Featured Junior Rider of the Month is Sara Whittaker!
The first thing that stands out about Sara is her partnership with Chevy. He has been her favourite horse for years and years and she has been a committed Chevy riders from the get-go. All the hard work she has put into him has certainly paid off. It is hard to picture Sara on any other horse and equally, it is hard to think of Chevy without Sara. We are happy to have Sara as our featured junior rider of the month for February as it gave us a good chance to reflect on her years at Lancers as she will be moving on to university away from Nova Scotia in September.
Sara is another great example of how many of our riders start their riding careers in the Junior Beginner course and stay at Lancers until they graduate high school. Sara started riding when she was 8 or 9. She came to the Lancers summer camp and the joined the waitlist for the Junior Beginner course. After a year’s wait, she received a Christmas present to start riding at Lancers (it was evidently and perhaps expectantly a very, very long-term Christmas present)! While Sara has now been riding at Lancers for ten years, she has spent the past five riding Chevy. This year Sara even worked three jobs this summer (and still works one) so she could lease Chevy! This means that Sara gets to enjoy four rides a week with Chevy (in Ride 1 and 3x).
Over the years, Sara has participated in many of the “extra-curriculars” offered at Lancers. She has done training shows and off-property shows (competing in the 2’6” hunters), she has participated in clinics and has worked as a stablehand too. Sara is always a great help for shavings and hay deliveries and she is well known for her role in the Musical Ride! While learning so much about riding and horses, for Sara, Lancers has also been a great way to meet people – people from different schools, or people of different ages. Lancers has fostered many great friendships. In fact, Sara says that the part she enjoys most about Lancers (of course, in addition to the horses) is the people. She said, “I like that you can continue to ride with the same people and can get really close with people who you started riding with”. Sara mentioned that she started the beginner course with Caroline and still rides with her in Ride 1. She also emphasised the fact that Lancers is great because “we do everything here for the horses. We groom our horses, we clean their tack, we care for them, and we do it for the love of horses”.
Sara is certainly known for her awesome sense of humour. She can be sarcastic and sly when she jokes (even if you aren’t always sure she is joking)! This certainly comes out when she is hanging out at the stables with her fellow Lancers. One of the best parts of Sara’s day is when she and her fellow riders walk over from school and the whole locker room fills with chatter and laughter! For Sara, Lancers is definitely a mood changer. She elaborated: “if I’m having a bad day, I come to the barn and it is all good”. It also reminds her of all the times that they used to sit on the heater and just chat for hours. Another great memory that flooded in was when Sara used to ride Pumba when she was much younger. Sara recounted that he used to try to step on her feet so she would get Barb to sit on a stool in front of him until she was finished grooming!
As Sara begins to think about her next adventure, she thought about how Lancers has influenced her life over the years. In a practical way, according to Sara, Lancers has made her a much more social person and it has been a wonderful chance to meet new people in other rides and to have a lot of wonderful mentors – from instructors, to barn monitors, to other riders. “Overall”, Sara said, “it makes me a happier person”. Sara is such a great example of how “all that time spent at the barn” really proves to be so good for the soul, especially young ones who can have something to keep them focused and grounded (and keeps everyone out of trouble too!). Sara also likes that Lancers “is such an old organisation with so many alumni. I have a family friend who used to ride here and she told me about how she used to Pony Club here. It isn’t a new place and it has a lot of history with Halifax”. She noted that Lancers has taught her great time management skills, responsibility, and perseverance. She could not have summed it up any better when she said, “Lancers taught me that you have to work for what you get. It changed my life”. Sara went further to say that it was important to her many people have great respect for Lancers. “It is a humbling place to be”, she said, “I am proud to be a Lancer”.
Well Sara, you must remember that even as you head off to university in September, “once a Lancer, always a Lancer”. We wish you all the best as you embark on your sciences degree (fingers crossed for the University of Guelph)! We feel thankful that we were able to see your love of horses develop into the long-term goal of working with animals, either as a veterinarian or as an animal physiotherapist. We know that you will miss Chevy (and us, right?!) but we can’t wait to hear all about your successes and we look forward to welcoming you back for the Christmas Alumni Ride 2018!