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

Our Featured Adult Rider for January is Jacqueline Hartigan!

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It is time for another feature and for January, Jacqueline Hartigan is our adult rider of the month! Although Jacqueline is our featured adult rider of the month, she has actually been at Lancers since she was a child. She is a great example of riders who get their start at Lancers and continue with us well into their university and adult years. Jacqueline has been riding, on and off for about 18 years. Her aunt always had horses so she had many pony rides as a child and then started taking lessons at another barn when she was seven. Luckily, a spot opened up in the junior beginner course when she turned out and she became a Lancer. Jacqueline then “moved through the ranks” and up into our highest junior rides and then when she entered university, joined our J-ride! J-riders always ride in our latest time slot (8:30pm) so sometimes junior riders don’t get to see enough of them but Jacqueline will be known because she always participates in training shows and the Downtown Horse Show (and always makes sure her horses are perfectly turned out). She always sets a good example.

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Throughout the years, Jacqueline’s involvement at the barn evolved. When she was younger (and had more time!) she was involved in everything she could be! She used to stablehand on Sundays to make some extra money, a job she really liked because of the peacefulness of being one of the only people at the barn. With a love of competing, Jacqueline showed in the hunters and loved grooming for others at horse shows. She added, “there is nothing more satisfying than seeing a shiny horse and a tidy rider that you helped prep trot into a show ring!” The Musical Ride also captured Jacqueline’s heart and she started to groom for riders who were older than her; she got to learn the ropes and eventually began riding in it herself! She has also taken advantage of all the “extra-curricular” activities Lancers has on offer including clinics with fantastic coaches, riding in parades, summer camp - you name it, she’s done it! On this, Jacqueline elaborated: “Lancers offers so many opportunities and I’m thankful I was able to be involved in most of them over the years. Now that I’m older and life has gotten in the way a bit, I’ve had to step back. I was lucky enough to lease Rainy last year and got to do a lot of shows and clinics with her. This year I’m mostly just riding twice a week but it’s what gets me through some tough weeks at school!”

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For Jacqueline, it has always been the love of horses that fuels her passion for the sport. When she was a child, her parents really wanted to put her in a sport, any sport. When they asked her what she wanted to do, she would only ever reply “I want to ride horses”. She explained, “soccer, hockey, skiing, gymnastics… nope. I only wanted to ride. So to this day, riding is the only sport I’ve really gotten in to. I love hiking and reading in my spare time but for me, the number one passion has always been horses”. That passion might explain why Jacqueline had a hard time choosing a favourite Lancer horse (to quote her directly, she actually said: “Can I say all of them? Because that is the truth”.) Over the years, she has had some pretty strong attachments to particular ones. Kelly, Dudley, Babe, Shooter, Joey, Peter, Wonky and Bucky were some of the horses she grew up loving. Right now she would have to say she is “pretty obsessed” with Rainy and Shay. She was able to lease Rainy last year and was Jacqueline’s “rock”.

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She added, “Rainy is the sweetest mare I have ever met, she will very rarely show any attitude or typical “mare-isms”. She is always going to try her hardest for you but she has a lot of lessons to teach (it took me months to learn how to properly turn her)! I took a few years off before coming back to ride as an adult and my confidence was lower than it was as a teenager, she really built that back up for me so she’s got a permanent place in my heart. Shay is a new love for me and I’m still learning about her but I think she is very smart. I’ve been really excited to come to the barn and see her lately. She can be a bit more mareish than Rainy though as she’ll tell you when she isn’t impressed with you. She loves being groomed and really appreciates a good scratch. She’ll curl her lip up if you find the right spot; it always manages to crack me up”. 

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Jacqueline definitely also had some thoughts on what she likes most about Lancers. Her quote just perfectly sums it all up: “Number one would have to be the horses, I fell in love with this sport because of the animals! Next would have to be the community, I have never met a more welcoming and warm group of people!! Everyone is so supportive of each other and no matter what kind of day I have had outside of the barn, the moment I’m around the horses and the amazing people here, all of that fades away. I have met some of my best friends at this barn (Charlotte and I are practically attached at the hip as some may have noticed). Friendships outside of the barn have come and gone but the ones from Lancers have remained strong over the years because of that shared love for the horses. I also love all the skills I have learned at Lancers that translate to “the outside world”. This barn has taught me about hard work, determination, following your passion and a host of other things that most people don’t think about when you tell them you take riding lessons, you’re never getting JUST a riding lesson when you’re at this barn.”

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In a similar vein, Jacqueline’s wonderful experiences at Lancers over the years are clear to see as her response to our question about some of her favourite Lancer memories was met with, “How do I narrow that down?! There have been so many over the years”. Again, her answers are too great to splice so here they are in full!: “Some memories that I hold dear to my heart have only become really special to me as I’ve gotten older and thought about them. One would have to be my dad being “the horse show dad” for a bit when I was a teenager. He isn’t really a horse guy (likes them, will pet them but doesn’t want to ride or handle them). He wanted to come see me ride and help out around the barn so for a couple summers, we had him driving the horse trailer to and from the horse show. It was really special for me to get that time riding in a truck with my dad towing horses to shows. Some of my close friends have hilarious memories of my dad driving the trailer too and I love that.

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Along the same lines, my mom watched every single one of my rides for my first few years at Lancers. We didn’t have a nice heated viewing room back then so she would have to sit in the cold ring to watch during the winter. It’s one of those things you don’t appreciate as a kid but upon looking back at it, I realized she was never sitting there because she liked horses as much as me. Lancers is very special to my family in that sense, we still laugh and talk about times we’ve shared at the barn even though my parents were never “official” members of Lancers. Another major one would have to be performing the musical ride at the Fall Fair for Ian Millar; he gave us a standing ovation at the end. It was the coolest feelings ever to be sitting on a horse and looking up at my hero who was clapping for us. A lot of riders were graduating that year too so it was going to be their last time in the musical ride. It was such an emotional night, from the stress and chaos of trying to get ready to pulling off that near-perfect performance. You could really feel how everyone in that ride came together as a team and made it work, it felt amazing!”

