. Because she had been building riding experience elsewhere during those two years, she was put in Ride 8 after the Beginner Course. She worked her way up to ride 1 and then continued to ride throughout university.

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Charlotte certainly knows the ropes. She has been stablehanding for the past 12 years and barn monitoring for the past ten. That’s why when we needed to draft a Barn Monitor instruction sheet and a Rider Duty sheet, we went straight to Charlotte (who did it in her own volunteered time). We asked Charlotte how Lancers compares to other places she has worked and she easily said that Lancers is probably the happiest place. She added, “most of my co-workers are equine so they are very easy to get along with but the barn is also the most enjoyable. I have worked in offices and customer service and all of that has shown me that what I want to do is work with horses”. On that note, Charlotte agreed that what she enjoys most about Lancers are the horses: “they are all so special and they teach us something”.

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When asked who her favourite horse was, Charlotte said that Bobbi, Rupert, and Rockette are her favourite but she also has a soft spot for Jacob. She also mentioned though that she has a special relationship with horses who have been here since Charlotte was a child. “I have known Punkin and Simba since the day they came”, she added. While looking to the past, Charlotte offered up her favourite memory of Lancers (of which there are many). In ride 3, she was riding Victor at a 3-foot fence and fell off and onto the jump but she landed with one leg on either side of the rail. The rail didn’t fall down so her legs were just dangling and she couldn’t get down until the rail eventually fell. Of this she mentioned, “the sport is so humbling and to do it with your friends, is great”. Lancers also brought Charlotte one of her dearest friends, Jacqueline and they have been friends now for ten years.

Lancers has taught Charlotte “discipline and time management and above all, that hard work is rewarded”. And work hard, she does. That is something so special about Charlotte; she is always putting 1000% into all of her roles and that certainly includes ensuring all the riders during her barn monitor shift have completed all their tasks to the highest standard. In her lessons, this translates into Charlotte ensuring that all of her riders have their shirts tucked in, their horses nicely groomed, and their on time and ready to work!

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Since Charlotte has been around Lancers for many years, we asked her a fact about Lancers that some might not know. She wanted to point out to the new riders that our riding ring actually used to be across the street (that’s where she grew up riding). For every lesson they had to cross the street (which means that Halifax no longer gets the sound of hooves on the pavement but also is less of a traffic slowdown)! Also, Bud’s stall used to be for the city’s only police horse and it used to have a small pasture attached so he could go in and out all day as he pleased. A fun fact about Charlotte is that she originally went to school to become an actress and do music but she can’t actually read music! That certainly makes sense because we just love her bellowing and pleasant voice that is so commanding (and means you can always find her in the stables).

Charlotte you are quite nearly omnipresent. Thank you, Charlotte for always giving so much to Lancers and sharing your passion for horses. Your attention to detail means that we always know that both horses and riders are in the best of hands! 
#featurefriday

Our Featured Adult Rider of the Month is Kim Good!

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It was certainly a great day when we heard that Kim Good was joining Lancers. Kim has been around Lancers for the past five years as the mother of Kate who currently is in ride two. Kim has been riding since she was ten and even had her own horses but had been on a ten year hiatus and had, as she said, been “living vicariously through her daughter’s riding”. That was until someone encouraged her to get back in the saddle because it was crazy thinking that she couldn’t ride and could only watch her daughter ride. So, in the autumn of 2016, Kim started riding at Lancers! She now rides in A3.

While a Lancer parent, she volunteered at horse shows and night hay (and has acted as Kate’s groom many times). Now as a Lancer rider, Kim has spearheaded the restoration of the Lancer Pony Club (which was originally the second oldest Pony Club in Canada). Everyone is so happy to have the Lancer Pony Club back and that is in large part thanks to Kim who is our District Commissioner. Kim holds Pony Club close to her heart; she started riding at the Fredericton Pony Club as a child and has been a Pony Clubber all her life. People might not know but Kim has her B certificate and even her instructor level 1 certificate. Kim noted that “Pony Club allows her to relive her youth” and that “it is great to see the kids pushing themselves and being internally motivated!”

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For Kim, it is the sense of community that makes Lancers special (this is becoming a theme…and we swear we don’t goad our riders into commenting on this)! Kim explains that “it is a nice community, everyone works together and helps and of course, I love the horses”. Kim’s current favourite horse is Oliver and she likes him because he is “adjustable and does what he is supposed to do”. She hopes that (she doesn’t fall off!) and she can keep riding and one day take semi-private lessons with Kate. For Kim, sharing her love of horses with her daughter at Lancers is incredibly special: “it is something that we can share - at an age where teenagers can sometime become distant from their parents, I love that she gets in the car and tells me who she rode and everything that happened”. Kim’s favourite memory from Lancers is when Kate won the 2’6” division last year at the Downtown Horse Show.

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When not riding or with Kate at the barn, Kim is busy renovating her house and tries to sneak in time for quilting (because it is a good reminder that there is more to life than work). Thank you, Kim, for showing other adults that getting back into riding can be fun and rewarding. Lancers and particularly, the Lancer Pony Club are fortunate to have you!

Our Featured Volunteer of the Month is Lynn Knapp!

