Friday, June 17, 2016

July - Shows, Clinic, & Camp - Check here to get a Coupon Code for 40% off!!

Wow June is whizzing by! So much happening at PHH and we are very thankful to all of the amazing people that make this farm possible. Shout out to Carolyn and Annette for all of their administration work, Danica & Caileigh for their coaching, Jill, Abby, Emily, & Franny for all their helper work, and to our guest clinicians of David Cowley, Esther Johnston, and soon to be Tik Maynard and Todd Owens!

Since our June update we've had a few new things sprout up at PHH. The tack rooms were completed in the indoor arena, along with footing and lights. We hope to have the railing for the indoor arena up this weekend! The paddock fencing is nearly complete and the 'fatties' and 'skinnies' should be separated soon.

Our obstacle rings have sprouted some new fun - 3 new bridges arrived and are up as well as a suspension bridge that is in the works. We also built a rock maze and some rock bridges. Indoors we built a cowboy curtain. Last night a few new toys arrived - a fog machine, bubble machine and an air dancer!

Here's a look at the fun we have ahead:

  • Tonight Todd Owens is coming for a liberty workshop
  • Sunday June 19th Tik Maynard is here for a workshop

Monday, May 16, 2016

June News & Upcoming Events

Apologies for not writing a post in a long time :( 
I am going to take a different approach to the blog, give you news updates and upcoming events - let me know what you think. 

Wow a lot has happened so far this month!
  • The new luxury lockers are built with the other lockers having been moved into the arena so the aisle is now clear with two more stalls opened up, and a new set of cross ties added.
  • Dust control was conditioned into the indoor arena so now we have dust free footing (however please continue to toss any rocks you find off to the side of the arena)
  • New feed charts and daily feeding tracking system started in the barn
  • The horses were released onto their paddock paradise system (please arrive earlier for lessons in case you need to walk to the back)
  • Ozzy arrived as a new lesson horse for PHH – he excels for extreme cowboy and is new to jumping
  • Lindsey is a new distributor for ThinLine – please look at their website if you are interested in any products, assume Lindsey can get about 20% off most products
  • New Show Team Service offered – you can be part of the Jumping or Obstacle Show team learn more at
  • Lindsey started a new website with Tik Maynard (USA) and Organised Equestrian (England) called Horsemanship Nation. This website follows top horsemen and posts news, inspirational videos, blogs, etc from around the world at check it out

We have a lot coming up:

  • The Natural Horsemanship Trade Show is May 28-29 featuring David Cowley from Alberta teaching Two Way Trust. There are also two spaces left in the jumping lesson with Esther on Sunday the 29th, cost $50 if you want to participate (jumps will be low and adjusted to your need) with the focus on establishing a correct position. More details on the trade show at
  • Our first hunter/jumper/games show is Sunday June 5th – remember to get your entries one week before to avoid a $30 late fee (which means get them in before May 29th) in more details at
  • Saturday June 11th is the 2nd of the Harmony Horsemanship Clinic Series with Lindsey and Esther. Cost is $150 to ride or $50 to watch. This one focuses on building conversations with your horse. Learn more at
  • Sunday June 12th is the first NHA Horse Agility and Obstacle Show! Get your entries in 1 week early to avoid the late fee (which means get them in by June 5th), more details at
  • Friday June 17th from 6-9pm come learn from Parelli Professional Todd Owens about building a better connection for liberty play - $90, learn more at
  • Sunday June 19th we have world class Eventer and Horsemanship expert Tik Maynard coming from Florida to provide lessons on a variety of topics ranging from liberty skills, collection/flat work, to jumping. Cost $100 for a 75 min group session limited to a max of 5 people. Learn more at

Monday, December 7, 2015

Winning the Thoroughbred Makeover 2015 at Kentucky Horse Park – the inside scoop

As you probably already know, I just competed at the 2015 Thoroughbred Makeover at Kentucky Horse Park with my two former race horses Lion of Wallstreet (Cupid) and Soar (Kahleesi) – and we won!

I wanted to give you an inside scoop to this incredible journey and what it’s like owning America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred from the horse’s mouth.

When I bought Kahleesi in February of this year, I was excited about the competition but wanted a back up horse for the competition just in case so I bought Cupid. I spent the rest of  February, March, and April putting foundation skills on both horses – making sure they knew their A, B, C’s – or in horse language that’s things like go, stop, yield right/left, move your hip over, move your shoulders, and go sideways.

In May, June, and July I took them to many clinics, workshops and shows to grow their confidence and dabbled in different disciplines to see where they exceled. I tried showing Kahleesi hunters and jumpers, but in August decided to commit to obstacles so I competed both horses in obstacle shows and extreme cowboy races for the rest of the season.

Even though I am a trainer, certified centered riding coach, Level 3 Parelli student, Gold certified NHA trainer/coach, Equine Canada rider level 8, etc with years of experience coaching & training, I still think one of the most important things for any coach or trainer is to value lifelong learning with horses and look for more knowledge. That’s why I took lessons/clinics with natural horsemanship trainers Todd & Maureen Owens, Don & Randee Halladay, Kathy & John Baar, and David Cowley to spruce up my horsemanship skills. I took lessons with Susan Caldwell to learn extreme cowboy racing, and with Esther Johnson, Margreet Boumeester, and Sam Morrison to improve my riding position.

Originally I thought I would be competing in jumping because that’s what I typically show in – however, Cupid isn’t super athletic over jumps but proved to be great at obstacles so I decided to go Western and learn Competitive Trail. Kahleesi could do anything, but it was easier to train her for obstacles at the same time so I could take both horses to the same shows and workshops. 
Although Competitive Trail is a sport you can do English or Western, the easiest place for me to practice in Ontario was in Extreme Cowboy racing because of the creativity and difficulty of the obstacles – and that’s a western sport. This meant that I pulled out some western gear from my former days when I used to do western speed events, trail, and western pleasure as a teenager with my first horse Generals Mission.

