Our Featured Volunteer of the Month is James Nicholson!

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James Nicholson is our building/carpentry/plumbing volunteer extraordinaire. Not only does he help out so much during our August clean-up but throughout the years you can find him fixing stall door tracks, hoses and taps, and even the hay elevator. He very kindly lent his time this year to help the Junior Executive make stall bars. We are very fortunate to have James dedicate his time to Lancers as a volunteer, rider, and since 2017, as a board member. He has been on our building committee for some years and this year helped to organise our Wine Tasting and Silent Auction fundraiser.

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James, as he self-proclaims, took up riding “late in life” and has been riding for the past ten years. A friend of his suggested that he come to Lancers to “get some proper lessons”. James now rides in the A1 adult group. Being pretty (ok, really) tall, James often rides our bigger horses like Bud, Jacob, and Chevy. When we asked him who his favourite horse is, James humorously replied, “Bud is a favourite, (Don’t tell Jacob). Bud is absolutely ‘canterrific’”. One of James’ favourite memories of Lancers occurred a few years ago during a Friday night make-up ride; the group was small and the weather outside was very stormy so the instructor suggested they have a lunging workshop. James found himself at one end of the barn helping a younger rider lunge a horse and that was a moment when he realised that he had really picked up some good skills over the years.

Shortly after James started to ride, he noticed that there were a few repairs in the barn that could be fixed. James, as a side note, has a very impressive and well equipped home workshop so he certainly knew what he could fix. His projects started small and then the projects gradually got bigger! James is someone who likes to fix things and although, as he says, “some repairs are subtle and can go unnoticed, they are still important and satisfying to complete”. These repairs and improvements are crucial to our facility and all members should be thankful that members like James dedicate their time to keeping in the best order for us and our horses.

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 While a lot of James’ other volunteer work has been mostly on various board of directors, he likes volunteering Lancers because a lot of the projects he gets involved in are helpful for the members and staff and that can be very satisfying. He added, at a certain level we all work for these great horses because they in turn, work for us”. An added benefit, he noted, is that “there is a great sense of community amongst the members and their families. Getting involved as a volunteer on the building committee and the board of directors has made my appreciation of this community even greater”.

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In the future, James would like to keep riding as it is one of the most challenging things he has ever done and in riding, you never stop learning! He even might consider studying for a rider level next year. James also has an interest in the Lancer therapeutic riding program as he has a nephew with special needs. When not volunteering at Lancers, James enjoys fine woodworking, mountain biking, skiing, and travelling. He has been lucky to go horseback riding in a few foreign countries over the years including France, England, Scotland, Ireland, Zimbabwe, Australia, New Zealand and the USA. Some photos from his journeys are below!

Thank you, James, for using your skills and passions (and tools) to help Lancers. And we won’t tell Jacob your secret. ;)

Our Featured Junior Rider of the Month is Claire Ferguson!

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Claire started riding when she was eight. She came to a Lancers summer camp and was hooked after the week. Claire, however, had been familiar with Lancers since she was a baby as her mum was (and still is) an adult rider. Her mum made it very clear that she only had to ride if she wanted to, not just because she did. Ten years later and it is fair to say that Claire certainly has her own passion for riding. We are pleased to feature her as our junior rider of the month. She has graduated high school and is going off to university so we are excited to celebrate all that she has brought to Lancers over the past decade. 

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Over the years, as Claire moved through the rides, she tried a little bit of everything at Lancers. She has worked as a stablehand and barn monitor, she has volunteered as ring crew and for canteens, she’s helped with countless shavings and hay deliveries, and has even been a counsellor at our summer day camps. Claire was a leader in training at our Salmon River sleep-away camp, and has also been a leader in the Musical Ride, the Vice-President of the Junior Executive, and a competitor in our on and off property shows. At Lancers, Claire earned her rider levels and became a qualified NCCP instructor, teaching at Lancers for the 2017-2018 year. Outside of the barn, Claire is a semi-competitive singer and thoroughly enjoys it as a hobby that is so different from our sport of riding.

