Maritime Equestrians lose an outstanding couple
by Carolyn Wanamaker
The Maritime horse community lost a wonderful couple in September with the passing of Jean and Elliott Bridges of Douglas, New Brunswick. Jean and Elliott set the bar high. Jean showed us how to be competitive without losing sight of what friendship and good sportsmanship mean. Elliott, ever-present as her moral support and pit crew, as well as a valued volunteer at so many events, was a wonderful husband to Jean. They were the first to step up and help others, always with warmth and a smile.
In the fall of 2015, Jean reached the rare level of achieving 9,000 miles in competitive distance riding. In a discipline dominated by Arabians, Jean held fast to her love of and faith in the Morgan breed to reach this plateau. She promoted the sport and Morgans at every opportunity, providing information and mentorship to anyone who asked. Jean was very much a people person. She loved to meet equestrians and hear their horsey stories. She was also a committed volunteer, both for the New Brunswick Equestrian Association, for ACTRA (Atlantic Canada Trail Riding Association), and for her community. Jean was the consummate horsewoman with a rare talent for developing somewhat challenged horses into champions. Jean has been featured several times in Atlantic Horse and Pony and in national equine magazines. Despite her vast knowledge, Jean understood that one can never know enough about horses. She would be the first to sign up for clinics, workshops, and lectures, and if none were available, she would help to organize such events.
Jean Bridges will be missed by a wealth of people whose lives she touched. Her smile, her enthusiasm for life, her generous spirit, and her dedication to her sport will be remembered by all. Jean was a true inspiration for many, competing well into her 70s and riding almost daily year-round. Elliott was the model of support, volunteering at every event Jean participated in, and helping wherever he could. They will be missed. Sincere condolences go out to their daughter Ann.
Remembering Jim Durling
by Judith Scrimger
The reining community in Atlantic Canada was saddened to hear of the death of Jim Durling, 72, of Brule, Nova Scotia. Durling was instrumental in the development of reining in this region, and was an influence on such well-known coaches as Joey Sampson, Travis Smith, and Nancy Kennedy.
A student of the legendary Bill Collins, Durling stated in a profile in the October 1999 issue of Atlantic Horse and Pony that “I felt that if I could do something to help the life of horses, that would be a good goal to strive for. That’s what pushed me to start Equine Excellence in 1988.” By 1999, Equine Excellence in Mount Uniacke, N.S., was offering 100 lessons a week.
Durling, known as a brilliant coach, said that he subscribed to “a natural horsemanship philosophy, using an understanding of how horses react and socialize, in order to convince them they want to help you.” A Level-Three Reining coach, Durling contributed to all equestrian sports in Nova Scotia through his work as president of the NSEF. He was named Executive of the Year by NSEF in 1990 and was runner up for the same award for Sport Nova Scotia. He served for 15 years on the National Western Coaching Committee of what is now Equestrian Canada. He was the founding president of the Nova Scotia Reining Horse Association.
Durling won a gold medal at the Canadian Reining Championships and was named Sport Nova Scotia’s Athlete of the Year in 1990. His top reining and breeding stallion, Twist of Excellence, and Nick’s Twist were both top money winners.
The coaching apprenticeship program at Equine Excellence produced many certified coaches who shared Durling’s philosophy with others in the horse world. Durling will be remembered as a soft-spoken, attentive, and supportive teacher and a leader in the development of reining.
Government support for therapeutic riding
Free Spirit Therapeutic Riding Association of Aylesford Nova Scotia recently received a financial boost from the provincial government in the form of a $22,480 community mental health and addictions grant. Free Spirit offers programs to people of all ages who are living with a wide range of challenges and/or disabilities, including mental illness. “Grants such as this are imperative to ensure the continued success and growth of our program” explained head coach Alissa Cue.
“Living with a mental illness isn’t just about getting treatment in a hospital or medical clinic,” said Health and Wellness Minister Leo Glavine. “Community support is vital for the one in five Nova Scotians who are dealing with these challenges. Investing in programs that give people motivation and a sense of achievement improves quality of life for the people who take part, and those who love them.”
Free Spirit Therapeutic Riding Association, founded in 2012, is an accredited non profit organization run by volunteers and funded by donations. It has provided hundreds of clients an opportunity to take advantage of therapeutic riding to improve muscle tone, joint mobility, balance and coordination, spatial awareness, as well as enhancing learning skills and confidence.
(FSTRA was featured in the Nov. 2014-Jan 2015 issue of HP)
Equine Influenza virus outbreak
by Teresa Alexander-Arab
In mid-summer there was an outbreak of the Equine Influenza virus. It initially appeared in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia and was linked to horses attending various exhibitions. The virus was extremely contagious, passing very quickly from horse to horse with symptoms emerging within one to seven days of exposure. Symptoms included lethargy, loss of appetite, nasal discharge, cough, and fever. This illness, when treated, is unlikely to lead to long-term health problems. However, the horses required a few weeks to recover. Concern for the virus led to the canceling of some shows on mainland Nova Scotia, Cape Breton, and New Brunswick. This is a timely reminder to all of us to ensure that vaccinations are up to date and that we are careful to not spread illnesses as we visit other barns. Vaccines take two weeks to begin working, and are not fully protective until after the horse receives its booster (three-four weeks after the initial vaccine).