Because I work a full time job as a Public Health Nurse, I was only spending about 2-3 hrs a week training each of my horses (except show/workshop days), but once September hit I thought ‘oh shoot its nearly here’ and started to work with my horses 5-6hrs a week.

The Crisis
September 13th Kahleesi ended up with an abscess. I spent the next few weeks working closely with my farrier and vet to help get her sound. She would go super lame to slightly ouchy and if was incredibly stressful.

The abscess went through a pre-existing crack in her hoof. I had been keeping my horses barefoot and using Cavallo boots on rough terrain to keep them sound and happy. This had worked wonderfully until then. October 17th Kevin Alcock saved the day and put Acryllic shoes on Kahleesi to help her bruised heels and fragile hoof. I still swear by Cavallo boots and I love to keep my horses barefoot – but I recognize that there are situations when a horse can be helped from a shoe.
I then had 5 days to practice with her after weeks off in which I had lessons with Todd Owens and David Cowley to get her back into her groove. You can imagine was pretty stressed, I didn’t sleep much, and was pretty anxious to ride.

The Trip
I was super fortunate to have so many fantastic people from our Partridge Horse Hill family to jump on board and volunteer to come and help me at the show. Esther Johnson helped organize the crew of Yvonne, Kim, Danica, Franny, James, Laurie, and Raine for our complex obstacle routine set ups in my freestyle – I really could not do it without them… and I suppose they are now America’s Most Wanted ring crew J

Despite leaving at 4:30am, we didn’t arrive at the horse park until about 9:30pm and after getting the horses settled didn’t get back to the hotel until about midnight…. Where I found a message on my Facebook telling me that my first ride for trail would actually be at 9am and not the posted 11am.
So that night I didn’t sleep much and was back to the horses early in the morning to prep them for my ride.

Friday - Competitive Trail
First up was Kahleesi – she completely rocked all the obstacles. The only one we didn’t do super awesome was the tarp with pumpkins because I didn’t steer too well so she knocked one over. Cupid went 2nd and I was a pro at the course so he did everything pretty much perfect.

I was super proud of my horses and what an honour it was to ride through the Rolex derby waters. I was extremely psyched to hear Cupid placed 1st and Kahleesi placed 2nd in Trail – wow! All that hard work and preparation over summer really paid off.

Saturday – Freestyle
That morning Danica and I went for a trail ride around the Horse Park to give the horses some morning exercise. What a fantastic experience riding from ring to ring, watching all the action, watching some eventing while horseback, and browsing the grounds.

Then it was time to ride freestyle. Cupid was up first and he had the most complex course set up. My crew was awesome and got everything up. Cupid did fantastic – a little bit of pulling because he was nervous and our canter got a bit rusty in the corners but other than that I was so impressed with my flashy fellow. I was later surprised to see the awesome video Retired RaceHorse Project shared that at this time has 30,000 views!

Kahleesi rode her freestyle but things didn’t quite go according to plan, the song started before I was ready so I had to sort of make up the first part of my routine and there wasn’t much time to do anything too cool with no bridle.

Either way, it was still awesome fun and Cupid was 10th place in a large group, and Kahleesi was 2nd place (in a 3 way tie).

Sunday – finals
I was pretty nervous and excited to ride on Sunday. I frantically put together a new routine for freestyle wanting to show some different skills then I did on Saturday because the judges would be the same.

First I rode Kahleesi in the Obstacle Challenge which she totally aced, next was Cupid – I knew he wouldn’t be as amazing because we wasn’t feeling 100% relaxed. He wasn’t as precise as Kahleesi and had a spook at the tent so he dropped to 2nd place and Kahleesi went into 1st – this proved to be a super important thing. Placing 1st in trail meant that Kahleesi was eligible to be America’s Most Wanted Thorougbred.

For my freestyle, I rode a lot of obstacles and wanted to show off a lot of Kahleesi’s skills – we did really well despite the wrong song being played lol, to be honest I didn’t even notice until the end – so I ran out of time for my bridleless riding, so I went to plan B and did a little of it after the song finished.

Kahleesi finished 3rd in freestyle and I was super proud – the other competitiors were really fantastic too.

Then we went into the ring to make our case to be America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred – for my piece I don’t remember what exactly I said…. But something along the lines of Kahleesi being an easy, calm, quiet Thoroughbred with the ability to do any discipline – which is exactly what she is.
When it came time for them to announce the winners and they named Soar America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred I was completely overwhelmed. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I don’t cry very easily, but the tears started rolling. What a dream come true.

For the rest of the night I was on cloud nine – heck I am still on cloud nine! I am super thrilled about the success of my horses and hope that their performances help both promoting the awesome Thoroughbred breed and natural horsemanship.

Thank you to everyone for your support!! 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

OMG Kentucky is this week! - See what I did to get ready

Oh my gosh I go to Kentucky on Thursday! I can’t believe it’s here. I am so excited and yet so nervous – will all my preparation be enough? Are my horses ready? What will it be like when we get down there?

