Our volunteer of the month is Helga Cunningham!

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

Helga away from her ladder! 

Helga away from her ladder! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Learning how to steer with follow the leader!  

Learning how to steer with follow the leader!  

Look at those vaulting skills! 

Look at those vaulting skills! 

Look ma', no hands! 

Look ma', no hands! 

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

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

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

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Our featured horse of the month for August is Peter!

Peter with a young junior rider. 

Peter with a young junior rider. 

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

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

Peter at the Downtown Horse Show in 2014

Peter at the Downtown Horse Show in 2014

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

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

Jill showing Peter for one last time! 

Jill showing Peter for one last time! 

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

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

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

Our Featured Adult Rider of the Month is Kat Stratton

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is Kat last night riding Peter!  

 

Our Featured Volunteer of the Month for July is Rickey Osmond

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

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

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

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

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

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

This month we are featuring our graduating riders!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amy and Claire (graduating next year) 

Amy and Claire (graduating next year) 

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

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

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

Sophie, Amy, and Alix

Sophie, Amy, and Alix

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

Our Featured Horse for July is Rainey!

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

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

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

Our Featured Staff Member for June is Elizabeth Melvin!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Featured Adult Rider for June is Noha AlSharif!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Featured Volunteer for June is Jessica Evans!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Featured Junior Rider for June is Sophie Hartlen!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Our Featured Horse for June is Oliver!

Oliver is a playful nine-year-old Clyde - thoroughbred cross. He is a “bay”, which means he is brown with a black mane and tail, and has a white blaze and some white socks! Lancers has been lucky enough to own Oliver for five years when he came as a four-year-old.

Oliver is definitely a barn favourite and is one of our horses that our junior riders can aspire to ride! Often we have to sacrifice quality in favour of safety for our school horses but Oliver embodies both quality and safety. He is level-headed and safe; it is just his big movement that makes him less suitable for our beginner riders. Since this can make him a challenging horse to ride, we tend to keep him for our advanced rides. Junior riders love it when their skills have developed enough so that they can finally ride Oliver!

It is little wonder then that each spring squabbles always arise over who gets to show Oliver! His scopey jump and automatic lead changes make him fun to compete on the hunter circuit. Oliver even won a class at the Maritime Fall Fair last year!

Beyond horse shows, Oliver has led our Musical Ride, was a favourite on the trails at Salmon River camp, and was even ridden by Paul Halpern in the 2015 Paul Halpern clinic!

Here is Jill on Oliver just last weekend at the Coveside Training Day, Oliver with Paul Halpern, and Dominique who took some Prom photos with Oliver last year!

Our Featured Adult Rider for May is Tom Beveridge

This month we would like to feature Tom as our adult rider of the month! Unfortunately, we were unable to interview him in person because he is away but he wrote to us from Scotland. His niece rides and they had just returned from walking their dogs at the farm where she rides which is also an animal sanctuary!

Tom working with Bud at the Danique Henderson ground work clinic 

Tom working with Bud at the Danique Henderson ground work clinic 

Tom rides in our A3 adult group and has been on our Board of Directors for two years. Although Tom had been on a horse when he was younger and even in his 20s, he has been seriously riding only since 2010. After he moved to Halifax in 2009, he bought a house within walking distance from Lancers and used to walk his dogs around the paddock. Before long, he started chatting to some of the adult riders from time to time and then some of them encouraged me to try it out! He remembers saying “surely I am too old at this point” (he was in his mid-50s) but Lynn Knapp or Helga Cunningham, or both, assured him that “you are never too old”.  For the first year, he thought they were wrong about that but he stuck with it!

When asked what he likes most about Lancers, Tom joked that he had to learn to like the horses. When he first started they intimidated him but, he noted, when he saw all the young riders managing to handle their horses with confidence, it inspired him to stick with it. He also noted his appreciation of the sense of community at Lancers. “Everyone, kids, adults, and parents have a super attitude”, he wrote, “it is a friendly, helpful, and welcoming group of people”. Tom himself is certainly one who has a great attitude as he has an added challenge when coming to the barn. An accident as a teenager resulted in the loss his left arm. Tom rides with a prosthesis. This has led Tom to explore various adapted aids and he now has things worked out so he manages very well!