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Claire’s favorite horse is Maggie. Of their relationship, she explained: “to say she is a handful is definitely an understatement but there has been no experience more rewarding than working with her this past year. She is truly a heart horse for me and in a very short time has really helped me become a better rider and a better horsewoman. It isn’t all red ribbons and easy lessons for the two of us but at the end of the day Maggie really means so much to me”. Maggie features in one of Claire’s favourite memories of Lancers. She noted, “the memory that has the biggest hold on my heart would be the day Maggie came off the trailer to Lancers”.

In terms of her favourite part about Lancers, Claire said, like many others, that it is the sense of community! She explained, “I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I hadn’t ended up at Lancers. I have met so many amazing people and made friendships that will last me a lifetime. However it’s not just the community I enjoy, it is how we teach and what we are taught. I credit a lot of my determination and grit to being at Lancers and at a young age learning to work hard in a way that is so rewarding and fun.” That is something we can definitely attest to as Claire is an extremely dedicated and determined individual!

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Claire included other wonderful memories such as “all the crazy late night horse show prep with all of us madly braiding and bathing only to come in at 6:00am the next morning to find our horses dirty again and missing a few braids”. “In general”, she added, “there really are no better moments for me at Lancers than the simple little things of making memories in riding and in general with all of the amazing girls I ride with”. Those memories might be more present in Claire’s mind because she is very soon heading off to university in Ontario to study neuroscience. From there, she is really interested in pursuing animal physiotherapy or possibly neuropsychology with a focus on sports and hopes to end up in a field where some of her work can be related to equine/equestrians as it is such a big part of her life now and she would like it to stay that way.

Claire is a bright, intelligent, and dedicated young woman and we have been thankful to have her as a Lancer for so long. To spend a decade in one place is a long time and moving on shouldn’t go unnoticed. We wish you all the very best for your new adventure and we look forward to seeing you at our Christmas alumni ride!

Simba is our Featured Horse of the Month!

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Simba is a grey appaloosa gelding who is just a little bit too tall to be a pony and is almost 20 years old. He gets along really well with other horses and is often the first horse we introduce to new horses entering the barn. He has so many admirers and loves to greet visitors on the fence line.

He does all things very well but he is also very clever and will always test his riders just a little bit to see what he can get away with on any given day. He would rather he lead you around the barn than you lead him!

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He is used in our junior and adult programs and our summer camps. He has also been in our Musical Ride for many years. He does the most wonderful walk to canter transitions and can make a rider learning to canter feel like a superstar. He is always a popular choice for any of our training shows. Simba has helped many people earn their rider levels from level 1 all the way to level 6! However, he can be a bit quirky and over jump obstacles that might be a little imposing which means he makes a great teacher for kids learning to jump.

We are so grateful for all the service Simba has given us so far and are happy that he remains quite feisty even though he is aging. He is in excellent health is still happy doing his job. Simba is excited to get back to lessons next week!

Our Featured Adult Rider of the Month is Stephanie Fennell!

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Our featured adult rider for July is Stephanie Fennell and we really can’t believe that we haven’t featured her earlier because she is a fantastic Lancer and always approaches her time here with a genuine desire to help others and give back. We have been fortunate to have Stephanie among us since February, 2017. Stephanie tells the story of how she got into Lancers in a rather funny way. She had been on our waitlist for the adult beginner course for some time and in February, we opened registration and Stephanie was next on our waitlist and so could register. So excited, she woke up her daughter, put her in the car in her PJs and drove to the barn to submit the payment and application. But just as she was signing up, she mentioned that she had some riding experience. Stephanie jokes that she was “rejected” from the beginner course and was told that our adult membership would be better suited to her experience level. We just happened to have a space in a suitable adult ride on Thursday nights. Stephanie recounted, “I felt like I was 12 years old again….my first lesson was on Alice…and it took me two weeks to walk upright again after that lesson”.

