Our Featured Volunteers of the Month are James, Maggie, CC, Brooklyn, and Jordan!

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While each month we usually feature just one of our volunteers, we are still coping with our quarantine so it has been an unusual time. Therefore, we are compelled to feature not just one individual but FIVE of our junior riders who recently answered the call to Help the Horses of Halifax by organising bake sales to raise funds! Our junior riders James, Maggie, CC, Brooklyn, and Jordan are our featured volunteers for the month of June! Of course, we also have to give a shout out to Jess (James’ sister), Rachel (Jordyn’s sister and Addison (a friend) who also helped organise and run these two separate bake sales on Sunday, June 3rd! The city showed its support by purchasing the freshly homemade baked goods to the effect of raising over $800! The record might have been someone paying $20 for a single cookie!

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It wasn’t long after we started our GoFundMe campaign that we received word from parents that some junior riders wanted to hold a bake sale to raise money. CC and James from ride 11 had spoken about wanting to do something for the horses. James’ mum Alison (an adult rider) (gently) discussed with him the financial impact of the quarantine and Alison explained the GoFundMe campaign but as a ten-year-old, it wasn’t a concept James had come across before. Later on in the day, after clearly having the horses on his mind all day, James told his mum, “I have had an idea for the lancers. If we have a bake sale downtown we could give the money to the lancers. I was thinking that we could organize it with my ride?” CC was immediately on board with the idea and they set out to hold their bake sale! CC and James’s households set off to make everything - even the chocolates - and then set up shop in the Stables’ parking lot.

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At much the same time, on the other side of the city, Brooklyn (R11) also had the idea to hold a bake sale. At school, Brooklyn and Maggie (R7) were talking about the sick horses and how the barn needed money to take care of them. According to Maggie, Brooklyn proposed a bake sale and she thought it was a great out so they recruited Jordyn, Jordyn’s sister Rachel, and Addison, a friend who helped even though she doesn’t ride! Maggie explained, “we decided we could have it at the park close to where we all live. We handed out flyers around the neighbourhood, and told all out friends about it!” The Lancers as well as others (grandmothers, aunts, even friends who have done Lancer camps before) baked all the items!  

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The love of the horses and the passion for Lancers that these riders have is so evident. Jordyn explained that she “decided to join because [she] loves the horses and [she] wanted to help them feel better the best way I can”. James wanted to help “so that the horses could get better”.  CC added: “I wanted to do anything I could. At least this makes us feel like we can do something to help the horses." While the Lancers were helping the horses, they also found the experience taught them a few things. Jordyn said that she “learned how generous people can be, and how much three kids can accomplish, raising 530.00!” According to Brooklyn, the experience taught her that “even when the weather is cold and windy, people will come out to support a worthy cause.” CC noted that "I learned how much people in Halifax love the horses at Bengal Lancers. People were so generous. And even if they didn't have money with them, they were interested in how the horses are doing." James’s little sister Jess evidently learned that “some people (the CTV man) just drive around town looking for news!” The result of that was the bake sale feature on the CTV news!

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These two bake sales may initially seem like a modest event but not only did they take a lot of time and preparation (and baking!), but they are incredibly inspiring. First, it show just how strongly these young riders feel about riding, the horses, and Lancers, and second, it shows the power of youth; they were proactive, compassionate, saw a need, and found a way to make it happen! That is a wonderful display of the Lancer spirit and we are so fortunate to have these great Lancers among us!

See the news clip here: https://atlantic.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=1409215

Our Featured Junior Rider of the Month is Johanna Limmer

We are pleased to have Johanna Limmer as our featured junior rider for the month of June! Johanna is from Germany and came to Halifax in January on a student exchange program. It was early last year that she inquired about riding at Lancers. We put her on the waitlist and it just so happened that we had another junior rider at her level going away on exchange in January so we were able to welcome Johanna into our programming as soon as she arrived in Canada.

Johanna started riding three years ago and had a strong Dressage foundation. Her passion is riding and she focuses her time and energy on doing so (with perhaps a run thrown in on days she isn’t riding). At Lancers, she joined ride 2 and had a great time in the group riding twice a week. Not only is Johanna incredibly kind-hearted and pleasant to be around but we remarked on how quickly she integrated into Lancers. She is very helpful and even chose to volunteer much of her time to help with our March Break camp. Despite only being at Lancers six months, it was great to see how well she fit in. In fact, when we asked her what she enjoyed most about Lancers, she noted “I LOVE how friendly everybody is and that the community sticks together”. Having an exchange student at Lancers was a great experience for our riders too and it was wonderful to see everyone immediately get along.

Johanna was here to learn from us, but we also enjoyed learning as much as we could from her. It was a wonderful opportunity for the other riders in her ride to be able to compare and contrast how some of the same concepts had been taught to her in Germany.

Even though Johanna had not jumped a whole lot before arriving at Lancers, she took her lessons in stride and made great progress. Her favourite horse was definitely Giquau, even though, she said, “he can be a little floppy sometimes”. She added, “I learned to ‘guide’ my horse better to the jump on him and I loved how calm and relaxed he was with the grooming and little kids running around him”. When asked what her favourite memory of Lancers is, she replied, “when I jumped 3.3ft in a private lesson with Angie and Giquau for the first time!”

Johanna is now returning to Germany (in a few days) and hopes to start competing at horse shows soon. Her six-months as a Lancer has been too short for us but we were so happy that she was able to join us. At the end of the interview, Johanna kindly concluded by saying, “I had such an amazing time here and I really want to say thank you!!!” Equally, we want to thank you for being a great Lancer and bringing a positive attitude with you each time you entered the barn.

Johanna, we hope that you return home with some new riding skills and fond memories of Lancers and Halifax! Remember that you shall proudly have a place in our Lancer alumni network. We wish you all the very best and we don’t forget to send us photos and updates from your shows back home! 

Our Featured Horse of the Month for June is Shay!

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Shay has been with us for almost exactly a year. She has been on a lot of people’s minds lately because she was one of our horses who contracted Strangles. We are very fortunate that none of our horses’ symptoms have been very severe throughout our outbreak. While Shay is no exception, she has been the only one to develop an abscess under her jaw. The silver lining for this is that she has been in good spirits the whole time, eating and drinking, and best of all, has been a most excellent patient. No doubt her willingness to cooperate with us for all her treatments will help her recover quickly.

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Shay came to us on an indefinite trial period last summer and stayed with us for a long time. When her owner thought he might have another buyer for her this spring, we immediately knew we couldn’t live without her, so purchased her for the school. Shay will be turning 6 this year and is a beautiful black mare registered with the American Paint Horse Association. She is a little too big to be a pony, but not a very big horse – many in the horse world affectionately call her sized horse a “Hony”. She is reminiscent of some of the Lancer ponies from the 60’s and 70’s.

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Shay is very laid back and doesn’t seem to get spooked by anything which makes her an ideal lesson horse. She is still a little green, so gets ridden by some of the more experienced riders, but has already had a few rides from younger riders and takes very good care of them. We know that one day she will be an amazing beginners’ mount, but for the time being the older riders are enjoying putting her through the paces. She is proving herself to be a pretty great little athlete on top of having a wonderful brain.

We are pleased to tell you that Shay is starting to feel better; we are doing everything that we can to ensure a speedy recovery!

Our Featured Adult Rider of the Month is Kelsey Holt

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With our recently implemented quarantine, these have been a difficult times for our stables. Now more than ever, we are grateful for the dedicated community that we have around us. We have decided to continue to celebrate our Friday features as a reminder of all the great things we have in our community and to keep up the Lancer spirit.

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On that note, we are pleased to feature Kelsey Holt as our featured adult rider of the month. Although there is no family relation to Angie Holt, Kelsey has been riding with Angie since she was eleven years old. In more recent years, it became more difficult for her to keep up her riding since moving into the city and attending university. When Angie started back at Lancers, Kelsey soon followed suit. Kelsey is one of our J-riders and she is now in medical school! She very quickly integrated into the J-ride which has many riders who have been at Lancers since they were children. She concluded, "I love Lancers because it feels like a great big family of amazing horses and people. My very first time riding in the J1 ride made me feel like I had been there forever. Everyone was so helpful and kind".

