I have found occasion the last little while to reflect on the past 20 years. This undoubtedly had to do largely with the hard work of the tireless Harrogate Hills Riding School 20th anniversary committee. But even before that I had been thinking.
Sometimes it is even hard to remember how it all started.
In 1984 the University of Toronto student council decided to close the riding school. Apparently the financial burden they perceived the riding school to be was too much given that they had decided that the SAC's collegial presence on campus was better served by building a student pub. (Somehow a drinking establishment in downtown Toronto seemed superfluous to me, especially when it required giving up something rather unique, but I'm told that I should try to let that go!).
At any rate, the decision was final and the school was to be closed. The dilemma then became what to do with the horses. Though I had only been managing the stable for two years, I felt strongly attached to the eleven horses that had worked so hard for me during that time. (Yes, I started this behavior early.)
I arranged for students that I trusted to buy the horses from SAC. I then optimistically, and somewhat brashly in hindsight, uttered the statement that started me on this path. "Don't worry. I will get another place and buy them back from you in a year."
It never occurred to me that this might be a difficult promise to keep. Ah the endless enthusiasm and naivety of youth!
Oddly enough, the farm in Gormley became available on October 1st 1985. This
was pretty much a year to the date that I had promised to have a new place,
and so the pattern of good fortune in my life carried on unabated.
We hand painted a sign (it looked pretty good given that the wood was almost rotten on one side) and began our dealings with the other tenant on the property. The summer camp owner was a fairly astute businessman and I guess you could say he saw me coming. He always managed to introduce new rules to the game just as I was figuring out the old ones and so it seemed to be an interminable game of one step forward, two steps back.
I learned a fair bit from him though, perhaps most important, I learned not to trust everyone quite so completely! Over the years I continued to collect my old University of Toronto school horses and acquired more to join the school. Every time all seemed lost a friend would appear on the horizon and save the day and so we continued for ten years.
In 1995 another camp expressed an interest in leasing the entire property and so we had to move. It was hard to leave Gormley because it held so many memories for me, but on March 31st 1995 we had to go and so we did.
The next month was a bit daunting but all the friends of the farm came through and helped me find places for the horses to stay for the month. Then, in May 1995, we moved the whole thing to beautiful downtown HOLT.
I remember walking down the aisle with my dog Kila wondering if it would ever feel as familiar as Gormley had. In the first few months I must confess that I had my doubts.
But, as in Gormley, new friends emerged who became integral to the survival of The Harrogate Hills Riding School.
As I look back over the years, I know that there is no way that the business could have continued to exist without all of the support I have received. People often ask how I manage to do this "by myself" and I am embarrassed that I have left anyone with that impression. The truth is that The Harrogate Hills Riding School has survived because of the good will and energy of all of the people I have been fortunate to have come into contact with over the years.
I am blessed to have found friends who believe, like me, that the horses are
the most important part of this venture and that we must always put their needs
first. (I have also been blessed to have horses in my life that constantly reaffirm
my faith in this belief.) It may sound a tad over the top but I quite often
marvel at the power of horses to alter the trajectory of peoples' lives. It
seems to me that dealing with horses requires self discipline, honesty, empathy
and on occasion a certain amount of courage. When I meet former students and
think of how they were as 8 and 9 year olds, I like to think that the equine
influence had something to do with the fine adults they have turned into. So
what a thrill it was on Saturday, October 1st to have so many former students
come to the farm for the 20th Anniversary gathering. Sharing memories and stories
from the past 2 decades with so many old friends was a profound reminder to
me of how it has all been worth it
The arena undergoing transformation
The party on Saturday October 1st 2005 was for me, more than anything else, a celebration of all of those friends, equine and human. So, to all of the friends of the Harrogate Hills Riding School, (and you know who you are) I apologize that I could not summon the courage and the emotional composure to get through a speech that night and thank you all properly. Perhaps for the 40th Anniversary I will have found the right words. Thanks again to the Harrogate Hills 20th Anniversary committee for making it possible to have such a wonderful evening!
Cheers and here's to the future!
1. The breed that has the record for the world's tallest horse:
2. The filing down of teeth is called:
3. What is the Western equivalent of a girth?
4. What are games on horseback called?
5. Which of the following is associated with its very smooth gait?
b. Peruvian Paso
6. What is the smallest breed of horse?
7. In a three day event, what is the first test?
a. Cross Country
b. Show Jumping
8. How long does pregnancy usually last for mares?
a. 9 months
b. 11 months
c. 13 months
So far this season we have held three schooling shows at the farm, the standings are listed on page five. Now there is a break for Christmas and the colder weather of January and February. The in-house show season will continue with shows on:
The Harrogate Hills Riding School has, this year, produced a group of riders who have represented the school off property. Sam Pedersen, Rebecca Schweinberger and Stephanie Wagg have been competing at Blue Star Farms in Mount Albert and at Pause Awhile farms in Stouffville.
While some of the school horses have walked up to Blue Star in the past, this summer and fall has seen their first foray onto a trailer and all the ensuing excitement that a trip away entails. Eddie, Lil' Cheyenne, Benedict, Pete and Radley have all made the journey, gaining helpful mileage along the way.
The team has received added polish from Sarah Mark whose experience in the hunter ring has proved invaluable. Despite her busy schedule she has made time to give the riders a tune up lesson before the show and is always ready with a quick word of advice from the ringside.
The riders have been supported on the ground by their grooms, Erica Clayton, Kandice Coates, Geoff Bishop, Sam Enright, Nicole Makrimichalos and Sheryl Schweinberger and cheered on by parents and other students alike.
