Coach Megan Jenner blogs here once a month – check back soon to see more of her thoughts!
Trying new things can be scary but at the same time exciting. I can remember my first horse camp, that feeling of “you can leave now mom but you’ll be here at 4 tonight right?” And then when 4pm rolled around, I couldn’t believe my mom was here to pick me up already! But then she got to listen all about it on the car ride home. I was hooked on horses.
Last Saturday, four riders from Oakhurst Farm traveled to Wesley Clover Parks to do Eventing and Dressage Demonstrations at Ottawa Horse Day. Horse Day is an annual family event to celebrate equestrian sport and give people of all ages a chance to get introduced to horses! The excited looks when they got to touch a horse or the “awe” expression when they jumped logs and hay bails, really showed the appreciation for these powerful creatures.
I think after horse day, there were a few more people who were hooked on horses! Everyone of us got hooked onto the sport somewhere, and as what we call, grass-root riders is where our sport starts. There is no tree without roots, there is no Eventing without our riders starting somewhere and there are no Olympic athletes without learning the basics first.
Not every rider ends up going to Rolex and not every rider wants to but its more the lessons learned that come with it that makes it worth while!
- Only hard work and determination will get you to the other side of that fence.
- Some times its frustrating but quitting will not get your horse on the bit.
- Communicating with an 1000 pound animal almost makes communicating with other humans seem like a walk in the park. Communicating clearly and precisely is the only way and getting upset when you have to repeat yourself is not going to help.
- Teamwork makes the dream work. You make as many mistakes as your horse does rails, learn from it and move on because the next jump is coming.
- Patience is key.
- Not everybody’s success happens at the same time, maybe next time will be the red ribbon.
- Commitment is the only way you and your horse will have the skills to be fit enough and have the appropriate tools to complete the cross country phase.
- Always have your eyes up and look forward (literally), maybe that rail came down but it’s about where to go now rather than dwelling on the past.
- Having a goal in mind and taking what ever path you need to take to get there, but enjoy the travels on the way!
- Have Fun! Celebrate your successes you have worked so hard to get!
- Remember to take a trip down memory lane and look at how far you’ve come! We have all been there trying to rise the trot!
So maybe that’s why my parents signed me up for my first camp, I don’t think they predicted that one day I would be organizing an Eventing Summer Camp! If you haven’t heard Oakhurst Farm Summer Camps are Eventing specific from July 17th-21st and August 21st-25th. Camps will introduce the sport of Three Day Eventing, learn how its scored, have extra cross country schooling, learn proper Event horse care and there will even be Eventing professionals that will come in. If you are looking to upgrade this summer or learn more about the sport, this camp is for you.
As Eventing never stops teaching us, Oakhurst riders headed to Westar Silver Dressage Show, Westar ESD Dressage Show and Eventing At The Park over the weekend. Awesome rides from everybody, and everybody got on and off the trailer! Small wins matter!
But we didn’t only welcome people into the world of Eventing and horses but we also got to Welcome Darla into the world! Sunday morning, Barbie delivered a beautiful, strong and feisty filly, who then got her name Darla! Seeing how curious she is about the jumps in the arena, she will be Eventing in no time!
See everyone this weekend and Good Luck to riders at the Rainbow Ridge Gold Dressage show and the Meadowvale Derby!
Well this past Sunday not only marked our first official horse show of the season but also was the day to celebrate being a mother! I give every mother all the credit in the world, I couldn’t imagine being responsible for another human. That must be the point where eating a bag of Dorito’s for supper is not longer acceptable.
Being a mother must be one of the most selfless acts there can be, not only do you give birth to something, you then spend a minimum of 18 years helping to guide it through the world. Mom’s put up with our terrible twos, filled of tantrums and teenage years, still with lots of tantrums and some how still never stop giving to us.
This past weekend we saw mom after mom never stop giving and supporting, while standing beside the dressage ring ON MOTHERS DAY! Yes, they spent their one day a year to finally feel appreciated, watching their child ride at the Oakhurst ESD Dressage Show.
Braving the constant threaten to rain all day, every rider rode a beautiful test, probably because they had their mothers there to cheer them on!
As I look back, there weren’t many mothers days or fathers days we weren’t at horse shows and my parents were there every time! I can very confidently say, my best results are always when my parents are at horse shows with me. Maybe its because I never go hungry or thirsty at those shows, I always have a horse holder or just the endless support I get. But don’t worry even on the days they can’t make it for, I still receive approximately 100 texts asking how it is going, like after Smackdown Saturday.
After being slightly bummed out that there would be no jumping outside because of the large amounts of rain, Oakhurst horses and riders brought their big girl panties and Smacked down. Consisting of an amazing course of solid and stadium fences, along with the pressure of memorizing six courses and not knocking any rails! Congratulations all Smackdown riders, you definitely showed that we are ready to jump feet first into show season.
I think my mom was more excited about all of my results than I have ever been. Maybe its celebrating our successes that makes it worth while? I’m not quite sure but I do know is that they deserve more than just one day a year and maybe we should buy them flowers or make them breakfast in bed more often!
Happy Mothers Days to all the mom’s out there and thanks for being amazing!
And a special Happy Mothers Day to my mom!! You’re spectacular!
Until next time…. Maybe it’ll be fathers day then?
Most people enjoyed the Easter long weekend with lots of turkey, egg hunts and of course chocolate, but I enjoyed my long weekend taking on some rapids and lots of paddling.
Some called us crazy and I think just about everyone looked at us like we were crazy as we paddled our canoe against the current, getting no where, as we waited for the Jock River Canoe/Kayak Race to begin. My professional canoe partner, as some of you may know her, Ruth Allum, took on our fierce competition, Tatum Nelson & Mark Nelson, through out a 12.5km race down the Jock River. When I agreed to sign up for this race, I pictured a community event, with lots of families, so that this race would be many peoples first time canoeing down a river. But as we waited for the start line, I quickly observed that most of our competitors had definitely raced before. Later we found out that there were past Olympian and Pan-Am athletes, so yes, we were the rookies of the race (if the matching tie-died outfits didn’t give it away!)
As we floated up to the start line, possibly floating backwards at times, looking very confused on who was the stern, we got some very helpful tips from competitors and race organizers about how to paddle. Their words of wisdom also told us, when we get to the rapids, (as I went, “What rapids!?”), to just keep paddling! Don’t stop paddling! But the rapids wasn’t the hardest part to me, as we head down the river, paddling away, at about kilometer 1, the burn in my upper arms and shoulders had already started. Realizing that maybe my arms weren’t as strong as they could have been, and maybe a few more push ups should have been required before I paddled that long. After kilometer 12, I thought to myself, I should paddle more often, that way flatting Portia will never make my shoulders sore half way through my dressage test ever again!
The definition of cross training is; the action or practice of engaging in two or more sports or types of exercise in order to improve fitness or performance in one’s main sport.
Cross training not only helps improves our fitness or in this case, my upper body muscles to get across the finish line, but it was huge motivation enhancer. I won’t lie, it sounded like a great idea at lunch one day, but as I waited for the start to come, I had to use some methods we learned in sport psychology to calm the nerves…. I didn’t realize there was rapids! After crossing that finish line, still alive and for the most part dry, I can say I was feeling pretty confident. Bring on show season, nothing can stop me now!
I know we have different equipment, a horse instead of a canoe, tack instead of paddles and helmets instead of life jackets but over all, they put the same thought into their equipment and how to take care of it, like we do to ours. I didn’t even realize there was that many different types of canoes or kayaks out there! Apparently our canoe was hard to flip, thank goodness!
I can confidently say I have an alright grasp at how Eventing works as a sport but on Saturday, I was that parent on course walk asking what the numbers on the jumps were. We were in a different sport, trying to understand how it works and navigate through. Seeing the amount of volunteers, in the canoe/kayak community, made me think about all of our amazing jump judges it takes to put on an event. Every competitor was so friendly and encouraged us the whole way. They seemed so excited when they saw we were still alive at the finish line, or maybe they were just relieved. Everybody knew everybody there, and by the end, I think they even knew our names. Not to mention that they had chili, coffee, water and Gatorade at the end of the race, maybe we should add that to the end of cross country? Overall, we could see that every sport is unique but it takes the same dedication and community to keep the sport we all love to keep going.
So now getting ready for my next canoe race, I may start doing some push-ups and then by our first show, my arms shouldn’t feel as sore by the end of cross country, and I can be more effective to help Portia around.
Just so everyone knows, my partner and I came second in the women’s recreational canoe category and Mark & Tate came third! We all brought home medals!
See you at the next race, getting ready for show season,
I wouldn’t say I am very “up to date” on social media. I have Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, I think I still have a Twitter account that I could sign into if I tried a hundred different passwords. I will admit though, I barely know how to use them, just the other week I found out you could send a private message to a fellow follower on Instagram… who knew! But when I turn on my phone the first app I always open is Snapchat.