In her “spare time”, she teaches swing dancing and is grateful to be able to fit in her once a week lesson at Lancers. Lancers provides her with the opportunity to ride quality horses and still fit it into her busy schedule. Kelsey loves to try out all the different horses in the barn and some of her favourites are Rupert and Rockette.

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Kelsey loves to volunteer at Lancers whenever she can. Neatly and efficiently stacking hay and shavings are her specialty! She participated a lot in last year’s August clean-up and she also has first responder training so has acted as our first responder at our schooling shows. Above all, Kelsey is a wonderful person. It is a breath of fresh air to have her in the barn because she is always so helpful and pleasant. We look forward to watching her achieve her goal of becoming a medical doctor!                         

Our Featured Volunteer of the Month is Janice Palmer

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Janice, Tootsie, and Leah

Our featured volunteer of the month is Janice Palmer. Although Janice is not a rider, her first introduction to horses was hanging out at a hobby farm down the road when she was a child. Four years ago, her life found its way back to horses when her daughter Leah started riding. Leah is now in ride 5. Over those years, Janice has kindly volunteered her time and has done so in two major capacities. She is in charge of the ribbons for the Downtown Horse Show which means she must iron all the ribbons if they are bent, organise them by class, and have them ready to be distributed at the show. It often also includes finding kids throughout the day who want to give them out! This will also be Janice's fourth year organising the used clothing sale at our September Welcome Back BBQ. For the sale, Janice collects items from members and alumni and often ends up taking a lot home to wash. She then sorts through items, organises and prices them, and sets up the tables for the sale day. This used clothing sale is a great community effort; it provides Lancers a cost-effective way to share and reuse items (especially boots as children grow) and is a fundraiser for the barn. We are fortunate that Janice has taken over these two projects and it makes it easy for us when we can count on her each year as a volunteer for those.

When asked who her favourite horse is, Janice was quick to choose Bud! She loves that he is a big friendly giant and is so gentle. This adoration must be true because when Leah walked in the office we asked her who her mum's favourite horse is and she quickly said, "Bud because he is big and kind"! Beyond Bud, we asked Janice what she enjoys most about Lancers. She explained, "the girls are really happy here. They are a good group of girls and they like to hang out here. It is a safe space for them to hang out and do something they clearly enjoy. The older girls are good role models and are really helpful and are always willing to help and answer any questions from the younger girls". Janice further noted that she perceives riding as a way for the junior riders to "learn a lot about themselves and their abilities. Caring for an animal is a great way to learn and teaches particular responsibilities that they might not learn anywhere else". She also explained how Lancers gives the riders a chance to learn to balance academics, social time, responsibilities in the barn, and being an athlete. "Riding at Lancers", she elaborated, "is a little different because they have their hour that they ride but they also have to prepare and then clean up; in most sports you show up, play your hour and go home but here you have to work for it". Riders learn at Lancers, said Janice, that they are required to do extra things and that if no one does the extra chores than how do you maintain a structure and keep the barn running?

 Janice and Bud who is "large, gentle and a lover of peppermints!"

Janice and Bud who is "large, gentle and a lover of peppermints!"

Overall, Janice noted that she enjoys that Lancers is a very welcoming place and that everyone is very friendly. "It is a great group of people", she noted, "and for the volunteers and riders who have been here for years (even 25 years) or people who come back as adult riders, there must be something special here that draws them in". This is even reflected when Janice tells people that Leah rides at Lancers: "people often say they used to ride here or knew someone who did and it is clear that there are many fond memories that people have about Lancers". It is wonderful to see that Leah is creating her own fond memories at Lancers and that she is learning through example by seeing her mum's volunteerism. Of Janice's contribution, Leah said "she is really kind and helpful to others and she is good at organising the clothing sale". We then asked Leah how her mum teaches her lessons that also help to make her a good Lancer and she responded: "she teaches me to be respectful and return things that I borrow and to label things and to be safe". That line made it so apparent that while Lancers instills values and positive behaviours in our riders, our junior riders and their parents also share values which in turn, help strengthen the Lancer community even more! Be kind, be respectful, be safe, share, take care of your own things and those of others, and give back to the community.

Janice also gives her time as the District Commission of the Halifax South Girl Guides unit and is a Pathfinder leader too. Of this, she said that volunteering at Lancers is similar because both volunteer works include her working with girls and women who are passionate about providing positive experiences for young people. In her "spare time", she rows at the Halifax Rowing Club. While rowing season is now upon us, so is horseshow season and it is exciting that Leah is starting to enter the show ring! We are confident that we will see Janice even more over the next five years and we are very thankful for the time she gives us in her volunteer capacities.

 

Our Featured Junior Rider of the Month is Jill Osmond!

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For the past ten years of her life, Jill Osmond has walked through the stables doors on Bell road at least twice a week. Jill joined the beginner summer camps and started riding in the Junior Beginner Course a week before her 8th birthday and she is now 18 and is in ride 2. As one can imagine, choosing a favourite horse over those ten years is tricky. She recalled that when she first started riding, she rode Jake for a while until she was probably about 12. She said she liked him "because he is Jake and most kids are drawn to Jake". She laughed when she recalled his cheekiness, particularly when she rode him in the fun show at the end of the beginner summer camp and he went into someone else's stall and stole a piece of hay. "Classic Jake", she said.

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From that memory, Jill realised that there are quite a few horses at Lancers who have been here since she started riding. "Horses like Jake, Bud, and Punkin have been here and I have seen them change and get older", she noted. I bet they say the same about you, Jill! Jill also joked that when she started the Course she was about as tall as Punkin's leg (who is a pony). We hope that photo can be unearthed! After Jake, Jill rode Bobbi for about a year straight and over the years has also loved horses like Owen and Peter and even some that she doesn’t ride. But overall, her favourite horse is definitely Oliver. She explained, "he helped me when I was in a pretty stuck place. There was a place in my life where I was in a rut for a while and he brought me out of it. I started to love riding again. To me, that is pretty important. His spirit, and that he always looks happy and full of life...that kind of energy just rubs off on me".

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Over the years, Jill has been involved with many extra-curriculars. She used to stablehand and do night hay when she was younger and has dutifully helped with hay and shavings deliveries. She noted that living in Eastern Passage makes it a bit trickier to get to the barn as often as she would like. She has done some training shows at Lancers and used to groom for shows for her sister and other Lancers. Upon reflection, Jill recalled that when learning to ride, everyone was cantering but she was really nervous to canter. This brought a little chuckle because for the past three years, Jill has participated in the Musical Ride which arguably takes a lot more mettle (and co-ordination) than a simple canter! In her Musical Ride career, Jill had the benefit of performing for two of the largest public performances in recent Lancer history: the Atlantic Fall Fair (2016) and the opening performance for the RCMP on the Garrison Grounds (2017). Jill noted that she was drawn to the Musical Ride because she would see her sister in it and it seemed fun and very tough.

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Certainly, performing on the Garrison Grounds added some extra excitement (and nerves). On one hand, Jill noted that Angie has reminded the riders that they used to ride across the street for the lessons and for Jill, this stuck as a really neat opportunity to go back across the street. On the other hand, for the performance, Jill thought she would be much more nervous because of the crowd but she persevered and zoned the crowd out. That she rode Oliver at the last minute instead of her normal Musical Ride horse Alice was a fun and quick adjustment. Overall, Jill noted that the Musical Ride has taught her that "it is really important to help people around you. Musical Ride can be stressful and my advice would be to help people out if you have time. Just try and help out". This was a great way of expressing the essence of the Musical Ride that is 16 junior riders working hard thorough the season to accurately perform a choreographed ride to music!