The journey to Kentucky has been a long one with a lot of preparation, training and offsite experiences to help set my two horses up for success.
Here's a look at my journey leading up to Kentucky –

  • February 1st – bought Kahleesi (Soar) and drove home through a snow storm
  • February 8th – bought Cupid (Lion of Wallstreet) and drove home from Ohio through a snow storm
  • March 2nd – both horses had their teeth done and were dewormed
  • March 18th – Cupid started antibiotics because of an injury to his leg
  • April 18th – Cupid & Kahleesi’s first offsite experience at the Natural Horsemanship Trade Show 2015. Cupid did a ground work demo with Lindsey, and Kahleesi was used by Tom Shields in a ground work demo. Cupid was pretty nervous an upset, couldn't stand still and it took the entire demo to get him to relax.
  • April 29th – Cupid started a new treatment to get rid of his mud fever and other sores on his legs
  • May 9th – Cupid and Kahleesi took part in a clinic with Cindy from Brookston Horse Park at Partridge Horse Hill, our first glimpse at showing in Mountain Trail.
  • May 17-18th – Cupid and Kahleesi went to the Horseman’s Word Ranch for Don Halladay’s Cowboy dressage clinic. Kahleesi was just starting to do canter under saddle and was still struggling with her right canter leads at this clinic. Cupid was new to canter under saddle too and was struggling picking up canter. Kahleesi found the sound speaker very scary.
  • May 24th – Kahleesi’s first show at Oak Ridges Equestrian Centre where she competed in hunter cross rails and still struggled with her right canter leads, but did get it a few times, she placed well.
  • May 30th – Kahleesi and Cupid did their first obstacle show at the Natural Horsemanship Association’s Horse Agility & Obstacle Show. This was their first time doing liberty and it actually worked out pretty well but I left the halters on just in case. My horses were the only ones to do the most advanced classes and I was proud of them for completed the obstacles. 
  • June – started regular lessons with Centered Riding Coach Esther Johnson to get the horses ready for Kentucky and get me looking the part too.
  • June 14th – Kahleesi’s first Jumper show at the Pickering Horse Centre riding in 0.6m. We ended up trotting the courses with little bits of canter because she was nervous. We had clear rides except time faults so I was proud. 
  • June 24th – went to an obstacle play night at the Bonehill’s and exposed both Cupid and Kahleesi to more obstacles. I started to think I might want to show trail instead of jumping because of my horse’s natural talents. 
  • June 27th/28th – Took Kahleesi and Cupid to the Parelli 7 Games in the Saddle with Parelli Professional Todd Owens. Both horses made great progress and Kahleesi started to get used to the speaker system.
  • July 11th – Natural Horsemanship Association Horse Agility & Obstacle Show where Kahleesi & Cupid competed in the hardest classes and still placed on top. I was super proud.
  • July 18th – Clinic in Mt. Albert with Susan Caldwell on Extreme Cowboy racing, my first taste of this extreme sport. Cupid & Kahleesi were super awesome and great at the obstacles.
  • August 1st- The only ACTHA Trail show I completed this year because they are only in the states. I did one in New York and had so much fun. This was the trip that made me decide that 100% for sure I am competing in Trail at the Makeover. Cupid and Kahleesi were awesome and placed very well, including our first blue ribbon 1st.
  • August 9th: Cupid and Kahleesi’s first Extreme Cowboy race. We discovered that Cupid is terrified of horses pulling carriages (that was happening in the ring beside us) and that Kahleesi has huge potential for this sport. Cupid was eliminated because I didn’t realize that during a ground tie you have 60 seconds to get back on your horse so we took too long. Kahleesi was great and got 4th though.
  • August 13-16: Parelli Super Camp at the Horseman’s Word Ranch with Kathy & John Baar, Maureen & Todd Owens, and Randee & Don Halladay – wow what a week of intense learning and progress for both Cupid & Kahleesi. It was a great relaxed atmosphere to work on finessing some skills.
  • August 22: Lessons from Margreet Boumeester from the Netherlands at Partridge Horse Hill to work on collection and relaxation. She also performed Cranial Sacral work on both horses.
  • August 29th – Natural Horsemanship Association Horse Agility & Obstacle Show at Partridge Horse Hill, the biggest show of the season and Kahleesi & Cupid still placed in the top ribbons of the hardest classes including liberty.They finished champion and reserve champion of the year and 1st overall in Liberty and Advanced Horse Agility. 
  • September 5th – Cupid provided an obstacle demonstration at the Partridge Horse Hill show.
  • September 6th – Cupid & Kahleesi competed at Marmora Extreme Cowboy Race. Cupid improved so much and did great with the obstacles but was still very slow and placed 11thwhile Kahleesi was doing great and placed 6th.
  • September 12th: Obstacle show at Glenuara where Cupid & Kahleesi placed in the top marks for liberty, riding, and online. We discovered Cupid doesn’t like ditches and that Kahleesi had an abscess brewing.
  • September 13th – Cupid competes in the Uxbridge Fall Fair in the Obstacle challenge and gets a very respectable 5th place finish against some awesome horses and riders. Kahleesi stayed at home with her abscess.
  • September 19th – Obstacle Challenge at Turkey Run Ranch where Cupid was super steller and placed 5th out of a large group with challenging obstacles. Here he really showed the progress he has made as he went through the baby pools, puddle, jumps and bridges with confidence. Kahleesi stayed home with her abscess.
  • Week of Sept 19th - I worked closely with the vet & farrier to get Kahleesi's abscess to get the heck out of there.
  • September 26th – Extreme Cowboy Race at the Ancaster Fair, Cupid improved and placed 10th! Kahleesi came for the trailer ride and played on the obstacles after the show because she was mildly ouchy still from the abscess.
  • October 4th – Cupid competed at Markham Fair and placed 15th – he was super awesome with the obstacles, just really slow and not with the western head carriage. I am still very proud of him. Kahleesi came for the trailer ride but was still a bit ouchy from the abscess.
  • October 8th – Kahleesi had an obstacle lesson with David Cowley and was finally starting to look 100%, but then she decided to stay a little ouchy so she could skip the Norwood Provincial Extreme Cowboy finals - although its super awesome she qualified.
  • October 13th – Kevin Alcock came out to get rid of Kahleesi’s abscess for good and she went on stall rest for 3 days to make sure the infection was killed and gone. She was not a happy camper.
  • October 16th – Obstacle clinic with David Cowley aboard Cupid while Kahleesi stayed on stall rest.
  • October 17th – Kevin Alcock put acrylic shoes on Kahleesi to keep her hoof safe for the trip to Kentucky
  • October 18th – Kahleesi is finally back to normal and we had 2 hrs of lessons with Todd Owens and practicing for Kentucky
  • October 19th – I did some shopping for Kentucky and got some jeans, boots, etc to be all snazzy. 
  • October 20th - my last full day at work before Kentucky... tomorrow I leave early so I can pack and prepare.... my mind is racing with all the things I want to remember. 
What the future holds - 
  • October 22nd- we leave at 4am and then we’ll see you in Kentucky!!
  • October 23rd – all my training gets tested on the Trail course
  • October 24th – we get to see if my freestyle routines are as amazing as I think they are – make sure you watch to see what cool obstacles we’re bringing!!
  • October 25th- The final ceremony
  • October 26th – We drive home from Kentucky
  • October 27th – I turn 30! Then I can take a deep breath and realize that this has been one hell of a year and I left my twenties with a bang.