To have a crash course on Snapchat, it is a way to chat and keep up to date with friends through pictures. You have a few different ways to use Snapchat, you can take a picture and put it on “Your Story” which allows all of your Snapchat friends to see. You can also take a picture and send it just to selected Snapchat friends. Snapchat also offers some filters to make your photo’s that much better. These filters can turn your photo black and white, show your location, or add silly things into your picture like dog ears and nose onto somebodies face into the picture and more.
So sit back and enjoy this weeks “Snapchat Story!”
Not only will Oakhurst horses and riders be able to strength train on Sundays but also will be able to take part in the Oakhurst Games Club. Starting this Sunday Oakhurst games begin! Riders and horses will be switching up their normal rides and can take on the challenge to learn different games they will play on horse back.
Not only did we switch up our toques, Oakhurst riders switched out their breeches for dress clothes Saturday night at the NCHTA Awards Banquet. A great evening spent at Strathmere, eating delicious food and cheering for all the Oakhurst riders that won awards for there 2016 eventing season. Great job Everyone!
This past weekend I was able to spend the weekend with Ruth and Marks children, Eric and Tatum. Monday morning when I woke up and got the splendid text that it was a snow day, we all went back to bed for an hour, to then be re-faced with the 15cm of snow that caused the snow day. Farm sitting is always very easy when nothing unexpected happens, but what’s the fun in that? So with the slight moment of panic on how to get the snow cleared in order to have ponies fed and outside on their normal time schedule was starting to set in. But with no doubt at all, Eric, Tate and I, snow-suited up and knew what we had to do. With our awesome Monday morning help and talented tractor skills we were able to have the farm plowed, horses fed, outside and stalls mucked right on schedule.
As I shoveled snow and looked over at Eric and Tate working as a team to get gates opened, closed, snow plowed and shoveled, I thought “thank goodness these two can be responsible, team players and hard workers”, skills that have obviously been drilled into them.
Back in the summer Equine Canada interviewed multiple certified coaches at the OHTA Championships held at Oakhurst. One of the questions asked was, “What is the most important lesson that you teach your students?” Every coach didn’t answer with, “how to two-point” or “rise the trot” but all answered with things like independence, work ethic and perseverance. I obviously want to make my riders the absolute most amazing riders there ever will be, but life happens and sometimes they move away, find a significant other or school takes over. We know that one day students will have to leave us but I hope that my students look back and remember that they can do anything with motivation and hard work.
I hope when they remember the days of tackling that “scary” log, and that gives them the confidence and grit to tackle anything life throws at them. I hope they treat everyone with respect like they do the horses, even when they are frustrating. I hope that they can use those skills to tackle 15cm of snow that just came down. I also hope them the best of luck at this weekends drill team performance.
This Sunday is Oakhurst Drill Teams final performance. There are two groups of riders and pairs that have been practicing the routine over and over. I have a feeling this performance is going to be the best yet. There was a sneak peak on costumes and lets talk about entertaining. Not to mention that there is a bake sale! During the Drill Team performance. Oakhurst will be having a bake sale where all proceeds made will go to The Oakhurst Long Format Three Day Event in 2017.
So you will know where to find me on Sunday…. Near the food.
See you there,
Looking for the coaching videos? Find them here!
Last winter during one of our mental training sessions with Paige Mattie, she asked us to describe our worst and best experience in competition and why we chose it. I explained my best experience and when Paige asked what helped me make this an awesome competition, one of the reasons I gave was because my parents where there watching, supporting, grooming and taking lots of pictures (as per my mom does all the time). I look back at my horse shows through out the last three seasons and most of my highest placings and best rides were when my parents have traveled up from Windsor, Ontario to watch.
The staff at Oakhurst typically shares lots of the same roles. For example, a lot of us are muckers, coaches, bloggers, riders etc. But one role I don’t share with Ruth, Mark or Helen is being a parent. Now what I hear about being a parent of a rider is that you need alcohol in order to calm the nerves, you must have special mind reading skills to know exactly when to hold the horse and how with out being criticized and you need to be dressed for any kind of crazy weather. Parents really do have a difficult job.
I can see parents through two different roles. One of these roles are as a rider. I think the support from parents go past their duties on show day. It’s the fact that they put up listening to me at the dinner table rant on and on about my awesome riding lesson that day- even so I don’t think they had any clue what I was talking about. That’s when they did the smile and nod. And yes, my parents still get texts or even phone calls about fun lessons. Or all of the snowy nights that my mom drove our minivan through the snowy roads, flooring it so we didn’t get stuck the whole way, just to make it to Tuesday night riding lessons. I had to wear my riding helmet on those drives- safety first! Then there’s show day. Oh, our poor parents on show day. Now, nobody can deny that on show day tension and nerves are running a little high and sometimes its next to impossible not to be crabby and snappy. But who gets the other end of that crabbiness? Our parents! We have all done it at least once, don’t deny it! It’s a hard thing to admit and maybe in the moment it seemed really important to yell at your dad that he had the wrong coloured water bottle on the side of dressage warm-up or how dare they ever go to the bathroom when you might need them to grab something in that very second. Parents, even through all of the yelling and sometimes even tears we really do appreciate you and we NEED you with those water bottles and snacks! So riders, maybe pass a little thank you the next time you see your parents or horse show supporters, to remind them to keep those weekends free next show season.
The other role I can see parents from is as a coach. As I stand inside of the arena and I look over at you parents, I commend you! I complain that I get cold as I teach but the coldest place in the barn is sitting on the bleachers or I should say on the deck now, at the end of the arena. And yet parents choose to sit there instead of the heated viewing room. I look wimpy as I am wearing enough layers, that it’s hard for me to bend over to pick up poles, and I’m even moving around. The parents sit there in what looks like barely any layers just to watch. They even pay to do this! Crazy-ness! As I stand in the arena, and you have a student that has achieved a new goal, I swear sometimes that there is just as much if not more excitement by the supporters in the bleachers than the riders. Or the best yet is when the video camera gets out to video an extraordinary round. The parents also learn along with their kid. I bet they could pass their rider level 2 as well!
I’m not always sure why parents stick around for this crazy sport, I guess they like to see their kids happy and as my mom would say, “out of trouble.” All I can say is that if I have children who ride, I hope to be an awesome show mom!
As we enter into November, the winter coats have came out and the leaves are starting to fall. More and more rides happen in the arena and we dream about next show season. Now that winter is coming up and show season is over, we have to change our mindset for winter training, which there can be pros to.
PRO- No Stirrup November! This is the time to work on your position… The better your position, the better your riding.
PRO- Gymnastics. This is the time of year where every time you enter the arena you get to see all of the crazy exercises that Ruth has set up for us. Typically with lots of poles everywhere. But then after weeks of these exercises we know our flying changes, how to jump a corners or hopefully have better eye and stride control.
PRO- Off- Horse Learning. There is such thing? Ruth and Helen always have a winter full of fun activities that sometimes don’t even involve the horse. Last year we did mental training, drill team, nutritionist workshop, a stretching and strength training clinic and more. I can’t wait to see what is planned for this year!
PRO- Laundry gets done! It is nice to have sometime to clean the apartment and maybe do some laundry, verses in show season doing the “sniff” test to see if maybe I can pull off wearing these jeans one more time.
PRO- Show Team Meeting! Missing show season? No worries, the show team meeting always gets the adrenaline pumping again. We get to set goals and know what skills needs to be worked on for next show season. I think there will be off horse prep happening this winter in order to get ready for next years Three Day Long Format Event at Oakhurst.
CON– For the first con of winter….. -40 degree weather!
CON- Arena Riding, trying to ride in the arena everyday, not to run into anyone and come up with something that’s not just flat work to do, can be tricky. But we are then ready for the warm up rings. Ready to dodge people, know to keep our eyes up and being able to stay relaxed instead of worrying about where everyone else is.
CON- Blogging. At least during show season every weekend there are different things to write about.
PRO- Competition. Well, we do work all winter on defining our skills in-order to compete at the level we wish to. Not to mention the amazing feeling of competing, using those skills we have worked on and knowing the hard work has paid off.
PRO- Ribbons. Who doesn’t love to win? There is no better feeling than to know not only has your hard work paid off, but it has paid off enough that you were the best that day and you get a red ribbon to prove it…. And even sometimes a cool prize.
PRO- Victory Gallops. Enough said.
PRO- Hacking. We aren’t stuck to the arena. There are not only two sand rings to ride in, we can even hack or go for big trots. You almost forget how to ride in the arena. After jumping courses outside, the arena feels very small and like a lot of turning, which means hard work.
PRO- Tanned. It might be an amazing farmers tan but at least I’m tanned!
PRO- Traveling. During Show Season we get to explore new places going from show to show. Seeing beautiful trees and hills in Quebec to the amazing facility at the Kentucky Horse Park. There’s no better reason to travel.
CON- Whipper snipping. Although, I end the summer with very toned arms so maybe its a PRO?
CON- +40 degree weather.
CON- Frizzy Hair. If someone could share with me how to not let the humidity get to my hair, that would be great!