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It is always such great fun to hear stories of good times in the past. For Jacqueline, we know that are also many bright things in her future. She is currently halfway through her first year of law school (Dalhousie) so we will get to keep for her at least the next 2 and a half years! While she will see where her career path takes her, she would like to stay in Halifax. In terms of “horse future”, Jacqueline would very much like to purchase her own horse after graduation. While she has leased horses over the year, she has never owned one and the accomplishment of purchasing her own will be, for Jacqueline, “the best feeling ever”!

Well, Jacqueline, we are so happy that throughout your life, you have chosen to make Lancers your second home. We are excited to see you take your next steps into your new career and are glad that Lancers can play a role in all of your success! Footnote: we also think that your love for Rainy makes a lot of sense because just like her, you are the sweetest!

MaryGwen Stackhouse is our Featured Volunteer of the Month!

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At Lancers, we are very fortunate to have not only devoted riders but dedicated parents who see how much their child enjoys riding and how much Lancers gives to their child and are consequently motivated to actively volunteer in the community. MaryGwen Stackhouse could not epitomise this more. MaryGwen has clearly fostered and encouraged her daughter Gracie’s passion for horses and in doing so, has chosen to participate in many volunteer activities. Gracie has been riding at Lancers for 8-9 years (see Gracie’s feature below) so MaryGwen has had the chance for her volunteer contributions to evolve as her daughter developed as a rider, starting at our beginner camp and moving up in rides. Early days included doing night hay, helping with hay and shavings deliveries, clean-up days, and even sponsoring the Downtown Horse Show. In more recent years, MaryGwen has also contributed by helping with Junior Executive fundraising, taking on the role of Parent Advisor for the Junior Executive, and a Musical Ride parent. Gracie and MaryGwen have even subsumed Lancers into their holiday tradition as they always volunteer to feed the horses early on Christmas morning! Going forward, MaryGwen will soon start her role as assistant to the Lancers’ Pony Club secretary and is excited to continue her role as a Musical Ride parent. (Don’t worry, MaryGwen hasn’t been able to sneak away from hay/shavings deliveries or night hay quite yet). In 2016, MaryGwen was even the recipient of our Bill Henry Award which is given to our top volunteer of the year.

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MaryGwen took some riding lessons as a child but is admittedly not a rider. That has never dissuaded her from getting involved in Lancers. For MaryGwen, Lancers is a worthwhile place to spend her (non-working) time because it has such a great community. She noted that she greatly values “the respect that all the riders all have for one another and their willingness to help each other”. In terms of volunteer roles, it is fair to say that MaryGwen adores the Musical Ride! She recalled seeing the Musical Ride before Gracie was involved and being so impressed. Now getting a first-hand glimpse on the inside, MaryGwen added, “it is amazing to see the hard work that the junior riders put into it. Sometimes practices don’t go well but when they put on that red jacket for the performance, it all just comes together”. “It is a huge commitment for the girls to put in…on top of everything else”, she added; “performance days are long and they start on foot practices in April. The whole thing is such a wonderful spectacle. With 16 of them on big horses actually performing to music, it is a routine. As Musical Ride parent (a task shared with another parent volunteer), she was in charge of sound and music, for fitting the girls with their uniforms, and making sure they stay on task and have everything they need.

As we do for all our features, we asked MaryGwen who her favourite horse is and she easily replied, “Sarge!” She did add that it is very hard to have a favourite horse because they are all great horses but she has a great connection with Sarge: “it is just the way he recognises me when I come in…he knows he is always going to get a treat and as soon as he sees me, he makes a noise and raises his head”. We also asked MaryGwen about a favourite memory she has of Lancers. Her parental pride expectantly shone through as she chose the day that Gracie won first on Oliver in a show and the first time she saw her at the gorgeous property in Chester (Coveside) and all the shows as the riders are all so supportive of each other. While she noted that “seeing [Gracie] with a smile on her face when she is in her element” is always a highlight, MaryGwen explained that “the atmosphere and the community at Lancers have flourished in recent years”. Of Lancers she described, “this is the place that has the friendships that last for a lifetime. This is the place…and to have it so close to home...it is so nice!”

Now, we know that MaryGwen does a lot at Lancers but would prefer to quietly work behind the scenes (so she had some hesitations about being so publicly featured). But we think it is important to recognise that she comes to Lancers (she also watches each of Gracie’s lessons we might add) and will do whatever she needs to do. She likes being with horses and is committed to learning more about them. She is even working on all the horse terminology and is starting to recognise flying lead changes and leg yields! We’re sure she is going to be quite the expert by the time Gracie graduates high school next year. MaryGwen plans to continue to be a committed Lancer volunteer as it is a rewarding place, especially because of the people because, as she said, “everyone has a smile on their face, they are friendly and it is a happy place”. Until then, we are lucky to continue having MaryGwen as a dedicated Lancer volunteer.

When MaryGwen isn’t spending time at Lancers, she enjoys walking her dogs, spending time with her family, and continuing her community dedication on a broader scale in the form of Charity Challenges. In August 2015, she was part of a group of 60 Royal LePage real estate agents, brokers and family members from across Canada that took part in a once-in-a-lifetime charity experience...trekking to Machu Picchu. Together, they raised close to $500,000 in support of the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation, with proceeds to benefit women’s shelters that provide safety and hope to women and children fleeing domestic violence. The funds that MaryGwen raised went to Alice Housing. She had to raise at least $5000 to participate and pay for the trip and costs associated with the trip yourself. She was unable to participate in the Iceland Trek this summer but hopes the challenge in 2019 is on the cards!