So as you can see there were a lot of activities that I planned into the progress of my horses – there were also numerous training sessions, riding my horses as demos in lessons I was teaching, or weekend trail rides. I also had to change my schedule because originally I had a lot of hunter/jumper shows planned but then switched gears and made it all about the obstacles.

I was committed to the task and the goal, driven to succeed, but put my horse’s success and happiness first – I let them choose their journey, and let them show me what they excel at.

For anyone that wants to do something like this in future, here are my tips:

  • Know yourself (what are your strengths, and what are you capable of – emotionally, physically, financially, and what is your skill level)
  • Set a goal
  • Make a plan
  • Write it down and follow it
  • Get your horses healthy first – their minds and their bodies
  • Be ready for plan B (you might have to create plan B with short notice, so be solution focused)
  • Get support from people you trust
  • Seek out opportunities that will be supportive
  • Take criticism and feedback, and use it to make positive change
  • Ask for help
  • Try hard – make it a priority
  • Use shows as training opportunities and don’t feel the pressure to win. Make it about setting the horse up better for tomorrow. If you win in the process, then awesome.
  • Let go of any fears of what others think or how you will do.
  • Give it your best shot – winning isn’t the end game… its just the icing on the cake… but the most delicious part is the journey to get there, knowing you gave it all you’ve got, and that you truly have improved and created a special relationship with your horse. 
Please remember to vote Lindsey Partridge for the Trainer Award  at 
It's easy - click the link, click my name, and click vote - its that quick

Remember you can watch Cupid's Story at

Friday, September 25, 2015

Dreamer & Cupid - My Super Boys!

Last weekend I went to my first Obstacle Challenge at Turkey Run Ranch – what a blast!

We strolled in a bit late at 10:30am which only left us 30 minutes to get saddled up and practice the obstacles. The warm up actually started at 9am but because it was raining and a 3hr drive we were a little sluggish getting there.

Cupid and Dreamer came for the show – Kahleesi is still taking time off hoping she’ll be sound for Kentucky after getting a mysterious hoof bruise while out in the paddock.

I was so incredibly proud of my horses as they approached all of the unique obstacles.

Obstacles included:
  • ·         Kiddie pool with water and floating wood
  • ·         Raised bridges
  • ·         Sand filled tires
  • ·         Piles of pine cones
  • ·         Straw jumps
  • ·         Tarps and sand hills
  • ·         A sprinkler car wash
  • ·         Water crossing
  • ·         Narrow back through

There were really a lot of choices and I loved how they have the are set into 3 different parts. The sand ring was all Halloween/fall themed. One grass field area was set up Indian themed with a teepee and other decorations. The third area was set up as the cowboy field.

The only things my boys were weary of were the rope gate – because there was scary cornstalks on either end, yikes they might bite!

I planned out a good route to try and get as many of the 60 obstacles that I could. I rode first on Cupid and got a lot done. Cupid was so confident and really focused on the task. It was definitely his best show so far and I was such a proud mama.

Next up was Dreamer – I rode a very similar pattern with him and just had to change things a bit because he knocked down 2 of the jumps which makes it a ‘dead’ obstacle meaning you can’t do it again (otherwise you can do them twice). Dreamer did everything with confidence and speed making him a super star.

Results - Way to go Boys! 
At the end of the day we shared an amazing potluck and got to find out our scores. It was great to see the score sheets to see what exactly we did. There were 19 competitors and 10 of them (majority) scored between 67 – 106 points, with only the top 5 placings finishing above 106 points.

I was extremely thrilled when Cupid was announced as 5th place with 121 points – wow has this boy improved! 2nd, 3rd, and 4th went to very good rides finishing with 131-127 points which were extremely close scores!

Dreamer and I were flying like the wind and smoked up 148 points for first place. Crikey I knew he was a dreamer, but buddy you’re seriously an over achiever! Not too surprising that Dreamer had an admirer at the show wanting to buy him… but not to worry big guy, you aren’t going anywhere :)

I am super in love with Obstacle challenges and if you want to give it a go I super recommend Turkey Run Ranch – what a lovely set up and amazing people that are so kind and supportive… plus they know how to serve up one delicious potluck!