Well over all, I think the two go hand in hand. Winter doesn’t only give us the time to learn new skills and confirm others in order to keep competing and winning. Show season gives us the goals to know what to work on through winter.
Keep tuned to see what Ruth has in store for us this winter!
Until next time,
As we all sat down around the table, with turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes in front of us, you are always asked that one question; “What are you thankful for?” And while everyone goes around the table saying what they are thankful for, I sit there staring at the food on the table, slowly drooling and leaning a little bit closer and a little bit closer until someone says “Meg its your turn!” Then you have to come up with something generic and hope no one else has said it…. “This food is what I’m thankful for!” Then to find out the last three people said the same exact thing. So here is what I’m thankful for, since I didn’t at dinner.
That delicious piece of meat on my plate, topped with cranberry sauce…. THANK YOU! Also to the surprise visits on hacks, I know Portia really appreciates it, she doesn’t mean anything personal when she looks like she’s running away from you with her but tucked under her, I promise.
Fall Colours and Cute Ponies
Who can be more appreciative than walking through trails of red, orange and yellow trees while on your best team mate. Thanksgiving Monday in Ottawa, was beautiful and sunny, perfect hacking weather!
Friends Who Cook
I am thankful for friends who travel 10 hours on the train from Harrow, Ontario to Ottawa to come visit and spend Thanksgiving with me! We even managed to pull off a thanksgiving meal (I didn’t do any cooking so that’s probably why).
Greys Anatomy with the Best Roommate
If you haven’t binged watched the TV show Greys Anatomy then you haven’t lived. You will appreciate it. Not to mention binge watching with an amazing person who just happens to be my roommate. If you haven’t met Alice, then you probably should. Shes good at everything, setting up mouse traps, swatting flies, dishes and riding the majestic Barbie. So what more to be thankful for!
For those of you who don’t know who Gary is, he is my pet Betta fish. He looks like Dory from Finding Nemo. I am thankful for his presence… he’s not super chatty but his silence speaks words and I appreciate that.
Who doesn’t love show season? Show season creates memories that last a life time, some good, some bad, we win some and lose some. The partnerships we develop with our horse, with our coaches, with competitors and teammates create lifelong friendships.
Yes, I know the end of show season becomes a drag and the months of arena riding can seem long and dreary but the learning opportunities that appear is what gets the red ribbons. Our winter series of learning and improving for show season has already started. Last Sunday, a rider level prep clinic was offered at Oakhurst, for those students who are going to challenge there written rider level tests this coming up Sunday and the evaluation the following Sunday! Good Luck Everyone!
Yes, I know what you kids are thinking…. I was not a fan of school either but as I get farther and farther away from when I graduated high school the more and more I appreciate learning new things. Learning in ways that I find works for me and from anyone and everyone. I have even been able to take on new learning opportunities online through the University of Guelph Equine Studies. I highly recommend them!
Of Course… Family and More Family
So obviously I am so very thankful for my mom, dad, sister, brother-in-law and the rest of my blood related family. They really are the mentors that have been in my life all the way and have made me, me. But, lets not forget the family that I have been so graciously adopted into. Ruth, Mark, Helen, Dean and everybody else, you know who you are, the past couple of years at Oakhurst and many more to come, would not have been as valuable and amazing with out you…literally.
Then there’s the rest of the Oakhurst family, that includes everyone I see riding that I get to chat and hack with, the parents who bring delicious snacks to horse shows and those four legged friends I see every morning. Makes me appreciate the opportunity to be here every day!!!
See you for Halloween!!
Typically as riders we worry about our horses being fit enough before competition, we schedule in their routine long slow distance, interval training and rest days. We make sure they are at the appropriate fitness level for the level of competition we intend to compete at. We set their feeding schedule according to the level of work and competition and we make lots of exercises to set them up for success and to keep them confident for the level they compete at. We rely on our horses as our team mates and to be the best athletes they can possibly be but sometimes we don’t always treat our riders like athletes. Over the past year we have started to emphasise the importance of treating our riders as athletes. We started working with our sports psychologist on mental training, we had a nutrition workshop and had a strength and stretching clinic.
This past weekend Ruth, Helen and I attended a Developing Athletic Abilities Course held by the National Coaching Certification Program at Forest Hill Training Center. We covered lots of things like always be in a group with Ruth because teachers love her. We also learned about athletic abilities and energy systems, testing athletic abilities, training methods and more. So for those who were as confused as I was going into this course we are talking about the physical abilities a rider needs to complete a riding competition. For example: the physical abilities a rider needs are agility, balance, flexibility and how to develop off horse exercises to develop those abilities to make ourselves better riders on the horse.
Most other sports actually have a team practice that involves working through a program of exercises that will help develop the physical ability to perform better and to prepare for athletic ability testing. Testing for athletic abilities can be used to identify strength, weaknesses, and if you meet the requirements to compete at a certain level or on a certain team.
Don’t worry Oakhurst riders we aren’t going to make you do laps around the arena (although I do recall Helen and my coaching plan being something like that) or carry so many water buckets that your arm muscles are about to fall off to have upper body strength. But get out that stretching and strengthening sheet that Dr. Lindsay Buchan gave us back last spring. Get Ready To Plank! I think I heard a rumor that the sheet might even go up in the barn, in case you lost yours!
Not only did we get to spend the day at Forest Hills Training Center we got to spend the evening there for the Ontario Equestrian Federation AGM where we got some pretty cool water bottles, t-shirts and delicious all you could eat food – the best chocolate chip cookies EVER! And congratulations to Oakhurst’s own Mark Nelson who was re-elected the OEF President at the AGM!
I can’t wait to see everyone at Ottawa Horse Trials this weekend, good luck to all Oakhurst Competitors!
Recently I read an amazing Eventing Connect article on, “The official guide to being the greatest Working Student of all-time” which is, I think. a very accurate blog on 13 things to do in order to be the perfect working student. Kyle Carter and Buck Davidson also did an episode about working student positions on their show – The Buck and Kyle Show (YouTube), just recently. The big question I had becoming a working student is, “what is it going to be like?” Well over the last 2 years I have seemed to figure out what to expect on an average day of being Oakhurst Farms Working Student (which is probably the best place to be a working student). So with our big OHTA Championships coming up and then CADORA Championships right behind it, working student duties are in full motion. Let me make a list for you on how you will feel and what you will do being as a working student at Oakhurst.
1. Chores; chores happen everyday, at the same time, 7 days a week, 365 days of the year.
8:00 am – morning feed, turnout and mucking- set alarm for 7:45am because when you live above the barn all you need is 10 minutes to change and brush teeth, 5 minutes to grab breakfast to eat while you feed the horses breakfast. You quickly learn that mucking is more than just shoveling poop- it’s 2 hours of time to think and talk with fellow muckers about all the questions you have about life. The most recent question was, “If you win a gold medal at an Olympics, do you have to declare it as you enter back into your country?” If you know the answer, let me know!
Noon- lunch hay for all of the extremely hungry school horses
3:30 pm- bring in and feed. This is Eric and Tate’s ‘FAVORITE’ time of day, you should ask them about it!
8:00pm- night feed! I have finally finished everything for the day and before I grab dinner for myself, the ponies insist to be fed their dinner first.
2. SO MUCH RIDING
If you love to ride, it’s awesome! The amount of different horses I have gotten to sit on is enough pay itself. The different types of horses you get to sit on teaches you, as a rider so much! Let me tell you school horse Lollipop is a completely different ride than my own horse Portia, so it is awesome to have to learn to ride what you are sitting on, because if I rode those two horses the same way, I would be in large trouble.
3. Whipper Snipping and More Whipper Snipping
You get to do all of the most AMAZING jobs ever, like whipper snipping, painting, staining etc. Normally these jobs happen when its 100 degrees out and you start sweating just staring at the whipper snipper. Then normally one of the whipper snippers refuses to start until you ask Mark, and then it works on the first try for him. By the end of the whipper snipping day your arms keep vibrating for the rest of the evening, if you aren’t still itching the bee stings you probably got when you whipper snipped too close to their nest. But when you drive down the drive way it looks like a golf course on the big show day!
4. Coaching and Coaching Mentors
Have you guys met my handful of amazing students? I think a huge change I have seen in myself is the way I coach. Being able to learn coaching styles from coach Ruth, Helen, past coaches and the coaching program, have really motivated me to become a more confident and LOUDER coach! Yes, I learned how to yell but making sure it comes from my diaphragm so I still have a voice the next day. Not to mention, all the help I have got from coach Ruth, Helen and Mark at the farm with my own riding. They all bring a different view and style to make you the absolute best! But what makes being a coach even better? Is the amazing students I get to work with, they strive to do their best every single day, challenging me to keep coming up with exercises to challenge them.
This past weekend, four of Oakhursts amazing students went to Meadowvale Farm’s ESD dressage show, putting in some amazing tests. Good job, Zoe, Sylvain, Abby and Rebecca!