MaryGwen, we are always happy to see you come through those front doors (much like Sarge is!) or be sitting in the viewing room on rail side. We appreciate your hard work at Lancers and how you set a great example of giving so much and contributing to causes but never asking or expecting recognition.

 

Featured Junior Rider of the Month is Sara Whittaker! 

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The first thing that stands out about Sara is her partnership with Chevy. He has been her favourite horse for years and years and she has been a committed Chevy riders from the get-go. All the hard work she has put into him has certainly paid off. It is hard to picture Sara on any other horse and equally, it is hard to think of Chevy without Sara. We are happy to have Sara as our featured junior rider of the month for February as it gave us a good chance to reflect on her years at Lancers as she will be moving on to university away from Nova Scotia in September.

Sara is another great example of how many of our riders start their riding careers in the Junior Beginner course and stay at Lancers until they graduate high school. Sara started riding when she was 8 or 9. She came to the Lancers summer camp and the joined the waitlist for the Junior Beginner course. After a year’s wait, she received a Christmas present to start riding at Lancers (it was evidently and perhaps expectantly a very, very long-term Christmas present)! While Sara has now been riding at Lancers for ten years, she has spent the past five riding Chevy. This year Sara even worked three jobs this summer (and still works one) so she could lease Chevy! This means that Sara gets to enjoy four rides a week with Chevy (in Ride 1 and 3x).

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Over the years, Sara has participated in many of the “extra-curriculars” offered at Lancers. She has done training shows and off-property shows (competing in the 2’6” hunters), she has participated in clinics and has worked as a stablehand too. Sara is always a great help for shavings and hay deliveries and she is well known for her role in the Musical Ride! While learning so much about riding and horses, for Sara, Lancers has also been a great way to meet people – people from different schools, or people of different ages. Lancers has fostered many great friendships. In fact, Sara says that the part she enjoys most about Lancers (of course, in addition to the horses) is the people. She said, “I like that you can continue to ride with the same people and can get really close with people who you started riding with”. Sara mentioned that she started the beginner course with Caroline and still rides with her in Ride 1. She also emphasised the fact that Lancers is great because “we do everything here for the horses. We groom our horses, we clean their tack, we care for them, and we do it for the love of horses”.

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Sara is certainly known for her awesome sense of humour. She can be sarcastic and sly when she jokes (even if you aren’t always sure she is joking)! This certainly comes out when she is hanging out at the stables with her fellow Lancers. One of the best parts of Sara’s day is when she and her fellow riders walk over from school and the whole locker room fills with chatter and laughter! For Sara, Lancers is definitely a mood changer. She elaborated: “if I’m having a bad day, I come to the barn and it is all good”. It also reminds her of all the times that they used to sit on the heater and just chat for hours. Another great memory that flooded in was when Sara used to ride Pumba when she was much younger. Sara recounted that he used to try to step on her feet so she would get Barb to sit on a stool in front of him until she was finished grooming!  

As Sara begins to think about her next adventure, she thought about how Lancers has influenced her life over the years. In a practical way, according to Sara, Lancers has made her a much more social person and it has been a wonderful chance to meet new people in other rides and to have a lot of wonderful mentors – from instructors, to barn monitors, to other riders. “Overall”, Sara said, “it makes me a happier person”. Sara is such a great example of how “all that time spent at the barn” really proves to be so good for the soul, especially young ones who can have something to keep them focused and grounded (and keeps everyone out of trouble too!). Sara also likes that Lancers “is such an old organisation with so many alumni. I have a family friend who used to ride here and she told me about how she used to Pony Club here. It isn’t a new place and it has a lot of history with Halifax”. She noted that Lancers has taught her great time management skills, responsibility, and perseverance. She could not have summed it up any better when she said, “Lancers taught me that you have to work for what you get. It changed my life”. Sara went further to say that it was important to her many people have great respect for Lancers. “It is a humbling place to be”, she said, “I am proud to be a Lancer”.

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 Well Sara, you must remember that even as you head off to university in September, “once a Lancer, always a Lancer”. We wish you all the best as you embark on your sciences degree (fingers crossed for the University of Guelph)! We feel thankful that we were able to see your love of horses develop into the long-term goal of working with animals, either as a veterinarian or as an animal physiotherapist. We know that you will miss Chevy (and us, right?!) but we can’t wait to hear all about your successes and we look forward to welcoming you back for the Christmas Alumni Ride 2018!

Our Featured Horse of the Month is Punkin!

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Punkin came to us in 2003 and she is an adorable roan QH/Appaloosa pony. She has a stout body and short, skinny little legs and some of our young riders say “it looks like she has orange spots on her”. Her show name is Point Taken. While Punkin spent many years in her youth being one of our top show ponies, she now spends her days taking care of beginner riders. Both kids and adults enjoy riding Punkin and she is much beloved in our camp program and our beginner courses. She is best known for her extremely smooth trot and a speedy canter and there’s always a fight over Punkin for a bareback class at a training show. She always ends up with some of the most elaborate Halloween costumes because of her unflappable nature! There are few things that even in her later years that Punkin continues to get excited about. One of them is anytime she gets to spend time on trails, like during our Salmon River camp, as well as when it is time to canter in the Musical Ride. Punkin is one of our most valued HALTR horses and has helped many people over the years with special needs improve their strength, co-ordination, and confidence. She acts as a reminder to everybody that even the safest of horses can occasionally nip their riders! We have been very fortunate to have Punkin in our Lancer team for so many years!

Our Featured Staff Member of the Month is Saskia Felderhof!

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Saskia is one of our stablehand extraordinaires and we have been fortunate to have Saskia as part of the Lancers team for over a year. Saskia starts her day at the barn at 6:30am and as a morning person, she finds this early start easy. This also means that her job is done by the time most riders get to the stables each day. Even though riders might not see her on a daily basis, we hope that the whole Lancer community is very aware of Saskia's presence, not only because she takes such great care of the horses but because she is a wonderful person who genuinely believes in the uniqueness of the Lancer community.