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When asked about a favourite memory of Lancers, Jill recalled the very first day she came into the barn. She said she remembered being really excited and amazed because she had never grown up around horses. She has participated in Sparks, Brownies, Girl Guides, and then swimming but horseback riding "got her and just stuck". On this, she recalled that her sister Miranda had a friend who rode at Lancers. Both Miranda (who is a few years older) and Jill began riding at Lancers and for a while, they were even in the same ride. Looking back then, Jill noted that riding also became something important that she could have in common with her sister. They still share that bond through riding. In a similar vein, Jill noted that beyond the horses being what she enjoys most about Lancers, it is that the people are great too. She elaborated, "there is a sense of community here. There are always the same people and it is that sense of familiarity that creates the community. I think it is also good here because I know lots of riders and well, high school is a time full of drama and Lancers is a place to get away from it all". Jill added in that she likes that Lancers is an old building but has also enjoyed seeing changes to the barn over time like the new adult locker room. She wisely noted that "you have to have a bit of both – change and continuity. If you preserve some aspects without change then nothing can grow".

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When not riding, Jill loves to go on the trampoline, play videogames, cuddle with her dog named Cuddles, and write short stories! As Jill is graduating from high school this year, intends to get a part time job and pursue credits so she can get into school to study psychology. She wants to be a psychologist because she likes to help people and there is a need in Nova Scotia.

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*Note* Just as we were finishing up our chat, Jill's father Rickey came into the office. Naturally, he is known around Lancers and can often to found snapping photos from the rail. We have very much appreciated his talent and many of our recent Musical Ride photos are shows of his work and for that, he was our Volunteer of the Month in July, 2017. But beyond all of that, Rickey has spent more than the past ten years coming to Lancers too and with that he said, "it is going to be strange not being here". This struck a chord because Lancers is a community and its families, not just riders, who are part of that community. We thank Jill and Rickey and alumni Miranda for being a part of our community for about an eighth of Lancers' life!

Our Featured Horse of the Month is Reese!

Reese is our featured horse of the month and he is well-known at Lancers, particularly for his long legs. The junior riders at Lancers affectionately call him Swan because of his long neck! Reese is a thoroughbred and is turning eight this year. He is ridden by children and adults and while he is a big powerful horse, he is also very respectful when he has a beginner on his back. The junior riders particularly like his sweet personality, the fact that he is very willing, and that he will always try whatever you ask. Saskia, one of our stablehands, really likes Reese because he is very well-mannered and wants to please. He is never pushy and is good with his blankets. Saskia noted, “he is one of the easiest horses to work with in the barn”! Reese can be a little bit accident prone but he seems to be growing out of it. Sometimes he gets himself in trouble with the other horses while he is turned out. Even though he is a tad accident prone, he is always an excellent patient. He has taught many children first aid skills! He is one of the few horses who we try NOT to take on the trails at Salmon River because he is far too excitable. He also doesn’t appreciate car doors slamming at home. Reese has led our Musical Ride and he has done many off-property horse shows. With his show name Velocity, he has shown up to 2’9” with some very impressive winnings including reserve champion at the Coveside training days in the 2’6” hunters with more than 20 other horses competing. That championship was with Amy Withington who, almost exactly a year ago, we featured as our Junior Rider of the Month and who, we are very happy to say, has just returned from her first year at McGill and has rejoined Lancers as an J-rider!

Our Featured Adult Rider of the month is....our graduating university students!

At this time of year, we always have a few Lancers who set off for the next phase of their lives when they finish university. Their departure always leaves a void but we are so proud of their achievements. To mark the occasion, Kathleen Bowman, Gabby Lemoine, Ashley Keary, and Elizabeth Rollinson are our featured adult riders of the month! These young women are strong, smart, know how to advocate for themselves, and are ready to take on the world! While we can’t claim too much responsibility for who they have become, we hope that during their time with us they have felt supported and that being a Lancer has added something to their lives which will stay with them long after they have left the stables in the Heart of Halifax. As our alumni Kevin Crosby said, “once a Lancer, always a Lancer”. So, Kathleen, Gabby, Ashley, and Elizabeth, may Lancer red always stay in your heart. We know you will bring great things to this world and from all of us back at Lancers, we’re rooting for you!

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Kathleen Bowman is leaving Lancers after riding with us for four years during her undergraduate degree at Dalhousie. This year she rode in A1 on Tuesday nights and loved that gang! On top of that, Kathleen has been an extremely valuable volunteer since last September coming every Wednesday and Friday mornings to help our stablehands with a variety of tasks! Kathleen was our featured adult rider of the month in November so you can read more about her on our website. In that feature, she spoke about how she was pursuing her dreams of becoming a veterinarian and that her top choice of vet school was University College Dublin. It was just nine days ago that she emailed us to say that she had been accepted into vet school at her top choice and will be moving to Ireland! We are beyond thrilled for Kathleen and are so happy that we could provide her a space to volunteer with animals. Last week was Kathleen’s last volunteering shift with us and it was a sweet moment to see how much Elizabeth, our stablehand who had been working with Kathleen, valued having her around. Kathleen, your genuine concern for animals is so apparent and your future patients will be lucky to benefit from your calming disposition and high standard of care.

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Gabby Lemoine has been riding at Lancers the longest, fifteen years to be exact. She started in 1997 when she was seven years old and took a few years off during her undergraduate degree. In recent years, she returned as a J-rider and Ollie has been her favourite horse. She even had the opportunity to lease him during her second year of law school. Gabby’s favourite part of Lancers is the horses but also for the wonderful community it provides. She explained, Lancers is an inclusive place with a focus on volunteerism, teamwork, and learning. Anyone who loves horses, who is passionate about riding and horsemanship, and who isn’t afraid to get their hands dirty (both literally and figuratively) has a place here. The community focused aspect of Lancers is something I treasure, and it’s one of the reasons I am so heartbroken to be leaving (for the second time in my life). As Gabby sets to depart on her new chapter in life (next Tuesday to be precise), she reflected back on her best memories of Lancers which included finding a life-long friend when she was just seven, spending all of her evenings and weekends at the barn, traipsing around horse shows with her friend Jaclyn, riding Willie and Babe in the Mediums, and of course, Musical Ride. She added, “I look back on those days as some of the best of my life. More recently, coming back and being welcomed with open arms, gaining back my confidence as a rider, and making wonderful new friendships with both junior and adult riders has been so special”. The great thing about memories is that you can take them with you anywhere. Gabby is graduating from Dalhousie Law School in May and her Lancer memories will accompany Gabby to Toronto where she is articling at a big law firm. After articles, she is moving to Ottawa for one year to clerk at the Federal Court of Appeal. After that, it’s very likely she will return to Toronto with the hope of practicing Aboriginal and Administrative Law, maybe with Intellectual Property and Tax mixed in! Her larger dreams are to buy a horse, someday move back to Halifax and have her children in the Musical Ride. Gabby, Halifax’s loss is Toronto’s gain.

Ashley Keary has been riding for sixteen years and started riding at Lancers this past November in our J rides. Ashley has been a great addition to our rides and has brought us much expertise and experience, as she rode with none other than Ian Millar prior to University. She has competed at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, and even did some FEI competitions in Hong Kong! We are sorry to see her head back to Ontario. She explained that while most moments at Lancers are great, her best memories include volunteering with the therapeutic riding program. She loved the essence of the program and had the pleasure of meeting wonderful teachers and riders. Another favourite moment was one day when she rode the sweet veteran Simba and as she was tacking up, he started to non-stop softly play with a corgi plush toy keychain on her bag! “It melted my heart”, she said. She also mentioned that it is hard to choose a favourite horse but she really enjoyed riding Sadie, Rockette, and Ollie. Ashley’s future plans include finishing her psychology degree at Dalhousie accompanied with an Animal Behaviour certificate. While she isn’t sure where she will end up geographically, she will always have horses in her life.

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Elizabeth Rollinson also joined us in November and rode in the A3 group on Wednesday nights. Elizabeth rode in Ontario and was able to join us for her last year at Dalhousie. Elizabeth loved riding Alice and we hope she can keep riding when she returns to Toronto having now graduated from her undergraduate degree! We wish you all the best, Elizabeth!