5. The Jobs You Will Never Speak Of Again…
There are jobs that I will only speak of once…. cleaning the wash stall drain! Yes, so all of the, “I’m only going to use the wash stall to wash my horses muddy feet this one time and then the next and next” or “I’ll sweep the hair out after I’m done riding” all collects in the drain and every now and again I am the lucky person who gets to clean it or observe Mark or Ruth clean it! Having all of the hair, mud and dirt that comes in with every horse mixed with water up to your elbows, while having your nose right in the drain that smells like the a sandwich left in the roasting hot car for to long, sure is the time of my life!!
6. The People
So I obviously get to work with some pretty cool people. Not to mention how closely we work together and how I really feel that I am a part of the family! I am not sure if that happens at every working student position but it is definitely something that makes my time at Oakhurst memorable. Now going into my third summer working for Ruth and Mark, I feel like I have learned a lot but yet everyday I learn more from them! Then there are the friendships that will last a life time! Who couldn’t love that! And you also get to meet some pretty cool people like; Selena O’Hanlon, Jessica Pheonix, Hyde Moffatt and more!
7. You’re not in school but yet you never stop Learning!
I think this is the biggest! You not only learn how to whipper snip, clean drains, nail boards back on fence posts but just being in and around the barn with professionals like Mark and Ruth you learn tonnes about the horses like how to break your first horse, veterinary work, breeding, fun arena exercises and more. Of course, you learn a lot about horses but you also learn life lessons that can be carried out to make you successful in any field you choose like work ethic, time management, multitasking and more.
Tip for the future working student: You get out of it, what you put into it! Work hard and success will speak for itself! If you don’t feel like you are getting anything out of it, put more into it! It is and will be the experience of a life time!
Can’t wait to see everyone this weekend at OHTA Championships!
This past long weekend, with sunny weather, cross country course flagged, dressage rings ready, Oakhurst had a fun packed weekend. I could list every single thing that was amazing but lets stick with my top ten.
Prepped and Ready!
Driving around Oakhurst Farm late Friday night was the quiet before the storm. Before the business started, I had a minute to take in the beauty of the facility. From the cross country course flagged, wiper snipped and decorated to the dressage, stadium and temporary stabling set up made all of the hard work, bee stings and sweat pay off. Not to mention all of the work that goes on behind the scenes. The amazing competitor packages made up, times set and prizes ready, Oakhurst was ready to welcome the long weekend.
The People Who Make It Happen…. VOLUNTEERS
Saturday, Sunday and Monday ran smoothly and being as prepared as we were, we couldn’t have done it without all the help of the volunteers. We had the jump judges who sat out in the field all day making sure cross country ran safe and on time, dressage and stadium whipper-ins to make sure we all made it in the ring in and out on time, then not to mention our control, secretaries, scorers (who live scored!), outrider, runners and more! With out everyone together willing to give their time, the day would not have gone on!
Fast Cars and Pretty RTV’s
Yes, you may have heard that bumble bee was on the property, sadly he never transformed for us but maybe next time. We had fancy vehicles and RTV’s all over the property that was sponsored for the weekend. The sponsors makes the event bigger and better! From sponsoring awesome jumps, prizes, vehicles to help prep the site to vehicles that were great decoration and great judges booths!
Team Work Makes The Dream Work
More than 15 Oakhurst riders and horses competed on Sunday and the support between all the competitors within the barn was inspiring. It didn’t matter how everyone’s phases went, good or bad, the positive attitude and cheering never stopped!
Celebrate Good Times
After a day full of competing, it didn’t stop there. The amazing competitors party that Oakhurst put on was like no other party I have seen. Delicious food, great beer from The ABC brewery trailer, live music by Cory Papineau and a silent auction put on by Barb Eamer with awesome items to bid on. All of the money raised at the Competitors Party is going to sponsoring teams of riders and horses to travel down to The Hagyard Midsouth Three Day Event and Horse Trials. But we didn’t just stop at that…
Yes, you are correct….. we had BOUNCY JOUSTING!! As another fundraiser at the competitors party, there was inflatable bouncy jousting. Having a round robin tournament declared the birthday girl Miranda Lepore the bouncy jousting Champion- my body is still sore from the final match with her!
And The Fun Continues….
Oakhurst didn’t just finish after the bouncy jousting. Monday morning we continued the fun with breakfast and an Athlete Development Clinic. Everyone who showed up Monday morning broadened their horizons while listening to great, informative talks by Dr. Rob Stevenson, Kara Glauser and Quinn Hodgins, all on a full stomach from a great breakfast.
Food, Food and More Food
I still feel full from all of the delicious food I ate over the weekend. From Jane’s Catering feeding us while we competed to AJ’s Catering at the competitors party dinner with delicious chicken, ribs, pasta, salad and more! We then saw AJ’s Catering again, the following morning at the Athlete Development Clinic as they catered breakfast with some yummy ham, sausages, eggs, fruit and more!
Over the weekend there was loads of schooling opportunities. Saturday afternoon there was dressage ring familiarization and show jump schooling, where you could literally go into the ring and ride the show jump course that was happening in the actual event. Monday afternoon, the fun carried on with the opportunity to school the cross country course, as that is the last time to school the Oakhurst cross country before OHTA Championships labor day weekend! What a great way to set yourself up for success, learn new skills and confirm skills.
It’s About The People You Surround Yourself With
The weekend would not have been as enjoyable without the amazing family and friends who celebrated with us. It made the weekend an absolute blast!!
Overall Oakhurst Horse Trial was a huge success and an absolute blast, I can’t wait for our next show!
But until then, we all wish the best of luck to the Canadian Athletes who are headed off to Rio at the Olympic Games!
Until Next Time,
And in case you missed the Bouncy Jousting, here is Ruth and Tatum’s first epic Bouncy Joust battle to start the evening – thanks to Sylvain Jobidon!
Life would be very stress free if everything went as planned but that seems boring and there wouldn’t be as many great stories! In the heat of the moment while these unexpected situations come up it seems like the sky is falling, and the earth may be coming to an end but after a few weeks or months (how ever long the embarrassment or hurt takes to go away) all of a sudden it becomes a roaring kind of laugh when the story is told. Like one day we will laugh at how hot it is this week! It will probably go something like, “remember that crazy hot day that we whipper snipped? Haha!”
Life throws unexpected and uncontrolled moments at us all the time that make us change our plans and horses mixed with life creates even more unexpected moments but it’s how we take those unexpected moments, good or bad, and use them to our advantage or for just a good story. No ride is guaranteed to go as planned, sometimes you have tractors or dirt bikes or even kites being flown through your lesson which might turn your relaxing hack turn into a long trot on the spot but it’s up to you as a rider to turn that into fitness work or maybe a desensitizing training session. And that’s just at home! Off at shows there are so many more distractions. You have other riders and coaches you’re trying to dodge, your parents feeding your horse mints after mints (not that Portia was complaining), not to mention the big show rings, being off property, new fences and more.
We had many riders take the challenge of showing this past weekend and braved the rain and puddles. Alexa and Jenna pranced in dressage world Saturday at the Rainbow Ridge Gold Dressage Show. They came home with many 1sts and 2nds. Dressage Champions!
On Sunday many Oakhurst riders and loads of other riders came in to our Oakhurst Derby. A successful day for many of the riders, with lovely courses put on by the Oakhurst crew. What a great set up for new horses and riders to be introduced to eventing and other horses and riders attempting new levels even in the puddles!
I am sure many of them didn’t plan for that many puddles or to see so many cool new jumps but these riders took the unexpected and used them for their advantage. These riders made lemonade out of lemons because it’s not what happens to you it’s what you do about it.
If you expect the unexpected then when it happens it causes less surprise. So to our riders and coaches coming up, get ready to make some lemonade – you will need to when it feels like +42! Coach Ruth and multiple horses and riders are headed off to Tandalee Horse Trials this weekend. As our coaches are starting to prepare for the competition coach evaluation at Oakhurst Farm on Monday.
Good Luck Team Oakhurst!
Stay cool and drink lots of water!
I try to be an organized and prepared person….. the key word is try. Sometimes I succeed at that and sometimes I don’t. If you asked my parents they would probably laugh because they know what I was like in school. I definitely did not set myself up for success everytime.
I would like to think that that has changed. In the last few weeks I feel like I have been preparing myself for many things like;
- Writing lesson plans for my Competition Coach Evaluation and then teaching them in front of Ruth and Helen before I even submit them to get feedback. On paper, a lesson plan will work but you never know until you teach it. This is just the beginning of the preparation phase for succeeding and becoming a certified competition coach.
- The sunburn I have acquired this past weekend is to hide the dreaded farmers/polo tan lines, to prepare myself for wearing a dress this weekend at my sisters wedding. I barely ever burn, so the pain of even my clothes sitting on my shoulders comes as a surprise to me. But it will be worth it when I don’t look like I am wearing a white t-shirt under my dress! Success!
- Practicing my maid of honor speech in my head while I muck every morning… my fellow muckers must think I talk to myself as the odd time I catch myself moving my lips. Oops! But when I stand in front of 300 guests, my lips will just keep moving even if I am shocked.