Tips from this show:
  • ·         Put the focus on your foundation. Get your horse to trust you and build his confidence in you. Then when you start to see new obstacles it doesn’t matter that they are new because your horse knows you can keep them safe and they can do what you ask.
  • ·         Get out there and try something new, take a chance and leave yourself open to find new passions, dreams, challenges, and fun.
  • ·         Really make sure you have a plan heading into the obstacle challenge and know where you are going .
  • ·         Ride the little obstacles on your way to the bigger point obstacles.
  • ·         Do the obstacles that you can complete quickly – just because you can move the cows from one pen to another (which is a hard obstacle that scores high at 5  points) doesn’t mean it’s the best use of your short 5 minutes in the ring.
  • ·         If you aren’t sure how to do something make sure you ask. One of the reasons I scored so high was because I clarified that one combination obstacle could actually be done 3 different ways and each was considered a different obstacle at 3 points– this meant 3 obstacles right beside each other could be done back to back for 18 points. Some other competitors only rode 1 or 2 variations of this obstacle and didn’t get the extra points.
  • ·         Put the focus on fun – I project a confident smile to my horses and they know we are there for a  good time. Then they were able to have fun too.

On Sunday we started rehearsing for my freestyle patterns for the Kentucky TB Makeover. Stay tuned for more updates in the coming weeks. Thank you so much for the team that is coming to support me and be ring crew!

Extreme Cowboy at Ancaster Fair tomorrow followed some more TB Makeover practice. See you at the fair!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

2 Competitions with an Unexpected Twist

This past weekend I went to two different horse shows. On Saturday September 12th I went to Glenaura Horse Farm for the Obstacle show, and Sunday I went to the Uxbridge Fall Fair Gambler's Choice Horse Show.

Obstacle Show
On Saturday morning it was pouring rain, dark, and cold when we headed out with the horses at 6am so we could arrive on time to Honeywood. By the time we got there the skies had cleared, the rain had stopped, but it was still pretty crisp in temperature.

We unloaded Cupid and Khaleesi and discovered Kahleesi was ouchy on her front right. Not horrible but not perfect. I walked her around a bit, assessed her legs/hooves, and determined it is either an abscess brewing or she stepped on a stone and bruised her foot. There was no heat in her leg, but seemed to be a little heat near her coronet band.

We tried wrapping her and putting hoof boots on and that helped. She was walking nicely and willingly but occasionally would take ouchy steps. I decided to keep Kahleesi walking because walking is good if it's an abscess, as well she seemed comfortable.

The competition started with an online obstacle class. I decided to keep Kahleesi in the class because it was going to be all walk and the exposure to new obstacles would be good for her. I competed in the Intermediate (they had two levels: Beginner & Intermediate).

The obstacles were fun and included:

  • Tarp
  • Barrels to circle around
  • Pool noodle car wash
  • Tunnel made out of a tarp
  • Pushing a ball off a tire
  • Pool noodle standards
  • A swivel obstacle where you had to get the horse to push a piece of wood (watch the video because I don't really know how to describe it)
  • Narrow bridge
  • Pedestal (giant one)
  • Caveletti jump (on a low height that you can walk over)
  • Kiddie pool with water and an inner tube around it
  • Teeter tauter
Cupid and Kahleesi were awesome. They did everything pretty easy except they had a good sniff at the pool. 

Kahleesi finished 1st and Cupid was 3rd out of a lot of people (they placed ribbons to 10th and there were more people than placings). 

After that we competed in Liberty, which was the same course but no rope. The horses were awesome and Kahleesi was 1st with Cupid 4th. There was a lot of impressive liberty work from the competitors. Kahleesi got top marks because I could send her through many obstacles from a distance. 

Next we had riding obstacles. This was walking (trot was optional, but with all the obstacles there wasn't room for a lot of trotting). This time Cupid came 1st and Kahleesi was 3rd. 

After that I decided to scratch Kahleesi from the Trail challenge because that would involve some jumps, trotting, and cantering. I didn't want to push her out of her comfort, and at the trot she was more ouchy. 

Cupid competed in the trail class which was outdoors and in a big back field. 
The obstacles included:
  • Logs to cross over
  • Flag that you had to move from one round bale to another
  • A squeeze to ride through (hay feeders lined up in parallel rows)
  • Brush jump with brush on the sides (similar to pool noodle standards but with brush)
  • Jump with a car wash over top
  • Brush jump with brush facing up towards the horse's belly
  • Pick up a water bucket and move it
  • A pole drage
  • Water crossing
  • Ditch
  • A tunnel made out of tarp for a floor, round bales for sides, and a tarp for a roof
  • A gate
  • Bank jump
  • Giant tires filled with sand to cross over
  • Gate
It was a lot of fun - Cupid wasn't super relaxed so we need to work on finding relaxation at the obstacles so he can stand still better at them. He thought the ditch was scary and took about 5-10 minutes to cross it the first time. I was just patient and insisted he look/try but wasn't forceful. Our gate wasn't super pretty either because he was a bit anxious to stand beside it calmly. 

He placed 4th in the trail class and then when it was all done I spent an hour with Cupid at the gate building his confidence to stand calmly at the gate. Eventually he relaxed and did the gate beautifully so I hopped off and loved on him. It was important to give him so much comfort in the right moment because it was such a big challenge. 

Watch our show:

Gamblers Choice on Sunday
On Sunday I went to the Uxbridge Fall Fair for the Gamblers Choice. It was a bit of a drizzly cold day but Kathy and Larry Bonehill did an awesome job setting such a fun obstacle course. 