Lynn is quite simply the barn sweetheart. She is unbelievably kind, positive, and enthusiastic. You can always tell how much she loves it here because her face always lights up when she talks about Lancers.

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Lynn has now been riding at Lancers for twenty-five years. She started riding at the age of twenty-nine when she first got married. In fact, she and her husband, Rob, enrolled in the Lancer adult beginner course together. Rob’s allergies eventually got the better of him and he had to stop riding but Lynn kept on! When she had children she moved to into the Friday morning ride and has never left! She said, “it is such a privilege to be in that ride”.

Growing up in a horse-environment had an impact on Lynn. Her father was a harness race fan so she spent three nights a week at the race track. She always wanted to learn to ride and be around horses. Fast forward twenty years she and Rob were out for a walk one day and they came across the barn and walked in. They couldn’t believe that stables existed in the centre of Halifax. Lynn recalls, “I didn’t know much about this place but I knew I wanted to be a part of it”. And so she did - in a very big way.

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Lynn became deeply involved with volunteering at Lancers about ten years ago when her daughter Emma attended a Lancers summer course and then started the Junior Beginner Course (and graduated from Ride 1 last year)! Over the years, Lynn has been involved with many things. She is both a current and past board member, she used to organise and run the Saturday canteen, has helped with the Musical Ride, and has always been involved in fundraising efforts and events like the Open House. Lynn is also our recycling fairy; every week she collects all the recyclables from the barn and takes them to the depot so that the deposit money goes to Lancers (so don’t forget to drop off your bottles to the barn)! Volunteering has strengthened Lynn’s relationships with the kids and parents, particularly during her four or five years doing the canteen - she knew ever rider!

When asked what she enjoys most about Lancers, Lynn quickly replied that it’s the time spent with the horses and with the people she rides with. “I can’t describe why I love Lancers so much”, she said, “I think it’s a wonderful organisation and I think it’s great to be involved in something that you think of so highly. The friendships I have made have been so important to me”. Comparing her Lancers volunteer work with other experiences, Lynn appreciates that under Angie you’re always thanked. “Lancers never forgets to thank you for what you do”, she added.

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In the future, Lynn hopes to continue riding for the rest of her life and she hopes that she can still help where she can! Hopefully, she can keep riding her current favourite horses Oliver and Rainey (credit also to her past favourite horses Pumba and Phyllis). She will definitely be looking forward to her Friday morning ride on Halloween because she is always surprised by the creativity of her fellow riders! When not at the barn or volunteering with Lancers, Lynn enjoys Zumba fitness, scuba diving, and more recently, African drumming! Lynn ended her little interview by saying that she was thrilled to be chosen this month because she just loves the initiative and she loves to read each feature every week!

Well, Lynn, we are thrilled to count you as a Lancer. You are always a breath of fresh air and your dedication to Lancers is so cherished and makes a big difference to our community. Thank you for being a Lancer for the past quarter century! 😋
#featurefriday

Our Featured Junior Rider of the Month is Gracie Walker!

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Anyone who rides at Lancers will know Gracie. She always seems to be fluttering around the barn, helping out, and enthusiastically looking for ways to keep the stables tidy. She never seems to be without her smile and her willingness to learn, answer questions, and be put to work is a breath of fresh air.

Gracie started riding at Lancers eight years ago as soon as she turned eight after being on the waitlist for two years! She was finally old enough to start the Junior Beginner Course. Over the years, she has moved up through the ranks and is now in ride 1. Gracie has been in Musical Ride for the past three years, competes at a lot of jumper competitions, is currently the Junior Executive treasurer, and always volunteers for night hay, at open houses, and the barn clean up. This year Lancers has resurrected its Lancer Pony Club and Gracie has been a significant proponent and participant. She says that she loves her Pony Club experience and in the spring she went to the regional quiz where she qualified for nationals in British Columbia. Gracie was selected for a “C” team with three Pony Clubbers from Ontario and will soon be competing at nationals!

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When asked what she likes about Lancers, Gracie replied: “I love lancers because of the community that surrounds it. I think that Lancers has an amazing sense of family and it really makes me feel at home. I also love all the opportunities that Lancers offers like Musical Ride, Pony Club, showing, and Junior Executive. But most of all I love being proud to call myself a Lancer; being part of lancer's history and community always makes me feel so lucky!”

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One of Gracie’s favourite memories of Lancers happens to be one of her first. She was at the end of her first Lancer summer camp and she was riding Babe. When it was time to go outside for pictures, however, Babe refused to go because of the Paul McCartney sound check going on at the Commons. Babe was not amused. Gracie also recalls getting the award for the best-groomed pony (which was a pretty big feat knowing how dirty Babe always was)! That theme seemed to have stuck to Gracie because her mounts are always well turned out, especially her favourite horses Sadie and Punkin. Sadie has been Gracie’s partner for the past year and she feels very lucky to ride her. Punkin, on the other hand, was the first horse that she rode at Lancers so she will always be one of Gracie’s favourites.

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As Gracie looks to her future, it is clear that her time with horses has inspired her. After high school, she would love to go to Vet School to become an Equine vet and chiropractor. Her dream is to have a business where she can recover and rehabilitate competition horses.