- Portia doing long slow distance at 8am Sunday morning (before the sun burn weather) to prepare for an upgrade soon. She has to be fit in order to upgrade or else will we even be able to safely make it around our upgrade?
- Swimming Sunday afternoon (how I got my sunburn) to prepare for the +35 weather
I can’t say yet if I have done enough to make myself successful in the upcoming events but going into every single one I will know that I have practiced every skill, line and movement that I can foresee having to do. I have packed every item that I think I will need. And I have prepared myself mentally and physically (even if its just trying to tan) as much as I think I need.
We all know in every situation, especially in horses, you can’t foresee everything, and you can’t control everything but we definitely can prepare for what we know we will need to succeed. Oakhurst is living proof that when we prepare, we succeed.
This past weekend the Oakhurst Show Team headed off to Little Bromont HT in Sutton, Quebec. Seven horse and rider combinations braved the heat this past weekend to give it their all! Coming home with positive attitudes and stories, I would claim it to be a success! But would we be able to say that if the Oakhurst Team didn’t prepare? Would Eventing Connect have called Team Oakhurst the “Team of the Weekend” in the Weekend Warrior Chronicles this week, citing our “super impressive matching gear and great riding” to being “a team you want to be a part of”. (See the story here…!)
It is motivating to work with Ruth and Helen creating this amazing program for us riders to prepare each and every one of us to succeed. And I am not just talking about Ruth making sure we have the wheelbarrow in the trailer before we head off to a show. I mean, last winter with Mental Training sessions, nutrition workshops and stretching/strength clinics. Or, last February, at our show team meeting when we discuss our show season along with fitness of our horses at each level. Then the follow through with asking at the end of every lesson when is our horses fitness work happening? On top of that, having pre-preformance sheets available along with post performance analysis work sheets. Then our weekly lessons- every lesson has a meaning and purpose, with progressions from introducing green riders and horses on how to ride a coffin to consolidating these skills with our more competitive riders and horses.
Overall, our Oakhurst coaches and program really gives us every tool and skill we need to prepare for competition day and then to carry on this knowledge into other areas of our life, like being able to stand up in front of 300 guests and give a speech with no tan lines!
Until next time,
When I went home to visit family, my mom and I stopped at a specialty store, one of those stores with cute sayings like “Live, Laugh, Love,” or “Home is Where the Heart is” written on things like pillows and key chains. I walked through the store dragging my feet like a little kid being dragged grocery shopping, until I came across this mini poster board and written on it was, “Dreams Don’t Work Unless You Do.” Which I do believe in strongly!
It’s always easy to come up with dreams and wants but it’s the ‘how to get there’ that can be tricky. Normally the things we want are called dreams because it takes a lot of hard work to maybe get there. So yes, dreams don’t work unless you do. Typically the path to our dreams aren’t smooth like following the yellow brick road, it consists more of trying to hike up mount Everest but that’s what makes the reward of reaching the goal so great! The goal is never going to fall in your lap as you watch an episode of greys anatomy- I wish- it is only going to come if you work towards it.
Dreams can vary and you can have multiple dreams or goals. Like, I would like to be a millionaire! Haha. Nah, my dream is to be as an amazing as a coach as Ruth and Helen! So everyday I keep working at it. Maybe your dream is to ride at Rolex or do your first cross poles course. Either way, it won’t happen on its own!
Our riders worked away all winter, through the cold and frost bitten toes, keeping in mind the goal for the following show season. We had many riders reach a milestone to their goal this past weekend, making all of their hard work all winter pay off!
Oakhurst traveled to the first Horse Trials of the season in Orillia. Having extreme heat temperatures (I know, we were just complaining about the cold, we can never be happy with the weather) at Grandview Horse Trials, coach Ruth and 6 riders, went out with successful first outings. Many riders felt they had reached a milestone to their end goal and they could keep moving forward from here, it is always a work in progress!
Not only did our Grandview riders take on the heat and sweat but coach Helen and three horse and rider teams took on the heat in the dressage ring at Stevens Creek Silver Dressage Show. Every rider got qualifying scores towards the Silver Dressage Championships which is the big goal for most of our dressage riders.
Even so our riders reached a milestone to their goal does not mean we quit now. Hopefully reaching that milestone gives us the motivation to keep working hard towards the big goal because Dreams Don’t Work Unless You Do!
And yes, I got the poster board!
Everyone at Oakhurst is still working hard to what will hopefully be our next great milestone to our goal at Ottawa Horse Trials this weekend.
Until Next Time,
Well It’s Officially Here
If you have kept up with our blogs you probably keep hearing about how show season is coming up and it is getting closer and closer and closer! Well we are now officially counting down the days!
This Saturday we start our show season off with an Upper Canada Derby at Oakhurst and since we are never bored around Oakhurst, Oakhurst is holding an ESD Dressage Show on Sunday! These are great schooling opportunities to remind riders and horses what it is like to be outside of four walls, in a warm up ring and in the ring in front of a judge. This year they become even bigger schooling opportunities since the weather didn’t seem to understand that we would eventually like to ride outside and that the cross country derby field was not meant to be a duck habitat, so our derby and dressage show becomes a bit of training and schooling. They also remind riders what its like to ride under that little bit of competitive pressure again! But hopefully Oakhurst riders have mastered that after Smackdown!
Last weekend the Oakhurst team set up a course late Saturday afternoon (so no smackdown competitors could see it and get the jump on the competition). Sunday morning riders tacked up their horses only knowing that they would be jumping. They were then instructed to walk the course set up and give the amount of strides they were going to ride each related distance in. They collected points for each each related distance they rode in the amount of strides they guessed. The course stayed the same but they got to change one or all (depending what group they were in) number of strides that they had originally said they would ride each related distance in. Again, they gained points for each number of strides they got right. Third course included some solid fences out of the ring. Their numbers stayed the same for each related distance but they got an extra point for no refusals! At the end the rider with the most points won! Congratulations to Taya Davison, Emma Richardson and Devon Svoboda, the Oakhurst Smackdown Winners!
The smackdown is similar to the derby and ESD where it raises the competitive pressure compared to just a regular lesson. But luckily, we have been practicing all winter on how to deal with that pressure and how to be at our best mental and physical peak on competition day!
We didn’t spend all winter preparing with our mental training workshops, nutritionist and stretching clinic for nothing!
You have to remember all the tools we learned;
• Stress is good! Repeat that a few times…. we need stress to reach our peak but too much stress can cause us to lose focus and freeze.
• muscle tensing and relaxing, so that way when you’re on your horse you can relax those tense nervous muscles and hopefully your horses muscle will relax as well.
• pre-competition plan – know what works for you but be flexible!
• Visualize, the good, not the bad.
• BREATH! In for 4, out for 8.
• Pack your snacks ahead of time – because for most of us getting a pop and a greasy burger at the show may not be performance enhancing (unless you do that all the time; practice, practice, practice)
• Your body needs food every four hours
• Eat lots of protein!
• Stretching is good!
• The more strength and flexibilty you have, the better rider you can be for your horse
• PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
That’s really only a handful of things we learned, but one thing that is similar was to practice these skills and see what works best for you. That way you on show day you know what is going to make you perform at your best but you have to do it multiple times before hand, at lessons or at smackdowns! You can use this in every part of your life, an exam at school, drivers test, presentation at work!
So if you haven’t been practicing then you should start now! Looks like I better make a trip to the grocery store before my lesson tonight as it seems like my popcorn and chips is just not cutting it.
See you in show season!
You quite constantly hear that you should surround yourself with people who can only make you better. I never really believed it because I always thought, why would I ever let someone make me worse? Or is it even possible to make myself better because I am pretty awesome already. Maybe it’s the whole age and maturity thing or I just had an epiphany but I am really starting to realize the importance of this saying and how lucky I have been with the people who have been surrounding me my whole life. We are very lucky with our team at Oakhurst with always improving themselves and encouraging the rest of us to keep improving ourselves.
I’m not just talking about Ruth, Mark, Helen and Blair. Although, every single one of them is the perfect example of always improving themselves and everything around them. They are such inspirations in every aspect of their life because they are always improving and challenging the next step. May it be keeping up to date on new coaching clinics, eating better or becoming the OEF president! Not only that but they encourage everything and everyone around them to keep growing! Look at Oakhurst Farm as whole, it never stops growing! Now having an amazing dressage team going out for their second show season this year and running a summer full of championships! It can’t get much more exciting than that! Then we have our coaches, who always are pushing our students to be the best they can be. And not by just their weekly lesson but the amount of new opportunities that our coaches offer.
This winter was full of these opportunities! We had;
– Mental Training
– Nutrition Workshop
-Stretching and Strength Training Workshop
-Rider Level Prep Clinics
– Rider Level Evaluations
It’s been busy! I don’t think you can consider this winter as an ‘off season’.
