PUSLINCH TOWNSHIP — Over three days more than a hundred volunteers combed fields and forest searching for a missing horse named Noah.
But hope turned to heartbreak Tuesday afternoon when the horse’s body was spotted by a helicopter pilot in a swampy area in Puslinch. The 23-year-old dark bay thoroughbred is believed to have drowned, said his owner Linda Hale.
“I’m pretty heartbroken,” she said.
Hale, a seasoned rider who owns a teaching and boarding facility east of Guelph, had come out to Puslinch Sunday to participate in the Wellington-Waterloo Hunter Pace — a bi-annual event where participants head out on a set course and are timed.
“It was just a trail ride sort of thing,” said Hale, adding that Noah has participated in the event for six years.
But the enjoyable ride through the agricultural township took an unexpected turn at 11 a.m. Hale and Noah were travelling along a gravel path east of Puslinch Lake, near Sideroad 10 South and Concession 2, when a donkey nearby started braying.
Noah got spooked and jumped over a wire fence into a field and took off. Hale, who fell off during the leap, was left bruised but not seriously injured.
“It’s more my emotions that are wrecked than my body,” she said while the search was ongoing. “He’s not spooky and I’ve never come off him before.”
The exhaustive three-day search for the horse brought hundreds together. A Facebook group garnered more than 950 members by Tuesday as people searched by foot, on horseback, and using drones and tracking dogs.
Posters with Noah’s picture were handed out by volunteers, and a psychic, referred to as an animal communicator, was even consulted.
Two friends who have horses of their own, Ann Morgan and Teresa Finnerty from Hockley Valley, travelled to Puslinch to help out even though they didn’t know Hale.
“(I was) in my barn this morning, all I could think of was this poor woman who’s looking for her horse and what could we do,” said Morgan, early Tuesday. “The horse community, although we’re spread out, it’s a pretty small community.”
Kyle Ecclestone, who owns Ecclestone Horse Transport out of Newmarket, hired a helicopter company from Cambridge to aid in the search. It took off Tuesday around 3 p.m. but the horse was found dead shortly after.
Hale had purchased Noah ten years ago for her daughter, Tess Daunt. He had been bred to race but likely never did, Daunt said during the search.
“He competed in hunters and jumpers his whole life,” she added. He was described as a homebody who loved to be around familiar people and although he was getting older, he never looked or acted his age.
This past summer the North American Junior Young Rider Championships were held at the Colorado Horse Park in Parker, Co and I was fortunate enough to be selected to represent Ontario and Canada in the Eventing 1* division. Having competed at NAJYRC in Kentucky in 2015, I knew what a challenging and rewarding experience this would be. A goal that I had been training for had come to fruition and it was exciting to be part of such an incredibly talented Ontario team. My horse Sophie was excited at first until she learned she had a 2 day, 2000 km trailer ride to get there, but I promised her she’d get to run around a really fun x-co track and she was back on board with my plan. I left out the part that she’d be competing at 5900 ft elevation and figured I’d break the news to her once she was on the trailer and half way across Iowa.
Princess Sophia and I have been together for 4 1/2 years. I bought her from Karl Slezak and picked her up on New Years Eve. It was an awesome way to ring in the new year and set goals for the future. With Karl’s guidance and coaching Sophie and I moved up the ranks from entry to the preliminary level. In the first few weeks I had Sophie I quickly learned that she was a fiery little mare with lots of sass and I was excited for the challenges and adventures that the future held for both of us. In the early stages of our partnership, I got a good taste of her lively personality… and the dirt. Things really came together for us in the 2013 season and we were the 2013 Ontario Pre-Training division champions. Since then we have gone on to accomplish being the 2014 Ontario Training Champion and was top placed Ontario Young Rider at NAJYRC in Kentucky in 2015. As a young aspiring event rider, I was often asked the question of why I didn’t buy something with more experience that could show me the ropes of upper level eventing? I would tell them that the opportunity of being part of a horses journey of progressing through the levels and turning into a true competitor, and knowing that you did it all yourself is a feeling I wouldn’t trade for a four star horse. Still to this day I would not change my answer, as the lessons that my little mare has taught me and the people I’ve met along the way are priceless.