We have really appreciated Tom’s involvement at the barn and on the Board of Directors which he adds, have been “really rewarding experiences”. He adds, “it has made me aware of how the hard work and dedication of members and volunteers is the heart and soul of Lancers”.  

When asked who his favourite horse is, Tom chose Bud: “he is a great horse to ride and I never worry about him doing anything silly. He also has a super-endearing personality.  He is probably the most outgoing horse at the barn”. Tom also had lots of good memories of Lancers including the first time he fell off when dismounting! Over his pride was injured though!

Riding isn’t the only sport Tom enjoys as he took up skiing again a few years ago. In July, Tom will sadly be leaving us to move to Belgium! We’re happy though that he will be looking for a farm there to ride at. Where ever he chooses, they will be lucky to have Tom as one of their riders.

Thank you, Tom, for lending us your expertise and so well exhibiting the Lancer spirit of horsemanship and always taking the best outlook on life and equestrianism.

Our Volunteer for May is Carmel O'Keefe

This month we are featuring Carmel as our volunteer of the month! Carmel currently sits on our board of directors, is the chair of our Fundraising Committee and her daughter Annabelle is in ride 3.

Carmel has actually been a western rider since she was 8 years old although she has never been able to take formal lessons. She started volunteering at Lancers as a member of our board of directors over two years ago as she had a special interest in therapeutic riding. Since then, she has kindly volunteered her time with fundraising, revising administration manuals, designing a marketing brochure, and even with BBQ’s!

When asked what she enjoys most about Lancers, Carmel explained that her “favourite part of Lancers is the unique opportunity it provides for an entire city to experience the incredible beauty and strength of horses. The location of the barn and the Lancers' history are untapped Halifax treasures”. While it was easy for Carmel to share what she loves about Lancers, she found it harder to choose her favourite horse. “I have had crushes on so many over the years - Cash, Willow, Zero,” Carmel explained, “but my heart is taken with Bella, and not just because she shares her name with my daughter”. In a similar vein, Carmel’s favourite memory of Lancers was when she saw the riders in their red jackets during a Musical Ride practice for the first time. “It was truly inspirational”, she added.

For Carmel, volunteering at Lancers is unique because “her life-long love of horses is re-kindled every time I turn into the driveway on Bell Road. My other volunteer roles didn't have a horse component so there's no contest! When not volunteering, she enjoys going to the gym, playing trivia and crib (versus cribbing!).”

In the future, Carmel sees herself, over the next several years, “playing a role in increasing public awareness, access and value for horses in the lives of those who experience a variety of abilities, marginalization and building life skills”.

Thank you, Carmel, for playing such an important role at Lancers! We appreciate all of your hard work.

Our Featured Junior Rider for May is Chloe Cook!

Chloe with Bobbi

Chloe with Bobbi

Chloe has been riding for five years and has spent the last three years at Lancers. She is now in ride 6.

Chloe always shows her dedication to Lancers and helps out as a stable hand and as a volunteer for many of the activities and tasks at the barn. Chloe spends so much of her spare time here at the barn. All of our riders know they are welcome to spend as much time at the barn as they would like with the knowledge that they might be put to work while here. Chloe stands out in that she finds work to do and puts herself to work before ever being asked. She was even awarded “camper of the week” at our overnight Salmon River camp last year. This year she is a Lancers Pony Club member and is a spare in the Musical Ride. She is always an immense help on Tuesdays when she assists younger riders getting ready for their lessons!

Chloe’s favourite horse is Bobbi, although she loves vaulting on Inga! One of her favourite memories of Lancers is when she was jumping Rupert and was sure she would fall off but managed to stay on. When asked what her favourite part of Lancers is, Chloe explained, “the friendships with other riders and the bonding experiences with each horse”. She added, “there are not many places in Halifax where you can hang out with horses!”

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In the future, she wishes to be a vet, specialising in large animals. When she isn’t at the barn, she is looking after her pet fish and can be found showing her Australian Terrier (dog) at competitions!

Thank you, Chloe, for giving so much to Lancers. We are fortunate to have you!

Our Featured Adult Rider for April is Trilby Sylvain

Trilby is one of our newer members and joined Lancers last November. Starting out as a Western rider, she began riding at the age of ten and rode until she was about eighteen. What followed was a twenty-year break from riding. Like some of our other adult riders, we have been very happy to see Trilby get back in the saddle. She now enjoys riding with the Tuesday morning group and her favourite horse is Willow.

