Lately I have been thinking about my mom’s speech for the PARDS Dine and Dance that happened on November 5th and what she talked about. Most people see me ride now and think it’s awesome but they don’t know the “behind the scenes” of what occurred to get me to this point where I have my very own fancy dressage pony, doing shows and video competitions, and ready to take my dressage career to the next level. So, I’m going to tell you!
When I started riding, I have never dreamed that I would be a dressage rider on the road to the Paralympics in Japan for 2020. I was able to ride a horse and that was pretty exciting for me as it is!
I wore braces on my feet for years. I had tall braces, a had short braces, I had braces that were rainbow! I wore a weight on my right arm to keep it from moving as much. A few times I had a wrist brace to keep my right wrist straight. I had the tiniest walker that you would think possible! I had extensive therapy throughout my elementary years. My mom had me climbing corrals, and duck taped my feet to the peddles on tricycles so I could ride with my cousins! Then it started, and I fell in love with horseback riding! I had I first started riding in Slave Lake when I was four. My therapist Johan found a farmer with horses who brought them into town, unloaded them in the middle of town beside Northern Lakes College and there was a few of us who rode. Now this was no AEF or Equine Canada or any safety regulations involved so, they through us in hockey helmets and of we went!
When I first started, I needed a leader and two side walkers that held my sorry ass on the horse! My trunk strength was not that strong so every time I would start to fall one way, we would stop, they would prop be back up, and away we went.
After we moved to Grande Prairie, we found PARDS. I’ve been with PARDS for 15 years I believe. The more I rode, the stronger my core strength became. The help I needed diminished. The leader was the first to go, then one side walker, then I was on my own! Each horse has played a huge part in contributing to where I am today.
From the horse and the people who started of my dressage career and enabled me to canter for the first time to the horse that almost dumped me off in the snow because he was having too much fun and didn’t want to stop, thank you guys! I probably wouldn’t be where I am today without you!
A few years ago, I expressed an interest to Stephanie Golder, my coach at the time, that I wanted to up my dressage game and show in a live dressage show. Stephanie found Manny. She told my mom and I that she had this great horse for you to ride. When I saw a picture of this, this beast, I believe my exact words were “Haha! you want me…to ride that??” He was a giant… IS a giant! My mom and I were both apprehensive about him, but within the first lesson, all worries vanished. From that moment, he knew that I was his person and I soon grew to know that he was/is truly my heart horse.
Over the past two years with him at PARDS, Manny and I have figured out some pretty amazing things. Within a couple of lessons, I was riding him independently, off a lunge line and we were getting ready for our first dressage competition. It was crazy!
He picked up everything so fast and he continues to. He knows not to respond to my right leg spasms, I still do not know how he knows the different between when I’m applying my right leg and when it spasms. He picked up on neck reining 3 rides before our show in 2015, when my right arm is out of its bands (which holds it in) and it is flapping around he does absolutely nothing, I can mount him with only a block (with assistance). When I dismount, Manny and I have a system. It only works when nobody is near us though. I think when people are in his space, he thinks that he is doing something wrong and does not co-operate with me and I fall. But when people give us our space, we are in sync. He literally helps me walk back to my chair. We did not “train” him to do any of this. He picked it up all on his own!
He truly is my special boy! The things he does still surprises me. His size, is still overwhelming at times. When I groom him, my head is at his belly! But somehow, my giant horse is the most loveable, kindest, goof around! It’s crazy to think that I went from having to be literally held on my horse to having a horse that when I’m riding, I can drop the reins, readjust myself, and have him continue to walk! He’s pretty awesome!! I can’t wait to see where we take each other next!