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Saskia is a very experienced horseperson and we never doubt that our horses are in the best of hands. Not only did Saskia used to have her own horses (she owned three horses in her past riding career), but she also competed in the low hunters and started and trained her last horse who was pretty green. Her other jobs in the horse industry have included an A-circuit groom and jobs managing barns. Managing one barn with over forty hours came with tones of responsibility, especially as a show barn, she had to work to keep both the horses and their owners happy. "That's why I am such a perfectionist", she explained. At Lancers, Saskia gets to focus on the overall horse care. This includes cleaning stalls, giving the horses fresh water, hay, and grain, and also administering any medications when necessary and caring for injuries and wounds. She ensures the horses get turn out time and ensures the stables has all the necessary supplies including hay, shavings, medicine, and medical products. In all, Saskia is tasked with keeping all the Lancer horses going and keeping them in tip-top spirt and health!

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When asked she enjoys most about Lancers, Saskia was quick to proclaim that she is very happy to be partnered with such a great co-worker (Elizabeth) and that they work really well as a team. She definitely also enjoys working with the horses. If she *really* had to choose a favourite horse it would be Reese because he is so sweet. She elaborated, "he tries to be such a good horse. He is very different from other horses as he just wants to please. He is very polite and when he has been feel sick, he is the perfect patient and he is always just so gentle". While all her jobs have involved horses, Saskia noted that those jobs have been about working with horses in rural areas. Being downtown in a historic building with so many traditions is a very unique working experience according to Saskia. On this, Saskia explained that Lancers is so different from other places in the way that the Lancer community all pulls together to run it: "there are so many hands involved to make this place work and that's because it is a non-profit rather than a privately owned stable". Something else that Saskia notices about Lancers is that people start riding here and stay for a long, long time. She is amazed by some of the adult riders who have been here for 15-20 years which says a lot about the organisation. She also finds it endearing that junior riders who start in the beginner course stay on and then move up into the J-rides when they reach university. That longevity is something very special to Lancers.

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Since Saskia is always the first person at the barn on weekdays, we just had to ask her about fun facts about Lancers that many people wouldn't know. According to her, the best time is in the morning when all the horses are fed their breakfast and they are all happily munching on their hay and grain by 7am. "I really like that alone time in the morning with them", she added. The horses evidently love their morning time with Saskia too. In fact, Saskia has noticed that Sarge always listens for her to get out of her car in the morning. He whinnies and then the moment she opens the barn door she is greeted by 26 other whinnies and neighs! "It is a nice greeting party every morning", she quipped! (Feeding oneself or breakfast to a family everyday by 7am can be enough for most of us let alone 27 big mouths)! One morning Saskia came into stables (which were pitch black without the lights on) and when she flicked on the lights who did she see but Sarge standing right in front of Jakey's stall! Sarge is such a big horse and is very clever so if you don't double clip his door, he knows how to open it himself! The sight was quite a surprise to Saskia as Sarge lives on the other side of the stables but it also led her to wonder...what other mischief do they get up to at night? Hay throwing? Bucket knocking? Late night chats? It is an endearing reminder that our Lancer horses sure do have their own personalities and our community would simply not exist without them!

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When Saskia isn't taking care of our lovely Lancer horses, you can find her taking lots of walks and hikes with her dog Melly. Saskia is quite artsy and also loves photography and refurbishing or "upcycling" furniture! We hope that everyone knows Saskia and has the chance to thank her for all of her hard work and dedication to Lancers and the horses. She is a great source of expertise and information which she is happy to share and this is fundamental to the Lancer spirit of helping others to develop their horsemanship. We are so very lucky to have Saskia and she truly is a member of the Lancer Team. (To read more on Saskia, check out her website profile here: ) 

 

Our Featured Adult Rider of the Month is Paul LaFleche

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For the month of December, we are featuring Paul LaFleche as our adult rider of the month. Paul rides in A2 on Thursday nights and has been riding with us for three years! Although he rode at the National Equestrian Park in Ottawa when he was 30, Paul enrolled in the adult beginner course a few years ago and then joined our membership. Anyone at the stables on Thursday nights knows that Paul’s favourite horse is Bud! According to Paul, Bud is the best because he is very experienced, has a good speed and canter, is calm, and takes care of every rider. This year, Paul achieved his NSEF rider level 2 and he hopes to complete level three next year and hopes to eventually get back to jumping which he used to do years ago!

Paul and Bud!

Paul and Bud!

Many people will know Paul because he is always enthusiastically helping out around the barn, particularly with hay and shavings deliveries, barn clean-up days, and giving tours at our Open House days. You may also know Paul because he can often be seen cycling (or rollerblading) home from the stables all year round. He says there is nothing better than cycling home after a ride because it is so relaxing and you can think and see the world around you. He lives in a heritage home in the Hydrostone so it is a good fair hike too! One of the reasons Paul likes riding is because it requires very different muscles and discipline from any other sport and it trains you in a different way. Paul would know because he also plays ice hockey once or twice a week – balance is key to both though!

A younger Paul! 

A younger Paul! 

Paul has a PhD in electro-magnetic wave propagation (…huh?...) and currently works for the provincial government. He is also the proud father of twelve-year-old twin girls who have both ridden at Lancers. One of his favourite memories from Lancers is when his daughter Ruth was in a fun-show and rode in the $5 bareback class. She won the class and won the $5 from all the other riders for a total of $35! For Paul, the Lancer’s sense of comradery is also important; he enjoys the fact that riders help each other out. He also enjoys those nice days of riding outside and having people walking along looking at the horses. He likes the way that the horses are integrated into the life of the city. He added, “it is very rare that you would have a riding ring in the centre of a city and people can drive or walk by and see riding. It is a valuable thing and people take it for granted”.

