Carlie Sanderson

Horseback riding is my most favourite pastime

Alberta sure is the place to be for anything horse-related. It was a dream of mine for many years to live in this province as I used to be an avid equestrian.

Ever since I was five years old I remember being on a horse. I was at an outdoor kid’s event, and my parents put me on one, where an instructor would lead us around for a bit. Ever since then, I was hooked.

My parents had me in all kinds of horseback riding summer camps. I pretty much lived at the barn and helped out where I could, mucking stalls and sweeping the barn floors. I then started lessons and competing in many western events, including barrel racing, pole bending and keyhole. I loved it. Unfortunately, my barn closed and moved far away, so I had to take up English riding, which was a whole different world from western. There weren’t many western barns where I lived in a small town in Ontario.

I started doing jumping and later got my very own horse, a beautiful Quarter/Clyde/Cross. He was black with a white blaze running down his face. His name was Stetson and he was just magic. When I first test rode him, he flew over jumps with ease and boy, was he fast. The rule at the barn I was at was to compete in the hunter division first, which was all about show.

I will never forget when Stetson’s mane was bumped in those tight elastics. He was not pleased and almost looked embarrassed! Even though we didn’t place, as his heart was in the jumper ring, we had a blast. I had so much fun riding him and learning to be a better rider overall. He helped my confidence and taught me about responsibility and drive.

It wasn’t always easy, as I ended up in the ER at one point due to a fall I had. I also had a few jump refusals and disqualifications, due to not finishing a course, but I learned so much through my horseback riding journey. I miss it every day.

When I went to university in Nova Scotia it was hard to continue riding. I had to sell Stetson as I just wasn’t there as much due to living in another province, and part-time boarders would come and go with things going on in their own lives. I was heartbroken, but knew it was for the best. He needed to be ridden and do what he loved to do, which was jumping and competitions. I eventually found time to ride, but it wasn’t the same, as I was so busy with school and other extracurricular activities.

Fast forward: I was later able to pick up riding again, helping train and ride a horse on Vancouver Island when I moved there for one of my first jobs as a journalist. It was such a great outlet for me to besides just working.

Fast forward to now: I don’t ride, but it’s definitely on my mind, and I hope to pick it up one day again when I’m not so busy with my little ones. It’s a passion and always will be. For now, I’ll take in the rodeos and pat all the horses whenever I can!

Pop-up banner image