Apart from riding, Gracie loves to go skiing and sailing, both of which she has been doing since she was very young. You can often catch Gracie with a camera around her neck!

Stay tuned for Gracie’s journey to Pony Club nationals. We love to see Gracie’s hard work and we are proud to have a Lancer Pony Club member competing at Nationals!  Thank you, Gracie, for truly exhibiting the Lancer spirit of horsemanship, citizenship, and sportsmanship. You are so dedicated to Lancers and you are an important role model for younger riders.

Our Featured Horse of the Month is Alice!

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This month we have chosen Alice as our featured horse of the month and for anyone who knows her, it will be clear why! Alice, whose show name is Wonderland, is most certainly a wonder and is a very special horse.

Alice is a fifteen-year-old Clyde-thoroughbred cross mare. She is bay with an eye catching a white blaze. Few lesson barns can boast having a school horse like Alice. Alice has been at Lancers since 2008 and has been used for Musical Ride, lessons, and on and off-property shows. She came to be a Lancer horse with the help of a rider here who helped with her purchase and then part leased her at Lancers for a number of years. This rider took Alice from a Green youngster all the way to such prestigious shows as Bromont International and the Winter Equestrian Festival in Florida.

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In more recent years, Alice has also been used for our junior beginner course and our beginner summer camp, and she has always been a favourite with both our junior and adult riders. Alice is always our instructors' go-to horse if a rider needs a little extra confidence. If Alice had a super power it would be the ability to make anyone who works with her look good.

While Alice may not like her girth, she LOVES jumping! Her face seems to light up the moment she sees a jump in her path. Alice is unique and has a wonderful disposition; she is steady, very trustworthy, and isn’t spooky. She has always been friendly and simply has a heart of gold.

We are so fortunate to have Alice!

Our Featured Adult Rider of the month is Emma Murphy-Barteaux!

One great thing about Lancers (among many) is that we have a long history. This means that we often have the joy of seeing riders join us when they are young and then have them ride with us into their adult years! Emma Murphy-Barteaux is one such rider and we are very happy to be featuring her as our adult rider of the month!

Emma and Rocky, 2005-2007

Emma and Rocky, 2005-2007

Emma grew up close to Lancers, just on the other side of The Commons and remembers watching in awe as Lancers rode in the old riding ring that used to be across the street. She recalls being extra delighted anytime her and her family would walk by and horses would be turned out so she “could lure them over to the fence and pet them”. In 1997, at the age of 8, Emma got her chance and started at Lancers in the Beginner Junior Course! Over the years she moved up through the ranks from ride 9 to ride 1. She did Pony Club, completed Rider Levels (and was even a demonstration rider for the pilot program that became Rider Levels as we know them now), groomed for and later rode in Musical Ride and performed at The Fall Fair, showed on the provincial hunter circuit, participated in clinics, gave barn tours and pony rides during Open Houses, and worked as a Sunday stable hand and as a barn monitor! Fast forward twenty years and Emma now rides in our J-ride, our advanced ride for young adults.

Emma and Rocky, 2005-2007

Emma and Rocky, 2005-2007

When asked what she enjoys most about Lancers, Emma explained that the accessibility of Lancers in an important aspect for her. She explained, “My family is not horse-y and is not wealthy so going outside of the city for riding lessons as a child would have been out of the question. If it wasn’t for the location of Lancers I would not have been able to pursue riding, my passion for it would have been lost and I would have never gotten to experience one of the greatest loves of my life - horses! The team spirit and comradery at Lancers is second to none. Even in competitive settings everyone is supportive and encouraging and is always happy to see their fellow Lancers do well”.

Emma and Rocky, 2005-2007

Emma and Rocky, 2005-2007

Emma found it hard to narrow down her favourite memories of Lancers but decided upon showing her all-time favourite horse, the late Rocky. She loved getting Rocky all dolled up and showing him off property was always fun and a great source of pride. She added, “I always tried to make sure he was turned out as well as possible to distract from his awful “Spare Parts” show name”. Emma rode Rocky from the time he came to Lancers as a spunky five-year-old (1998/1999) right up until his death in 2014. She reminds us of how important horses can be to us: “He was with me through out very formative years, all through junior high, high school and beyond. We did everything together (show, clinics, musical ride etc.). He meant the world to me; I still think of him and miss him every day”. Emma’s current favourite is Inga who very much reminds her of Rocky with her similar “you have to earn it” disposition.  

Emma and Rocky, 2005-2007

Emma and Rocky, 2005-2007

We are so happy that Emma still rides with us at Lancers. She particularly enjoys riding in her current J ride as several of them have ridden here for many years and she finds it great fun to be reunited and reminisce about past times and past horses. When not riding, Emma enjoys her dog Hart, cooking, DIY projects, and photography (Emma is also vegan and loves tattoos)! In her future, she would like to combine her love of animals and helping people, perhaps through therapeutic riding and therapy dogs. Horse ownership is a lifelong goal/dream and she is determined to make it happen one day!

