Dreaming big pays off
Townshippers love their horses. Some evidence of that is the success of young Townshippers, over the years, at so many of the province’s summer equestrian competitions and country fairs.
One Stanstead East teenager just came home from the Jeux Equestres du Quebec, the provincial championship held in Bromont every summer, with a nice prize: a gold medal in show jumping. Quite an impressive feat considering the seventeen year-old was competing against several older, more experienced riders.
“It was my first time at the Jeux Equestres du Quebec; I didn’t expect to win. But I was really happy and pleased,” said Morgan Hartley who won the gold medal for show jumping in the 1.10 meter with her horse, Vanity. She is also grateful towards her coach, Jill Waiton, who also helped with the win.
“I started riding on a pony when I was five, and always dreamt of going into show jumping. When I saw a dappled grey jumping at a horse show, then I wanted to jump with a dappled grey,” explained Morgan who began jumping only three years ago after finding her dappled grey, a Dutch Warmblood, after a lengthy search over the internet.
Gold medals in horse jumping don’t come easy. “I train at home, about six days a week– I have my jumps at home. It takes a lot of hard work and determination. During the winter, I go and train even when it’s twenty below. I have to board her at the
stables in the winter,” said Morgan who, I’m guessing, wishes she had an indoor arena at home!
“When I’m competing, the hardest thing is making sure we don’t knock a pole down. You have to stay focused and just hope that your horse remembers to keep her legs up. And you don’t want to get too excited out there in a competition, or you can forget the course. I’ve done that before!” she admitted. “You have to memorize the course before the competition. Then you keep a clear mind and take it one jump at a time.”
“I like the risk of it, a feeling that anything can happen; the horse has a mind of her own. I’m working this big creature that thinks for herself. But it’s amazing how much Vanity responds; she loves to jump. Even when she’s hurt, she never gives up. She’s in it to win it as much as I am.”
“You have to have a good bond with your horse. People have been wanting to buy my horse but I’d never sell her; she’s my ‘dream’ horse. When I tell them that, they say she would be anyone’s ‘dream’ horse!”
Now that the provincial horse competition season is over for the year, Morgan and Vanity are taking a little break from the training and jumping. “What me and my horse love now is being on a break for three months, no jumping for three months. It’s like being on vacation. You have to remember that they are just horses and they should have a chance to just go out on the grass for a while and get fat. I think that’s better than always asking a horse to do more; that’s how horses go sour.”
“I’ve actually learnt a lot from my horse. She’s more like a friend,” finished the young gold medalist.
Morgan Hartley makes a perfect jump with her horse, Vanity, in Bromont.