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One of Paul’s memories of Lancers (before he was a Lancer) was when we had the riding ring across the road where Citadel High School now stands. He said that so many Haligonians have memories of the traffic stopping on Bell road so the Lancers could cross the street. “You rarely see people riding in the city or grazing a horse near a provincial museum. It is a completely different experience”, he added. We really appreciated hearing Paul’s insight as sometimes we forget how unusual it is to have horses in the centre of the city. Paul would know because he has moved across Canada for work (in the government, academia, and the private sector) including Ottawa and Toronto (Ontario), Montreal (Quebec), Churchill (Manitoba), Uranium City (Saskatchewan), Tuktoyaktuk (Northwest Territories), and Nanisivik (Nunavut). He liked working in the North when he was young but he moved to Middleton, Nova Scotia in 1994 and to Halifax in 1999. When Paul isn’t riding, cycling, or working you can find him doing puzzles…perhaps a big horse puzzle would be a nice holiday gift J Thanks, Paul, for all that you bring to Lancers!

 

Our Featured Volunteer of the Month is Melissa Trenbirth!

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Melissa contributes so much to Lancers and does it in such a humble way. She often works behind the scenes and so this month, we are paying her the credit she is certainly due! Melissa is one of our longstanding riders (27 years to be exact) as she has been at Lancers since 1990! She started riding as a child in New York and her family moved to Nova Scotia when she was around 10. One summer in NS, she even had her own horse! Like many other riders, she took a break from riding throughout university. When she graduated from her teaching degree in 1989, she was substitute teaching in Halifax and decided to get back into riding. She had always wanted to return to the saddle but was just too busy. Since she hadn’t ridden for so long, Melissa decided to enroll in the adult beginner course in 1990. From there, she went straight into our adult ride and has been riding at Lancers ever since. Remarkably, she has only had three breaks from riding, two for when she was pregnant with both her children (they were born in the winter and she returned to riding the following Septembers), and the other from an injury! Melissa noted she rode Freddie early on in both of her pregnancies because he took care of her.

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Over these many years, Melissa has served Lancers in many different capacities. She has served as a Board member, she used to do publicity for Lancers, and would help with the Downtown Horse Show. She also readily participated in more day-to-day (but hugely important tasks!) like helping with fundraisers, canteens, clean-up days, BBQs, night hay, painting, Musical Ride, and many random jobs at horse shows and events. She has even done the odd snowstorm feed and she most certainly recommends Christmas night hay to anyone. “There’s something so special about it”, she added. Most recently, Melissa organised this year’s Christmas party silent auction and will be also doing so for our upcoming Wine and Cheese event. For Melissa, volunteering at Lancers is so special because there is such a huge reward in immediately seeing how your contributions support the organisation. She elaborated that while with other volunteer efforts you can’t always see the difference it makes, “at Lancers you can paint something and walk past often or when you feed the horses, you can see that importance. You are supporting both the riders and the animals. You can see where your efforts go and you can see the connectedness of Lancers”.

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We are very fortunate that Melissa has chosen to spend much of her time at Lancers. Over the last ten years she has certainly spent a lot of time at the stables as her daughter Claire also became a rider at Lancers (and is currently in Ride 1 and is an instructor). It is so clear to see the magic as both mother and daughter share the same love of riding (and the same horse, Maggie - but we’ll get back to that). Melissa fondly recalled the times when she used to bring Claire down to the stables: “I used to bring her down in her little snowsuit and would carry her around and show her the horses as she got older.” As a child, Claire soon indicated that she wanted to ride and while Melissa told her that she didn’t have to ride “just because Mummy does”. Claire was steadfast in her decision and look at her now!

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When asked what she enjoys most about Lancers, Melissa easily answered, “Lancers is about the love of horses and it shows. Our horses’ well-being is the top priority and as a small organisation, it is a community where people know each other and there is a comfort in working and socialising together”. Her favourite memories of Lancers include those very proud moments of watching her daughter and so many talented young riders in Musical Ride, competitions, and lessons develop their skills and confidence. Melissa herself has certainly been continuing to hone her skills. Melissa and Claire have had Maggie for a year now and Melissa has enjoyed the learning experience of riding a young horse and the challenge of getting to know a horse so well. While Claire is off to university next year, Melissa will keep riding Maggie at Lancers. When we asked where Melissa sees herself going in the future she quipped “the Olympics!” and then quickly added the softer, less joking thought that “maybe far, far down the road, [she’ll] be bringing a grandchild to the barn”. Until then, Melissa will continue her professional life and perhaps sneak in a trip back to Greece. She also intends to continue her other hobbies of “jogging – slowly” and her love/hate relationship with home renovation. Well, Melissa, we hope you keep volunteering at Lancers on that list because we truly do benefit from all of your skills and enthusiasm. We are fortunate to have you as a Lancer and we can’t wait for another twenty-seven years!

Our Featured Junior Rider of the Month is Caroline Fernandez!

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Just as one might expect to see at a school, there can historically be a sense that the youngest riders are timid around the eldest riders but Caroline exhibits the complete opposite. All the young riders at Lancers adore Caroline and she helps bridge any gap between younger and older riders by helping the young riders feel welcome and strongly connected to the Lancer family. Caroline rarely comes home from a horse show without significant winnings and has steadily moved up in the ranks over the years. Despite her success in the show ring, she knows how difficult this sport is and continues to work hard, is humble about her success, and encourages others around her to work hard too. Even with being involved in so many things at Lancers, Caroline is really strongly focused on becoming a more accomplished rider. She regularly takes private lessons and clinics and it’s an honour to take her to horse shows in the rest of the province where she can represent Lancers’ training so well being our top competitor. She even shares her horse with her Mum who rides him numerous times a week!