Emma and Inga, Lancers Training Show, 2017

Emma and Inga, Lancers Training Show, 2017

We certainly hope Emma continues to ride with us for another 20+ years! Her story is inspiring and is another reminder of how fortunate we are to have horses in the city. It is great to see many of our riders taking a moment to stop during a lesson warm-up and talk to passers-by and tell them about their Lancer horse. Emma’s story goes to show that you never know, that small child on the fence wanting to pet the horse might just be a future Lancer! Thank you, Emma, for your service as a Lancer for the past twenty years. Don’t forget to share your reminiscences with us!  

Our volunteer of the month is Helga Cunningham!

Deciding on our featured volunteer for this month was a breeze because not only is Helga a core volunteer at Lancers but August is always a month where she works at the barn for an alarming amount of hours!

Helga away from her ladder! 

Helga away from her ladder! 

Lancers has been fortunate to have Helga around for the past 19 years! Helga’s daughter Elizabeth rode at Lancers as a child but then they moved to Scotland. When they returned to Halifax in 1998, Elizabeth found an ad in the newspaper for the Lancers Adult Beginner Course which was run through City rec. Helga was reluctant to join despite always wanting to learn to ride. Elizabeth encouraged her and told her that if she didn’t start riding then, she would never do it! So two weeks before Helga’s 50th birthday, she started the beginner course, accompanied by Elizabeth to keep her company. Lucy Cuthbertson (of the Lucy Cuthbertson Fund) and her brother Richard were their instructors. Even though Elizabeth moved away from Halifax, Helga enrolled in the adult membership program and has been with us ever since. It is without a doubt that Helga’s favourite Lancer horses were first Moonbeam and second, Phyllis. In fact, she says that she can’t ride now because they are no longer with us (in fact, Helga does still come to her lessons, but rides Punkin because “she is low to the ground in case I fall off”.

Helga volunteering with H.A.L.T.R.

Helga volunteering with H.A.L.T.R.

It is no exaggeration that you can find Helga at the stables almost every day! On a weekly basis, she waters the ring, fixes just about anything, and (as she jokes), acts as our procurement officer – ensuring that we have all the supplies, equipment and materials we need for running the office and stables. When a horse on vacation recently needed some allergy medicine, Helga even drove way past the airport to deliver it and made sure the horse had what it needed. Since 2000, she has also been a dedicated H.A.L.T.R. (therapeutic riding) volunteer. She began by offering carpentry help and is now the treasurer. Every August when the horses go away we are left with the big task of cleaning out the barn top to bottom. This year we are additionally making significant improvements and Helga (and her husband Peter) have once again been instrumental.

When asked how Lancers compares to other volunteer experiences, Helga explained that Lancers is certainly a bigger involvement and all-encompassing rather than just popping in one afternoon. She couldn’t choose just one favourite memory from Lancers because every presentation of the musical ride is her favourite. She explained, “it is great to see kids working as a team and be so engaged in it. I love to see their smiles as they come around”. She also notes the great friendships that have developed over the years and that Lancers makes sure she isn’t as sedentary as she would be otherwise. One thing she loves about Lancers is the organisation’s deep, meaningful, and important history. She added, “And we should endeavour to try to become more involved in the community if we possibly can – the way we used to be. The city has been very good to us because horses aren’t usually compatible with city life. People can’t keep backyard chickens but we have front yard horses in this city. We need to make sure that we give back to the city which we are doing a whole lot more than the last few years through Open House, Doors Open, and musical ride performances”.

Catching a photo of she who avoids photos like the plague. 

Catching a photo of she who avoids photos like the plague. 

Helga always starts her day off with a coffee and a Soduku puzzle and then generally heads over to Lancers or sets off for Lancers’ errands. It must be a magic combination because Helga (and Peter) are startlingly youthful. She is witty, has a sharp sense of humour, and is incredibly supportive. She goes above and beyond and it is no exaggeration that Lancers wouldn’t be able to function as it does without her. We had to ask her the tough question of whether she would be thinking of retiring from Lancers sometime but she reassured us that she will stick around “until she can no longer climb her ladder”. We hope that day never comes!

So when you next catch Helga at the stables, make sure you thank her for all of her hard work. She does so much behind the scenes and deserves all the credit for her efforts and dedication to Lancers. Thank you, Helga, for giving so much of your time, energy, and enthusiasm to Lancers over the past nearly twenty years. We’re so lucky to have you!

P.S. a fun fact (of many) about Helga is that she once was a shepherd in Northumbria (England) and was in charge of 1,500 ewes! Her herd is smaller now but she shepherds us all the same.  

Our Featured Junior Riders of the Month for August are....all of our junior beginner summer campers!  

Bud, our gentle giant, with one of our smallest campers! 

Bud, our gentle giant, with one of our smallest campers! 

Today marks the last day of the Lancer junior summer camp! It is hard to believe that we have had six weeks of summer camp and hosted over eighty beginner riders aged 8-12! It has been wonderful to see many campers return for another year and we have enjoyed welcoming our new riders to Lancers!  

In each week of camp, our campers learned about grooming, how to tack up a horse, and rode twice a day. While learning the important basics about riding, there were horse-themed activities too. There was a scavenger hunt to find horses with different colours and markings and campers even learn how to muck out a stall! Most days were capped off with the great Lancer camp tradition of playing "Capture the Brush" (a take on Capture the Flag) in the indoor arena. The game is always a big camp favourite.  

