Horses have always been a passion of mine- well, first it was unicorns and pegasuses...but real horses prevailed. It began with dude ranches every summer with my mom, then we moved to Vancouver and I discovered Southlands. I began Pony Club, where I progressed to B Level. I was riding with Rick and Jennifer Maynard as well as teaching for them. I taught all ages, levels and abilities, from tiny tots to retired adults, summer camps to therapeutic riding.
My students have gone on to high levels of Pony Club, international shows and yes, coaching. As soon as I graduated grade 12, I went to work for Canadian team member Hugh Graham for 2 yrs in Ontario. What a way to see North America- from the back of a horse rig, horse show to horse show. I learned so much! When I returned to Southlands, I again worked for the Maynards and also began working independently, teaching at the Southlands Riding Club and achieved my Level One Equine Canada certification. A few years later, I met Dave, moved to Victoria, finished my 1st degree (History) and taught for Westside Stables.
Next was the best move- to Campbell River, where I finished my second degree (Education) while continuing to coach riding at various private barns. Presently, I am taking a break from teaching school full time and have turned my full attention to my true love- Balance Equestrian Centre.
It was my 12th birthday. I got it. A pony. From there I was hooked. I joined Pony Club and my pony Blondie and I took lessons and went into PPG (Prince Philip Games). It was at this time I met Susan...she was needing a phone and there was one at my barn. The rest is history.
Soon I needed a bigger horse. I found him at the race track. Cye was a great horse for the jumper ring, squealing over every jump!
I began taking lesson with George-anne Gregory, showing in the 3'6" jumpers from BC Summer Games to Spruce Meadows- so much fun! I won the Rising Star Scholarship during this time, which helped with all the horse show fees. By the time I was 17 yrs old, I was working for Mark Laskin (who is our current chef d'equip for our Canadian Team) and Trevor Graham, honing my skills in the hunter and jumper rings. I felt like this was a step up- these guys were professional and I learned so much about A- circuit barn management, showing and client interactions.
Next I spent a year in Australia enjoying being a backpacker and seeing the sights. When I returned, I once again worked for Mark, Trevor and also Gary Brewster. I was asked to ride a wonderful stallion named Nooner. I showed him in the jumper ring, travelling from Langley to Arizona. At this time I also began showing client horses in the hunter ring. In 2004, I was lucky enough to find a wonderful family to live with in Southlands, where I taught their daughter and Reo the ins and outs of Pony Club and the hunter ring. It was during this time I also returned to school.
Once I had completed my degree, I had a career change and worked for the Vancouver Olympics 2010. Next was working for the New Zealand Rugby World Cup. Once I was home, I had the opportunity to work with Dave Gosnell on the West Coast, at Nootka Marine Adventures. It was at this time Susan began asking me to come teach with her at Balance Equestrian Centre. I took my Level 2 Riders with Disabilities course through the Certified Horsemanship Association. And here I am!
I began my riding career in South Africa as a young 9
year old little girl who got to go to summer horse camp. The horse addiction
bug bit me hard that week and I've never looked back!
I grew up riding with just a regular, once a week lesson at the local barn, but even as a young girl nothing could stop me - getting thrown off 3 times in 1 half hour lesson, no problem, just get back on and keep riding. I rode at the North Shore Equestrian Center for many years and as soon as I turned 16 my riding lesson payments were now MY responsibility. Working after school part time to pay for lessons has always just been the norm.
At 18 years old I got her first horse – a 20 yr old retired school horse. Unfortunately due to an injury we lost him a year later. Shortly after that I acquired a 6 year old Thoroughbred, fresh off the race track. There were many long days, month and years of tears and training but I ended up riding her for my Equine Level 1 Coaches exam. I also acquired my Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH) Instructors Certification and taught therapeutic riding for over a year at Pacific Riding for Developing Abilities. This was by far the most rewarding year of riding/teaching of my life.
Along the way, I have always been a working student to my coaches, working full time during the days and spending my afternoons on horseback training the ‘problematic ones’.
After a bad day, the barn is my go-to escape. This passion is a lifelong one and sharing and developing that passion with kids and adults is what I loves to do - other than the many hours I love to spend in the saddle. I never back down from a challenge and always have a friendly, can-do attitude. I recentley moved to Campbell River with my husband Mike, and our 2 young daughters and I am now a very happy part of the Balance Equestrian team!
My love for horses started very young. Since I was only a few months old I spent time with horses. At age four I did lots of ground work and trail riding with my grandmother, getting familiar with her horses on Quadra Island. Age seven I started hunter/jumper lessons in Comox Valley and competed in my first show. Finally at age ten, my family discovered Balance Equestrian. Susan Gosnell was just starting the business and soon after that Wanda joined the team. Luckily they were located in my home town, Campbell River.
I spent years paying my dues as the “barn rat”, the little girl covered in mud ready to ride or care for any horses in sight, learning tons from my coaches and of course my own mistakes.
From age seven I had started a bank account called my “horses account”, where I’d saving any birthday or Christmas money I ever received. After years of endless nagging, by age thirteen I finally convinced my parents to buy a horse. The only catch was I had to pay for it on my own. I bought my first horse, his name was Cash, and my own horse trailer with the idea we’d participate in local shows and just have fun together! We ended up doing so much more. Cash wasn’t really made to be a jumper but he had the heart for it. He would try his best at anything we set our minds to. After only half a year of training together, with the help of so many family and friends we turned
Cash from a laid back trail horse to a 1.1m jumper on our way to BC Summer Games. After BC Games I focused more on Pony Club and went to a variety of fun shows and clinics with Cash on the Island. At age sixteen I sold my beloved Cash to a family where he’d show his next rider the ropes of Pony Club. Now I had time to focus on the written knowledge of Pony Club. I passed my C1 level of Pony Club during the summer of 2017 on a borrowed horse and in the fall I participated in National Quiz. Our BC Island team placed 2nd in Canada. We had such a blast! Now I spend time training the “green” horses that are still learning their way around the arena and am a catch rider at shows.
I’m ecstatic to be coaching at Balance Equestrian, alongside my coaches Susan and Wanda who continue to show me what’s what in the horse world. I am now working on my C2 level of Pony Club and am coming close to my final year in high school. I will be studying abroad for my grade 12 year in the Netherlands and hope to bring back even more knowledge and resume coaching when I return. Horses are definitely a passion of mine and I hope to further educate myself to be the best I can, whether that is coaching, riding or just being a mentor around the barn.