Our Featured Volunteer of the Month is Heather Collins

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This April we are pleased to announce Heather Collins as our volunteer of the month. You might have seen Heather at last week’s Wine Tasting and Silent Auction Fundraiser as she was on the planning committee for the event. Heather’s daughter Lilly is in ride 6; she started at summer camp four years ago, completed the junior beginner course, and has been at Lancers ever since. Over that time, Heather has helped out with shavings and hay deliveries and this year she decided step up her volunteering through the fundraising event. Of the event, Heather noted, “This was the first year that we teamed up with Bishop’s Cellar to offer tastings of 12 handpicked types of wines from all over the world. We couldn’t have done it without all the amazing contributions that various Lancer families and local businesses brought in for us to auction or without the other committee members that worked hard planning the decor and getting the venue ready for the evening”. The event was a huge success so stay tuned to another post about that! Heather is a great example of how our fundraising events are a great way for parents to contribute to Lancers, especially if their work schedules are changing or they feel their strengths are in non-horsie tasks.

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Heather is from Hants County and her neighbour had a horse that she rode a bit for fun while growing up. While Heather never took riding lessons, it was Lilly’s love of horses that brought them to Lancers. Heather’s favourite Lancer horse is always whichever one Lilly loves at that moment although Jake will always be one of Heather’s favourites. Lilly is currently soul searching for a new love and we know a new horse pal will soon be on the horizon for her. As a parent of a junior rider, Heather enjoys Lancers because everyone is dedicated to helping others and caring for the horses. “It’s a great environment for kids to grow up in”, she added. Heather also enjoys watching the Musical Ride because it reminds her of watching the RCMP Musical Ride when she was a child.

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Heather is a flight attendant so her schedule is always different from week to week. At work, she has also volunteered to operate the “Search for Santa” flights that Jazz Aviation does for deserving children in the community. She explained, “we take a flight full of kids up in the air to look for Santa. For many of the kids it’s the first time on an airplane and seeing the excitement on their faces when Santa comes into the cabin is amazing”. When she isn’t flying, she loves to stay active by doing regular boot camps at Evolve Fitness and cooking is her hobby. She loves having a dinner table full of friends and family and lots of food! Of course, Heather is also deeply involved in her children’s other sports. As both of her daughters are on swim teams, Heather has done training to become a Level 2 official with Swim Nova Scotia. This allows her the best seat in the house on the pool deck to watch them swim. Volunteering keeps Heather involved in her children’s experiences and she noted that she hopes to continue to support her kids for many years by volunteering with the clubs and activities that they love. 


Heather, we are incredibly thankful for the time, energy, and valuable contribution you made to this year’s Wine Tasting and Silent Auction fundraiser.
 

Our Featured Junior Rider of the Month is Bella Morgan

 Bella standing on the right! 

Bella standing on the right! 

Bella has been riding at Lancers for almost three years now. She started riding at age eleven which is a bit older than many of our junior riders who start at age eight. Bella used this as a strength and has moved up to ride five. In those few short years, Bella has enjoyed her riding lessons and has also been a member of the Junior Executive and has completed in some of our training shows in the 18” and cross rail divisions (with Punkin and Ben respectively). One thing that is striking about Bella is that she knows her job and does it and always offers to help before she is asked. This is especially true when she is doing chores before and after her rides and she helps with hay and shavings deliveries too. This willingness to help is extended to Open Houses as Bella always volunteers to be a tour guide. She has also proudly stood as an Honour Guard for the past two years. A highlight of last year’s season for Bella was performing an Honour Guard at the Halifax Public Gardens 150th birthday party!  

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When asked what she enjoys most about Lancers, Bella said that she was lucky she can walk to the barn in just ten minutes and that she likes all the instructors at Lancers. Most all, for Bella, the best part of Lancers is the people. She noted, “I felt so welcomed when I came here. I felt so happy”. It is so evident that this positive experience has stayed with Bella. She is always helpful and welcoming to new riders and gives reassurance to younger riders in a highly empathetic way. In a similar vein, one of Bella’s favourite memories of Lancers was her first day when the kids took her upstairs to show her the shavings loft and all the forts they had made up there. For Bella, another great thing about Lancers which has produced many favourite rides is the ability to ride outside. She loves breathing in the fresh air and looking at all the people pass by Citadel Hill, especially in the summer.  

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It is little surprise that Bella’s favourite horse is…Bella! She is very happy that she has the chance to ride Bella often. She likes Bella’s personality and she thought they had an instant spark when she heard her name! It is clear that Bella’s love of horses extends to all of her time spent at Lancers. While she used to play Ringette since the age of four, she stopped playing and decided to focus on riding because she liked it more. Now Bella comes for her lessons on Tuesdays and Saturdays and stays for a long time. She likes to help out with the younger riders and do chores! In the future, Bella wants to make sure she will ride until she can’t anymore! She noted, “I can’t explain why I love riding. The joy that I get from it is a joy that I can get from nothing else. I have always loved horses and animals my entire life”. Upon this reflection, Bella added, “Even though I had a late start at riding, there were many things that I thought I could never do but now I can. It is crazy to think back; I have learned so much and I am so grateful for all the instructors who put time and effort into helping me grow as a rider”. Equally, we thank you Bella for going that extra mile and being a great Lancer!  

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Our Featured Horse of the Month is Ben!

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Ben is, without a doubt, such an incredibly special horse. He is twelve-years-old and his show name is “Purely Gold”. He lives up to this name every single day. Not only is he a golden palomino colour but he has a heart of gold too. He is one of our favourite horses in the adult and junior beginner courses, beginner summer camp as well as our therapeutic riding program. He performs in our Musical Ride and even competes in horse shows! He is an incredible pony who inspires trust in even the most nervous riders, and he is one of the best teachers for which we could ever ask. The day Ben became a Lancer horse our instructors’ jobs became a little bit easier.

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Ben has also been nick-named “Gentle Ben” in the therapeutic riding program and this name describes him perfectly too. He is gentle, patient, and of course, is cute to boot! While he spends most of his time being amazingly patient with beginners, he is still a coveted mount amongst our more experienced riders as well. He is known for being quite slow with beginners (and slow equals safe) but there is a fire in him that awakens at times. A perfect example of this was last summer when he was the Champion in our jumper division at our Downtown Horse Show! He also surprised us with great speed and agility the first time he went to a Prince Philip Games competition with our pony club in the spring. Even at our rural Salmon River sleep-away camp, he is just as reliable on the trails as he is in the ring at home.

Even the most patient animals have their limits and Ben’s include having his ears clipped and getting de-wormed. His objections to these are so strong it’s hard to believe he is the same pony. While we do make sure he gets his deworming as needed, we have decided that he deserves to keep his ears fuzzy. For all his character and daily service, there are many Ben fans out there! Whether you see him outside during turn out or in his stall or have the fortune of riding him, know you are in the company on one special pony! We are thankful to have Ben as part of our Lancer team!

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Our Featured Staff Member of the Month is Sophia Andriopoulos!

From our perspective, one of the most rewarding parts of being at Lancers is watching young junior riders become not only strong riders but confident, independent, and active young adults. Sophia Andriopoulos is a shining example of this. While only sixteen, she has the sense of responsibility well beyond her years. Sophia started in summer camp and the junior beginner course when she was eight and is now in Ride 1. She also competes and is a proud rider in the Musical Ride. We are featuring her as our staff member of the month for her work as a stable hand and barn monitor and for the positive approach, she takes to her work. She is just one of the numerous casual stable hands and for years, she has often trudged through some of the worst snow storms to get to the barn and look after the horses on snow days when our regular stable hand has been unable to make it into the city.