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Despite her short time at Lancers, she has already volunteered as a phone tree parent. One of Trilby’s favourite memories of Lancers was her first day when Simba dragged her half way down the aisle for a bite of hay! Trilby isn’t the only one in her family who rides at Lancers as her daughter Callia and niece Grace are both in ride 11.

Trilby’s favourite part of Lancers is the sense of community at the barn. For her, Lancers is unique because having people of “all ages helping other ages is really neat”. In the future, Trilby looks forward to riding with her two children and two nieces! When not at the barn, Trilby enjoys running, activities with her children, and spending time at her cottage in King’s Head beach in New Glasgow.

Thanks, Trilby for always coming to the barn with a smile and for being a reminder that Lancers is a place for families! Here she is pictured with Bud, one of her daughter’s favourite horses. 

Our Featured Volunteer for April is Réal Clarke

Réal not only rides at Lancers but is one of our “re-riders” who has recently come back to riding after a number of years off. Now that she is back, she has already jumped in full force as an active volunteer at the barn! She is helping with our Musical Ride, has agreed to chair our Downtown Horse Show Committee (which her background as an event organiser is a great asset), and she plans to attend many off-property horse shows to help any way that she can! We are particularly fortunate to have Réal back because as a child, Réal was very involved in the Lancer community as a youth. Between 1994 and 2004, she participated in Junior Executive, Pony Club, Musical Ride, and horse shows, and was even a stable hand on Sundays! She knows the ropes.

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Even with her break, Réal has been able to jump right back in the saddle and now rides in J3. While she has only been riding again since February, Réal actually began riding at Lancers in 1994 when she attended Lancers’ beginner summer camp (a photo of her first ride is below!), and stayed on to move through the ranks. Over the years, Réal has had many favourite Lancer horses including Freddy, George, Sparky, and Thelma from her childhood. While she hasn’t been back long enough to have a new favourite, Réal says she enjoys riding Rupert and Rainy because of the challenges they present. Sparky is foremost in Réal’s favourite memories of Lancers as she recalls winning her first red ribbon with him in the Downtown Horse Show in 1999 (photo below). Other favourite memories include riding in the Musical Ride with the RCMP and showing Thelma at an off-property show (photo below). Réal recounted, “We were having a difficult day and she did not even want to go into the ring. We were able to make it around the course and even won some ribbons. I was particularly proud because we were able to overcome the challenges that day”.

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When asked what she enjoys most about Lancers, Réal explained, “I have always loved horses and being a member of Lancers has allowed me to grow up with them. I have learned so much over the years and being a part of the organization has taught me a sense of responsibility”. In the future, Réal would like to continue riding at Lancers and work towards obtaining her rider levels with the ultimate goal of certifying as an instructor. Overall, Réal chooses to volunteer at Lancers because “it allows me to combine my love of horses and learning with the opportunity to give back. I hope that through volunteering I will be able to help others have the same wonderful experience I had growing up”. In this, Réal exhibits the real Lancer spirit - someone who wants to learn, lead, and find ways to give back to the community.

When not at the barn, Réal enjoys hiking, camping, canoeing, and spending lots of time outside with her dog!

Thank you, Réal, for your many years of service to Lancers and for coming back to ride again!

Our Featured Junior Rider of the month is Amy Withington!

Amy has been riding for 10 years, all of which have been at Lancers, and she now rides in Ride 1. During those years, Amy has been very active. While not riding, she is currently the President of Junior Executive and works as a barn monitor. She has worked as a camp counsellor for both our summer day camp and our overnight Salmon River camp. Having recently become an NCCP certified instructor, Amy is now also one of our instructors at Lancers. In 2016, she was one of our leaders in the musical ride and she won the Sarah Louise Smith trophy awarded to the junior rider who is most involved in Lancer activities. On top of her dedication to Lancers, Amy is much adored, especially by the younger Lancers who very much enjoy working with her.

