It takes a team to launch a book
A Jump Ahead with Jen Marsden Hamilton
by Judith Scrimger
Jen Marsden Hamilton of Windsor, Nova Scotia, is clearly thrilled to have her first copy of her book, A Jump Ahead: From Basics to Big Jumps, finally in her hands. She slides her hand across the spine of this beautifully designed book of training exercises, laughs and says, “Look it will stand up on a real book shelf. It even has a table of contents.”
She quickly adds, “I am the least important part of this. It took a team to get this produced.” She was so grateful to her team that she held a pre-launch party for the dozen or so people here in Nova Scotia who helped out – from posing for illustrations to doing the actual design and layout.
The idea for a book came from the other side of the world in Australia. “I had written a series of eight articles for Horses and People magazine produced by Cristina Wilkins from Queensland. “I thought it would be pretty straightforward to do a book but then I realized how much expertise was needed and how much work was left to do to put the ideas into book format. Thank heavens for (graphic designer) Liz Hardy who stepped in to straighten out the chaos.”
The exercises are ones she has developed over the years as a jumper coach. Using both her equestrian training and her bachelor of education degree, she has developed and written National Coaching Certification Program levels for Canada that have been implemented in New Zealand as well, which led to her establishing a coaching program for both show jumpers and eventers in that country and in other parts of the world.
“I’m famous for stopping a lesson and drawing diagrams in the dirt,” says Hamilton. Those drawings are the basis for the beautifully illustrated examples in the book, many of them done by Wilkins, who is also the publisher.
The exercises are designed for both coaches and individual riders. “When you are in the show ring your coach can’t go with you. These are exercises you can do on your own that will test your training program at home. A lot of people don’t have access to regular coaching and this will help them develop a progression in their training.” That said, coaches should find the book a valuable asset for reviewing. “There’s nothing really new in the horse world but it can always be said in different ways that help riders to grasp the concepts.”
The exercises, many of them featuring local jumper coaches such as Jenn Sarsfield of Medford Meadows, jumper rider Jill Swain of Windsor, along with riders in New Zealand, take the reader from position to stride control to longitudinal control, show how to build skills through gymnastics, and then how to read a line and act accordingly.
As a coach, Sarsfield says the book is a good resource. “It’s easy to get into your routines from week to week with the same exercises. This is a nice ‘go to’ that freshens things up. And it’s a good resource for students who can only come for lessons maybe once a month. There are great diagrams with lots of colour and I can send it home with them to practice.”
The book is lavishly illustrated with photos of those Hamilton has met along the way as well as photos from her own riding career when she was a protégé of George Morris and competed in the Maclay medal finals at Madison Square Garden. Many hunter-jumper riders in the region will see themselves reflected in the pages.
Several well-wishers came to get their copies signed at the Nova Scotia book launch in September at Road Apples in Hammonds Plains. Two more launches are slated for New Zealand and Australia later in the fall.
FEI venue coming to New Brunswick
Foshay Farms in Lower Jemseg, N.B., will soon be host to Canada’s newest premier FEI venue. Tokyo Olympic cross country course building team member Jay Hambly has signed on to create the new CI* (1.05m) and CI** (1.10m) division track. Sue Ockendon, longtime organizer of Bromont, PQ, the only other Canadian venue hosting FEI divisions, will be at the helm as technical delegate. Foshay Farms has long been an N.B. equestrian destination – as the former site of the Fredericton Horse Show and many other shows. The inaugural event is set to take place August 30 - September 2, 2018. Sign up to receive updates at www.foshayinternational.com.
Finding hope through horses
Hope Arena opens in memory of Aly
by Alison King
August 26 was an emotional day for many as Spirit Horse –Te’sipow Therapeutic Services marked the official opening of its new indoor arena in Portugal Cove, Newfoundland and Labrador. Named the Hope Arena, the building was constructed in memory of local horsewoman Alison (Aly) Walsh, who died by suicide in 2013 at the age of 25, leaving behind a devastated circle of family and friends and her beloved horse, Tinker.
Erin Gallant, a graduate of Therapeutic Recreation, a Level 2 Equine Canada coach, and a trained mental health peer supporter, reached out to Walsh’s family following her death in hopes of starting a program to help others with mental illness. She established Te’sipow Therapeutic Services in January 2015, with the goal of enhancing the mental health and life skills of youth, adults, families, and groups through therapeutic interaction with horses. Te’sipow (pronounced Daisy Bo) is the Mi’kmaq word for horse.
