We are pleased that our featured volunteer for February is Richard Withington, someone who has not only given much as a Lancer parent but also as a member of the Board. Some Lancers will know Richard as the father of Amy who rode at Lancers as a junior rider for ten years and last year, worked as a Lancer instructor and camp assistant. The Withington family were originally introduced to Lancers while living in Toronto. They would come to visit Halifax and Amy’s cousin rode at Lancers so they would come to watch her ride! When the Withingtons moved to Halifax, Amy was able to enroll in the Lancer beginner course and rode until Ride 1. In 2017, Amy embarked on her studies at McGill University (but we can’t wait to welcome her back in the summer)! Despite Amy not currently riding here, Richard has continued his dedication to serving on the Board and continuing the betterment and success of Lancers. For this, we are exceedingly grateful!
Richard’s involvement with Lancers began like many others. Over the past ten years, he would help out with shavings and hay deliveries, lend a hand during August barn repairs, and make the famously delicious Bengal Breakfast Burgers at show canteens! He may have to take an allergy pill before he comes to help out at the barn but that has never stopped him before! This past August, you could find Richard with other members of the building committee repairing and upgrading all the stall doors! Two years ago Richard was Secretary on the Board and last year he was Vice-President. Although he comes from a finance background, he has been able to participate on the Board and help out wherever needed rather than being pigeonholed into being the “finance person!” According to Richard, the Board needs and benefits from people with a variety of backgrounds, including individuals who are not necessarily invested in the day-to-day running of Lancers as this is something that traditionally hasn’t happened. While Lancers certainly benefits from Richard’s input and expertise at the Board level, it seems that he too enjoys his involvement. He noted, “I enjoy the variety of opportunities to directly lend a hand here. In some of the other volunteer work I’ve done, there is more of a disconnect between what you’re doing and the results for the end beneficiaries. Besides, where else could you help out and get to be around horses!”
Despite all of the time Richard has spent at Lancers over the past decade, he has, as he said, “never had the good fortune to ride with the Lancers adults, but never say never!” In the 1980s however, Richard did have time in the saddle while living in England and being able to ride through Richmond Park in London with his then-roommate! Richard may not ride at Lancers but he certainly could easily choose a favourite horse. “Reese”, he answered and jokingly added that because Reese is Amy’s favourite horse, “I wouldn’t be welcome at home if I chose anyone else”. On that note, when asked about a favourite Lancer memory, Richard drew to mind Amy’s first outdoor training show because “all the first-timers were grinning like they’d just beaten Ian Millar in a Grand Prix”. While Lancers provides lots of opportunities for riders to grow and have fun, the part that Richard enjoys is that “Lancers acts as a “happy place” for the riders. No matter what is going on in the rest of their lives, kids (and adults!) can show up at the barn and know they can hang with the horses and be appreciated unconditionally. They are not always smiling when they come into the barn but they are when they leave!”
While Richard doesn’t ride horses anymore, he does like to ride his bike. He feels “it is a great way to see a lot of the province and see the neighbourhoods like a local when we’re on vacation”. For the future, Richard looks forward to implementing the five-year strategic vision the Board and community are working on to bring Lancers forward. Richard summed it up perfectly when he said, “It’s a good, place special place and it needs to thrive”.
With all the hard work from you, your fellow board members, and all the riders and parents, we are certain that Lancers will continue to thrive! So for all of your dedication to Lancers over the past ten years (and maybe a few more?), we thank you!