Stephanie rode as a child until her parents became unsupportive of the risk involved in the sport. She promised herself that when she “grew up” she would start again. She then dabbled in riding while living in Germany. Fast forward 15 years and when she was on maternity leave, she realized that she “must be grown-up enough now” to start to ride. She leased a horse in Enfield and everything was dandy until the horse moved to Moncton. Lancers was the next step! It is pretty clear that Stephanie thoroughly enjoys her time at Lancers. She explained, “I enjoy being with horses and learning from people of all ages and backgrounds about horseman/womenship. Life is grand at the Lancers! Each day I get to spend there, I feel like I get younger. I love hanging out with everyone, especially the new riders and the older riders. They share their experiences and anecdotes on each horse and I love hearing all the stories”.

 Stephanie's daughter is excited to become a Lancer when she is old enough! 

Stephanie's daughter is excited to become a Lancer when she is old enough! 

Stephanie says that she enjoys every moment at Lancers but her most recent favourite memory was her first Lancer horse show with Alice this spring. She elaborated, “we cantered so well in the last flat division, that I had a permanent smile on my face for the next week. I felt like I was flying and I could tell she was having a great time as well”. Stephanie very much likes riding Alice, especially because she is reliable when learning a new task. But her “family of favourites” also includes Bud because he is faithful and dependable and Simba because he is playful and has no problem serving up attitude.

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Stephanie has given her time to Lancers although with work and family, it is challenging to find a consistent volunteer schedule. She really enjoys learning from Helga about the barn during August clean-up (during which Stephanie helps out a lot). She describes herself as “the crazy one that washes the wash stall from top to bottom”! Since our quarantine, Stephanie has used initiative to find a new way to contribute. Since she can’t enter the barn, she has been tending to the memorial garden at the front of the barn.

In the future, Stephanie hopes to be able to join the Tuesday or Friday morning rides which are always much sought after. She also has aspirations of doing different rider levels but she knows that will take some time! She even has visions of moving into a loft apartment above the stables! Her dream, however, is for her daughter Evelyn to join Lancers (she is already on the beginner course waitlist for when she turns eight). She explained, “I hope that she will get to experience the wonderful community and be exposed to the older riders who provide such leadership to the new riders. We are so blessed to have this facility and these horses in our city and 10 minutes from our house”.

Stephanie, we are glad that you jumped at the chance to join us and that you enjoy your time with us as much as we enjoy our time with you. It is so apparent that you give your heart to Lancers and we are thankful that you found your way to Bell road. 
#featurefriday

Our Featured Volunteer of the month is Sue Comeau Stender!

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Sue Comeau Stender is a volunteer who has been with us just shy of a year but has already become a dedicated Lancer volunteer. Sue’s daughter CC started riding in our junior beginner course in 2017 and in September will be in ride 9! While Sue desperately wanted horseback riding lessons as a kid, she has only ridden once and that was just this year at the insistence of her daughter when they were on holiday. Sue began her volunteering at the barn by lending a hand, sweeping and helping with hay and shavings deliveries “while trying to tear CC away from the barn”, she noted. “Sweeping” she added, “is way more fun when there are cool horses to take peppermint breaks with”. Sue plays a lot of tennis so hay and shavings deliveries and sweeping are good strengthening for the tennis swing! She should know about fitness and health because is also a writer an author of “The F.I.T. Files”. In our recent quarantine, some of our youngest riders collaborated and held bake sales; Sue helped out although she humbly emphasised the fact that she helped mostly on the baking end. From Sue’s perspective, it was another parent who was instrumental in organising the sale and of course, the riders “were very dynamic promoters and sellers”. The fact that we didn’t make it through our interview without Sue singing the praises of others speaks volumes to her genuine character.

 CC and Bud!

CC and Bud!