Because Kahleesi was still looking ouchy, I made a last minute swap and brought Dreamer (one of our lesson horses) instead. This meant I had Dreamer, Cupid, and Thetis. I brought Thetis because last year I competed with her and didn't place, so I wanted to do better this year. Cupid and Kahleesi were entered because they needed more exposure to obstacles before Kentucky.... so I had 3 horses to show. 

My round one was on Thetis. I carefully planned my route and executed it pretty well except our first obstacle she didn't want to let me get off onto the mounting block, and I dropped the ball on an obstacle soon after that (literally). After that we found our groove and aced all of the obstacles we attempted. 

Cupid was ride two. He entered the ring calmly but then the Merry Go Round started going and he had a bit of a melt down. I had to change my plan and avoid that corner of the ring because it was too big of a distraction that he was actually starting to go catatonic. We continued to other parts of the ring and he did awesome, once we were out of that corner he aced all of the obstacles we attempted. 

Lastly I rode Dreamer, final horse of the day. By now I had a strategy worked out and I rode a pretty efficient pattern. Dreamer was super awesome and aced everything except one water box he jumped over instead of stepped through. 

I was super happy and very thrilled with our progress. 

I was even more delighted when Cupid was announced as 8th place, Thetis as 2nd place and Dreamer as 1st place. Dreamer did pretty awesome as a back up horse and I definitely did better than last year!

Some tips I learnt from the weekend:
  • Be ready to have a plan B, and C
  • When plan B and C don't work, take a deep breathe and focus on what you can do
  • Practice relaxation at the obstacles so your horse can approach with confidence
  • The show ring is a place to show what you excel at, not what you are working on. If you don't think you can do an obstacle, don't try it during gamblers choice - do that during warm up, or after the course, or try it at home
  • Make a plan and ride your plan
  • In gamblers choice think about riding the obstacles that are close together rather than wasting time going all over the ring. For example do the 1 point jump that is just slightly out of the way between two bigger point obstacles. 
Watch the gamblers choice:

I had a super amount of fun and can't wait to do it again!

Friday, September 11, 2015

PHH Horse Show, Extreme Cowboy Race & a Wedding, could it get any better?

Last weekend was pretty intense, but I suppose that's the norm for this summer! On Saturday we had our second Partridge Horse Hill show and we had a fantastic turnout. Thank you to everyone who came out and we hope to see you on Saturday October 3rd for our final one.

Our horse shows includes walk/trot classes for novice riders or horses, hunter over fences, jumper classes, obstacle classes, and speed events to round out the day. Every first place got a bag of homemade molasses cookies to go along with their ribbon - thank you the Canadian Horse Defense Coalition! Thank you Alexandra for judging!

Champion and Reserve champions had a selection of prizes to choose from include a snazzy silver Western show halter, a bridle bag (thank you Greenhawk!), free saddle fitting (thank you Canterbury Outpost Saddlery!), earrings, polos, fly masks, leather halter, and more.

Showing Tips:

  • Arrive early and take advantage of the fact that we let riders warm up in the show ring for the hour before the classes start
  • Practice being calm and precise while in the warm up ring
  • Focus on slow and right instead of fast and wrong
  • Smile, breathe, and have fun!
Extreme Cowboy Racing on Sunday

On Sunday I went to the Marmora Extreme Cowboy Race. It was Cupid & Kahleesi's 2nd race and it was way different than our first one at Campbellford fair. There were a lot more people, so in my Pro division we had 14 very good riders and horses. Maya also came with Nillina to ride in the Youth division, she was 3rd in her first cowboy race, and then 5th in the finals.

It was really nice to see all of the excellent riders showing off their skills. This judge really valued correct bend and flexion. He was marking in a way that rewarded precision more than speed. 

Cupid was up first and he was so much more relaxed this race than last time. In Campbellford he was so panicked by the horses pulling carts in the show ring beside us that he couldn't concentrate at all. This race he actually did a lot of things really well and managed 11th in the tough competition. We still need to work on some things and find more relaxation in the ring, but he is definitely coming along. 

Kahleesi was her usual super awesome self and did most things really well, but overall we still need to work on better bend and flexion. She managed to get 8th in the first round so we just barely made it to finals (they take the top 8 to do a 2nd course). We improved in our 2nd round except for a big spook at the tractor, and managed a 6th place. 

I was very happy with both my horse's progress. 

Tips for Extreme Cowboy that I picked up this past Sunday:
  • Practice riding with one hand
  • Practice with odd decorations such as a rope gate with scarecrows on either end
  • Practice stopping on bridges and picking up things (don't be in a hurry to get across)
  • Practice strange obstacles like putting your hooves into a kiddie pool filled with little balls, or a mattress wrapped in a tarp
  • Make sure your horse stands still while getting on after a ground tie for the best marks
  • Double check your tack before you ride - the hackamore or bit might not be allowed
  • Find a nice cowgirl/cowboy to show you how to rope!
Watch our video of our races!

After the show I got cleaned up and enjoyed my friend's wedding - congratulations Allison and Keith! It was an amazingly beautiful wedding. 

Monday was an exciting day because Esther Johnson and I figured out a routine for Kahleesi for when we show in Kentucky (We are also luckily sponsored by Equine Choice products and Cavallo hoof boots!). I am looking forward to Kentucky, it's going to be here before I know it!

Friday, September 4, 2015

NHA horse show finale weekend with Tips for success!

Last weekend was all about the Natural Horsemanship Association (NHA)- well except for Friday evening when I spent a couple hours with my centered riding coach Esther Johnson to start work on my freestyle routine for Kentucky. That was a lot of fun getting things figured out – we still have a lot of work to do, but we are putting together a nice routine for Kahleesi – Cupid you are next!

I was lucky to have a couple volunteers to help me set up for the NHA obstacle show – our gamblers choice had over 40 options so it was a lot to set up. We were blessed with good weather for the show and the best turnout for classes yet.

