Horse Crazy

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It’s common for riders to compete at high levels today without advanced horsemanship knowledge. A rider’s success in the show ring seems to have greater value than their horse management skills, but that wasn’t always the case. Many of Canada’s former top riders credit Canadian Pony Club (CPC) for their horsemanship knowledge and acknowledge its importance to their success. The horse industry has since changed and now, riders rely on coaches to know what’s best for their horses.

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Being a parent in a demanding horse industry career is challenging and incredibly rewarding at the same time. Many horse industry parents are making it work, but no one really knows what it takes and how they’ll balance the concurrent demands of parenting with the obligations of their career until they’re actually doing it.

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Contrary to what the name may imply, Pony Club isn’t just for little kids on ponies. Pony Club is an international volunteer-based organization that originated in Britain and came to Canada in the 1930s. The Canadian Pony Club alumni Wall of Fame reads like a “who’s who” of Canadian equestrians: Ian Millar, Beth Underhill, Chelan Kozak, Christilot Boylen, Dana Cooke, Danny Foster, Gina Smith, Jim Henry, Jimmy Elder, Joni Lynn Peters, Karen Brain, Leslie Reid, Liz Ashton, Lorraine Stubbs, Lynn Larsen, Rebecca Howard, Rob Stevenson, Sandra Donnelly, Tik Maynard, and many more. Some of those alumni still compete at top level; some no longer ride. But they all struggled through a series of written, stable management, and riding tests, then put those skills and knowledge to use to become some of Canada’s best riders.

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It was a horse that gave me my first taste of stillness. His name was Ringo Star, and he was a beautiful, golden-coloured chestnut with a splash of white down his nose. He spent several years training for three-day evening with my daughter, Annika, but I didn't get to see them often because I was teaching in Bahrain for most of the time.

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The photo album of contest winners for Canada’s longest running equine photo contest is live.

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By Vivien Gorham

Nimbus Publishing Limited, 2022; Fiction; ISBN: 9781774710654; 296 pages; paperback. 

Reviewed by Sage Millen 

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When new tenants moved into the trailer on a small acreage downhill from my farm, I could see (and hear) the livestock truck pull up with the sound of horses - big horses - inside. The next day I went to introduce myself, taking wine and fresh farm eggs, hoping to get a good look at what had been inside that stock truck.

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Teaching children to ride is extremely rewarding. Their enthusiasm, open hearts, and keen attitude to learn make children good students. Their fondness of ponies is a joy to behold. Most children are quite fearless when it comes to riding and it is the responsibility of the instructor to ensure their safety comes first and their exuberance to ride is carefully channeled. For the nervous rider, much patience is needed and allowing a child to sit on a pony and be led can work wonders for their self-confidence.

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The mammalian nervous system is an incredible thing, with its complex functionality, and all the ways it regulates our systems, adapts to change, restores itself, and even mirrors the nervous systems of those around us. If any year was going to introduce us to the limits and resourcefulness of our unique nervous system, 2020 would be it. In this one year, every one of us has found out exactly how we cope with global uncertainty, massive change, potential scarcity of resources, and possible threats to the health of ourselves and our family and friends. Our nervous system is an integral part of how we cope with stress and change, working behind the scenes to recalibrate, reorganize and bring us into new ways of being in a healthy or not-so-healthy state.

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We always talk about doing things right - the right training, riding method, gear, and discipline – but there is no escaping the fact that kids will be kids. They do not have the physical size and strength of an adult, the same ability to discipline, the same control, or the same focus and concentration to work through issues.

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