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Most of Sophia’s Saturdays (and some Sundays) are spent working as a stable hand. While we have two stable hands who work during the week, on the weekends, riders are employed for the task. Sophia explained that as a weekend stable hand, she is in charge of taking care of the twenty-seven horses for the day which includes feeding, cleaning stalls, turning the horses out, as well as ensuring they receive proper care. On Monday and every second Wednesday nights, Sophia works as a barn monitor. She explained her role by saying, “I am here to make sure that the riders are doing their chores, getting ready for their lessons, and that everything in the barn is running smoothly and safely. I ensure that all the horses are taken care of and all riders have the correct tack and safety equipment. In a way, I am second in command after the instructor. From the moment riders walk through the door until they leave after their lesson, I help and keep watch”. As a teenager helping youth and adult riders, this can be a slightly unusual circumstance but Sophia assists and provides advice without, as one person described, “making anyone feel stupid”. She is a good communicator and gets the job done (and uses her humour too). In the summer at Lancer’s sleep away rural Salmon River camp, Sophia works at a Leader-in-Training. In this role, she helps lead activities, ensures all chores are done, and takes responsibility in leading groups on trail rides.

Anyone who steps into the stables knows that Sophia’s favourite horse is Rupert, also known as “King Rupert” (yes, he even has his own Instagram account). It is inspiring to see how much her love of Rupert and riding motivate Sophia. She has been riding him for two years but this September she started leasing him. This means she rides in the 3x program, rides him in her lessons, has a Sunday non-lesson ride on him, and takes more responsibility for him. Leasing also means she has first right of refusal for taking him to off-property shows. Leasing is a huge step for riders as it requires much more time commitment but also allows them to focus on and work with one particular horse. It also comes with an added financial requirement. Before being allowed to lease, Sophia had to pull up her grades at school and then, her parents agreed to pay for her lessons but decided that she would have to pay for her lease fee and for all her show fees. Sophia is sixteen years old and she has taken on this financial requirement and every day that she walks into the stables for a shift, she knows she is working on her goals.

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We caught up with Andrea, Sophia’s mother (and Oct 2017 featured Lancer volunteer), to get her perspective of how working at Lancers has influenced Sophia. Andrea noted that “Lancers has completely changed her life. She used to be shy!” While Sophia ever being shy is hard to imagine, it is easy to see that Andrea and Dimitri are supportive of their daughter’s dedication and hard work, even if it means bringing carrots and moving hay bales just so they can be in the same building as her. Furthermore, Andrea noted how much this experience, and particularly leasing has made Sophia learn to pay bills on time and to manage her time and money. We can attest to this when the other day Sophia’s crop accidentally broke and she exclaimed, “that has to come out of the budget now!” Andrea further noted that “the lesson that Lancers is teaching her now will help her throughout the rest of her life. She appreciated every minute at Lancers and she understands the value of the dollar. Rupert is also part of our lives because she has made it that way!”

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We always ask our featured staff members how working at Lancers compares to other jobs they have had. For Sophia, this was easy as Lancers is the first and only place she has worked. In fact, for so many of our junior riders, Lancers provides their first work experience. According to Sophia, it is a first great job and it is made better by the fact that she was already comfortable with the environment. She added, “having horse knowledge out of the saddle has made me a better rider and horse person”. When Sophia was too young to stable hand, she would often still find her way to the barn on Sundays to help and this also helped her pick up horse knowledge. In the future, Sophia is working towards becoming an NCCP qualified instructor and starting to teach at Lancers. If she stays in Halifax for university, she would love to keep working at Lancers.

It is clear that for Sophia, Lancers isn’t just a job. She explained, “I like how it is a second family for me. I have been friends with everyone for so long. The relationships I have with everyone…well, I can’t even describe it. It is such a good bond. We are all family. It also makes me very happy that my school is across the street. If I’m having a bad day at school, I can leave during a break and just come to the barn. Where I eat my lunch, I can look across at the horses and it just brightens my day”. As you might have guessed, that means Sophia is at the barn every day of the week. She joked, “I can’t think of the last day I wasn’t here besides going on vacation – which was really hard to be away from the horses”. With a laugh, she added, “I spend the majority of my life here and my parents say they never see me or they say they have to come to the barn to see me”. Above all, Sophia summed it up when she said, “it is a never-ending love. I still love it…even after all these years”.

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We also asked Sophia about a favourite memory of Lancers and she was quick to recall last year’s Salmon River camp. She was there for two weeks and said that she had never had an experience like it. “Living with the horses, sleeping in tents, spending time with all these people and being outside”, she added, “I have memories that I will never forget”. When we asked about a fun fact about Lancers that most people would not know, Sophia also brought up a theme of friendship. She explained, “for me, when I was in junior high, I was really close with all the older junior riders at high school and it was a unique relationship. I was thirteen and they were seventeen and that isn’t usually a friendship dynamic but Lancers is the space where that can happen”. Sophia further explained, “it is unique about Lancers and it has been a big part of me. The age doesn’t seem to matter and it always gives us people to look up to. Now, I know that there are some younger riders who I have clicked with, especially at Salmon River we really bonded”. And so, the circle continues.

Sophia, on behalf of the horses and all the junior and adult riders you assist in your two roles at Lancers, thank you! We thank you for feeling that being a Lancer comes with a badge of honour and for being a contributing member of our community. We know that you will continue to do so wherever your bright future takes you.

#FeatureFriday

Our Featured Adult Rider of the Month is Terry Arnason

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In March 1993, Terry walked through our doors on Bell road and has continued to do so for the past twenty-five years. We are exceedingly excited to celebrate Terry’s “Silver Jubilee” (or quadranscentennial) as a Lancer and feature her as our adult rider for March! Her true love and adoration for the horses are so apparent, she acts as attentive custodian of our barn cats (of course, they get spoiled with treats), and she contributes to Lancers as well through volunteering and sponsoring events like the Downtown Horse Show.

Terry grew up on a mixed farm (dairy and grain) in Saskatchewan where her family had a pony and four Percherons. Thinking back, she likely started riding when she was three or four years old but bareback, of course. Her dad would throw her sister and her up on the Percherons and “let them go”. This mostly resulted in the girls sitting on the large horses while they meandered around eating no matter how hard they tried to get them moving! After those early days, Terry had four more horses in her life. She belonged to the local 4-H horse club in her early teens and the last horse she owned was a Standardbred when she lived in New Glasgow. There she attended the occasional English clinic plus took Western lessons at Herb Best’s barn.

From 1981-1993, the only time she rode was when she went home to Saskatchewan. Many of the farmers around had horses in their pastures and were happy to let her ride them. Most of the horses were green and crazy but back then it just added to the fun. In March 1993, now living in Halifax, friends asked her if she wanted to join them in riding lessons at Lancers. Terry noted, “I didn’t know what or where the Lancers was but happily I said yes and the rest is history”. Terry has now been a Lancer for twenty-five years and currently rides in A1.

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When asked what she enjoys most about Lancers, she explained that it was being in the presence of the horses. “I feel so privileged to be able to step into our stable in the middle of the city and smell, hear, and touch our beautiful horses”, she explained. “We (the Lancer family) should be so thankful for this every single day. I call it my ‘therapy’”, she added. For Terry, the best part of Lancers is all the people she has met here and the friendships she has formed. Lancers has kept her going through so much and it has impacted me wholly. Terry particularly enjoys watching the children and the beginner adults come in uncertain and maybe a bit nervous and through their programs, become accomplished, responsible horse people. On this, she noted, “I do not like when the kids grow up and leave us after grade 12, although some of them return as adult riders and I am so happy to see them”. You can imagine that Terry will have now seen two generations of juniors in the beginner program at age eight who ride at Lancers until they go off to university.

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Terry loves her lessons and has had many awesome instructors who continue to persevere despite her “lack of ability and thick skull”. She joked, “how many times can someone tell you to sit up, heels down, the other ‘left’ before wanting to give up!? So, thank you, instructors!” While she might be a bit hard on herself, we agree with her sentiment about thanking instructors! Terry is equally appreciative of all the horses who have captured her heart over the past quarter-century. She has had particular soft spots for Zero, Bucky, Joey, Norman, Freddy and Digger.

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It is clear that Terry deeply enjoys being a part of the Lancer community and the life of the stables. She loves cleaning stalls and is a dedicated night hay volunteer. She has also helped with fundraising, summer clean-up days and renovations, horse shows, and open houses. For Terry, there are just too many great memories of Lancers to mention all of them. One of them is when the horses and their riders come out at the start of the Musical Ride. “My heart almost explodes”, she added. Although Terry hasn’t quite become used to the new Musical Ride music, she knows that will come and she will enjoy all the performances this year.

