Ailsa Morrison on NAJYRC 2016

Ailsa and Princess Sophia

Ailsa and Princess Sophia

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.

September 14, 2016 |

Hoary Alyssum

Hoary Alyssum

Thanks to the hot, dry summer we had here in Ontario, the weed Hoary Alyssum has been spreading more than ever this year and it is toxic to horses. Please be on the lookout in your horse’s pasture and in their hay. The weed is still toxic in hay for up to almost nine months after baling, possibly longer.  Though it is not preferred by most horses, they will nibble on it when other plants are not abundant due to overgrazing or drought.

hoary alyssum

Picture source:

In horses, it can cause depression, stocking up, fever, diarrhea, founder, laminitis, intravascular haemolysis, and hypovolemic shock and can cause mares in foal to abort.

There isn’t a remedy for poisoning from this plant, so treatment efforts are aimed at treating the signs.  Clearly, the first move is to remove all sources of exposure to the weed.  Anti- inflammatory medications are often beneficial, and other specific treatments may be required to treat limb edema, laminitis, etc.  Consult with your veterinarian for help with diagnosis and treatment plans.

OMAFRA fact sheet:

September 7, 2016 |

Never forget a course again!


How do you learn and memorize your jump course? Take a picture of the course map and stare at it until it is ingrained in your memory? Stand ringside and use your finger to trace where you need to go? They really aren’t lying when they say there’s an app for everything.  New to the app store is Jump Off Pro. With this app, you can upload, save and practice your courses in order to help you learn them faster. You can also use them to create courses to see how they will flow.


There are 3 types of jumps to choose from: verticals, oxers, and water jumps, which you can arrange in any order or combination.  Once you have the course mapped out, you can trace out your path with your finger or you can visualize it with the 3D Visualizer. There is also an update coming out in September which will allow users to “compete” against one another to see who can get through the courses the fastest.


Compatible on both the iPhone and the iPad, the app will cost you $5.49 CAD and unfortunately it doesn’t look like there is a free version anymore should you want to test it out before you purchase.


If you have already purchased and/or use the app, let us know what you think in the comments section on the blog or on our Facebook page.

August 31, 2016 |

Back to School? Go to D’Arcy Lane!


It’s that time of year again.  Stores stock up on school supplies and endless advertisements are played on the radio and television.  If you are thinking about heading back to school or are interested in a career change, the D’Arcy Lane institute is for you.


Operating since 1984, D’Arcy Lane started as a skin and body care studio and commenced the School for Registered Massage Therapy, European Esthetics, Cosmetology, Electrolysis, Reflexology and Make up Artistry.

D’Arcy Lane started offering its equine program since 1996. Their equine massage therapy program is the only registered program of its kind in North America and offers the most intensive program to date in equine massage.


The program is 2200 hours in length and courses cover a variety of subjects including anatomy, physiology, professionalism and ethics, business management, equine behaviour, in addition to equine massage techniques and treatments.

In this episode of the podcast, Lisa Kavanagh, director at D’Arcy Lane Institute discusses the equine program and what the industry of equine massage entails.  For more information, check out their website at


August 26, 2016 |

Episode 28 – Paula Fedeyko

paula fedeyko

On this episode of the Horse Show podcast, we sit down  with Paula Fedeyko. Paula owns and operates Doc Ridge Dressage, based out of Puslinch, Ontario.  Paula offers training, lessons, part boarding, in barn leases, coaching and sales out of Doc Ridge Dressage.

Not always a horse lover, Paula tells us in this interview how she came about to dressage after not always being a horse lover and spending some time in the hunter and equitation rings. She also spent 2 years in Holland working in the horse industry there both training and showing and she shares one of her embarrassing stories from her time over there. All of this experience in different aspects of the horse world are helping her to achieve her goal of being a great all-around horseperson, not just a great rider.

She currently has two horses: Bosco, who she plans to compete in Prix St. George again once he has recovered from an injury and an up and coming yearling who she hopes will take her to the international stage in the future.

Fedeyko also shares her opinion on the importance of having that connection or bond with your horse and matching the right horse with the right rider and she leaves us with some advice for the horse industry.

You can find out more about Paula Fedeyko and Doc Ridge Dressage at or find them on Facebook and Instagram.

August 22, 2016 |

Show Jumping Thrills and Spills


Once again, the final round of the show jumping proved to be a nail biter.

In the first round Canada’s Yann Candele had 12 faults and was not able to move on to the final jump off.  Tiffany Foster had one rail down. Normally the top twenty riders get to come back for the jump off but because so many riders had 4 faults, the jump off field was a large 27 riders.

German veteran Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum went right through the first jump and retired after taking her second fence. Given her experience at this level, was it the heat getting to her and her horse or is she showing us that she is mortal and can still be affected by the pressure?

Eric Lamaze and Fine Lady 5 went clear (as they have every round of the show jumping so far!). That horse shows lots of scope and is fast so hopefully we can expect to see more great things from her!

In the jump off (which was proving to be difficult with riders taking rails left, right and centre, 6 riders managed to go double clear and would do another jump off to determine medal placing.

Foster had an unfortunate 12 faults and Lamaze went clear yet again.  The 6 riders competing for medals were Great Britain’s Nick Skelton, Sweden’s Steve Guerdat, Qatar’s Sheikh Ali Al Thani (at his first Olympic games!), USA’s Kent Farrington, Sweden’s Peder Fredricson, and Canada’s Lamaze.

Video of Lamaze’s final round:

Final results: Nick Skelton (GB) – Gold; Steve Guerdat (SWE) – Silver; Eric Lamaze (CAN) – Bronze

show jumping

Photo by Cealy Tetley

August 20, 2016 |

Soap opera or show jumping?


