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?
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.