Thursdays was always a special day because riders learned how to vault on Inga (the best vaulting horse ever)! They got to stand up, trot backwards, do around the world and even tried scissor kicks (the results were very impressive)!  

Learning how to steer with follow the leader!  

Learning how to steer with follow the leader!  

Look at those vaulting skills! 

Look at those vaulting skills! 

Look ma', no hands! 

Look ma', no hands! 

This year, the third week of camp got an extra special treat of going over to Garrison Grounds to watch the Lancers perform their Musical Ride as the opening act for the RCMP Musical Ride! In all weeks, our Lancer campers got to try their hat at some Musical Ride drills like the Banana Split! 

The campers' smiles and positive feedback we received from parents suggests that this summer camp session has been another success. Our campers have been so fortunate to have Alex as their camp instructor and Claire and Caroline as their camp assistants - all accomplished riders and hardworking individuals who took fantastic care of our Lancer campers.  

We thank all of our eighty campers and their families for choosing the Lancer summer riding camp. This month's feature is for you! We are always pleased to open our doors and share our love of horses with the Halifax community. See you again soon, at our March Break beginner riding camp!  

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Our featured horse of the month for August is Peter!

Peter with a young junior rider. 

Peter with a young junior rider. 

This month we are featuring, and even more so, celebrating, Peter as our horse of the month. Peter is a nineteen-year-old draft cross. He has been at Lancers since he was two and a stallion (but was later gelded)!  Peter is a beautiful bay with a white stripe and two white socks! For the past seventeen years, Lancers has been home to Peter.

In his many years here, Peter has had a chance to try everything! He has been ridden in lessons for both junior and adult riders, summer camp, rider level testing, shows, and even Musical Ride. After years of great service, Peter officially retired from the Musical Ride at the Atlantic Fall Fair in 2016.

Peter at the Downtown Horse Show in 2014

Peter at the Downtown Horse Show in 2014

He has been a great teacher and even though he can be spooky, he always managed to do his job well. Aboard Peter, riders could learn what things were “supposed to feel like”. Peter has always known his job and was a horse that you could always count on. As one of our junior riders said, “he always knew what to do in the show ring”. But he is well known for his fear of water!

Peter had a great time competing last weekend at the 26th Annual Downtown Horse Show with Manya, who has fallen in love with Peter this year, and Jill who has been fortunate enough to learn from Peter over many years. Peter came away with many ribbons, won the 2’ Hunter Division, and certainly seemed to have thoroughly enjoyed himself! The Downtown Horse Show was a very special event, yet bittersweet because it marked Peter’s official retirement from Lancers.

Jill showing Peter for one last time! 

Jill showing Peter for one last time! 

We value our Lancer horses greatly and want them to be able to enjoy many happy days. Peter has been very well loved at Lancers and at the age of nineteen, we feel we should honour his service with a fantastic retirement. Peter is still a fantastic mount but will be enjoying slower days filled with lots of sunshine and pasture at his new home in Southern Ontario. Our “retire a school horse program” is coming very soon (stay tuned) and Peter will be a great example of how school horses are deserving of retirement. It takes a very special character to be a school horse and Peter has exemplified the Lancer horse spirit in his willingness to teach, care, and help his riders grow.

Thank you, Peter, for your many years of service to Lancers. From our instructors, staff, junior and adult riders, and Lancer alumni, we wish you the best and hope you enjoy the Ontario wind blowing in your mane! 

Peter's Retirement Party at the Downtown Horse Show (July 30, 2017)

Our Featured Adult Rider of the Month is Kat Stratton

We’re pleased to be featuring Kat Stratton as our featured adult rider of the month because she is one of our newest riders and has already jumped right into the Lancer community. Although Kat rode between the ages of seven and eleven in Belgium, she started at Lancers in September in the adult beginner course. It has been great to watch Kat’s riding skills improved so much over the year and she now rides in A2.

In that short time, Kat has participated in Lancer activities such as the Groundwork clinic which she said was a great experience. She volunteered her time at “Spruce up the Barn Day” in the spring where she took on the tough task of cleaning the bathrooms!  Kat is looking forward to volunteering this weekend at the Downtown Horse Show.

Kat always makes sure to ride for fun although one day she would like to do a horse show for a personal challenge! The best part about Lancers, according to Kat, is that “everyone talks to everyone no matter their age or background. We’re all just here for the love of horses”. She added that she is impressed with the instructors here and the emphasis on safety.

Her favourite horse is Zero: “I like his sensitive and quirky personality but I also really like Peter and Bud - I would feel bad not mentioning them!” Even though Kat has only been at Lancers for a year, she already has too many favourite memories. One that came to mind was her first time cantering a course over poles! She was riding Heidi for the first time and it went really well!

When Kat isn’t riding or volunteering at Lancers, she enjoys listening to music and reading (currently mystery novels have captured her interest)!

Thanks, Kat, for being a display of a great Lancer! We can’t wait to see you back in the saddle in September!

Here is Kat last night riding Peter!  