The horse agility classes seemed to be popular with 12 in the novice! The liberty classes still only had 3 entries, so perhaps this will condense to be just one class next year. Our judge, Shelley, gave some tips for scoring well in the class.

Tips for Scoring well in Horse Agility:
  • -        Find a way to get your horse motivated, even if that means using a treat as a reward after some obstacles so that your horse looks keen, interested, and has a little spring in their step.
  • -        Be careful to set your horse up nicely and straight to the obstacles so that they can complete them accurately.

We moved into the riding classes and there was a lot of fun to be had. We received a lot of great feedback about enjoying the Finesse, Speed, and Gamblers Choice classes because of the variety. 

Having prize money for the gamblers choice seemed to go over really well too - I guess everyone likes money? A lot of people stayed to enter the money class at the end of the day with 100% of the class entries going into prizes. We were happy with 14 people in that class, a good turnout for it's first time.

It was fascinating to watch the different ways everyone completed their gamblers choice, with more than 40 options there was a lot of variation to how you could do it. It was also interesting to see who dared master the big bridge for 15 points, and who was able to do the gamblers choice obstacle of the splash box worth 20 points.

The splash box is a box filled with water, with a floating piece of wood with holes in it. It looks solid to the horse but when they step on the floating wood, it sinks with water gushing up through the holes. You can imagine that a lot of horses find it intimidating at first.

The Unexpected Obstacle

What we didn’t expect, is that as everyone was splashing through the box, there was more and more mud created around the box which actually became more of an obstacle to some horses.

Being Impressed

I was super impressed with the riders and horses at the competition – I was also happy to have competition for the first time in the extreme division… the last two shows it had just been my horses and I, but this time there were 7 entries. It was great to see talented riders and horses competing at that level.

In particular a few things that impressed me –
  • -        Andrea and her ability to ride a gate in a few seconds. She made it look so easy and inspired me to practice the gate to master this skill better… I am still not as good as her at it, but now I can ride the gate with Kahleesi!
  • -        Dave with his horse that would walk on water if he ask or jump to the moon. He’s raised such a willing partner.
  • -        Cody with his young horse that he did just the right amount to progress his young horse without pushing him too hard.

Everyone really did a great job and I was super thrilled with everyone’s horsemanship and sportsmanship at the show.

From watching & riding gambler’s choice, here’s some tips I picked up:
  • -        Ride the high point obstacles first to make sure you get the big points
  • -        Only attempt the obstacles you are sure you can do pretty easily/quickly because the seconds count down fast
  • -        Have fun and smile! The horse can feel your tension, so if you smile and have fun your horse will do better.

All in all it was a great show day! 

We want to know what you like to see in the shows!

We are taking feedback for next year and would really appreciate you take the NHA Horse Show survey at 

– or email us any feedback (good or bad) you are willing to share to because want to do this again next year, and want to make it better for you.

Sunday Wrap Up

The day after the horse show we had a fun trail ride out to the pond – it was a nice day to take a quick dip with horses – thank you for everyone that came out!

Also a big congratulations to the PHH riders that showed at Oak Ridges Equestrian Centre, we had a few riders come home with champion and reserve champion ribbons. Well done girls and thank you Caileigh-Anne for being our show team coach!

What's up Next?

Tomorrow the fun continues with our Partridge Horse Hill Show – we have hunter, jumper, obstacle, and speed event classes. We hope to see you there! More information at

Friday, August 28, 2015

Flying Lead Changes, Cranial Sacral, and Centered Riding

Last weekend was a bunch of learning at PHH. If you think about soaking up education as if collecting water from a tap, then forget the water bottle because this past weekend you needed a whole trough.

Cantering and Flying Lead Changes

On Friday the 21st we were fortunate to have Parelli Professional Todd Owens come teach us about cantering and flying lead changes. He brought his Level 4 trained horse, Shania, to show us what the exercises were supposed to look like- what a fantastic idea. It meant the people who learned by listening could have the instructions, the people who learned by seeing could watch Todd with Shania, and we all learnt by doing because we tried the patterns.

It was a fascinating group because we all had very different horses and many of us were riding at different levels – so we got to learn how to problem solve for different horses and riders. It was like a smorgasbord of learning.

I rode Kahleesi in the workshop and had a great time practising maintaining correct bend with correct pace. I also discovered that she is a bit of a grumplepuss in large groups for canter – she made a few marish faces at the other horses just to make sure they knew she wasn’t happy they were standing in her arena.

Some tips and things to remember for cantering and flying lead changes that we learnt from Todd:
  • -        Practice using the supple rein to create the correct flexion in the horse
  • -        Ride walk, trot, canter with an independent seat (no contact on the reins)
  • -        Practice forehand and haunch turns to isolate moving the hind end and front end of your horse
  • -        Practice sideways to get your horse responsive to your leg, moving athletically sideways
  • -        Practice haunches in so that you will better be able to control your horse’s hind end for a flying change
  • -        Set up a pattern like a figure 8 with a pole and ride the pattern being insistent your horse gives you correct flexion and posture
  • -        Then try putting the pieces together and batta bing batta boom – flying lead change!

What I like about this approach is that you set up all of the skills so that the flying change is on purpose and in balance – then it makes it easier to progress to multiple flying changes in future.

Margreet & Brian come to visit

During the workshop, Margreet and Brian arrived and were able to watch. Margreet is the master Level IV Centered riding instructor from the Netherlands – she is also certified in Reiki, T Touch, Equine Cranial Sacral, Saddle fit, Equine massage, and Equine Acupuncture - she's a jack of all trades when it comes to horses to say the least. 