And yes, earlier I said I’m not just talking about Ruth, Mark, Helen and Blair. They are amazing but every Oakhurst member is amazing! Look at how many Oakhurst students we had test for their rider levels this past weekend! Congratulations to: Teagan, Tatum, Ashley, Abby, Hannah, Alexa, Emma, Rebecca and Alexa for passing your rider levels! You are all a great example of challenging the next level and keep improving your horse knowledge and riding! These are definitely people I am glad surround me in my life!Not only do I have my Oakhurst family pushing me for better but I have my family, friends and mentors back home also trying to make me better. From my parents trying to improve my health by nagging me to eat better. To my dad trying to make me a better vehicle owner by questioning if I have checked the fluids in the truck… that more involves me opening up the hood, seeing some kind of liquid sloshing around in there and then confidently replying “Of course I have dad!”
Overall I am grateful for everyone in my life who has pushed me to reach my coaching goals, riding goals, being happy, healthy and owning a running truck (thanks dad!). I hope they keep pushing me to meet my next goals as there is always more to learn!
Speaking about more goals to reach, Oakhurst is hosting an Equine Canada Coaching Prep Day Clinic this Sunday!
I hope everyone is getting excited for show season!
I think everyone who knows me know my eating habits. I do not hide from them, I am very open about them and for those who don’t know me; I eat terribly. I am not a picky eater, the only thing I don’t like is yogurt. Never have liked yogurt and its looking like I never will, even the smell makes me cringe. I like to call myself a convenient eater. I will eat anything prepared for me, and if I have to prepare it, I will find the quickest and most convenient food to eat and in today’s world that typically is the unhealthy foods.
So on Saturday March, 5th my diet went like this;
- Clif Bar- to be exact it was chocolate chip, almond fudge is my favorite but I get the variety pack. This was accompanied with some lemon water.
- A Bag of Popcorn. Made in my very own microwave. Yes, after riding a few ponies that morning a bag of popcorn sounded like a great snack at 10:30 am. I had this with lemon water.
- Bagel toasted with butter and a medium ice capp! They are so yummy and it’s prepared for me, yay!
- A very, very large serving of fettuccini with chicken! At this point in the day, I was so hungry, I inhaled it until I couldn’t breathe anymore. I had even more water with this.
Now I know, I didn’t eat a single fruit or vegetable, that was a lot of carbs! I always use the typical excuse “I’m too busy” or “By the time I get in at the end of the night I don’t want to cook!” Luckily for me on Sunday we had a Sport Nutrition workshop with registered Dietitian Heather Mackinnon!
Not only did this workshop come with chili and snacks, I also learned lots (and no I did not dare to show her my Saturday Diet). I know typically you expect the usual; only eat fruits and vegetables, NO CHOCOLATE! But it was nice to hear an expert who sounds like she loves sweets and junk food as much as me! Not only did we learn about basic nutrition but we also learnt good dietary skills for competition day.
The snacks I brought to (snuck into) the workshop… not quite as healthy, and not even as delicious!
Let me share some of the things I absorbed from the work shop.
- If you eat protein in the morning it can help decrease those cravings for sweets later in the evenings! So then I won’t have to eat peanut butter by the spoonful (just admit it, we all do it at least once) to solve my sweet tooth.
- In your breakfast you should cover at least three of the four food groups. I don’t think my clif bar is cutting it.
- You can eat carbs! As long as you have to correct portion size. Carbs are good, unlike those latest magazines and fad diets that tell us to never eat them!
- You really shouldn’t go more than four hours without eating at least a small snack.
- DRINK MORE WATER!
- Know what works best for you! When planning for competition day, you need to know what foods you need to eat to help you perform at your best. Everyone is different so to know this you need to practice. Lesson days would be great days for this. It’s funny, I’ve been hearing this a lot lately! Our mental training, we need to practice! Our physical training, we practice! Our nutrition, we need to practice!
After the workshop I felt I had more knowledge on nutrition and started thinking, what do I normally eat that helps me do really well? I’m not sure what our drill team members ate Sunday morning but I suggest for them to eat that on show day!
Drill Team performances were Sunday morning and wow! Both teams killed it. The two teams had the same routine but the two groups had different themes and music! The first group, full of cowgirls and cowboys riding their western ponies really came to dance! There routine was precise and accurate, not to mention those flowy skirts just caught your eye!
The second group, went totally the opposite direction with their theme of Rainbows and Unicorns! Not only was the music stuck in my head (“pink fluffy unicorns dancing on rainbows” on repeat), and had everyone giggling, their group was fast and exciting! The horses were unicorns! What other time do you get to put a pink sparkly unicorn horn on your horse?
Great Job Drill Teams!
It’s during performances, shows and lessons that we need to make sure we have given our bodies the energy and resources it needs to stay strong and perform at its best! So one of the changes I will be making, is hiring a personal chef to prepare me healthy food!
I’ll let you know how that works out for me,
If you missed seeing the Drill Team performances, you can watch them here:
I was fortunate enough to be able to take place in many sports and recreational activities growing up but if I remember back I would say that I had limited success at some. Lets start with dance, well when I got up on stage, I never moved a muscle, I would just stare at the audience and let the rest dance around me. Baseball, a ball coming at me was not my thing as I would try to get out of the way. Piano, practice makes perfect and I didn’t practice and it was not perfect. Those were just examples, the lists and stories go on to figure skating, cross country running, track and field, drama productions, orchestra, pond hockey, school basketball and more. I started horse back riding in the middle of participating in all of these activities which falls in line with our Long-Term Equestrian Development (LTED).
LTED is a guide to help create programs that focus on skill development, enjoyment and horsemanship from a very young age and through out an equestrians career. LTED can be broken down into stages. Starting with an Active start and Fundamentals, which is a child at a young age being active in everyday life and having fun with the horses. At this time in a childs life it is pretty easy to get them active. As we all probably know most children don’t sit still too well. My parents helped keep me active with dance class, although since I only stood there, I’m not sure how active I really was. In the summers I got to play T-ball and attend summer horse camps! – If you haven’t heard, Oakhurst Summer Horse Camps are back for 2016! Yay!
Then we move onto our Learn to Train stage. This stage supports multi-sport and diverse life experience. This for me is where the figure skating, piano and all of those activities that I just barely survived through came in. I really think Oakhurst could contribute to that, after all of the freezing rain, the snow melting and then freezing, we could run figure skating lessons in the front field! But then again, I can barely skate so I’m not sure how successful that would be!
We then move into Train the Athlete and Learn to Compete. These two stages introduce athletes to competition, winning, losing, rules, coping with different environments, distractions and more. The next three stages, Train the Competitor, Learn to Win and Live to Win, focus on refining skills, placing well and consistently, and moving into international excellence. These five levels are where we are building our Yearly Training Plans (YTP), setting goals for ourselves and attending the amazing Show Team meeting!
Our Show team meeting is this Sunday, February 14th, I can’t wait to see the awesome power points Ruth has put together! Make sure to RSVP to Ruth if you are attending, there is so much useful information given and we can all start creating out YTP’s. Everyone is welcome to come even if you’re not in the above stages of LTED.
The last but not least stage is the Active for Life & Competitive for Life, where this is supporting a diverse life style while still participating in equestrian sport even if it is not as an athlete! This could be volunteering, officiating or a coach.
As a coach I feel its my job to keep up with programs and guides like these and knowing where each one of my students is. I try to use this as a guide to set my students up for be a life long equestrian that enjoys the sport, with the horse knowledge and skills they have developed. I hope my students will have a life time of happiness from the skills and knowledge they have learned from the sport. For more information on Long Term Equestrian Development, you can find great resources to it on the Equine Canada Site at:
Well I hope to see everybody this Sunday, at the show team meeting where we will not only be planning our show season but also cheering for Blair at Ocala Horse Trials. Good luck Blair!
Until next time,
Before I moved, many people told me to pack warm coats and lots of warm socks and boy, last winter I needed them. With continuous -40 weather, I wore through every pair of warm socks I owned. This winter I was going to be ready, asked for warm socks and more warm socks for Christmas, but Saturday morning I woke up to what felt like t-shirt weather, with +3, and then Sunday with +6. My warm socks were almost too warm! But those temperatures were accompanied by a lot of rain and I don’t know about everybody else but when I hear the rain on the roof in the mornings, it makes it very hard to roll out of bed.
⦁ Curling up on the couch with a very warm blanket. Preferably even a comforter because you can ravel up in them with only your head sticking out. There’s nothing worse than a blanket that isn’t quite big enough and your feet are hanging out.
⦁ An ideal hot morning beverage for me, is hot chocolate because I am still a kid at heart and do not drink coffee.
⦁ Watching a movie. My types of movies fall under the categories of chick flicks, animated or humor. I am not very into the action packed, science fiction and most certainly not horror. Although Eric and Tate have helped me branch out and move forward in my movie education by making me watch the classics like; Iron man, Pirates of the Carribean and The Avengers (ya, ya, ya, I hadn’t watched them before. Crazy right?)I surprisingly really enjoyed it…. maybe they have convinced me that action packed isn’t so bad!