Caroline in the Junior Beginner Course

Caroline in the Junior Beginner Course

Caroline has been riding for eight years. She began the Beginner Junior Course at the age of nine and has been riding at Lancers ever since. Caroline has been in ride 1 for the past two-and-a-half years and she was just granted the Kenny Irving award for the top junior rider at Lancers - for the second year in a row! From her start until the beginner course until now, Caroline has developed and grown as a rider but also in terms of her well-rounded horsemanship skills. This year she even joined the Lancers team as an NCCP certified instructor. Since September she has been teaching rides 5, 10, and the junior beginner course on Saturday mornings.

Caroline’s many years of involvement in “extra-curricular” activities at Lancers certainly contributed to her strengths. She has worked as a stablehand, a barn monitor, and a full-time Lancers March Break and summer camp counsellor. This summer she was also a Leader-in-Training at our “sleep-away” rural camp, Salmon River and is the current Junior Executive President. She has volunteered her time in many activities at Lancers including hay and shavings deliveries, night hay, canteens, and clean-up days. Caroline joined the recently reopened Lancer Pony Club, has completed rider levels, and rode in the Musical Ride for six years, two of which she was the 1-1 leader.

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At Lancers, Caroline also got her start in showing. She began in on-property training shows and then progressed to showing all the Lancer ponies including Buddy, Punkin, Owen, and Tootsie! Tootsie, Caroline proclaimed, is her favourite Lancer horse because she likes her pony sassiness. The Caroline-Tootsie team made their revival this summer at the Downtown Horse Show (photographic evidence below). While Tootsie is Caroline’s favourite Lancer horse, her favourite horse of all time is her own, Jakey. Caroline was fortunate to purchase Jakey three years ago and bring him to Lancers. She now competes with Jakey in the jumper ring with numerous championships in the 1.15 division.

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As Caroline heads off to university next autumn, she hopes to be able to bring Jakey with her (we’re just not sure if she’ll have space in her dorm room). She would love to continue riding and has the goal of qualifying for 1.20 junior jumpers at the Royal Winter Fair next year and the CET Medal. She hopes to achieve her rider level 8 this year. While her time at Lancers as a junior rider may be coming to a close, we know Caroline will become a dedicated Lancer alumna and will be back next year for her Christmas alumni ride on Tootsie!

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When asked what she enjoys most about Lancers, Caroline was quick to note that she loves how much of a family it is and that everyone is connected even though people are of different ages. “The horses are really amazing here and it’s a really great place for learning everything that goes along with riding and taking care of horses”, Caroline added. She has valued the opportunity to gain a level of responsibility of taking care of horses. Although Caroline says she probably won’t miss the stack of red polo shirts in her drawer, she will miss Lancers when she graduates. She will miss the Lancer horses, all her friends, teaching the youngest riders, being able to walk from home to see her horse, and most definitely, sitting on the ledge and cuddling Jakey as he puts his head on her lap.

As Caroline soaks up her last year at Lancers, she can already see how her time here has shaped her life. On one hand, she said that she doesn’t know if she would have ever been able to be as involved with horses if she hadn’t had Lancers. On the other hand, Caroline’s love of biology and her experiences with horse healthcare has inspired her to pursue a university education in sciences for the long-term goal of entering into pre-med or pre-vet. Whether Caroline ultimately ends up working with human or horse patients, we know that she will bring the same caring compassion in which she currently shows at Lancers with both the horses, her students, and her fellow riders.

Our Featured Horse of the Month is Jake!

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Jake is well into his twenties which makes him our oldest and our smallest pony at just 12 hands high. He is a black Newfoundland pony cross who has been a fixture in our lesson program as well as in HALTR since well before his time here. Jake came to replace another “Jake” who looked suspiciously the same! His show name is “Child’s Play” and he has just the right amount of naughtiness to teach children how to handle a pony but is otherwise practically perfect in every way. He is a character being turned out with the rest of the big horses. He may be small but he thinks he is just as big as they are and likes to show it off!

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Jake does it all. He has mastered the beginner course program and beginner camps and HALTR couldn’t live without him. Many riders have had their first canter, jump, and many other firsts on Jake! He is an amazing confidence builder. Jake is often the first horse that children learn to body clip on because he is so good. In past years, he has always been the caboose, bringing up the rear of our Musical Ride!  He still jumps around a 2-foot course with ease and took our first group of Pony Clubbers to their Prince Philip Games and acted like he had been doing it his whole life. The old Jake used to pull a cart with Santa in it to visit the Saint Vincent nursing home every Christmas; the new Jake no longer pulls a cart but he still makes his rounds as our Christmas Pony!

Our Featured Adult Rider of the Month of November is Victoria Bell!

Victoria is one of our newer faces at Lancers but even in her short time with us, she has quickly become someone that many of us know as she chooses to spend so much of her time with us! Victoria is our adult rider of the month because she has already become a committed member of the Lancer community through volunteering, her positive attitude towards returning to riding, and her sportsmanship.

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Victoria grew up in Montreal and rode as a youth between the ages of eight and sixteen. She rode regularly, went to horse camp, and was very involved with Pony Club! Life then took her to Toronto and then, twelve years ago, to Halifax when her and her husband wanted to relocate and find a great place to raise their children. With the vision that “coastal would be cool”, they chose Halifax! In Halifax, Victoria used to teach yoga and was very fit and active until a motorcycle accident put a halt to it all and she couldn’t teach yoga anymore. This all led Victoria to think about returning to riding, a physical activity that would actually enjoy doing! After thinking about it for a while but assuming that the waitlist at Lancers would be astronomically long, one day in the summer she drove down Bell road and decided she might as well put her name on the waitlist and give it a shot! This worked because we were able to get her into a new adult ride in September! Victoria joined A4 and not long after, quickly wanted to step up her riding game and so also joined A2 so she could ride twice a week. While she hasn’t completely found a favourite Lancer horse yet, she is equally fond of Bud, Alice, and even Chevy because he is very, very sweet. She also has a self-proclaimed sweet spot for Valour, one of the police horses, because he is “very handsome”.

