I don’t actually remember how the horse obsession started. I remember having a million My Little Pony toys (maybe a slight exaggeration, it was probably more like 10-20). And then I remember standing at the door saying goodbye to my friend after my 10th birthday party and our parents were talking about riding lessons. So I guess I can blame my parents.
Neither of my parents were particularly horsey. My mom was afraid (still kind of is) of them and my dad grew up on a small farm but never had a horse (I don’t think). We lived in the suburbs, of a town that is now a booming city. So at one point we were surrounded by country that we rarely ventured into. That is until my 10th birthday.
I guess that’s when my parents gave in and got me riding lessons. I started riding at a place called Eglinton Equestrian. It was a half hour drive away. And the barn was amazing to my 10 year old self. There were aisles and aisles of horses (in actual fact only 2 school horse aisles but it seemed like way more). They had 2 giant indoor arenas and one small one. I remember getting a tour and being shown the big tack room where every horse had their own tack, there were brushes and saddle pads, an area and supplies to clean the tack. And the smell! I wish I could remember more about my first rides and the horses but I just can’t. It wasn’t too long before the drive out to this barn became too much and my lessons stopped.
Shortly after this my parents happened upon a farm just around the corner from our home. A 5-10 minute drive was much more manageable so I was quickly signed up for lessons at Crossfield Farms. I had this awesome coach Nancy (who I think I see around at trillium shows every now and then) and many school horse loves (more then I can even remember). There was Cheers a giant of a horse that really took care of his rider, and Dazzel a chunky grey with really smooth gaits, and Klinger, Casper, Hulk, and of course Ernie. Ernie was a red bay gelding and the first horse that I ever leased. For a few months my parents splurged on a half lease that consisted of a lesson and two practice rides a week. This is probably what solidified my desire to own a horse and ramped up the begging.
All good things must end. The town was starting to grow and I guess they got offered a good chunk of money for the property and sold. As it turns out Crossfield Farms was to move up to the barn that had previously been Eglinton Equestrian. This meant my barn was going to be too far away. They became York Equestrian and again I was out of lessons.
For a short period of time I rode with International Canadian eventer and show jumper Jamie Smart. There I was paired up with two different horses a white and black paint named Ghost and a chestnut whose name I can’t remember (I think it started with an S). One I loved (Ghost) and the other who dumped me every ride. The only other thing I remember about this barn is walking through a coverall building to get to the arena. The coverall housed random farm animals and a knotty donkey that was allowed to roam free through the barn when the doors were left open.
For about a second I rode at a small place called Devonshire Stables. The horses were kept in what I think was a renovated cow barn, When leading the horse in and out you had to go up and down a cement ramp. This ramp got slippery when wet. It only took a couple time of the horse sliding down the ramp behind me for us to decide to ere on the side of safety and not go back.
After that there was a break in my riding carrier before we found the next barn. I was in high school and my little sister (7 years younger) wanted to try horseback riding. My mom found Pickering Horse Centre and signed her up. This was shortly followed by me signing up and my sister realizing riding isn’t her thing. It’s at this point in time that I got a job and my dad finally gave in and bought me a horse. Best time of my life. I couldn’t afford to show or buy fancy tack all the time. Having my own horse and riding was enough.
PHC is a show barn and we weren’t showing so we moved. And from there we moved some more. And then I decided to go back to school and gave my horse to my friend. Which meant another break from riding for a time.
And that brings us to today.