 

Our Featured Volunteer of the Month for July is Rickey Osmond

We’re excited that this month we get to profile Rickey Osmond, a volunteer who dedicates so much of his time to Lancers but often works “behind the scenes” or rather, behind the lens, as a photographer! Rickey is at many of our events and captures great photographs and even some videos.

Rickey has been a Lancer volunteer for the past decade; his daughter Jillian is in ride 2 and his other daughter Miranda also rode at Lancers until she aged out in 2015. He started out fixing fence posts for the barn but then got into photography and has since taken thousands of photos of Lancers. Rickey points out that, particularly at Musical Ride events and shows, he endeavours to capture a snap of each rider. The job isn’t easy and not only for the fact that Rickey is often away on weekend and works overtime as a Safety and Environmental Inspector for the Department of National Defence (he retired from the Navy) but also because he knows he has some thoughtful critics: “I try not to include photos where the horses legs aren’t cut off etc. because I know the kids won’t like it”!

Although Rickey has spent countless hours at the barn over the years, he isn’t a rider and has only been on a horse once or twice! When asked about his favourite horse, Rickey honestly pointed out that the only horse he could always identify was Jake (our smallest pony) so he opted for Jill’s favourite horse, Oliver. For him, the best part about Lancers is the riders. “I see what it instills in the kids - great personal skills, responsibility - and the location of the barn has always been a big priority for me”.

Jill only has one more year at Lancers as a junior rider and if she moves on to different pastures for school, we might lose Rickey too! We’ll be sad to see the Osmond family go! Looking back on what Rickey called “the best volunteering experience without a doubt”, he says he will remember all the shows and musical ride performances, “with the kid getting dressed up and preparing their horses - and all the smiles. It’s a very fun experience”.

When not photographing Lancers or editing countless photos, Rickey is an avid guitar player! He has done a great service to Lancers over the years. We try to share his photos as much as possible but if you want to see more, make sure to check out his Facebook page (RickeyG Photography or @Rickeygphotography). Thank you, Rickey, for not only capturing such special moments in our riders’ (and horses’) lives but for always showing your support of Lancers! Here are some of Rickey’s photos capturing special events this year!

Our Featured Junior Riders for July are our five graduating Lancers!

This month we are featuring our graduating riders!

Amy, Sara (graduating next year), and Alix in the Public Gardens

Amy, Sara (graduating next year), and Alix in the Public Gardens

As we near the end of our riding year, it comes time for us to say farewell (for now..) to our riders who are graduating high school and moving on to university. This year, five of our riders are “aging out” and leaving Lancers.

There were tears - but that means that Lancers, the horses, riders, volunteers, and instructors did their job in fostering a welcoming and fun space where individuals could come together with a shared passion for horses and equestrian athleticism. The fact that many younger riders go off to see and take photos with their graduating peers in the Public Gardens speaks to this close bond between our riders. (Photos)

AMY WITHINGTON is excited to be going to McGill University and is very determined to keep riding. Upon reflection of her ten years spent at Lancers, Amy said she will cherish the friendships, amazing experiences (coaching, riding, musical ride, working with the horses). “It doesn’t feel just like friendships”, Amy said, “we feel like sisters”. We asked each rider what lessons they have learned at Lancers that will be useful for their future. Responsibility and work ethic!

ALIX LANE is headed to Queens University for a Bachelor of Arts. Alix has ridden at Lancers for 5 years and has similarly made a lot of friends for life here. As a piece of advice for younger riders, Alix suggested, “Always get back on the horse” - a good lesson for life indeed.

Amy and Claire (graduating next year) 

Amy and Claire (graduating next year) 

SOPHIE HARTLEN will also be leaving the province when she joins Mount Allison University in New Brunswick. Sophie too, mentioned that she would miss all the people and horses at Lancers. Sophie made a point to note that Lancers taught her about more than just riding and showed her “how to get over frustrations, and move through fear of frustrations, and focus on the matter at hand”. Finally, as a word of advice for younger riders, Sophie said “get involved with everything you can and savour this time because it goes by in the blink of an eye”.

CHARLOTTE MCNEELY will be attending Acadia University in the fall. She hopes to eventually become a veterinarian. She started riding at Lancers 6 years ago, and says “Lancers has made me more confident in myself and my abilities.” Charlotte is a Francophone, and credits Lancers with giving her the opportunity to practice and improve her English skills, on top of her riding skills. She says Lancers taught her how to make new friends in an unfamiliar setting. She plans to continue to ride but will miss Lancers very much. “I will miss the horses a lot, but I will especially miss the People of Lancers.”

JOHANNA WENC will be joining Alix at Queen’s in the fall. She has also been with us for 5 years. She was unavailable for comment, but we know we will miss her greatly. Johanna could always be counted on to have a wonderful attitude toward any given task. She set a great example for our Lancer community and we wish her all the best.

Sophie, Amy, and Alix

Sophie, Amy, and Alix

We are very fortunate to have been a part of the lives of these young women and to watch them as they embark on new chapters in their lives. We wish that we may keep happy memories, and lessons, both horse, and life-related, with them. We can’t wait for their first visits back to the barn. We shall welcome them with open arms but let’s not be fooled - the horses will be expecting some special treats and attention!

Our Featured Horse for July is Rainey!