Amy jumping Reese 

Amy jumping Reese 

Even though Amy has had many favourite Lancer horses over the years, her current favourite is Reese with whom she plans on competing with this summer! When asked for her favourite memory of Lancers, Amy replied, “I have so many!” She recalled: “one was my first training show with Inga doing cross rails. I think I was nine and I remember being so nervous. Inga, for some reason, had a lot of energy that day and we ended up winning the class!” Another memory was her first show with Reese because she was so happy with how well he behaved.

Amy is graduating in June and will be embarking on her next adventure at university. In her future, she hopes to keep riding and maybe even have her own horse one day. Thinking upon this next chapter of her life, Amy shared that Lancers taught her not only to ride but gave her the opportunity to find her passion for working with kids and teaching, a career she is thinking of pursuing. Amy concluded by sharing what makes Lancers so unique: “I love riding at Lancers because it is where I grew up, because of all the amazing friends and coaches that I love, and because we for sure have the best horses around!”

Thank you, Amy, for contributing so much to the Lancer community over the past ten years.

Our Featured Horse for April is Sadie!

Sadie on Valentine's day

Sadie on Valentine's day

Our sweet Sadie has been with us for just over a year now! She originally came from PEI and will turn thirteen this summer. Nearly 16 hands high, Sadie is a Clyde/Paint cross. Her unique colouring is called Palomino.

Sadie jumping with Nadia

Sadie jumping with Nadia

 

 

Even as a new addition to Lancers, Sadie joined our musical ride last year and even won the dog and horse relay at the Atlantic Agricultural Fall Fair. Despite Sadie being a safe and reliable mount, she can still provide a good challenge for our most experienced riders. She is known for her speedy ways under saddle but juniors and adults alike always enjoy having a turn with Sadie. Most of all, Sadie is best known for her sweet disposition and her love of jumping! Expect to see Sadie, or “Tout de Suite” as she is officially known, in the jumper ring this season!

Our featured Adult Rider for March is Mary Morrison

When we asked Mary when she started riding at Lancers, she promptly responded: “March 3, 1983”. How does she remember the exact day, thirty-four years ago? “It was a milestone”, she replied.

Mary began her riding career at Lancers in 1983 by joining the adult beginner course. It was the first time she has been around horses and was a particularly special experience because she never thought that she could ride because of her allergies. In fact, for the first ten years, she had to wear a mask while grooming (that’s dedication)!

During her time at Lancers, Mary organised the musical ride for five years, acted as ring crew for the Downtown horse show, has helped with hay, shavings, clean up days, and has even given tours for our open house and Doors Open. She very much enjoys showing people the facility.

Mary has spent her whole riding career with Lancers. What she enjoys most about Lancers is the community atmosphere and history. Particularly, Mary values that fact that Lancers brings together riders of all ages to enjoy the same horses and space. “It doesn’t matter your age”, Mary explained, “we are all supportive of each other”.

Mary added that while she has ridden at some other barns over the years (in addition to weekly rides at Lancers), the Lancers' history makes it very different from any other barn. In this vein, Mary (with enthusiasm in her voice), urged “for those of us who are lucky enough to ride here, it is important for us to realise and recognise how special it is. It is unique”. Lancers, Mary points out, has been very lucky to host many talented instructors with high-level qualifications and international experience.

Another special feature of Lancers for Mary is our location. Despite not having a car, she is still able to ride a horse every week! On this, she noted that while some other cities have “urban” barns, most are privately owned and are so ridiculously expensive that you can’t get in!

Mary intends to keep riding at Lancers for a very long time! She enjoys the riding but also the horses and the people. While Mary answered all of our questions with ease, she was stumped when we asked her to name her favourite horse. You could tell the fond memories were flooding back as she replied, “of all time…was….Ms…and then Digger…the very first horse I loved was Thunder…then there was Jenny…I loved Moonbeam for years…and Phyllis…now, Simba and Alice”.

Like most of our interviewees, Mary also had to think hard about her favourite memory from Lancers because “there’s so many, it is hard to choose”. She decided upon: “all the great horses we have been able to ride over the years. A lot of good horse people have come for clinics and have said to us that they can’t believe these are school horses”. It is little wonder that when Mary isn’t riding (or enjoying yoga), she loves to read biographies or anything to do with horses.

From Lancers, past and present, we thank you, Mary, for adding so much to our community and for loving our horses. Here is Mary enjoying her ride on Alice.