Sue’s favourite horse is Bud because according to her, he is “such a big, gentle goofball” and “he has been a lovely horse for CC to start riding with”. Bud also relates to Sue’s favourite memories of Lancers. She explained that when CC did her first training show, there was a mix up in who was riding Bud before her, and she had to scramble to get him ready. She remarked, “the older girls stepped in to help right away, and they were so amazing. I thought, ‘wow, this is a special place’”. In that vein, according to Sue, her favourite part about Lancers is “the sense of camaraderie that the riders have”. She added, “everyone helps me each other. It’s awesome. And it’s incredibly cool to get to hang out with the horses!” It is pretty evident that Sue enjoys her time at Lancers. When we asked how it compares to other volunteer opportunities in her life, she humorously responded, “like all my favourite volunteer experiences, it doesn’t feel like work. It’s fun to be around the barn. And, oh yeah, there’s a little more slobber”. It is highly likely that there will be a lot more horse slobber in Sue’s future. She said, “since I don’t expect CC to reduce her time in the barn, I see myself getting quicker at cleaning out stalls”.

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Sue and CC

Sue, we truly hope that CC only increases her time in the barn just so we can have your warmth and smiles around us. You have brought a wonderful spirit to Lancers and we are thankful for your support. Thank you!

Featured Junior Rider of the Month is Annabelle O’Keefe

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Annabelle O’Keefe is our featured junior rider for the month of July! Annabelle is now 17 and has been riding at Lancers for eight years. She had her start in the Lancer summer camps and then enrolled in the junior beginner course. This September she will be in ride 3! Like many others who started in the beginner course, Annabelle’s favourite horse was once our famous little pony Jake. She said “Jake was my ‘go-to’ and I always rode him because I was so small”. In recent years, Rockette and Jacob were favourites but once “cutie” Bella arrived as Lancers, Annabelle found a new favourite.

 Annabelle after the first day at Salmon River camp! 

Annabelle after the first day at Salmon River camp! 

Over the years, Annabelle has been a dedicated volunteer and always comes to help with shavings and hay deliveries. When she was about 15, she started stable handing which she enjoys even if it is, as she says, hard work. Annabelle has been an incredible asset during our quarantine. She stepped in to be one of two people who help care for the horses who were either infected or exposed to the strangles bacteria. One of the conditions of this role is that she is not allowed to handle any other horses, and has to be available 7 days a week. Her ability to step into this role has made it possible for us to maintain best practices throughout our quarantine, and we are grateful to her.

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For Annabelle, the best thing about Lancers is that it is a community. She explained, “everybody seems really close and there is a good group of people that you belong to when you’re a Lancer”. She added, “any time I have a good course in a lesson, it puts me in a good mood and I feel that I have really accomplished something”. It is always very evident that Annabelle enjoys being around the horses but we also asked her what she enjoys about riding. She responded: “I think it boosts my confidence in general, especially by trying new things in riding. For me, riding can be scary, especially jumping and I feel like I have overcome a lot of my fears in riding and that transfers into other parts of my life.”  

Being ready to take a leap of faith helped Annabelle make the step to go to Costa Rica for three months this year to study Spanish. She felt it was a really good experience and she feels that she has a new skill. Riding helped with the experience, she explained, as she has learned to breathe and get through stressful situations so she took those riding lessons down with her. The experience also gave Annabelle the travel bug and she definitely wants to do more traveling, particularly to Asia, Greece, Turkey, and Italy. She is particularly interested in Asia and says “our culture is so different from theirs and it is interesting to see other people’s norms”.

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When not at the barn, Annabelle spends lots of her free time exercising and working out. She started fitness training when she was 12 or 13 with yoga and spin classes. When she moved away from a local studio, she started to go to the gym to do weights and cardio. She has become progressively more educated on it by reading articles and watching videos and now she goes to the gym five to six times a week. She particularly loves HIIT and never gets bored because she is always changing her routine and doing a different body part! Some also may not know that Annabelle is vegan and has been for about two years and she stays away from refined sugar too. Annabelle is a great example of the benefits and results that riders can get in the saddle when they do exercise and strength training out of the saddle.

Thank you, Annabelle, for working hard, being a great Lancer, and for showing us that we should all start doing sit-ups….

Our Featured Horse of the Month is Jacob!

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Jacob has the Lancer claim to fame of being our biggest horse by standings at 17.1hh. For his lumbering stature, he is affectionately known as Dino and Yak. Last year he was even used for measurements by a NSCAD student for a full scale sculpture! He is sixteen years old and is a bay Clyde-thoroughbred cross. Another fun-fact is that Jacob is the half-brother to Chevy! Jacob has been at Lancers for over ten years. Despite his size, he occupies a smaller stall in the barn which he absolutely loves. He loves being able to stick his head out and greet all his fans!