In preparation for NAJYRC 2016 in Colorado, I headed south at the beginning of December 2015 to Ocala, Florida to continue my training and working student program with Jon Holling. I worked and trained with Jon in the winter/spring of 2015 and although there was a steep learning curve, I looked forward to being immersed in the environment that only a top level competition program can provide. Location at my home base in Belle River, is one of my biggest challenges as coaching and shows are very far away. I knew that taking time off from school to head south to train was a must if I wanted to accomplish the goals I had for NAJYRC 2016. Sophie and I had a great winter season competing in the CC1* at the Ocala Horse Properties with our personal best score of 45 penalty points in dressage and a clear showjumping round. It seemed as though a winter of working and training hard was paying off. When I got home I stationed myself at Holly Jacks Equestrian to train until I was named to the Ontario 1* team and excitably, alongside an incredibly talented team with some good friends, I was off to compete again at NAJYRC.
Young Riders is always an experience like no other. It’s a competition that tests your ability to deal with the pressures of being on a team, the focus required to compete your best and the courage to put it all on the line. I couldn’t have been happier with Sophie in the dressage phase as she was more relaxed and obedient then ever. We did not score as well as I had hoped, but our score was still competitive enough to help put the Ontario 1* team in gold medal position at the end of day two. Next was cross-country day. Sophie tore around a difficult one star championship track, doing what she loves best to finish double clear, adding no penalty points to her dressage score. Showjumping lead to an unfortunate two rails down for Sophie and I, however the rest of the round she jumped her socks off for me. The team finished just a fraction of a point out of bronze medal position to finish fourth in the team divisions.
The relationship you have with your team truly is a unique experience. The pressure comes from not wanting to let your teammates down with a bad score and still wanting to preform at your personal best. At the end of the day, whether somebody had a good day or a bad day, you know your team was there to support you. When I watched my teammates compete I would be just as nervous for them then I was for myself!
Overall the North American Young Riders Championships is, as always, the highlight of the summer for many future top event riders and an experience to remember.
Was a great day as my photographer and I stopped by 3 different horse shows on Sunday June 26th, 2016. First up was a new venue called Leg Up Equestrian Enterprises. We are proud to have them as a sponsor of this website as well as the opportunity to build them a new simple site to manage their business online. Check out http://legupenterprise.com(more…)
I’m so excited to be able to attend this year’s Royal Agricultural Winter Fair as a media sponsor! 😀
I will be tweeting and posting live videos on Periscope so make sure you are subscribed to these links and you will be notified each time I post a pic or interviews with Olympic Equestrians! If you are also going to be at the Royal please add your links to your social media or blogs in the comments below so I can follow you too!
I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to attend not just one but three events at the Pam Am Games this past summer. Having secured a number of tickets, we set off down the 401 for our events. The weather was ridiculously hot for all three events but that didn’t hamper our spirits. Each day we attended the games we were greeted by the most enthusiastic and helpful staff. From the parking attendants to the ticket gate people to the folks who guided us to our seats all staff was professional, polite and knowledgeable and seemed genuinely happy to be there.
The first event we saw was the dressage team competition. The caliber of horses competing were top notch, with Canada putting out some very respectable rides and scores. Alas, we were knocked off the top spot on the podium by the USA who also must be commended for great rides!
Aside from the actual competition, we did notice a few overlooked details with the exhibition grounds, perhaps you may have noticed this too. The food was such a long way from the main ring and when you did finally make it to the food area, the selection was dismal. We did manage to feed ourselves however the line ups were so incredibly long, we were late making our way back to the competition ring and missed several riders. We had also hoped that this would be a little shopping excursion and were disappointed to see only a handful of vendors at the event. I did manage to secure a couple of Pachi stuffed animals for my kids, as I was sent with strict instructions that I must return home with them.
The last two events we had tickets to see were the team show jumping and the individual show jumping. What can I say about the team competition but WOW!! What an exhilarating competition! Brazil and the United States were in top form and meant business, but it was Team Canada who came out on top clinching the gold medal! I had goose bumps listening to the Canadian anthem being played while our team members stood on the podium, medals and stuffed mascots in hand. The victory round was just as exhilarating as my heart burst with pride watching our team soaks up the glory.
All in all, the events were well run and organized. The Caledon Equestrian Park outdid themselves. The facility is world class, right down to the state of the art footing in the main ring and the massive indoor arena that was recently erected. It was an opportunity of a lifetime to attend such an event and it’s a memory that I will cherish for years to come.
What did you think of the games? I’d love to hear your feedback as well. What events did you see and what were your overall thoughts on the games?
Before I begin this piece let me first apologize for its immense lateness. It just so happens that the day after I agreed to write this my teachers thought it would be fun to play a game called “let’s see who can assign the most homework!” while my body was like “I see you there, having a crazy hectic life. Do you know what I should do? Get sick”.