When not at the stables, Terry stays active by going to fitness classes and Tai Chi. She loves to travel, read, and garden. In the future, Terry hopes to continue as a Lancer for many more years. She again joked, “they may have to drag me out kicking and screaming when the time comes. I won’t go easily!!” Don’t worry Terry we won’t ever drag you out. Terry ended her interview with the powerful statement: “if it wasn’t for Lancers, I would likely be back in Saskatchewan now but I can’t leave our horses”. Thank you, Terry, for choosing to spend so much of your life with us at Lancers and for sharing your passion for horses. With you in our midst, we will never forget that the love of horses is at the root of all we do and all we believe in. #featureFriday

Our Featured Volunteer of the Month is Renée Lutwick!

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Our featured volunteer for March is Renée Lutwick who is an adult rider and a Lancer mum! She rides in our A2 and the Tuesday morning adult group (and is really happy when she can sneak in a third ride in a week when she can do a private lesson). It is hard not to always sense Renée’s enthusiasm for Lancers and she always makes a point of volunteering her time and effort whenever she can! We are very lucky to have her.

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Renée started riding in September 2015 in our adult beginner course (at the tender age of 55, she notes). Her daughter Elise had been riding at Lancers since 2013 and she just couldn’t hold back any longer! Over those years, Renée became more involved and volunteered at Lancers gradually. She started by contributing to the donations and sponsorships from her workplace to helping with the Christmas party dinner and events that needed food such as canteens at our horse shows or other aspects of Lancers that did not require “horse knowledge”. Renée almost always single-handedly supplies our potlucks with the best food! She added, “I did more as I got to know more about Lancers and horses”. She has helped with hay deliveries, selling Chase the Ace tickets, and has been a chaperone for Pony Club events (and has driven many kids to off-property events and horse shows). Last year she even volunteered as one of our medical Doctors on site for the Downtown Horse Show and this year is also becoming more involved with fundraising and our Musical Ride! Renée is always willing to volunteer and does so despite being so busy in with her professional career. Simply put, she fits in so much for us!

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For Renée, volunteering at Lancers is unique, of course, because her other volunteer opportunities are missing the horses! She explained, “there is something very special about being around and working with these big beautiful animals. For me, it is also more time spent and involvement with something my daughter is passionate about and soon my youngest will be involved as well.” Being involved in something her daughter loves is easier but it also makes it more fun when everyone is involved! “There are lots of sports out there”, Renée added, “but Lancers is a great place to come and you just feel like hanging out. It is also wonderful that Lancers brings in extra things and opportunities like groundwork clinics”! In that vein, she enjoys (besides the horses, of course) that the stables are a very relaxed, warm, and welcoming atmosphere. There is also something special too about the peer-mentorship at Lancers too. She explained, “I remember feeling so impressed with how the teen riders helped the little ones when my daughter started at eight years old and they helped me out too once I started riding”!

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When she isn’t volunteering or riding (or being active in her other activities like sprint canoe/kayak), it is fair to say that Renée can be found watching over her favourite horse, Mato. Her love for our recent arrival was even reflected in her long-term goal when we asked her about her riding future. She joked that she would aspire to be the oldest person at the Olympics but was serious about becoming a stronger rider so she could ride Mato in a few years. She loves his appearance and that he is a baby. That being said, she also has fun riding Heidi and Bella. This year, Renée is even going to do her rider level three (with the jumping course too)! Speaking of favourites, we asked Renée about her favourite memory of Lancers. Seeing her daughter Elise in her show attire for the first time and at barely 60lbs, going over jumps with this creature that is twenty times her size, was a definite wonderful memory! The first time she saw the Musical Ride also stands out in her mind. She explained, “the Musical Ride is really awesome. It almost chokes you up and brings tears to the eyes”.

 A family trip in Iceland!

A family trip in Iceland!

Well, Renée, we just can’t wait to see all the other great things you shall bring to Lancers. We just love your enthusiasm, and for that matter, the enthusiasm that your whole family shares for horses and Lancers. Thank you for being a dedicated volunteer and thinking of Lancers for so much. #featurefriday

Our Featured Junior Rider for March is Trinity McRiner!

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For over the past ten years, Trinity McRiner has been a proud Lancer. As she is graduating high school this year, many green pastures are beckoning her. We decided that we should use this chance to say thank you to her for being a part of our community and celebrate her time as a Lancer.

The love of horses was first sparked for Trinity when as a young child, her mother bought her a “my little pony”; from then on it’s been all horses! While she had some riding experience elsewhere, Trinity started riding at Lancers after her mother had heard amazing things about Lancers and the community that surrounded it. It was about 2007 when she first stepped into the barn. Although she was still young and much shorter at the time, she vividly remembers her first steps into the barn to drop off her first riding fees. Seeing on cross ties what she thought at the time were the biggest horses in the world, she immediately asked her mom if they had ponies and sure enough we did and Trinity was soon falling in love with her (now old friend) Jake. When Lancers switched management three years ago, Trinity took the opportunity to explore other stables in the area but she couldn’t stay away for long and we were so happy to have her back and she entered into Ride 2! While she is too tall to ride Jake anymore, Trinity now rides a variety of horses.

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It was understandably hard for Trinity to choose just one favourite horse from her decade at Lancers as she has had many favourites. In the past, she adored Cash, an old Appaloosa gelding, and Jake (of course) but a friendship she will never forget was with Lucas who taught her so much about riding, horsemanship, and never giving up. Footnote: we can attest to Trinity’s love of Lucas as this year someone uncovered a brush with his name carved into it and it was Trinity’s mission to acquire said brush at Christmas silent auction! Last year, she fell in love with Valour the police horse who she still brings bananas to as they she discovered they are his favourite treat. Currently Bella has completely stolen Trinity’s heart. According to Trinity, Bella’s easy going manner, patience, and her willingness to try are some of her best qualities. Bella and Trinity have steadily progressed together since they started working together last March. This year they participated in the Erin MacQuarrie Dressage Clinic at Lancers and Trinity found it one of the most helpful and fun things they have done as a team. She cannot wait to see how this show season turns out as she is so excited to have Bella in the ring!

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Beyond the horses, Trinity’s favourite thing about Lancers is the friendships that she has made with her fellow riders. She explained, “the community that surrounds Lancers is so amazing and supportive of all its riders and I’ve yet to come across a barn quite like it. The Lancers horses, the ability to ride and experience so many different amazing horses, and their teachings, have constantly been there for me to build my confidence and teach me patience and skills that I would not have developed otherwise.” Trinity added, “I also have a deep love for the history behind our barn and have spent hours, especially as a young Lancer, in the Michelle Room just staring at the pictures on the walls or looking up and reading about the barn’s long history.”

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Trinity was proud to join the Musical Ride team and her best memories of Lancers have come recently from being a part of the 2017 Musical Ride. “It was so amazing to be involved in such a unique experience and do it alongside so many friends was great”, she explained. Elaborating on this, Trinity noted, “practicing on and performing on the Garrison Grounds was unlike anything I’ve ever done before and I was very thankful to have my trusted partner Bella go through the whole thing with me as it was both of our first times in the Musical Ride”. Although Trinity has aged out of the Musical Ride for this year, she is excited to see who Bella’s partner is this year and hopes to volunteer with the 2018 Musical Ride. Some of Trinity’s other favourite memories stem from the many training shows she has participated in and the very fun experience of riding the horses bareback through the sprinklers on the hot summer days!

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When not riding, Trinity loves to ski when our winters co-operate as it is an activity she has done with family and friends since she was young. Riding, school, and her part-time job take up all of her waking hours! Trinity exemplifies such dedication as she has been working very hard from a young age and pays for her own riding lessons. It is exciting to see that Trinity is exploring the world around her and searching for her true passion in life. When she graduates in June, she has many opportunities at her doorstep. While staying at home to work and continue to ride at Lancers would make her more than happy, she may decide to go further afield! Wherever she goes, she knows that she will always continue riding.  