Margreet instructed us Saturday and Sunday for a 2 day workshop on Equine Cranial Sacral work and centered riding. Brian is also trained in Equine Cranial Sacral and helped us learn about the horse's movement. 

It was perfect that Margreet watched Todd’s workshop because she would refer to ‘the cowboy’ throughout the clinic and reference some of the exercises he did. She thought Todd was fantastic, the steps he provided worked, and loved how he isolated the movements.

Thank you Cowboy Todd J  Make sure you're at his next workshop at PHH - 

Equine Cranial Sacral

Saturday’s workshop with Margreet and Brian we practised different ‘holds’ with our horses to help them relax and release tension in their body. It was absolutely amazing – like crazy hocus pocus magic – to see how these simple holds made EVERY single horse in the workshop become so calm, relaxed, licking & chewing, yawning, and releasing tension or stress.

They helped us learn to assess a horse before doing the holds – such as watching a horse’s walk, eating grass, and breathing. During the different holds you could literally see the breathing change in the horses to be deeper and more relaxed. After the holds you could literally see the horse eating grass differently.

Some assessment questions to ask yourself about your horse:
  • -        When they eat grass, do they move their legs around a lot to balance for getting grass, or do they move their neck around in a semi circle to reach more grass?
  • -        When they eat grass, do they grab with their front teeth and pull up, or do they grab with their teeth and move their head sideways?
  • -        When they stand at rest, is their tail to one side?
  • -        When they stand at rest, does their breath fill their whole barrel?

There were more things that we looked at, but I found these ones the most interesting and different from what I'm used to.

Centered Riding

That evening I had a private lesson aboard Kahleesi and we worked on picking up contact and having energy in the hind legs.

Margreet is one of the few coaches to instruct me that doesn’t try to get me in a bit. She says “bit or bitless doesn’t matter, whatever is working for the horse.”

She explained to me that one benefit of the bit is that it can make the horse chew, which can help a horse relax at the poll. However, she said you can get the same result bitless, you just have to work a little harder.

She helped me with many things including:
  • -        slowing down to focus on quality of movement from my horse’s hind end (we did some exercises over trot poles and on circles to create better impulsion from our hind end)
  • -         to follow with my hands better (when Kahleesi’s head came up I still had a tendancy to drop my hands, and Margreet helped me follow Kahleesi better which made a huge improvement)
  • -        be more aware of correct flexion (she explained the cowboy’s exercise with the supple rein on the serpentine is so fantastic and pointed out how the jaw, nostril, and eye should align when you have correct flexion… I’d been letting Kahleesi’s nose get out of line)

 The next day we finished up with some holds on our horses and then got into centered riding. We practiced some things without our horses and then all had semi private lessons. Margreet's level of detail to rider is incredible and she really helped to train my eye to see things about the rider.

A couple key things that many riders needed to remember:
  • -        Keep your nose in line with your naval (belly button), so when you turn, only turn your head as far as your belly button goes
  • -        Remember to take your shoulders with you on the turns (for example when you turn right, allow your left shoulder to come with you)

I rode my lesson on Thetis with Sabrina and her horse Zoey. I rode Thetis bitless in the side pull attachment made by Epic Equestrian ( Both Brian and Margreet commented that Thetis was consistently collecting from the correct place in her poll and carrying herself correctly – “there is no reason to swap this horse to a bit – she carries herself beautifully, and is relaxed through her jaw and poll.”

That was an incredibly reassuring statement because it seems everyone wants me in a bit. To be honest, the more everyone tells me I must ride in a bit to achieve the next level of Finesse, the more I become determined to prove them wrong. I’m not even against bits and occasionally I use them… but I really just hate being told I can’t do something when I think its possible. I know, I’m stubborn right? This will be my next journey after I’m finished with Kentucky – my journey to level 4 Finesse.

Anyway, back on track.

In our lesson we practiced flexion, leg yields, and some jumping.

I wanted most to learn from this lesson was strategies to get rid of my wiggle butt. I have this bad habit that when I am cantering and jumping I tend to wiggle my butt. You’ve noticed it right? If you haven’t, just take a look at some of my Youtube videos of me jumping. You’ll see it, that darn wiggle butt. It’s effective though – I feel secure, I can turn when I want to, I compete well, and ride accurate courses… but that wiggle butt!!!

I didn’t know why I was doing it, and several people have tried to help me with it - my centered riding coach, Esther Johnson came pretty close to fixing the wiggle by having me strengthen my core, and Parelli instructor Kathy Baar helped me by having me think about my knees and grounding both my feet.

What did Margreet do when presented with the wiggle challenge? She solved it!

She zoned in on the fact that when I sit my canter I let my hips move in the backwards circle motion, but when I half seat I lock my hips and they ride frozen in the air. She helped me find my backwards circle while in half seat which restored the natural motion to my body and voila, wiggle butt is gone! Okay so now I just have to remember it every time I ride.

Esther and Kathy’s awareness of my position were definitely pieces to the puzzle – and now I have a key ingredient to pull it all together.

Wrap up

I loved this past weekend because Friday was about training strategies and process, Saturday was about helping our horses feel better, and Sunday was about getting our riding in rhythm with our horses.  

I’m sensing a new type of Super camp in the future – natural horsemanship, centered riding, cranial sacral – anyone interested in that for next summer?

So much learning and growth happening at PHH!

What's next?

Remember to check out Todd’s next workshop which is Friday, 6-9pm, September 18th at  PHH. We are learning about building finesse with collection.

Lots happening this weekend – centered riding lessons tonight, NHA horse agility & obstacle show tomorrow, and the NHA trail ride to the pond on Sunday. See you there! (more details at