During his time here at Lancers, Jacob has gone to horse shows and competed in the hunters up to 2’9”. Jacob teaches his riders the importance of pace and this year he even did his first jumper division at a horse show.

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When not in the show ring, Jacob has been a prized Musical Ride horse since he arrived and has also been a leader. He is regularly used in both adult and junior rides. He is gentle giant in the barn but still presents a challenge to even our most advanced riders in the ring. Jacob has certainly stolen hearts over the years. In fact, the mother of one former junior member who used to lease Jacob has already claimed Jacob for his retirement! Until then, all of our Lancers will continue to enjoy our big giant!

Our Featured Adult Rider of the Month is Barb Mabe

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Barb and Simba ready for Halloween

Barb is certainly well known around Lancers as she is such a character! Barb has been riding for more than twenty-five years and we have been fortunate to have Barb amongst us as a Lancer since 1997. While she has her own horse, named Alistair, at a different barn but continues to take lessons at Lancers because she finds the opportunity ride different horses improves her work with her own horse. Barb has been riding in the Friday morning adult ride for twenty years! According to Barb, the best part about Lancers is that we learn to do everything. “We don’t just come and ride”, she said, “we learn to care for the horses”.

On top of riding, Barb is well-known at Lancers as a Barn Monitor and a fill-in stablehand. All the children in the Junior Beginner courses love having her as their Barn Monitor! Barb is a talented artist and each year she spends many hours drawing and making Christmas ornaments of Lancer horses for our Silent Auction. The ornaments are always much sought after! Despite her great efforts at Christmas, Barb’s favourite holiday by far is Halloween (and everyone knows this)! She always dresses up for Halloween and even makes sure to wear very funky (and sometimes freaky) contact lenses. For some lucky Lancer horses, Barb has also been known to chalk in Halloween-themed pictures onto their coat. It seems that Barb likes to bring her passion for her other hobbies of sewing, drawing, and painting to Lancers. She also enjoys building a model castle, painting miniature soldiers, and reading!

 Barb and Alistair

Barb and Alistair

Barb has also been a great volunteer over the years. She has been ring mistress for the Downtown Horse Show, she has helped with painting jumps and signs and have done her fair share of helping with barn repairs and clean ups. She is also skilled with a needle and thread and has fixed some tack and horse blankets. Throughout those years, Barb has had a few favourite Lancer horses. Her first favourite was Louie and her current favourite is Simba. While they didn’t look alike, Barb said, “they had similar quirks”. When asked about a favourite memory from Lancers, Barb recalled a time when she took her very sick mother to see Boo’s colt. She explained, “My mum had been in hospital for a few months and she could only remember a few things from the time she had her heart attack. One of those things was that Boo the pony at Lancers was going to foal soon. She kept asking if the baby was here whenever I visited her. One Sunday when mum was feeling somewhat better Bruce and I brought her over to see Boo and her colt. It really made Mum's day”.

Thank you, Barb, for all that you bring to Lancers. It just wouldn’t be the same without your humour. We look forward to having you for another twenty years at least!
#featurefriday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Featured Junior Rider of the Month is Johanna Limmer

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Featured Horse of the Month for June is Shay!

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

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

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

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

Our Featured Adult Rider of the Month is Kelsey Holt

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

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

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

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

Our Featured Volunteer of the Month is Janice Palmer

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Janice, Tootsie, and Leah

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Our Featured Junior Rider of the Month is Jill Osmond!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Featured Horse of the Month is Reese!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Featured Volunteer of the Month is Heather Collins

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

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

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


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

Our Featured Junior Rider of the Month is Bella Morgan

 Bella standing on the right! 

Bella standing on the right! 

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

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

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

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Our Featured Horse of the Month is Ben!

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

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

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

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Our Featured Staff Member of the Month is Sophia Andriopoulos!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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