Dream­ing big pays off

Stanstead Journal - - FRONT PAGE - Vic­to­ria Vanier, Stanstead East

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.

Photo cour­tesy

Mor­gan Hart­ley makes a per­fect jump with her horse, Van­ity, in Bromont.

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