christine graceyBy Christine Gracey

I have had many discussions with my kids, especially my seventeen year old daughter Morgan, about succumbing to peer pressure and doing something that you just aren’t comfortable with. Yet here I am, heading toward a never-before-thought-of goal of entering a Horse Trial. And it is all because of peer pressure.

While I have been one of those horse crazy girls for most of my 52 years, it has never been about the competitions and the shows. I have been happy to be hacking out and wandering along the trails; for the last eight years I have fallen hard for sport of Foxhunting. Let me stress the non-competitive nature of these aspects of horsiness!

Morgan has been the one entering the competitions with her homebred Appaloosa gelding named Arrived with Pride. They have grown up together, learning about Eventing and showing at various Horse Trials in Southern Ontario. They now compete at the Pre-Training level together. I am a great horse show Mom. This includes packing the trailer, transporting the horse, acting as groom, providing food, walking courses, photography and videography of dressage tests and show jumping courses, cheering XC, and anxiously awaiting test results while my daughter cools down her horse.

One of the closest Events to us has always been Equus 3D Horse Trials. They are one road to the west of us, and have been very accessible for XC schooling and schooling shows as well as sanctioned Horse Trials.  MH Lessard was also my children’s French teacher at the local Elementary School. It was a very sad and shocking day last September when we all heard the news about the tragic death of MH and her husband Steve in a car accident. Many of her good friends and so many generous people in the horse community immediately pitched in to help their two sons out, doing the chores and jobs associated with a large farm and a full barn of horses. With lots of work by volunteers, over the course of a couple of months good homes were found for all the animals, and the farm was tidied up for the winter, a huge tack sale was held, the farm was leased, and those helping out decided to hold a Memorial Horse Trials in MH’s name at the farm this July 4th. And that is where my problems started.

Morgan’s riding coach, Holly Jacks-Smither, received a call from the mother of another young rider, a friend of MH’s, who wanted to have some lessons with the goal of competing at the Memorial Horse Trial. However, she didn’t want to lesson with her daughter, but with other adults who were at a similar riding level as her. So Holly gave me a call, and asked if I would be willing to have some lessons, keep her company and do some XC schooling with her…. and by the way, maybe I should enter the Horse Trial as well! Well, I could certainly benefit from a few lessons, that was not a problem. However, I said that I would only do the Horse Trials if Morgan lent me her horse; totally thinking that it was a safe bet that she would not lend out her perfect pony! A few quick text messages between Holly and Morgan, and I had a horse to ride and a commitment to enter the Event.

Holly then posted our commitment on Facebook to seal the deal. But a funny thing happened. The mothers of two other students have signed on for lessons and the goal of competing in that event as well. Holly’s husband Bruce, who trains racehorses has also made the commitment, and one of our local vets, parent to two more of Holly’s students, is in as well. So we will see how our lessons go this spring with most of us on borrowed horses, trying to memorize the Pre-Entry dressage test, ride a show jumping course (something I haven’t done in 30+ years) and trying to stay astride our horses as we rocket around a cross country course.  We will do this to honour the memory of a great local horsewoman in a way she would have understood and applauded.

Let the lessons begin…

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