Anyways, now that I have been released from the jaws of death, finished my shifts at work, and caught up on homework (senior year sucks) I thought I should sit down and write this out. So, without any further ado, here is my take on the Siobhan O’Connor clinic at Sprucehaven Farm, which happened on September 20, 2015 (Yeah, I’m super late).
I thought I should begin by introducing my horse and myself. Hi, I’m Kaitlyn Carter (Sadly, no relation to Michelle). I’m a 17 year-old girl in my last year at Saunders! (more…)
It has been a very long time since I last blogged! We can blame school for that- getting in the way of my horsey life. 😉
Okay, so the ride-a-test clinic was April 27th and it was very good learning experience. For those of you who haven’t heard of a ride-a-test clinic, this is how it works. You warm up just like you would at a show for your dressage test. Then you ride your test, John judges it as he would at a show and then he works with you on things you could improve on in the test, then finally you ride it again and he re-judges it. It’s a fabulous learning experience.
I rode Murphy in this clinic and he was great. The first test was okay. When John asked me what I thought of my first test we agreed on everything. Murphy definitely needed to be more forward (and for anyone who knows Murphy, this is not a new comment for us), my circles needed a little bit of fine tuning, and I had a change in direction where you go straight across from E-B that John would have liked to see more bend. It was a very intense 20-30 minutes of riding after my first test, and it was very forward. Murphy wasn’t quite sure what was going on honestly. I think if he could talk he would have said “What the heck? This is a new way of riding me!” We were both pretty tired by the end of it. It was more forward, more forward, 10m circle, change of direction, canter, circle, more canter, more canter, trot, more trot, more trot, 10m circle, change direction, and so on. It was go, go, go like it always is with John. When I rode the test the second time it was much more forward. I did get better marks on the second test but at the end of it John said I could still go for even more. Where we are at right now, the way I rode the second test is probably about as forward as we can go due to strength, but once we get comfortable with the more forward pace and get stronger I know we can go for more. I’m glad that I know what I have to work on now for my dressage tests for pretty much the whole season. I’m very glad I did this clinic with John as I learned so much. Looking forward to show season now! First show at Twisted Pine this weekend! 🙂
Oh my! It’s been quite the winter hasn’t it!? With all this terrible weather it has made it difficult to make it out to the barn for many. I know for me, I board at Sprucehaven and from where I live it is normally a 35 minute drive. In this terrible weather we have been experiencing it has been hard to get out and one time it took us more than an hour to get there! Also, these cold temperatures. -40!? What!? I may only be 17, but in my 17 years I have never experienced a winter this cold or snowy. I must say I have enjoyed all the days off of school with this winter, but I haven’t enjoyed the lack of riding time.
How do you keep motivated for the winter? I know for me, I love goal setting. The past few months I wasn’t able to get out to the barn much because of school or the weather but I have finally set some more goals with my new semester starting at school. For example, I want my dressage to be more consistent with Murphy. I also want to increase my core strength and improve my sit trot. Also, I would like to improve my course riding. Sometimes I tend to “fall asleep” or go on “auto pilot” when I go around a course, and then things don’t go well. I really need to work on staying awake and riding my whole course start to finish. I have many other goals, but I try to set attainable goals and I focus on the ones I believe are most important to me right now.
One great thing about the winter is there isn’t much pressure. I have had quite a few bareback rides this winter. Another way to escape the winter blues is to do something fun! I love riding bareback! It’s easy for the horse and somewhat easy for me. I even jumped Murphy and Callee bareback just for fun! It doesn’t all have to be serious work, take a fun break! Also, something we did at Sprucehaven was Sunday Funday. Danielle was very generous and set up some groups and did group lessons for free. We didn’t do super hard stuff, we just had some fun! It was a great idea and I can’t wait for our next Sunday Funday! There are endless possibilities in the winter. Another thing I want to do is just one day when no one is riding I just want to take my horses into the arena and play. Horses are like big dogs, they like to play too! It’s also great bonding time. And finally, I also want to free jump my horses. It’s really good for them to jump a grid on their own without the interference of a rider on their back, that way they can figure it out for themselves and we can see how they move in the hopes of learning how to ride them better.
The winter sucks sometimes, but really, you just have to keep it fun! I know even in the cold, I still look forward to riding and seeing my horses and I try not to let the winter get me down. So set some goals, have some fun, silly days do whatever you want, because you don’t have to be serious all the time, winter, summer, fall, doesn’t matter! But it is especially important to keep it fun in the winter for the benefit of both you and your horse.
I am not one of the lucky ones who gets to go down south for a month every winter, much like many of us, so lets make our own fun!