For the past ten years of her life, Jill Osmond has walked through the stables doors on Bell road at least twice a week. Jill joined the beginner summer camps and started riding in the Junior Beginner Course a week before her 8th birthday and she is now 18 and is in ride 2. As one can imagine, choosing a favourite horse over those ten years is tricky. She recalled that when she first started riding, she rode Jake for a while until she was probably about 12. She said she liked him "because he is Jake and most kids are drawn to Jake". She laughed when she recalled his cheekiness, particularly when she rode him in the fun show at the end of the beginner summer camp and he went into someone else's stall and stole a piece of hay. "Classic Jake", she said.
From that memory, Jill realised that there are quite a few horses at Lancers who have been here since she started riding. "Horses like Jake, Bud, and Punkin have been here and I have seen them change and get older", she noted. I bet they say the same about you, Jill! Jill also joked that when she started the Course she was about as tall as Punkin's leg (who is a pony). We hope that photo can be unearthed! After Jake, Jill rode Bobbi for about a year straight and over the years has also loved horses like Owen and Peter and even some that she doesn’t ride. But overall, her favourite horse is definitely Oliver. She explained, "he helped me when I was in a pretty stuck place. There was a place in my life where I was in a rut for a while and he brought me out of it. I started to love riding again. To me, that is pretty important. His spirit, and that he always looks happy and full of life...that kind of energy just rubs off on me".
Over the years, Jill has been involved with many extra-curriculars. She used to stablehand and do night hay when she was younger and has dutifully helped with hay and shavings deliveries. She noted that living in Eastern Passage makes it a bit trickier to get to the barn as often as she would like. She has done some training shows at Lancers and used to groom for shows for her sister and other Lancers. Upon reflection, Jill recalled that when learning to ride, everyone was cantering but she was really nervous to canter. This brought a little chuckle because for the past three years, Jill has participated in the Musical Ride which arguably takes a lot more mettle (and co-ordination) than a simple canter! In her Musical Ride career, Jill had the benefit of performing for two of the largest public performances in recent Lancer history: the Atlantic Fall Fair (2016) and the opening performance for the RCMP on the Garrison Grounds (2017). Jill noted that she was drawn to the Musical Ride because she would see her sister in it and it seemed fun and very tough.
Certainly, performing on the Garrison Grounds added some extra excitement (and nerves). On one hand, Jill noted that Angie has reminded the riders that they used to ride across the street for the lessons and for Jill, this stuck as a really neat opportunity to go back across the street. On the other hand, for the performance, Jill thought she would be much more nervous because of the crowd but she persevered and zoned the crowd out. That she rode Oliver at the last minute instead of her normal Musical Ride horse Alice was a fun and quick adjustment. Overall, Jill noted that the Musical Ride has taught her that "it is really important to help people around you. Musical Ride can be stressful and my advice would be to help people out if you have time. Just try and help out". This was a great way of expressing the essence of the Musical Ride that is 16 junior riders working hard thorough the season to accurately perform a choreographed ride to music!
When asked about a favourite memory of Lancers, Jill recalled the very first day she came into the barn. She said she remembered being really excited and amazed because she had never grown up around horses. She has participated in Sparks, Brownies, Girl Guides, and then swimming but horseback riding "got her and just stuck". On this, she recalled that her sister Miranda had a friend who rode at Lancers. Both Miranda (who is a few years older) and Jill began riding at Lancers and for a while, they were even in the same ride. Looking back then, Jill noted that riding also became something important that she could have in common with her sister. They still share that bond through riding. In a similar vein, Jill noted that beyond the horses being what she enjoys most about Lancers, it is that the people are great too. She elaborated, "there is a sense of community here. There are always the same people and it is that sense of familiarity that creates the community. I think it is also good here because I know lots of riders and well, high school is a time full of drama and Lancers is a place to get away from it all". Jill added in that she likes that Lancers is an old building but has also enjoyed seeing changes to the barn over time like the new adult locker room. She wisely noted that "you have to have a bit of both – change and continuity. If you preserve some aspects without change then nothing can grow".
When not riding, Jill loves to go on the trampoline, play videogames, cuddle with her dog named Cuddles, and write short stories! As Jill is graduating from high school this year, intends to get a part time job and pursue credits so she can get into school to study psychology. She wants to be a psychologist because she likes to help people and there is a need in Nova Scotia.
*Note* Just as we were finishing up our chat, Jill's father Rickey came into the office. Naturally, he is known around Lancers and can often to found snapping photos from the rail. We have very much appreciated his talent and many of our recent Musical Ride photos are shows of his work and for that, he was our Volunteer of the Month in July, 2017. But beyond all of that, Rickey has spent more than the past ten years coming to Lancers too and with that he said, "it is going to be strange not being here". This struck a chord because Lancers is a community and its families, not just riders, who are part of that community. We thank Jill and Rickey and alumni Miranda for being a part of our community for about an eighth of Lancers' life!