Now for all of the horse owners and even other pet owners know that it doesn’t matter if its raining, snowing, Chirstmas day or if you have the dreaded stomach flu, they need to be fed, ridden, stalls mucked out and fed again. Owning a competition horse is not just a weekly hobby. They involve hours of your attention at minimal 5 or 6 days a week, that’s not including if you are the one feeding and mucking out stalls. They need to be kept fit and sharp by continuously running through exercises that make them think and learn. Not to mention they need to be groomed, tack cleaned, blanketed when need be, vet visits and farrier visits. I imagine most people think that us horse people are crazy for the things we do for them. Like when we freeze our hands off trying to warm up their bit in the winter, get wet and cold trying to chase them in the paddock before they get wet and cold or receive those beautiful tan lines in the summer and more. But they are more than worth it!As ‘mothers’ and ‘fathers’ of our horses we really never would change sacrificing our toes in the winter for them. We feel some pride and joy when we see them prick there ears at us. We chuckle when they give us a little nicker from time to time. The feeling of success when you come off your first cross country course or out of the dressage ring with them. The cuddle, love and kisses you receive from them, makes it all worth while.
Well its official, show season has passed and the cross country schooling is over, bummer! Now looking into the winter – I know I picture snow blowing, dark by 5 pm and riding in the arena every single day…. how many circles can we do!? Not to talk about the jealousy we feel to those who get to go to Florida, to cross country school and compete, but really the winter is a great time for us to grow in our riding!
The off season for Canadians is typically the end of October to the beginning of May, which can be a very long and cold six months! But lets look at the glass half full. These cold, long months give us time to bond with our partners, work on our weaknesses, perfect our position and start working towards the next level of competition. Having a longer period of time than our normal week or two between shows gives us more time to work on things that may take longer to perfect, like our horses quality of canter.- well that’s mine and Portia’s goal for the winter anyways. The winter gives us time to work on our position while we are riding and try to get out of those bad habits.
Welcome to No Stirrups November! As we all have those bad habits to break in our position, like putting our toes down or rounding our shoulders, there are exercises we can all do to help our overall position, like riding with no stirrups. Riding with out stirrups can be nerve wracking because its easy to lose our balance but it helps our position in so many ways. It helps stretch our upper leg to create a longer, steadier leg. It helps us find our balance and strengthens our core. Over all riding with no stirrups can help everybody’s position and helps everyone become a stronger rider. No stirrups is an easy thing for anyone to do at anytime, so since it is No Stirrups November I hope to see everyone in the arena dropping their stirrups.
Now that our leg is lengthened, lets work that upper body. Oakhurst students now have access to this very neat black, looking box thing with handles. You have probably seen it on the bleachers or on the ledge of the arena. The Equicube is a weight that is made for riders to ride with it and help build our core muscles. The cube should be held with the “googly” eyes looking up to you and just slightly above your horses withers. This cube helps to put your hands, elbows and arms in the correct position, it corrects your posture in the saddle, helps balance and strengthens core muscles. This is a great toy to use for 10 minutes a ride to create that muscle memory of the correct position. So Oakhurst students, have a chat with your coaches to see if you can use the cube and work those abs of steel!
Did anyone see that awesome exercise Ruth had set this past week? There were poles everywhere! As we watched riders ride through it and see the progressions, we realized how much of a fun yet difficult exercise it was! Winter gives us so much time to work through these fun, technical exercises. These exercises all help with different things, sometimes for the horse and sometimes for the rider; like eye and stride control, shortening and lengthening strides, flying lead changes and more! Then we take these skills we learned and use them out cross country, when we need to shorten our stride to come into that coffin.
But even with all of these things we can work on, sometimes riding in the arena can get boring with out the change of scenery and with the limited things we can do. So, if you haven’t heard of Drill team (starting this Sunday), go online and check it out! Drill team is a group of riders, riding a routine of different movements to music! We even do a final performance at the end and you only need to be able to walk and trot! Not only is it lots of socializing and riding time, it acts as a long slow distance ride for your horse to stay in shape through out the winter. Here is the video of last year’s performance:
So even so the cold, dreary weather is coming, the winter is very useful for us riders! When we aren’t focused on the next show and going out cross country schooling, we can work on the things that make us more successful in show season.
And just wait until the tarp, barrel and cows come out! Eek!!
Some people know right away what they are going to do when they grow up and for others it can take years to figure it out. For me, I was 18, when I realized that I wanted to become a coach. There were many reasons behind this madness. Obviously I enjoy the company of our four-legged friends. I love passing on my knowledge to others but I think what initiated the crazy idea was having a special mentor in my life growing up and wanting to do that for others.
I can say I have had many great mentors to look up to growing up. I had great teachers through out school, my parents are unbelievable. An older sister to look up to (even when we fought) and a ton of family and friends that I can rely on. But it is those mentors that we don’t think will impact our lives so much that do. For me that would be my riding coach and I think most riders can agree with me that a special bond is made through a coach and their students in this sport.
Not only did I learn how to ride but I saw that hard work pays off, I learned how to be responsible, to be respectful and so much more. The amount of opportunities, thought and attention that was given to me outside of my hour lesson. I will be thankful for the rest of my life for this and I can only hope to do the same for my students and impact their lives, the way my life was impacted.
Oakhurst is such a great example of these mentors who will go above and beyond for their students. I know that all the fellow Oakhurst employees have helped me learn and grow in the time I have been a part of the team. Ruth, Blair and Helen give all of their students their undivided attention and treat them as there own family.
Oakhurst always has lots of opportunities for there students to keep busy! Even coming up, October 30th is our Halloween Costume Contest! So get your costumes out!
As a coach you take on more than just teaching, you take on being a role model, mentor and a friend to your students. That, for me, is the icing on the cake and a huge part of why I love being a coach.
Have a Safe and Happy Halloween!
Until next time,
So I think all of my rain jackets and boots have finally dried out since this past weekend. For those who don’t know, the Ottawa area was hit with a little rain over the weekend. The rain started Saturday morning and did not stop until Sunday night getting about 50 ml of rain. Not only was it rainy but it was pretty chilly! I wore mittens to course walk Saturday evening…that chilly! At that point I actually found myself missing that +40 degree weather and humidity, who would’ve thought!
But a little bit of rain won’t stop those dressage riders! Saturday Oakhurst held the Eastern Ontario Silver Dressage Championships. A huge congratulations to the Oakhurst riders, Cindy, Barb, Jenna, Devon and Kristen for ‘prancing’ so beautifully in the puddles!
After a full day of dressage Saturday, we re-grouped and packed up the trailers bright and early Sunday morning. Off we headed to the Eventing at the Park Horse Trial. I know at that point I was already on my second rain coat because my first one had not dried out since the dressage show. Mid morning, although it had been raining constantly all morning, we were hit with a real downpour. Thunder and lightning included! After at least 30 minutes of torrential rain Oakhurst decided to pack up and head home. We saw that the conditions were not going to get any better so we made the courageous decision that this was just not the day to run our horses. We have to thank our coaches for helping us make these tough decisions. Our coaches at Oakhurst truly have our and our horses safety as their number one priority.
I think my favorite part was there was not one member of the Oakhurst family that protested the decision and instead of sulking about it we all laughed and talked it off throughout the afternoon.
But in all of the rain and gloomy weather we were accompanied by the newest president of the Ontario Equestrian Federation! Yes, if you haven’t heard, our very own Mark Nelson was appointed President of the OEF Board of Directors. Congratulations Mark!
I never put much thought into how our sport actually runs and who guides it. But watching Ruth and Mark put so much back into it is inspiring. They are not only running and improving Oakhurst but they are making a difference in Eventing in Canada. They are constantly moving the sport forward and each individually making big changes. If we don’t have people like Ruth and Mark giving back to our sport than where would it be? Eventing would not exist with out the volunteers.
Maybe we won’t all be president one day but we can all give back to the sport in different ways. Multiple Oakhurst riders were out volunteering their time, jump judging on Sunday and we can’t forget Cheryl and Kristen who were XC Control for the day. We need to thank everyone of these volunteers who gave back to the sport how ever they could. Together they make it run for the riders.
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”
Its rainy days like this past weekend, when I curl up under a blanket and think about how can I give back to the sport more? Watching Ruth, Mark and multiple volunteers inspire me to get more involved in the sport and to try and make a difference how ever I can.
But now that the rain has passed, I’m sure Oakhurst rider, Jenna Mayhew will have beautiful weather riding at Canadian Interprovincial Equestrian Championships (CIEC) next week. Make sure to check out her bio at; http://www.cec-en.ca/participants-dressage.html. Stay tuned to hear from her and Ruth while they are at CIEC. We wish you the best of luck Jenna & Kip and we know you guys will kick butt!
Now I hope everyone enjoys the sun and warmth this week while we still have it!
Well I can probably speak for most people with curly hair – the weather we have been having does not help tame the wild curls. No product or even wearing a hat could contain the amount of volume and frizz my hair had this past Sunday.
