Our Featured Adult Rider for January is Jacqueline Hartigan!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

features, riderJanet Hawley