By Imogen Whale
They’re lurking all over town. Equine enthusiasts. While some have horses at the Selkirk Saddle Club (SSC) or at various pastures or private properties, there are plenty of riders without a current equine partner. With the influx of people to town, it’s not uncommon to meet someone who grew up around horses, whether they competed jumper courses or rode bareback through their neighbour’s fields. It’s safe to say once you have horses on your brain and in your heart, you always will. The burgeoning horse riding community in Revelstoke is a testament to it.
Undercover professionals in Revelstoke
Revelstoke is a mecca for sport professionals. Most residents could probably name a couple professional skiers or riders. Lesser known is the small but highly qualified population of horse trainers and coaches in town.
Getting to international competition levels in equestrian pursuits often requires a large wallet. Flying for a competition in Toronto could cost ten thousand dollars. Horses who get to grand prix level do so through breeding and training programs, personality, and luck. They are worth tens of thousands of dollars. This leads to a relatively small group of international competitors. Fortunately it also breeds a wealth of talented individuals who train and teach. The following is but a sample.
Amanda Battrum Lovenuik
Amanda was introduced into the world of riding as a child when she joined Pony Club, a program aimed at teaching young English riders all aspects of equine care and husbandry and giving a strong foundation in equitation (riding position and ability). “I moved on to jumping in the jumper/hunter arenas across Alberta, competing several times a year at tournaments at Spruce Meadows (a world respected equestrian facility),” Amanda explains. “Then I was involved in three day eventing and, for eight years, worked polo horses and played polo in Calgary.”
Amanda went to Olds College in Alberta and majored in sport horse training. She is certified through the National Coaching Certification Program. “I work closely with Equine Canada to maintaining my coaching to their standards,” Amanda says. “I’ve also been blessed to work with wonderful mentors, from world renowned Niel Ishow in Dressage to Rege Ludwig in Polo. There have been a lot of gifted coaches and trainers who have shaped my career.”
Now settled in Revelstoke, Amanda travels from town to teach clinics and lessons while also working with local students and training client horses.
“My love of coaching goes beyond the ring, and I strive to share my passion with others through coaching and training.”
A fairly recent arrival to Revelstoke, Shandelle started riding when she was 12 at horse camp. By 15 she was sponsored by a local farm. She then spent six months being trained by German young rider eventing gold medalist Norbert Schattsman.
While at university Shandelle co-founded the Lakehead Equestrian team with the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association. “I rode the highest level of open division. This is a competition where you draw names out of a hat and ride horses you have never ridden before over hunter courses.”
Shandelle met Canadian Olympian Beth Underhill at a riding clinic and ended up getting a job with her. “I worked with Beth and some other top riders as a groom and exercise rider. I was fortunate enough to travel through Europe, the USA and across Canada with them.” Being mentored by the best in the world exposed Shandelle to multiple training and coaching techniques.
“I have plans to purchase solid lesson horses this spring and offer English riding lessons in Revelstoke,” Shandelle enthuses, addressing the dearth of lesson horses available for the public. Shadelle will also be buying young horses to train and show herself, and training horses for clients locally and across the country.
Traci Ludwig retired from competition years ago, but her students have just started to enter shows.
A high school rodeo champion whose favourite event was barrel racing, Traci now spends her time focusing on improving her skills in numerous western disciplines and working with local clients horses.
What she loves the most though, is imparting her knowledge on the next generation of riders.
Traci is the go to children’s instructor for western riding in Revelstoke and has four horses at the SSC. She teaches everything from trail rides to barrels and pole bending in the arena. “It’s great watching the kids improve and fall in love with the sport,” she explains. Many of the students she has mentored started as complete beginners and are now competent and safe riders. Traci has around fifteen regular students in addition to those who hire her to take them trail riding.
The Rise of the Selkirk Saddle Club
As of 2016, there are 45 adults and 71 children who are active club members in the SSC. Interest in the club is at an all time high and this past year a new barn was built by two members. Another build has been approved to start this autumn.
Members come from all walks of life. Kelly Richards has had horses at the grounds for several years. “I joined after my kids grew up. My good friend Dianna Jones has had horses here for years, and I just started to get involved,” she says. Emily Wright keeps her retired hunter horse Tyke at the SSC. Previously a top competitor in the 3’6″ hunters in Ontario, Emily and her partner Matt are now training their mini donkey to pull a cart. Kim Rienks practices horsemanship and has passed her third level of parelli, thriving on the communication it promotes with her horse. These are but a few of the many faces of the SSC.
In recent years the SSC has fundraised and gained generous grants allowing them to build a covered riding arena. The SSC also reworked their oversized outdoor arena this past summer, replacing the footings and all railings. The arena, which was prone to being home to the cities largest puddles come spring and fall, is now usable three seasons a year. Tanya Secord, club secretary and one of the most public faces of the SSC, hopes the SSC can continue improving the facilities. “We want to acquire a tractor with proper grooming attachments for the arena so we can host larger events, and as for infrastructure the last large projects are the clubhouse and new overnight stalls,” she says.
The SSC’s first British Columbia Barrel Racing Association event took place this past summer. The sanctioned event allowed competitors to come to town and compete for points, of which they are provincially ranked. “The BCBRA race was a great success despite terrible weather,” Secord explains. “We had 20 riders come in from out of town which is great for a first time event. They liked the footing and loved the location and all want to come back again. We plan on hosting more in the future.” It would be wonderful, Secord notes, to build these competitions to a point wherein the SSC could host the BC Finals, bringing in a substantial amount of competitors. “The trick is having money added to the jackpots which requires either fundraising or corporate sponsorship of the events. The riders like to go to the races wherein their chances of winning more money is available,” Secord explains.
Later that same evening the club hosted a gymkhana (a not for ranking competition) where nine local youth ran barrels, poles and keyhole. Two of the youth are now wanting to race in the BCBRA youth division.
English riding uses small and fairly flat saddles that allow for freedom of movement.
Some popular disciplines include:
-Dressage: It’s history is steeped in the military. It features complicated flatwork movements showing the ability for horse and rider to work together.
-Racing: flat speed races of various lengths.
-Jumpers: It features arena jumping courses of varying heights with faults for taking too long or knocking rails off jumps.
Hunters: The discipline includes jumping courses of various heights with scoring based on horse’s form.
Three Day Eventing: It’s a three-day competition including dressage, jumpers and cross country (timed event outside with fixed jumps.)
Larger saddles originally meant for being in the saddle for long periods of time, modern western riding evolved from ranching and warfare. Western also boasts many different disciplines.
Some common ones include:
-Barrel Racing and Pole Bending: It’s running a pattern on horseback around three barrels or through several upright poles with penalties for knocking them over.
-Cutting: It involves separating a cow from the herd and directing said cow.
-Reining: This features precise flatwork movements in various gaits requiring discipline and teamwork between horse and rider, often seen as the western version of dressage.