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In those three months, Victoria has really come to marvel at the fact that there is a horse stable in downtown Halifax and loves the fact that she lives two minutes away! In that time, we have really enjoyed getting to know Victoria and were quick to benefit from her volunteerism. She has already been volunteering every Friday afternoon as a lead and side-walker with HALTR, our therapeutic riding program. She has also been very supportive of our Chase the Ace fundraiser and ensures she always buys her weekly tickets! In addition to contributing her time, we appreciate the very positive attitude Victoria has taken to returning to the saddle after a number of years off. Riding can be an intimidating sport, especially as a returning adult rider, but we are so happy that Lancers can facilitate Victoria’s return to riding (we are also quite impressed with her riding skills considering the break she took)! One of the core principals of Victoria’s attitude (which she embodies perhaps without even knowing it) is sportsmanship. She is encouraging and helpful to her ride peers.

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While we’re enjoying having Victoria around, it seems that Victoria is equally enjoying Lancers, particularly, seeing all the junior riders learning to take care of the horses. She elaborated by explaining that it is so great to see the group that rides before her on Mondays (ride 9). “They are very young but they are grooming, hopping on stools, picking up big hooves - they are feisty gals and there is no fear”, she said. Victoria is also a great proponent of Pony Club as it is really good for young people to learn responsibility. There are those riders who are happy when their horse is out in the ride before them so they don’t have to groom and tack up but then there are other kids who are so interested in learning and they bring their notebooks and just want to learn everything about horses. For them, it isn’t just all about the riding - it’s the grooming, taking care of the horses, teaching them responsibility and sportsmanship in a good way. Victoria particularly loved watching the children in the Halloween fun show. “The costumes”, she said, “were the cutest things I’ve ever seen!”

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Victoria’s children will be graduating from high school next year so she will be able to travel more but she would definitely like horses to be part of her life. The best part of riding, according to her, is that you have to be totally focused; you can’t be thinking about your to-do lists as it takes your full concentration. For Victoria, it isn’t just about riding but about grooming and just being around them. In the ring, however, Victoria would like to learn to jump again and perhaps even one day do lease or buy a horse! Until then, Victoria will continue her love of riding motorcycles and baking. She is actually a professional Boulanger and in the future, would like to volunteer to teach children with disabilities to cook! We are so excited to have Victoria continue to hone her riding skills and for all that, she will continue to bring to the Lancer community. And thank you, Victoria, for getting back in the saddle! 
#FeatureFriday

Our Featured Volunteer of the Month is Kathleen Bowman!

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Although many don’t get the chance to see it, every Wednesday and Friday morning Kathleen is at the stables volunteering with our stablehands. She helps with morning muck out, turn out, and other miscellaneous tasks that need doing around the barn! Kathleen is one of our adult riders and we always appreciate her contribution to Lancers.

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Kathleen has been riding at Lancers for over three and a half years, ever since she started university at Dalhousie. She has been riding in Toronto since she was nine years old. She currently rides in our A1 group and enjoys being in the saddle. Her favourite horse is Oliver but Chevy is a close second. Now that Kathleen is in her fourth year at university, her schedule became a bit clearer and she began volunteering with us every week! It is great to see her dedication and she is always so willing to help with any task.

When asked about her favourite memory of Lancers, Kathleen said that it was the first stable to give her the opportunity to ride a police horse (Valour) which was an “incredible experience”. Further, Kathleen explained what she enjoys most about Lancers: “I love the sense of community as well as the incredible quality of horses here. Riders are expected to help out in the barn before and after their ride, which really encourages good horsemanship. The riders in each ride all know each other, which I think is amazing”.

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While Kathleen will be finishing up her undergraduate degree this year, she has been working hard to pursue her dreams to be a veterinarian. Her top choice of vet school is University College Dublin! Ideally, Kathleen would like to be a vet at a mixed practice clinic where she can work with horses as well as dogs. She noted though that horses will always be a part of her life, no matter where she is in the world. Kathleen has plenty of volunteer experience but her time at Lancers is unique. She explained, “I love the physical work of volunteering at Lancers (I love fitness!) as well as the familiar pleasant smell of the barn and horses when I first walk in. Lancers has a much lower-stress environment compared to most volunteer opportunities I've had - vet clinics tend to have more people hurrying around to get stuff done before the next house/farm call or before the next client comes in. I also really enjoyed that the horses at Lancers all know me and are calm around me, compared to the way horses or dogs or cats react when I'm with a vet in the clinic or out on a farm visit”.

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 When not riding, studying, or volunteering, Kathleen loves to exercise and do fitness classes like step and boxing classes. She also loves to read and joked that she has probably pretty much memorised the Harry Potter books by now!

Well, Kathleen, we know that you will soon be off following your dreams. We are very excited to see all of your hard work and dedication to animal care come to fruition.

Our Featured Junior Rider of the Month is Jill Ryan!

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Jill is one of our Ride 1 riders whose presence around the barn can’t be missed with her friendly, sarcastic manner full of cheeky wit. Jill has been riding for seven years and has spent her whole riding career at Lancers. She came to a Lancers camp when she was eight years old and started in the beginner junior course when she was nine. She also rides in the 3x program!  

 Over the years, Jill has been involved in many Lancer extra-curricular activities. She has been in the Musical Ride for five years, the past two of which she has been a leader, has been the Secretary for the Junior Executive for the past two years, and this year, was a Leader-in-Training at Salmon River camp. Jill has earned her Equine Canada Rider Level 7, participates in a lot of on and off-property shows as well as clinics. She works as a barn monitor and a stablehand and also volunteers for night hay and clean-up days. In fact, any free time that Jill has is spent at the barn. She is always willing to help out! There is a running joke amongst her peers though about how far she lives outside the city (even though it is only 25 minutes). She often takes the bus to and from the barn which always shows her commitment to her riding.

