My daughter had just turned three the first time she ever rode a horse. We were visiting our relatives at the family farm and my husband’s cousin had taken us out to a back field to see the horses. When he asked if she would like to ride, Talia immediately said “yes” and he threw her up on the back of a horse bareback and she proceeded to trot around a field of overgrown grass for a few minutes. She was all smiles and couldn’t understand why we wouldn’t let her get back on the same horse after her older cousin attempted to ride it a few minutes later and was bucked off. That horse’s name was Twilight and that ride was the beginning of her discovering her heart’s passion.

Twilight would turn out to be the first of many horses she would eventually ride, but not for a few years. What that first encounter did spark though was a constant barrage of questions about when she would be able to ride again. Not a pony ride or petting zoo or carousel could be passed without an enthusiastic request for a ride, and then the inevitable questions about lessons started. Not having a lot of experience with horses personally, I thought she was far too young to begin riding and stuck a deal with her that if she was still interested in lessons by the time she was six I would look into it further. Given that this was still a few years away, I figured her interest would wane and it would become a non-issue. Of course I couldn’t have been more wrong and upon her sixth birthday she looked at me and asked “So when can I start riding lessons?”.

After some research and discussions with friends and neighbors, we contacted WW Stables and I spoke to Wendy for the first time. To my surprise, she of course assured me that six was the perfect age to begin lessons and so having no further basis on which to refuse, we began our weekly treks to WW. Talia’s first year of riding consisted mainly of group lessons in which she rode a variety of horses. By the time she began her second year of riding however, it was clear that she absolutely loved being on a horse and that she had some natural ability which could be augmented by further lessons. As such, she started attending the stables more frequently and semi-private and private lessons were arranged. By the end of her second year of riding she had attended some summer riding camps and was participating in the MHC P’tit Trot Program, both of which helped develop her knowledge of horse and riding theory.

At the beginning of Talia’s third year of riding she was offered the opportunity to attend a western pleasure show. In preparation for the show and to determine which events she would like to enter she attended a number of riding clinics. The clinics helped introduce Talia to some of the different events within western pleasure riding and clarified which were of interest to her. Talia really enjoyed her first horse show experience and it confirmed for her that showing was definitely something she wanted to do again

As Talia’s riding progressed, she was able to attend further clinics and it was around this time that the focus of her riding started to crystalize. Talia had always liked to ride fast, but it was not until she attended a clinic on reining that she decided this was what she wanted to do. Shortly after, we began to hear of a good experienced reining horse that was coming up for sale and before we knew it Louie entered our lives. Having previously told Talia that she would not be getting a horse anytime soon, Louie came as a bit of a surprise to us all. At the same time however, he slid into our lives quite naturally and it now seems like he has been with her forever.

Despite beginning to ride together only a month before the start of the 2013 reining show season, Talia and Louie’s first season was a very positive one. Talia had some real highlights in her first year such as winning the 13 & Under class on the first day of her first competition (The Wheat City Derby), receiving her first cheque after winning the Ranch Reining class back-to-back at the Summer Sizzler, qualifying for the NRHA North American Affiliate Championship in Oklahoma and winning the 2013 CCRHA reserve champion title for 13 & Under, but it is the steady improvement in her riding and consistency overall that is most noteworthy.

Talia’s first show season was a huge learning experience for both her and our family. We are extremely proud of how well she has handled the ups and downs of her first show year and look forward to seeing her continue to develop her skills and abilities in the show arena in the coming season.

Talia displays a maturity that belies her age. Most people think she is older than she actually is. I think this is in part attributable to her learning early-on the responsibility associated with caring for another living being. Talia truly loves horses and riding and I hope this passion continues to enrich her life whether in competition or leisure throughout her years.