Our Featured Junior Rider of the Month is Caroline Fernandez!
Just as one might expect to see at a school, there can historically be a sense that the youngest riders are timid around the eldest riders but Caroline exhibits the complete opposite. All the young riders at Lancers adore Caroline and she helps bridge any gap between younger and older riders by helping the young riders feel welcome and strongly connected to the Lancer family. Caroline rarely comes home from a horse show without significant winnings and has steadily moved up in the ranks over the years. Despite her success in the show ring, she knows how difficult this sport is and continues to work hard, is humble about her success, and encourages others around her to work hard too. Even with being involved in so many things at Lancers, Caroline is really strongly focused on becoming a more accomplished rider. She regularly takes private lessons and clinics and it’s an honour to take her to horse shows in the rest of the province where she can represent Lancers’ training so well being our top competitor. She even shares her horse with her Mum who rides him numerous times a week!
Caroline has been riding for eight years. She began the Beginner Junior Course at the age of nine and has been riding at Lancers ever since. Caroline has been in ride 1 for the past two-and-a-half years and she was just granted the Kenny Irving award for the top junior rider at Lancers - for the second year in a row! From her start until the beginner course until now, Caroline has developed and grown as a rider but also in terms of her well-rounded horsemanship skills. This year she even joined the Lancers team as an NCCP certified instructor. Since September she has been teaching rides 5, 10, and the junior beginner course on Saturday mornings.
Caroline’s many years of involvement in “extra-curricular” activities at Lancers certainly contributed to her strengths. She has worked as a stablehand, a barn monitor, and a full-time Lancers March Break and summer camp counsellor. This summer she was also a Leader-in-Training at our “sleep-away” rural camp, Salmon River and is the current Junior Executive President. She has volunteered her time in many activities at Lancers including hay and shavings deliveries, night hay, canteens, and clean-up days. Caroline joined the recently reopened Lancer Pony Club, has completed rider levels, and rode in the Musical Ride for six years, two of which she was the 1-1 leader.
At Lancers, Caroline also got her start in showing. She began in on-property training shows and then progressed to showing all the Lancer ponies including Buddy, Punkin, Owen, and Tootsie! Tootsie, Caroline proclaimed, is her favourite Lancer horse because she likes her pony sassiness. The Caroline-Tootsie team made their revival this summer at the Downtown Horse Show (photographic evidence below). While Tootsie is Caroline’s favourite Lancer horse, her favourite horse of all time is her own, Jakey. Caroline was fortunate to purchase Jakey three years ago and bring him to Lancers. She now competes with Jakey in the jumper ring with numerous championships in the 1.15 division.
As Caroline heads off to university next autumn, she hopes to be able to bring Jakey with her (we’re just not sure if she’ll have space in her dorm room). She would love to continue riding and has the goal of qualifying for 1.20 junior jumpers at the Royal Winter Fair next year and the CET Medal. She hopes to achieve her rider level 8 this year. While her time at Lancers as a junior rider may be coming to a close, we know Caroline will become a dedicated Lancer alumna and will be back next year for her Christmas alumni ride on Tootsie!
When asked what she enjoys most about Lancers, Caroline was quick to note that she loves how much of a family it is and that everyone is connected even though people are of different ages. “The horses are really amazing here and it’s a really great place for learning everything that goes along with riding and taking care of horses”, Caroline added. She has valued the opportunity to gain a level of responsibility of taking care of horses. Although Caroline says she probably won’t miss the stack of red polo shirts in her drawer, she will miss Lancers when she graduates. She will miss the Lancer horses, all her friends, teaching the youngest riders, being able to walk from home to see her horse, and most definitely, sitting on the ledge and cuddling Jakey as he puts his head on her lap.
As Caroline soaks up her last year at Lancers, she can already see how her time here has shaped her life. On one hand, she said that she doesn’t know if she would have ever been able to be as involved with horses if she hadn’t had Lancers. On the other hand, Caroline’s love of biology and her experiences with horse healthcare has inspired her to pursue a university education in sciences for the long-term goal of entering into pre-med or pre-vet. Whether Caroline ultimately ends up working with human or horse patients, we know that she will bring the same caring compassion in which she currently shows at Lancers with both the horses, her students, and her fellow riders.