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Like most of our riders, Jill found it tricky to just choose one favourite horse but she decided on Oliver and Rockette (they are neck and neck, apparently). Jill explained that they have distinct personalities and they are both very fun to ride! Her other choices were Alice and Tootsie, and former Lancer horses, Peter, Buddy, Norman, Freddie, and Babe! Jill’s favourite thing about Lancers is that you can make so many friends- including the horses. She loves hanging out with the horses and thinking up show names for them. “They are really big teddy bears”, she added!

In that vein, one could be reminded of the saying, “horses will never break your heart, only your bones”. Jill certainly has broken some bones; she broke her leg falling off Peter when jumping and has broken some toes in her time (and even a concussion has befallen Jill). Beyond any injuries, Jill said that she “can’t imagine what kind of person [she] would be without it”. She explained, “it has changed my character for the better and it has helped me become a person that I am proud of”. Jill’s priority is always to improve her skills in any way, shape, or form.

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Jill has had many great memories of Lancers including last year at Salmon River camp when Giquau got loose and the riders had to “saddle-club it” and take the bomb proof horses and hunt for him in the woods! Competing at the Atlantic Fall Fair had been a dream of Jill’s since she was a kid and she will always treasure the memory of having the special opportunity of being able to complete and perform the Musical Ride at the fair in 2016. Jill particularly liked the dog and horse relay class and watching all the riders in the Hunter Classic and guessing their scores with Angie and the gang. This year was also highlighted by participating in the Paul Halpern clinic and showing Peter in the 2’ class at the Downtown Horse Show.

While not at the barn, Jill is very involved in the Nova Scotia Secondary School Students’ Association, particularly the participating in the Inclusion Committee. She also works as a swimming instructor at the wave pool and is training to be a life guard. In her future, Jill is aiming to go to university at Dalhousie and to pursue a career in the medical field. She hopes to have her own horse one day so she can have a special connection with one particular horse.

Well, Jill, we are fortunate to have you and we can’t wait to have many more great times with you in our company!  

Our Featured Horse of the Month is Chevy!

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The first thing people will notice about Chevy is that he has, without a doubt, the sweetest face. Chevy is another one of our Clyde-crosses and he is eleven years old. He is bay with a star and a snip.

While his show name is Road Trip, his nickname among the kids is Brick. It suits him well because he can be tough to work with or get through to at times. But sooner or later, riders who persist with him will learn to mold that brick and inevitably fall for this very sweet natured horse. He really is very sweet! Furthermore, riders are sometimes taught to use the wall of an arena to reinforce their natural aids when the horse is not listening but Chevy has learned to use the wall to reinforce his will when his rider isn’t listening to him.

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While he might not be the easiest horse to ride, he is quite bomb proof which is a great asset for a horse living in the city. While not much seems to bother Chevy, he does get very nervous every time the farrier visits. From the first day we had him, farrier visits have caused some anxiety in him and our farriers have worked out a special routine for him to help him feel more comfortable and he doesn’t even wear shoes!

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Under the show name, Road trip, Chevy has competed in the hunter ring up to 2’9” and is a favourite amongst our adult riders for dressage work. He has been in the Musical Ride and most recently, at our Halloween show, he tied for first place in the jumper ring. Who knew he had such speed! 
#FeatureFriday

Our Featured Adult Rider of the Month is Zrinka Vranjes!

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On September 19, 1996, Zrinka arrived in Halifax by plane. Three days later she was walking around Halifax with her husband and was surprised when she saw horses in the city. She had ridden horses in Croatia so decided she should enroll at Lancers. For the first 2-3 months, she started out riding in an evening adult ride. It was there that she met Lynn who became her fellow riding buddy for the next twenty years! Zrinka chuckled when she thought back to these early days because she said she didn't speak much English. Without knowing what the instructor was saying, she would peak at other riders and try to do the same thing.

Zrinka has therefore been riding at Lancers for twenty-one years and the only break she had was when her daughter Tara was born in July 1997. The riding gene seems to be in the family as Tara started riding at Lancers when she was 7. Tara also continued a long stretch as a Lancer and rode throughout all her junior years and "aged-out" in ride 1 when she graduated high school.

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Soon enough, Zrinka joined the Friday morning ride and has been in that ride for many years now. Over these years, she has dedicated herself to Lancers and has done many jobs along the way. She again chuckled when she recalled that her first act of volunteerism at Lancers was at the Downtown Horse Show, possibly in 1998. The riding ring was across the road and because she didn't have much English, Zrinka decided to take a wheelbarrow and pick up all the horse manure left on the road. She said, "it was a messy job but I loved it". While Tara was a junior rider, Zrinka (with Lynn) helped run many of the Saturday canteens. She was also a board member for two terms, did night hay, some on-site shows, and did barn clean-up days. Zrinka has participated in everything but is slowing down now that she is working full-time. Yet, one particularly special memory was when she and Tara came to the barn in a snowstorm to do night hay. "It was just so peaceful, beautiful, you had the horses, the atmosphere in the barn – I can't even describe it to you". It is a moment we should all try to pause to take in.

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Zrinka's favourite horses are Bud and Inga although she said her heart is really with Cash, a former Lancer horse from many moons ago. When asked what she enjoys most about Lancers, she quickly responded, "the community spirit; I love the spirit of the people who ride horses at Lancers". She added, "Lancers has become my second family – Lynn, Tamzen, Barb, Peter, Helga – everyone". It is wonderful to hear that Zrinka values Lancers and particularly that she hopes that Lancers will stay for many more years and that everyone can work to keep that spirit and love of horses so that Lancers, the tradition, and special place, won't disappear. In the same vein, we greatly value Zrinka who always comes into the barn like a happy and feisty burst of wind. In the future, Zrinka intends to sit on a horse for as long as she can! "If I can sit, I will sit", is her motto. We look forward to having her at Lancers for many more years...."until she is 104". #FeatureFriday

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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