Rainey is an eleven-year-old mare. She came to Lancers from New Brunswick in September 2015 and has been a barn favourite ever since! She is half thoroughbred, a quarter paint, and a quarter draft and her unique colouring is called skewball, commonly known as a paint. Rainey was originally named Nor Easter, a weather-related term, but recently we have considered changing her name to “PS I Love You” because she is affectionately known in the barn as “poop stains”.

Rainey is used in our adult and junior rides and is part-leased by one of our adult riders. Though incredibly sweet and kind, she can be a challenge to ride because she can be speedy! Rainey has also stepped right into the Musical Ride and is even used for Pony Club Prince Philip Games and pony rides at our October open house. Her patience and sensible attitude mean that she will likely one day also join our therapeutic riding program.

When she came to Lancers, Rainey didn’t even know how to canter under saddle but she has since learned so much and is now a regular top pick at all of our horse shows! Rainey is one of our barn favourites because she is an incredibly kind mare and patiently stands for her many, many baths. She may be small but she is certainly mighty!

Our Featured Staff Member for June is Elizabeth Melvin!

As June has five Fridays, we are pleased to announce Elizabeth as our featured staff member of the month! Elizabeth is a fundamental part of the Lancer community. She has been a stablehand here for 28 and a half years! That makes Elizabeth our staff member who has been here the longest. Back in the pre-internet days, Elizabeth saw the job posting in the newspaper.

Many people won’t know but Elizabeth arrives at the barn every Monday-Friday at 7:30am. Her day starts with feeding the horses, turning out the first group of horses and then mucking their stalls. Half way through the morning, she switches turn out groups and then works on those horses’ stalls. Around lunch time she sweeps the barn and then gives the horses their lunch feed (and then takes her own lunch break). After lunch she does more turn out and moves on to tidying the barn, including the locker room, upstairs, and the bathrooms. She then feeds the horses again, and leaves at 4:30pm! On top of these regular tasks, Elizabeth also works with our other stablehand Saskia. Together they also make sure horses have hay, grain, any necessary supplements and administer medication to any horses in need.

Elizabeth’s work here is a continuation of her family’s involvement with Standardbreds and harness racing. About ten years ago, Elizabeth took the Lancers adult beginner course and her daughter Emily rode at Lancers for ten years, only ending last June after finishing in Ride 1. While she does get on her daughter’s horse every once and a while, she is more used to being in the cart rather than on the horse’s back! Elizabeth’s favourite horse at Lancers as is Simba. She likes that he has lots of character and is quite playful during turn out!

 When asked how working at Lancers compares to other places, Elizabeth noted that Lancers is well organised and has a much nicer atmosphere. Being in the middle of the city adds to the appeal (makes for nice lunch breaks)!

We also asked Elizabeth what she enjoys most about Lancers to which she replied that she likes, of course, working with the horses, but also that there are lots of nice people here. Particularly Elizabeth pointed out “it is nice to meet all these people who come in and it is nice to see people who used to ride here a while ago sometimes even as kids, come back and bring their children with them”! On that note, one of Elizabeth’s favourite memories of Lancers was in June 1991 (almost exactly twenty-six years ago) when she was called up to the Mitchell Room only to find that everyone had thrown her a surprise baby shower complete with decorations and a stroller with a big bow on it!

Because Elizabeth has been here so long, we couldn’t resist asking her for some fun facts about Lancers. She noted that when she started here, most of the horses were black or bay (in keeping with the original 1936 Lancer ideal). Gradually horses of other colours have been added to the Lancer heard. She also mentioned that she has been caring for Peter, who is now 19, since he arrived at Lancers as a two year old!

We really appreciate everything that Elizabeth does for the horses and for our riders. We value her commitment to Lancers and hope to keep her around for many years to come (perhaps another twenty-eight)? Thank you, Elizabeth!

Our Featured Adult Rider for June is Noha AlSharif!

Noha has only been riding for three years. She started in 2014 when she joined the Lancers adult beginner course and now rides in A1 (one of our adult rides). Beyond helping her stay fit, Noha finds that riding really helps her clear her mind. Noha specifically points out that “the relationship with horses is beyond rewarding; it simply makes me feel better and happier. Riding improved my confidence a lot and the sense of responsibility”. Further, Noha also values Lancers because it has allowed her to pursue her dream of riding horses which, as she describes, is very difficult for females to do back in her home country of Saudi Arabia:

“Riding horses there is more male dominant, combined with the nature of the conservative society that resists women’s involvement in sports particularly in public. There are only a few stables where women can ride as most stables are privately owned. It is easy to take things for granted and my experience of struggling to pursue horseback riding at home makes me very grateful for what I have right now since I can ride here with much more ease and freedom.”

Noha very much enjoys being around the horses at Lancers, even when she isn’t riding. She likes that Lancer horses are reliable and can be ridden by beginners but can still perform spectacularly when being ridden by advanced riders. When asked who her favourite horse is, Noha joked that although it is hard to have just one, she really likes Zero! She often rides Heidi and Peter too and says that both are adorable, even adding “I’ll miss Peter so much when he retires!” Along with favourite horses, Noha has many great memories of Lancers. Her favourite was last year when Lancers offered trail rides for adults for a day at Salmon River camp. It was a special occasion for Noha as it was the first time she had ever ridden a horse in the woods! “I was on Zero and I’ve never seen him so excited and happy”, she recalled, “we cantered uphill and Zero was just so excited!” Although she started out feeling tense, this soon changed to a feeling of excitement and fun. According to Noha, it was an incredible experience and very interesting to observe the change in horses’ behaviour and how much they enjoyed their summer break.