Rio 2016 Show Jumping Team Medals

Who would have thought that the show jumping at the Rio Olympics was going to be so full of drama and nail biting finishes?!  During Sunday’s qualifier, two riders were disqualified for rough riding.  Belgium’s Nicola Philippaerts was removed from competition for his excessive use of spurs and Jur Vrieling of the Netherlands was disqualified for his excessive use of the whip.  But it doesn’t end there.  During Tuesday’s qualifier, Stephan de Freitas Barcha and Cassio Rivetti (both representing Brazil) were both disqualified for excessive spurring.

Wednesday’s exciting team medal final had even my non-horsie boyfriend glued to the rounds. France claimed the gold medal (their second gold medal in show jumping ever!), ending the competition with three penalties for exceeding time allowed, but were the only team to leave all the rails up was enough to win. Team members were Pénélope Leprevost, Kevin Staut, Roger-Yves Bost and Philippe Rozier. Simon Delestre, (who is currently ranked 2nd in the world), withdrew his horse due to an injury four days before competition began.

Delestre’s horse wasn’t the only one to be withdrawn from competition due to injury.  Team USA’s anchor Beezie Madden withdrew Cortes ‘C’ as he sustained a tendon injury during Tuesday’s round.  Even with only three riders to continue on (teams of 4 riders are allowed to drop one of the scores), Lucy Davis, Kent Farrington and McLain Ward went on to ride near perfect rounds to clinch team silver.

The most exciting part of the day was that at the end of the rounds, Germany was tied with Canada for third place, meaning a jump off would have to take place to determine which country was going to win bronze. In the jump off, all 4 riders from each time ride a shortened course and are allowed to drop one of the scores.  The team with the lowest number of faults wins.   Canada’s Tiffany Foster rode clear but both Yann Candele and Amy Millar each had one rail down.  The first three German riders put in clear rounds, earning them the bronze.

show jumping

Photo by Cealy Tetley

The individual finals take place Friday August 19th with the first round starting at 10am and the second round starting at 1:30 PM.  Catch all of the action here: and it will also be shown on TSN.

August 19, 2016 |

Rio Roundup 2016: Dressage


Taking place over 4 days, medalists in dressage at the Olympics have been decided. Team Gold went to Germany (Kristina Broring-Sprehe, Dorothee Schneider, Isabell Werth and Sonke Rothenberger). Team Silver went to Great Britain (Charlotte Dujardin, Fiona Bigwood, Carl Hester, Spencer Wilton). Team Bronze went to the United States of America (Laura Graves, Steffen Peters, Kasey Perry-Glass, Allison Brock)

The Individual medals went to Great Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin who earned gold with a score of 93.857. Germany’s Isabell Werth took home silver with a score of 89.071 and her teammate Kristina Broring-Sprehe earned bronze with a score of 87.142.

Individual scores are taken from the highest of the three scores received from the Grand Prix, Grand Prix Special and the Freestyle.

Two Canadians were competing in the dressage competition.  Four riders are needed to make up a team so unfortunately Canada was not in contention to win a team medal.  Megan Lane did not qualify to continue onto the GP special. Belinda Trussell completed the GP Special with a score of 72.325 but it was not high enough to continue on to the freestyle.

Dujardin’s freestyle routine with Valegro earned a very impressive score of 93.857 beating their previous Olympic record of 90.089 from London’s 2012 games.


Picture source:

Dujardin will be in the region October 15th and 16th at the Caledon Equestrian Park. For more details, see or email

Watch the record breaking dressage freestyle from Charlotte and Valegro here:

(Their ride starts at 2:45:10)

August 15, 2016 |

Rio Olympics: Final Day of Eventing


If I could only use one word to sum up the Olympic Eventing, it would be “wow”.  Yes, the Olympics are supposed to be hard and show off the best of the best but it could be argued that this was one of the toughest Games since Sydney 2000.  In fact, EquiRatings ran the numbers and the cross country course in Rio was the toughest course in modern eventing history!!




After dressage, GB William Fox-Pitt was at the top of the leaderboard (which was awesome to see following his huge injury last year), followed by Australian Chris Burton and Mathieu Lemoine from France.





There was lots of carnage on the cross country course but thankfully nothing fatal.  Only three horse and rider combinations managed to jump the course clean in the optimum time allowed.  You know the course is tough when even some of the top riders are bumped out of medal contention due to falls or refusals.  Leader after dressage, William Fox-Pitt had a run out at the ski jump (jump #20). This jump caused trouble for a number of riders including Swiss rider Felix Vogg who had his second of three refusals here and Polish rider Pawel Spisak had a very scary fall here but both horse and rider were up quickly.



Riders also had issues at the water jump due to the awkward angles.   Unfortunately, Canadian rider Kathryn Robinson was eliminated for three refusals.  Rebecca Howard, Colleen Loach and Jessica Phoenix went on to compete for the team medals with the show jumping round.

In the show jumping phase, Rebecca Howard jumped clean, Colleen Loach had one rail and Jessica Phoenix had one rail as well.  With her clean round Rebecca was able to advance to the individual medal final, where she unfortunately had one rail.


Final Eventing Results



Gold – France

Silver – Germany

Bronze – Australia



Gold – Michael Jung (Germany)

Silver – Nicolas Astier (France)

Bronze – Phillip Dutton (USA) – his first Olympic medal!

Canadian overall standings: Canada finished 10th overall in the team standings; Rebecca Howard finished 10th in the individual medal race.



August 9, 2016 |
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