The team has placed at every show but, just as importantly, the three riders have done a stellar job of representing the philosophy of The Harrogate Hills Riding School. Despite nerves and jitters they have unfailingly ridden the horses with understanding and kindness realizing that their nerves are nothing compared to the apprehension of the horses. Everyone should be proud and inspired by the excellent horsemanship that they have demonstrated.
Stephanie Wagg on Lil' Cheyenne has qualified for the Tournament of Champions at Pause Awhile on December 4th and we invite everyone to come out and cheer her on.
Congratulations to everyone for a great season!
1. One pair of black Miller paddock insulated riding boots, ladies size 5 - good condition. Price $15.00 firm.
Call Cathy Miller at 905-898-8088
2. One pair of brown leather Miller paddock boots, size 3. Price $10.00 firm.
Call or e-mail Stephanie Wagg at 905-954-1094 or StephWagg@firstname.lastname@example.org.
3. One pair of black Mountain Horse winter riding boot, size 6. Price $15.00 firm.
Call or e-mail Stephanie Wagg as above
4. One pair of brown full chaps, make unknown. Childs small. Price $15.00 firm.
Call or e-mail Stephanie Wagg as above
5. One pair of used tall black leather field boots. Ladies 7-1/2.
Price $40.00 firm.
Call Rebecca Schweinberger at 905-473-9570.
6. One pair of Amazonas Super Comfort tall leather riding boots, ladies size
Call Janet Dalby at 905-862-0882
7. One pair of tall PVC riding boot. Childs size 4
Price $5.00 firm.
Call Rebecca Schweinberger at 905-473-9570
8. One pair of navy Royal Highness riding breeches. Childs size 12.
Price $25.00 firm.
Call Rebecca Schweinberger at 905-473-9570
WANTED: Show Jackets, Breeches and Show Shirts Call Sheryl Schweinberger 905-473-9570
One weekend in February there will be a clinic that you should attend if you are thinking of entering the show ring. You will learn how to braid and groom, what the judge is looking for and have the opportunity to tune up your skills on horseback.
Keep an eye open for the date to be announced.
Have you taken the time to check out the new stalls? One is already occupied by Radley, the other is awaiting completion when Russ has a few moments to spare! No doubt (no gout!) he'll do it!
It may look tidy, but there's more to a clean stall than the absence of manure. In fact, from a health standpoint, a few stray manure balls are inconsequential. Here are the three hallmarks of a clean stall:
A good final check of a cleaned stall is to lift a forkful of bedding from three or four random spots and notice how evenly it falls through or off the end of the tines.
Equus, Issue 336
You are NEVER too old to learn something new. This event was so successful last year that it will be repeated one Sunday this February.
It seems it was so successful that a new class is now running on Friday evenings
consisting entirely of mothers (why are there no fathers in this group?) who
are finding out what is really involved in getting a thousand pounds of horse
to bend to your will - and make it look easy! They appear to have been paying
attention while watching from the sidelines and are catching on fast. Watch
out kids - they may be competing against you soon!
The newest addition to the Harrogate barn is an eleven year old Percheron Thoroughbred
cross (the Thoroughbred part is well hidden!). His owner is studying to be a
vet and needed a good home for Tobias while she applies herself to her studies.
He has settled in well and many people are vying for the opportunity to ride
Be careful that he does not tread on you as his feet are HUGE!
(or is it still the "Hat of Fortune"?)
Every rider at every Harrogate Hills Horse Show has the chance to win one of the following:
Ask your instructor if you would qualify for a Practice Ride. This gives you the opportunity to review the techniques taught in your lessons (in your own time, at your own speed). The cost for this is $25.00 for an hour.
During this show season, three Harrogate Hills riders - Sam Pedersen, Steph Wagg and Rebecca Schweinberger - mounted on Golden Deniro, Limited Edition, Scout and Benedict went to Blue Star on two occasions. Here Sam and Golden Deniro (aka Pete) were recognized as Grand Champion on their first venture down there.
The team took their first "long haul" to Pause Awhile Equestrian Centre. This was also a successful trip for the team. Steph on Lil' Chey was awarded Reserve Grand Champion and qualified for an invitation to Pause Awhile's annual Tournament of Champions in December. Good luck Steph!
These five showing experiences have made us, as riders, realize that the mutual bond between horse and rider is a key aspect in having a successful show. When both horse and rider have trust and confidence in each other they are able to have an enjoyable and rewarding experience. This bond that we have been fortunate enough to develop is due to the belief and trust that was given to us by Pat and Sarah. We are more than thankful for the great opportunities provided to us. In the near future we look forward to learning more about showing itself as well as more about the importance of trust between horse and rider.
Once again, thank you Pat and Sarah for giving us this wonderful experience.
We would also like to thank Erica Clayton, Kandice Coates, Geoff Bishop, Sam Enright, Nicole Makrimichalos and Sheryl Schweinberger for being excellent grooms as well as Jim Young and Justin Hess for trailering us to Pause Awhile.
Sam, Steph and Rebecca
50/50 cotton/polyester 13 ounce
Matching draw cord in hood.
Set-in sleeves and front pouch pocket
Outer shell: 100% coated 210T
Nylon Taslan with water resistant finish
Reverses to 100% polyester 240 gm anti-pill fleece
100% bonded micro-poly
Full mesh lining and hidden embroidery pocket
Bottom bungee cord with cord keepers
Two way front zipper
Two needle detailing on shoulder yoke and front seam
Slightly tapered waist
Slightly scooped back
Comfortable, wind and water resistant
100% nylon shell
100% cotton kasha lining
Drawstring waist with elastic cuffs
Two slash pockets
Harrogate Hills logo and riders name
Click here* for the clothing order form. Print a copy of the form, and mail it to us with your cheque.