Well, Trinity, while we’ll love to keep you, part of the job of Lancers is to prepare young people for the future, whether it is in the saddle or more broadly in the lessons that riding and being a Lancer have instilled in you. We thank you for being a part of our community for so long and we are confident that you will flourish wherever you go! …If you do leave…we’ll definitely also miss your Rapunzel hair!

Our Featured Horse of the Month is Tootsie!

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When Tootsie came to us almost exactly two years ago, we felt that we had acquired our very own Thelwell pony. She was just as round and hairy and full of character as any one of the famous cartoon ponies from the 1950s. While she has since lost a lot of weight and a lot of hair and looking very smart, she has retained all of her character. While she is not supposed to have favourites, everybody knows that Tootsie is Angie’s teachers’ pet. She travelled here to us from New Brunswick where she was a 4-H pony extraordinaire and transitioned very quickly into being an English riding school pony.

She is 13 hands high, turned 16 this year and is a Newfoundland Pony cross. We have used her in our summer camps, she has already been in the musical ride, she participated in Prince Philip Games and she also goes to many horse shows. Her show name is Tootsie Roll because she kind of looks like one! Her affectionate nickname is Tuzo (in a British accent)! When receiving a body clip, Tootsie often has a heart left on her bum. This year she will have an ace because she is our official mascot for our Chase the Ace fundraiser!

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Typically, Tootsie has a little too much confidence in herself as she tries to out power her riders but luckily, because of her small size, this teaches riders how to handle a strong horse. When it comes to jumping, however, which was a relatively new skill for her at Lancers, her confidence was quite low. After much trial and error and lessons in patience, Tootsie has since learned that jumping is a regular part of her job and she has even come to love it. She is a favourite at Salmon River camp because she is so much fun on the trails! For a chubby little pony, she is full of energy! There’s nothing like a spunky little pony to teach kids all the tough lessons on horsemanship. She has so much to offer, we hope she stays just as spirited for many years to come! #featurefriday #HOM

Our Featured Adult Rider of the Month is Sandra Chaisson!

 Sandra and Chevy! 

Sandra and Chevy! 

Almost exactly a year ago to the day, here at the Lancer office we received an email from Sandra asking about adult lessons. It was fortunate that we had a space open in our adult membership for an experienced rider, and Sandra joined us in our Tuesday morning adult ride. At that time, little did we know about Sandra’s riding back story nor of course, did we know how great she is! It has been great getting to know Sandra over the past year and it has been rewarding to see how much she has become an active part of the Lancer community. Spoiler alert: we’re never letting her go!

 Sandra and Mikey 

Sandra and Mikey 

Sandra has been riding for as long as she can remember and says that she can’t remember not having horses in her life! While born in Halifax, her family moved to New Brunswick and it was there that her father had a big black ex-RCMP musical ride horse! Riding was always in her blood. In 1977, her and her family moved back to Halifax and she actually rode at Lancers (1977-1982 ish)! Sandra thought she started in about Ride 5 and then moved up into Ride 1B (back then, there was Ride 1A and 1B). As she got older, she was able to buy her own horse, a sweet quarter horse named Sunny. Her next horse was a year-and-a-half old thoroughbred called Sum special. Finally, she found her way to her another dark bay thoroughbred. Mikey, whose show name was Perfect Gentleman, was a well-known hunter horse and with Sandra, they found their way into the dressage ring. Sandra worked with great coaches like Sue Fraser and Peter Edwards and then, when she and her husband moved to Ontario, she moved Mikey and worked with him at York Equestrian and Joker’s Hill. They moved back to Halifax in 1998 and Mikey went to Woodhaven and they had wonderful time together until heartbreaking circumstances caused Mikey to go to Greener pastures (2002). Sandra packed up and didn’t ride for many years. Her heart just simply wasn’t in it. That is, until one day she woke up and said to her husband, “I think I want to ride again” to which he replied, “I knew this day would come”.

 Sandra in the Musical Ride in 1980!

Sandra in the Musical Ride in 1980!

Thinking that she would start close to home, Sandra emailed our office and we replied to her so quickly that there was no changing her mind. So after thirty-five years away, Sandra walked back through those Lancer stable doors on Bell Road! She soon fell in love with Chevy who, she says, she will ride until she gets suspension from him (…the dressage background is coming through).  On top of his sweet disposition, she likes that Chevy is challenging, smart, and very rideable. Over the past year, she has had the opportunity to work with Chevy and was even the very first to rush to the barn to sign up for the Erin MacQuarrie Dressage clinic we had in January. Sandra has also made sure to help out over the past year, particularly with the Spring Spruce up the Barn Day and assisting Jessica in the office for the Downtown Horse Show! One highlight was going for a trail ride when the horses were on their summer break at Salmon River. She added, “it was fun - it is very freeing to be on a horse and going through the woods! Chevy is such a good boy; you don’t worry about falling off or spooking. I think he had as much fun as I did!”

 Sandra at Lancers!

Sandra at Lancers!

One very important aspect of Lancers that Sandra commented on is the very high standard of teaching. Yet, Lancers, she noted, is more than just the teaching as it is about “the community and the positive energy here”. She continued, “I think the kids here are really sweet. I also love the ladies that I ride with. I love their stories. Everybody has a story and everyone has a reason why they ride and I love it. I could smile for the rest of the day when I leave here.” Sandra even joked that when she returns to work (as a real estate agent) after her morning ride every Tuesday everyone in the office askes her, “how was Chevy today?!” It has been great to see that Sandra is enjoying being a Lancer once again and that she has felt compelled to jump straight in to recently become a member of the Lancers Board of Directors. We appreciate her commitment to Lancers and are confident that she will make a strong contribution to our present and future.

 Mikey!

Mikey!

As we do with all features, we asked Sandra about her favourite memory of Lancers. Thinking of her past, she said that her time a junior rider and riding in the Musical Ride (and showing) was a highlight. She said with a change in tone, as a big smile came across her face, “I was a Lancer”! We just had to ask how she found the barn to change over all those years. She agreed that the smell was the same but that the stables look differently. The offices were upstairs and the horses were in straight stalls so she was pleased to see all the horses in box stalls now.             

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Thinking of her future, Sandra said that she would like to keep riding and developing her skills. She added, “I would like to spread the dressage love around the barn even more. It gives people a good foundation. It is the basics of all riding and it is great to see Angie always teaching the basics of dressage in her lessons. Sandra’s desire to constantly learn and fine tune her riding is evident in that every night before her ride, she always watches YouTube videos. “There is so much info on YouTube” she pointed out, “I always enter my lesson with a purpose”.

 Sandra and her dressage boy, Chevy! 

Sandra and her dressage boy, Chevy! 

Sandra, you have many valuable perspectives to keep sharing and we are proud that you have chosen to return to Lancers to do so. While you may have “gotten away” in 1982, we’re never going to let you go again!

Sandra, you have many valuable perspectives to keep sharing and we are proud that you have chosen to return to Lancers to do so. While you may have “gotten away” in 1982, we’re never going to let you go again!

Our Featured Volunteer of the Month is Richard Withington!

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We are pleased that our featured volunteer for February is Richard Withington, someone who has not only given much as a Lancer parent but also as a member of the Board. Some Lancers will know Richard as the father of Amy who rode at Lancers as a junior rider for ten years and last year, worked as a Lancer instructor and camp assistant. The Withington family were originally introduced to Lancers while living in Toronto. They would come to visit Halifax and Amy’s cousin rode at Lancers so they would come to watch her ride! When the Withingtons moved to Halifax, Amy was able to enroll in the Lancer beginner course and rode until Ride 1. In 2017, Amy embarked on her studies at McGill University (but we can’t wait to welcome her back in the summer)! Despite Amy not currently riding here, Richard has continued his dedication to serving on the Board and continuing the betterment and success of Lancers. For this, we are exceedingly grateful!