For Noha, it is sense of community (and location!) that makes Lancers so unique. She adds:

“I also like generosity that Lancers community is characterized by; whether it’s the horses that happily keep on giving until their retirement or the riders who give their time to support the barn in all ways -it is amazing! I usually refer to Lancers as a big family of riders and horse lovers, where riders (and their family) dedicate time to volunteer and are always there to help. It is absolutely what makes Lancers a special place!”

When not at the barn, Noha reads and tries to learn more about horses. She also spends some time doing yoga, watching movies, and playing with her cats. In the future, she hopes to keep riding and maybe even have her own horse one day!

Our Featured Volunteer for June is Jessica Evans!

Until now, Jessica certainly hasn’t received enough recognition for her volunteer role as Show Secretary. At every on-site training show and at our Downtown Horse Show, Jessica works tirelessly to make sure all entries and riders are in order. Jessica took up this role last year and we are very thankful that she is continuing for this show season!

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Although an animal lover, Jessica had no previous experience around horses. It was her daughter Lucie (ride 6) who brought her to Lancers. Beyond her volunteering experience, it is the love Lucie has for everything Lancers that Jessica enjoys most! “She has never wanted to miss a lesson and asks daily to go to the barn”, Jessica notes. She then added, “from the horses, friends, instructors, barn monitors, parents and volunteers, it is a truly awesome, positive, fun and safe place for my daughter to be. It is wonderful when your child finds their special, happy place”.

When not volunteering as our Horse Show secretary, Jessica and her son Sam make sure to help out as much as possible! They have helped out with hay and shavings deliveries and barn clean up days, have worked at the canteen, and have even driven lots of other kids to horse shows! Although Jessica doesn’t ride, she says she has gained a soft spot for Inga because she is currently her daughter’s favourite horse. Jessica likes that Inga can be a tricky horse to ride and that Lucie loves the challenge! Even Jessica’s son has favourite horses. The police horses, Sarge and Val, are his favourite so they spend a lot of time around their stalls as well!

One of Jessica’s favourite memories of Lancers was picking up Lucie from Salmon River camp last August and the drive back to the city. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen her so happy and full of amazing stories from the previous week”, she added!

We’re always happy to hear that our volunteers also get something out of their experiences at Lancers. Jessica says that volunteering at Lancers has “been by far my best volunteer opportunity to date”! “Other opportunities in the past”, Jessica notes, “took me away from my children and required a babysitter but Lancers is such a welcoming place and even my son, who used to be terribly afraid of horses, is more than happy to tag along”!

In the future, Jessica would love to take a few more riding lessons with her daughter! That, of course, is music to our ears and we think we should put Jessica on our waitlist for the adult beginner course!

Our Featured Junior Rider for June is Sophie Hartlen!

Sophie is one of our top riders at the barn and is always there to lend a helping hand when needed. Not all of our riders are interested in competing but they are certainly equally valued members of Lancers. Sophie is a great example of this! Now in ride 1, Sophie has been riding at Lancers for nine years and has developed into a highly accomplished rider.

sophie and chevy.jpg

 She started at the Lancers summer camp and was immediately “hooked”! Over the years, Sophie has participated in the Musical ride, occasionally stable handed and acts as a barn monitor but her favourite activity is doing night hay. She loves night hay because she likes to be the last one at the barn and enjoys seeing all the horses tucked in and happily munching away at their hay.

When asked what she enjoys most about Lancers, Sophie noted “the wonderful horses and how easy it is to make friends because of the way the riding program is structured; I’ve met some of my best friends from being in the same ride as them!” When asked who her favourite horses are, Sophie chose easily Giquau and Val because “they both pose some challenges but have big hearts and aim to please!”

Sophie’s favourite memory of Lancers was her first (and only) time participating in the Musical Ride! To this, she quickly added, “I really regret not doing it in previous years because it was such as fun experience!” Specifically, performing at the Atlantic Agricultural Fall Fair was a highlight because it was her first time going off-property with a horse. According to Sophie, “it was rewarding to see all of our hard work be shown off in front of many people!” Participating in the dog and horse relay at the fair was also “super fun” and was certainly a unique experience!

In addition to riding, Sophie (who is quite tall!) plays basketball, soccer, and rugby.

Sophie is now into her last six weeks riding at Lancers because in September she is going to Mount Allison University in New Brunswick to complete a BSc and will pursue a career in the field of health sciences. Sophie makes sure to add that she would love to keep riding so “will make sure to always keep [her] helmets and boots in the trunk of the car in case the opportunity ever arises”.

From our perspective, this time of year is always tinged with a hue of sadness but also excitement as some of our riders graduate and embark on new adventures outside of Halifax. We take pride in adding those riders to our Lancer alumni and wish all of our graduating riders the very best and hope to see them back at Lancers one day.