The Spirit Horse Mental Health Program, created in honour of Walsh and Tinker, who now resides under Gallant’s care at Te’sipow, is a unique peer-based program using horses to assist with recovery. Spirit stands for Supporting Peers in Recovery-based Interactive Therapy. Gallant shares her own experiences with mental illness and her ongoing recovery, guiding program participants to explore solutions and discover what living in the moment means by interacting and building a partnership with horses. With the opening of the new Hope Arena, the program can now reach and assist more clients struggling with the challenges of mental illness, no matter the season or the weather.
“Alison’s dream was to have a place where she could help people with horses who were having similar struggles as she was,” says Gallant. “Unfortunately Alison lost her battle with mental illness but now her spirit and dream live on through Tinker and with the Spirit Horse Program. She would love that Tinker is helping so many other people.”
For more information about the program, visit spirithorsenl.com.
Nova Scotian elected to Equestrian Canada Board
Charles Cue of Aylesford N.S., has been elected to the 2017 Equestrian Canada Board. Cue brings a fresh perspective to the role with his background in the family owned Rohan Wood Stables – a social entrepreneurship that offers recreational and competitive riding as well as innovative programming that makes equestrian activities accessible to all.
Many years of proven leadership in the military and the federal public service, along with a strong background in governance, provides Cue with a unique skillset and experience developing innovative solutions for complex problems – skills valuable for tackling the great many challenges faced by EC leadership.
Equestrian Canada is the national governing body for equestrian sport and horse welfare, and has been plagued by member and board discontentment from all directions. When asked, Cue responded confidently that he’s looking forward to the challenge.
Horseman John Perkins
by George Fullerton
John Perkins, long time Quarter Horse breeder, trainer, and showman, passed away suddenly July 22. Perkins was a major character in the Maritime horse fraternity.
I met John Perkins when my daughter Nora (middle school aged at the time) asked if we could visit Butternut Stables. Not long after that visit Nora asked to take some riding lessons at Butternut, and that evolved into a riding camp and eventually, in her high school years, trading stable chores for lessons. Later on, we leased a horse and she showed with the Butternut crew. Nora and our family made friends with lots of similarly aged kids who rode at Butternut.
Perkins was born in Newtown, New Brunswick, outside of Sussex, and grew up on his family’s farm “where there was always a work horse and a pony,” according to his daughter Beth Upshall.
In the late 1960s and early ’70s, Perkins was living in Havelock, N.B., managing an Irving gas station, whereupon he built a stable with a riding arena and named it Butternut Stables after the Butternut trees found in the area. He raised and trained his own horses as well as trained other people’s horses and provided riding lessons. Perkins began showing Quarter Horses, including Butternut Cali, in the 1970s.
In 1982, Perkins rented half a barn from Don Northrup in Quispamsis, and continued to train horses there.
He helped establish the New Brunswick Quarter Horse Breeders Association, and became a member of the Maritime Quarter Horse Association, serving on the board of directors. Perkins served on the board of directors of the Canadian Quarter Horse Association, was a member of the American Quarter Horse Association, and the recipient of the AQHA Professional Horseman Most Valuable Horseman in 2014. He, along with family and friends, participated in Quarter Horse events across the North America, including the AQHA Congress on many occasions.
Upshall pointed out that Perkins, along with Ralph Cunningham, was instrumental in creating the Princess Louise Park Show Centre in Sussex, N.B. “They got it going, they promoted the idea, sat through many meetings and did significant fund raising. They helped create an amazing facility. Judges come from all over North America and are just amazed by the quality of the facility.
“He inspired many kids to become great horsewomen and men. He always told them school came first, except maybe if there was a show that started on a Friday, it might be OK to miss a day,” mused Upshall. “He could see their potential, and knew how to build their skills and knowledge. He could see who had the heart for horses and showing. He mentored them to be better and achieve their potential. They all deeply respected him as a teacher and a coach.” Additionally, “He loved raising foals and training them.”
My wife Frances and I attended visitation for John Perkins. It was uplifting to share our remembrances with his family, and to see a good number of familiar young faces we had come to know from our visits at Butternut. They came in jeans, boots and spurs, and their best show shirts. They are in their early 20s now and are pursuing post secondary education and careers. They came to say their goodbyes to a very important friend and mentor. You would be proud of them John!
John Perkins is survived by his wife Wendy (Gould) Perkins; daughter Beth (Rob) Upshall of Fawcett Hill; son Doug (Trina) Perkins of Havelock; stepson Jason (Terra) Routledge of Fredericton; and his loving grandchildren Hannah, Hali, Ashley, Brooklyn, and Abby.