Murphy was a 1995 Irish bred Hannovarian-Draft cross. He came into our lives in the winter of 2003, and was with us until his death in July of 2009 following an accident in which he suffered from a fractured vertebrae.
Everyone who knew Murphy adored him. He was a big boy – almost 19h (over 6ft at the tallest point on his back for the non-horse folk in the crowd) – and had an even bigger heart. He loved people, children in particular, and was always very kind. I think his favourite times were spent at horse shows where spectators could wander the barns and interact with the horses. Though some people were intimidated by his size, he often drew people in with his kind eyes and bashful expression.
Murphy had his quirks though. He was well known for doing a spanish walk, despite the fact we never trained him to do it. He also had a habit of neighing when he entered the show ring, and knickering before he was fed. If you asked Murphy a question, he would always bob his head ‘yes.’
While I’ve had horses before Murphy, and many others after him, I don’t think many of them will ever mean more to me than Murphy did. I got him when I was 15 years old, and when many things in my life were changing, his love was always there. There were countless times after a frustrating day when I would sit in the corner of his stall and he would burry his head in my lap. This was how we would cuddle. For a horse that wouldn’t let anyone he didn’t trust touch his head, you can appreciate how special moments like that were.
The decision to have Murphy put down was one of the hardest, yet easiest decisions I ever had to make. While I knew I would miss him terribly, and it was so hard to say goodbye to one of the most meaningful people in my life, I knew it was unfair to let him live in such a painful, inhibiting, and deteriorating state. It’s a classic case of the cruel to be kind paradox. What probably pained me most, was that he never got the chance to relax and enjoy a life of leisure and retirement that he deserved. Although we suddenly lost him under tragic circumstances, the time I spent with him will always have a special place in my heart.
Aldo is a 1995 Dutch Warmblood gelding. He came to me in the summer of 2008 when Murphy was sidelined with an injury during the 2008 season. Initially, my sister Lisa had thought of another horse that might suit me for the remainder of the season. When I didn’t get along with that one, she suggested I try Aldo while I was here. He was a little out of shape and hadn’t been to a show in a while, but when we jumped him 1.25m I knew he had to come back to Langley with me. I immediately phoned Brent Balisky and told him we had to bring the horse home with us. After a bit of a bumpy start (bumpy for me as I fell of him a lot to begin with), Aldo and I wound up having a great season together, narrowly missing qualifying for Canadian Equestrian Team (CET) National Medal Finals held each year at the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto. Aldo remains in Langley at Brent and Laura’s training facility, where he is currently being ridden by a young girl.
Ivy is a 2003 Holsteiner mare by Cobalto purchased from
Sebastian Fusaro. My step-sister, Olympian Lisa Carlsen and her husband, Dayton Gorsline, purchased the mare during a trip to Argentina for a Nations’ Cup competition in November of 2010. Since the mare had to come through quarantine in Florida, and I was given the option to ride her for a while, I showed Ivy for the 2011 season. Unfortunately, Ivy and I just didn’t click right. Sometimes with riding, a good horse and a good rider just don’t have the right match. Ivy has since gone back to Lisa and Dayton’s farm in Edmonton where they will manage this quick and careful mare.
Seamus is a 2000 Grey Irish Sport Horse gelding. We purchased him in 2006 as a second horse for me to do primarily in the equitation divisions, but assorted hunter/jumper classes as well. Seamus and I had a couple good years together, and I certainly learned a lot from him. When I started to want to jump bigger jumper classes, we decided it would be best for Seamus to be sold, as he was ideally suited for the 1.10m-1.15m equitation classes. After being leased to another client of Brent and Laura’s for a year, he was sold to a wonderful family in Calgary who treat him like a prince. I couldn’t imagine a better home for him! Hopefully, I’ll eventually see him in Toronto in a few years, as his current owner would like to do him in the CET medal.