Richard’s involvement with Lancers began like many others. Over the past ten years, he would help out with shavings and hay deliveries, lend a hand during August barn repairs, and make the famously delicious Bengal Breakfast Burgers at show canteens! He may have to take an allergy pill before he comes to help out at the barn but that has never stopped him before! This past August, you could find Richard with other members of the building committee repairing and upgrading all the stall doors! Two years ago Richard was Secretary on the Board and last year he was Vice-President. Although he comes from a finance background, he has been able to participate on the Board and help out wherever needed rather than being pigeonholed into being the “finance person!” According to Richard, the Board needs and benefits from people with a variety of backgrounds, including individuals who are not necessarily invested in the day-to-day running of Lancers as this is something that traditionally hasn’t happened. While Lancers certainly benefits from Richard’s input and expertise at the Board level, it seems that he too enjoys his involvement. He noted, “I enjoy the variety of opportunities to directly lend a hand here. In some of the other volunteer work I’ve done, there is more of a disconnect between what you’re doing and the results for the end beneficiaries. Besides, where else could you help out and get to be around horses!”

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Despite all of the time Richard has spent at Lancers over the past decade, he has, as he said, “never had the good fortune to ride with the Lancers adults, but never say never!” In the 1980s however, Richard did have time in the saddle while living in England and being able to ride through Richmond Park in London with his then-roommate! Richard may not ride at Lancers but he certainly could easily choose a favourite horse. “Reese”, he answered and jokingly added that because Reese is Amy’s favourite horse, “I wouldn’t be welcome at home if I chose anyone else”. On that note, when asked about a favourite Lancer memory, Richard drew to mind Amy’s first outdoor training show because “all the first-timers were grinning like they’d just beaten Ian Millar in a Grand Prix”. While Lancers provides lots of opportunities for riders to grow and have fun, the part that Richard enjoys is that “Lancers acts as a “happy place” for the riders. No matter what is going on in the rest of their lives, kids (and adults!) can show up at the barn and know they can hang with the horses and be appreciated unconditionally. They are not always smiling when they come into the barn but they are when they leave!”

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While Richard doesn’t ride horses anymore, he does like to ride his bike. He feels “it is a great way to see a lot of the province and see the neighbourhoods like a local when we’re on vacation”. For the future, Richard looks forward to implementing the five-year strategic vision the Board and community are working on to bring Lancers forward. Richard summed it up perfectly when he said, “It’s a good, place special place and it needs to thrive”.

With all the hard work from you, your fellow board members, and all the riders and parents, we are certain that Lancers will continue to thrive! So for all of your dedication to Lancers over the past ten years (and maybe a few more?), we thank you!

Our Featured Junior Rider of the Month is Charlotte Harper!

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Our featured junior rider for February is Charlotte Harper and it is without a doubt that everyone will know her for her love of Willow! Charlotte started riding three years ago. She came to a Lancers summer camp and simply fell in love with horses. At nine-years-old, she was able to enroll in the beginner junior course and then joined as a junior member! She has been at Lancers ever since and is now in ride 7. Charlotte told us that she remembered that her first ride was on Bud and she just loved him. We can’t blame her there as Bud is a gentle giant and is the crème de la crème of horses! Everyone at Lancers now knows that by far, Charlotte’s favourite horse is Willow. Her love for Willow never waivers and Charlotte even diligently showed up at the stables to welcome Willow home when the horses returned from their August summer vacation in the countryside.

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This just goes to illustrate that Lancers is quite a unique place where riders, without owning or leasing, can develop a strong bond with a horse. Charlotte is fortunate to have the opportunity to ride Willow in nearly every lesson and show! The duo will be making another appearance at our Dead of Winter training show next weekend. But Charlotte doesn’t only see Willow on the days she rides; we’re certain Willow is getting spoiled with treats on days when Charlotte comes to Lancers just to visit her special pal!

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One of Charlotte’s favourite Lancer memories was her very first training show. She rode Chevy that day but he was being a bit cheeky! After the last jump of the course, he decided to go towards all the other participants who were lined up at the end of the arena. “I have improved a lot since that show”, she added. While she might chuckle about this memory, it is a nice reminder of how much progress riders make and that all the fun Lancer extra-curriculars are a big value-add!

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Beyond her twice-weekly riding lessons and participating in training shows and Lancers’ Pony Club and fun events like the Halloween Fun Show, she also tries to help out. Charlotte noted that “besides being at the barn for weekly rides, I like to help the younger rides and do extra chores during the week. My mom and dad say that Lancers is my second home.” Charlotte can often be seen helping riders in the Junior Beginner Course picking out their horses’ hooves or getting tacked up. It was inspiring to see that even at such a young age, Charlotte is genuinely embodying the Lancer spirit of trying to help and mentor younger riders. Think, just three short years ago, it was Charlotte who had an older Lancer helping her… and now she has gained the inherent responsibility and most importantly, the genuine desire to share her horse knowledge with others. Perhaps in the next five or seven years, she will work towards becoming a barn monitor or even a Lancer camp counselor! With her evident love of Lancers and the horses, last year she even volunteered as an Honour Guard and a tour guide at our June Open House.

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Charlotte’s favourite part of Lancers is definitely the horses but she also loves the people here. “I have made many good friends at Lancers”, she pointed out. Many Lancers will know Charlotte for her strong friendship with Megan, another R7 rider. It has been nice to see their friendship develop over the years and during much of their time spent at the stables now has them joined at the hip!

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It is clear that a love of horses is in Charlotte’s veins and she now wants to be a veterinarian and always be with horses. She added, “I want to be a competitive jumper and own my own horse one day”. We just love that sense of aspiration. Without it, we would never come close to reaching our goals! When not at Lancers, Charlotte enjoys singing, taking vocal lessons, and being involved in school musicals and recitals. She also stays active by playing intramural sports and she particularly likes hockey! 
#featurefriday

Our Featured Horse for February is Inga!

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Can you believe it?! While we celebrate Inga as our featured horse of the month, we also get to celebrate our one year anniversary of publishing weekly features! We hope you have enjoyed reading them as much as we have enjoyed writing them. Maybe we should dub them Friday feel-good features!

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It is only natural that we celebrate our year of features by thinking of Inga and her great and varied service to Lancers over the past years. Inga has to be one of our most notable horses. From her striking looks to her stubborn character she is as unique as they come. She is a 15.2hh Norwegian Fjord cross. Her colour is called “grulla” and is part of the Dun family of colours. She is a mousey-grey with a dorsal stripe along her back and zebra stripes on her legs! She also has a big beautiful white snip on her nose.

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Anyone who got their start at Lancers since Inga’s arrival almost seven years ago has had a turn on Inga. This is because Inga is safe, quiet, and unfazed by even the most unbalanced rider. She is the star of our summer camps and beginner courses, and especially for our Therapeutic lessons with H.A.L.T.R. She is very stocky and can handle even our Tallest adult riders, but is not so tall as to intimidate small children.

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Inga’s character truly comes out when ridden in our more advanced rides though. While she happily will walk along the end of a lead rope with any number of different riders on her back, it’s a whole different story when we ask her to really work or exercise. She is a very clever horse, and no amount of force or even proper technique can make Inga move if she’s not motivated. Luckily we have plenty of riders who have bonded with Inga and who she will happily work hard for. Inga picks her favorite people and makes them feel like a star, because for others she refuses to even try. If Inga has not yet chosen you as one of “her people” and you find yourself riding her, be prepared to work harder than she does.

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Inga is also fabulous when we introduce vaulting to our riders. Vaulting is essentially like gymnastics on the horse’s back, and while it’s not a core part of our programs, every camp kid gets a chance to give it a try! Most kids will get a chance to practice on occasion throughout the year as well, as it can be a great confidence builder and improve a rider’s balance.

Inga is a part of our Musical Ride, has been to many shows and spends a couple of hours every year giving pony rides to the public at our open house in October. For a stubborn horse she certainly has endless amounts of patience, particularly with young children. She may give us grief at times, but all the love that she inspires is well worth it. #featurefriday