Oakhurst brought three horses and riders to Stevens Creek Horse Trials on Sunday with three awesome coaches. Good job Janan, Becky, Kristina, Ruth, Helen and Blair for braving the extreme heat and humidity! Not to mention the numerous jump judges that were from Oakhurst!
After we all came home, very sweaty and all looking drained from the heat, Helen made a joke that we should coach figure skating, those coaches never look sweaty. Not to mention that they don’t have to try and hide their hair from the humidity! So why did we choose a sport that not only do we have to deal with humid hair but then -40 in January and everything in between!
Lets go back to the explanation that Ruth gave us about coaching; ‘to describe the process used to transport people from where they are, to where they want to be’. For me as an Instructor of Beginners and teaching many of our younger students, I love the feeling of starting that process. I smile every time one my students jumps their first fence, or canters for the first time and when they turn to me and say “that was awesome!” Being able to work with a team of a horse and rider, being able to watch them and helping form a bond, figure out each others quirks and how to deal with them is, I think, just as rewarding for a coach.
To get my students there I feel that I need to keep improving myself. My first step was to become certified and within that process I was able to find an environment with many other certified coaches. I learn from Ruth, Helen and Blair every day as they never stop educating and improving themselves as a coaches!
“You know you are on the road to success if you would do your job and not be paid for it.” (Oprah Winfrey).
I feel like I am on the right road then, as I will gladly fight with my frizzy hair or put an extra pair of socks on in January to be able to coach and be a part of the process to get my students where they want to be. Plus I am not very good a figure skating!
By the way…. Not only did we fight the extreme heat and humidity this past weekend but the rain was not on our side either. Because of the large amounts of rain we had last week we sadly had to post pone our Silver Dressage Show. But no worries! The rain date is August 30th, not too far away Dressage riders!
Until next time,
Riders, do you remember your first time on a horse? Or parents, do you remember the first time watching your child in a lesson? I remember my first time, I attended Summer Horse Camp at Nova Equestrian Centre, where I had my first lesson on a paint pony, learned the different colours of horses and even got to ride bare back. At the end of the day, I went home and felt pretty confident that I was now a professional rider and a horse expert. Was I ever wrong!
Over the last week, I have watched numerous different riders, from walking and trotting, trot pole courses to running the Pan Ams 2** cross country course. Watching this large range of ability made me realize that we all have to start somewhere and then we all have to keep pushing ourselves to move forward and chase our dreams.
Last week I was able to continue on the camp experience, by being the camp coordinator at Oakhurst’s Summer Horse Camp. The camps are a great introduction to the sport of riding and the horse atmosphere. The riders faced challenges on the horse and expanded their knowledge off the horse. Over all we had a very fun and busy week. We were riding, running and making crafts constantly. Not to mention we had our very own Pan Am Games! At the beginning of the week each camper chose or made up a country to represent and completed challenges through out the week. On Friday we had our very own closing ceremonies to celebrate everybody’s accomplishments.
The following Saturday I had the privilege to travel down to Will O’Wind farm to watch the Pan Am’s Equestrian – Eventing Cross County. The riders had to complete a 2** level course. I watched some of North Americas top riders gallop past me and was in “awe”. They make it look so easy! But just like the riders in camp, these riders were facing a challenge, just at a much different level. I cheered our Canadian Team on, in my red and white attire. Over all our Canadian team brought home a bronze medal and our very own Jessica Phoenix brought home silver! Did you know Jessica is visiting Oakhurst this week? Come check out the Jessica Phoenix clinic happening at Oakhurst!
To finish off the busy week, on Sunday we headed off to Numech Silver Dressage Show with Kristin McLaren and Panamerra (Annie). Even in the blistering heat they finished their first ever, third level dressage test on an amazing 62% and brought home many red ribbons!
Every rider has to start somewhere, even Jessica Phoenix! Then we continuously push ourselves and keep setting new goals, maybe our goals are to master the posting trot or win a medal for our country. We never stop learning and improving in this sport. Every horse is a different ride and everyday we get a different ride out of our horse. You would think after enough time we would finally know everything about our horses but then they throw another surprise at us, and we are faced with a new learning experience. And I think that is what makes our sport so special!
You can learn much more on how our athletes develop through out our sport by attending Oakhurst’s Athlete Development Clinic on Monday, August 3rd. Which takes place right after the Oakhurst Horse Trials and the awesome competitors party. Don’t forget about the silent auction happening at the competitors party, check out the website for details!
Can’t wait to see you there!
On June 20th, 2014, I packed up my horse trailer and truck, just after midnight, and my parents and I drove out of Windsor, Ontario starting an eight hour drive to Oakhurst Farm. We arrived at Oakhurst around 10 am (we definitely got lost driving up!). Driving up the Oakhurst Farm driveway, I felt a roller coaster of emotions, from SO excited to extremely nervous.
The next couple of days, I experienced my first Horse Trials by heading to Touch A Rainbow Horse Trials with the Oakhurst Team. I walked all the courses and watched the event happen, taking in the experience. Observing all the different tack, rules and schedule of eventers and just trying to figure out how this whole eventing thing works.
Flash Forward to June 20th, 2015, there I was once again course walking the Entry cross country course for the Touch a Rainbow Horse Trials. This was my first time going Entry ever with my pony Portia. Wow! Has this year flown by!
Speaking about Touch a Rainbow, Oakhurst headed to North Augusta at 6am Sunday morning with 10 horses and riders. Many of our horses and riders made upgrades at this event, which made it a very exciting day. We had many victories and learning experiences on Sunday. Now, victories don’t just happen, we must have our support system around us and this weekend our support system was on point. From multiple parents and family members helping out every rider there to our fellow peers grooming for us. Not to mention the awesome coaches there who stood outside in the pouring rain for us. There were many Oakhurst team members who gave back to our sport by volunteering their time jump judging at the event, who I heard huge cheers from as I cantered past!
The support from the Oakhurst team is what made my first year at Oakhurst so successful. Right from day one I was greeted into the family. Friendships were made with fellow riders and the support I receive from the other parents is unbelievable. The Oakhurst staff has not only welcomed me in but has taught me more than I ever thought I could learn. I feel I owe both Ruth and Mark the world after they have both put so much effort into educating me. Helping me with my riding, coaching, horse education, sharing their knowledge with me about running a business and teaching me things I never would’ve guessed I needed to know; like whipper snipping! I definitely am not the only one who has learned tons from these two!
Without this support group I couldn’t have achieved many of the things I did this past year like completing my first event ever! Or becoming a certified coach and now having my own handful of students, who made me very proud this past weekend.
Our walk/trot dressage team headed off to our first off-property ESD dressage show at Numech Equestrian Center on Saturday. Our walk/trot team, Zoe, Tate and myself, brought home walk/trot champion and reserve champion, pewee champion and reserve champion and lots of red ribbons. Also competing for Oakhurst was Cheryl and Bright Holiday (Oscar) who brought home 1st level Champion at Oscars first off-property show. Overall Oakhurst brought home many ribbons and lots and lots of prizes! Yay!
So what made our weekend successful and my first year at Oakhurst unforgettable? Our family. Overall I have to thank every member of the Oakhurst family and team in truly making me feel that I live the dream.
Well it’s official, show season has begun! The Oakhurst Eventing team headed off to Grandview Horse Trials, in Orillia. The new Oakhurst Dressage team traveled off to Mountain Star Silver Dressage Show this past weekend.
The Oakhurst event team loaded up the trailer Friday morning with six horses and riders ready to go. With coach Ruth by their sides, support from other Oakhurst team members and good weather everyone had a successful good first outing. Way to go Blair, Leah, Mark, Devon, Misha and Rebecca on having a successful first event of the season!
The new Oakhurst Dressage Team had their very first outing this weekend. Entering new territory can be a bit nerve wracking but the team had a very successful day, coming home with Champion in First level, Reserve Champion in second level and high point Adult Amateur! Great job Kristen & Annie and Jenna & Kip! Not to mention Helen’s amazing coaching and making everyone feel comfortable in an unknown place. A personal achievement of mine was backing up the truck and trailer into the last parking space available! Whew! And we even got complimented on our awesome team jackets!
This past weekend we had teams of horses and riders go out and do what they love. Everyone on those teams has different weaknesses and strengths. The beginning of the adventure of a new partnership can be scary, yet very exciting. You wonder if this will be the horse to help you reach your dreams? It can take months of learning each others buttons, strengths and weaknesses until you have finally formed that bond, that trust, that unspoken connection. Then the two of you can take on the world together, until the day has comes when parting ways must happen and new bonds must be formed. In the end it doesn’t matter what level you reach with your partner what matters is the things you learned from them along the way.
I am so excited to take on this show season with my new partner in crime, Portia. Even through the days of frustration, I wouldn’t ask for any other team mate to assist me in the 2015 show season. Here is to commencing the 2015 show season with our team mates!
Good luck to the Oakhurst Show Team this weekend at Meadowvale!