by Deron Johnston
An event happened on Saturday, July 8, that you probably didn’t know anything about. There was no marketing campaign to let everyone know it was taking place, and it happened in one of the very rural areas of the municipality, away from high traffic areas. Though not many people knew about it, it was very significant in the eyes of the participants, parents, and grandparents who were there.The Lone Wolf Farm Horse ‘Fun’ Show happens every Summer (and Fall) at Lone Wolf Farm on Burritts Rapids Road. Lone Wolf Farm is a full service boarding facility for horses, and offers riding lessons, horse training, riding camps, and ‘fun’ shows like this one. The owners, David and Marilyn McFadden, operate the farm that has been in the McFadden family since 1923. The farm specializes in new and young riders who are just getting into the sport, but can handle athletes from all levels of competition. They have coaching available in hunter/jumper and dressage categories, and currently have about seventy-five athletes and over thirty horses.
The idea to host ‘fun shows’ came from the realization by the McFaddens that putting on horse shows that are sanctioned by Equine Canada (they are the sport’s only governing body) was very cost-prohibitive and made it expensive for some families that couldn’t afford to enter. So, the McFaddens decided to host an unsanctioned, or ‘fun show’, that would keep the cost down, but still allow riders and horses to be part of a competition. The show has nearly all of the elements of a bronze-sanctioned show, including professional judging, awards, and different competition categories, with riders and their horses coming from all over the area.
During the competition, I saw some impressive things. One rider and horse were in the middle of jumping, when the horse suddenly decided that they were done jumping and took a very sharp turn. The rider couldn’t hang on and fell hard on the ground. The brave young girl got up right away, asked if her horse was ok, and then headed out of the ring to be checked out herself. Not surprisingly, two horses later, there she was with her mount to try the circuit again. It was pretty tough not to cheer when she completed the circuit flawlessly this time around. Another impressive observation about the day was the dedication of the families to their kids and horses. Countless hours are spent caring for the animals, taking care of the equipment and driving the riders to and from lessons and competitions.
Taking a walk around the bleachers and the two fenced riding rings at Lone Wolf Farm, you see and hear the reason that everyone is here. The kids are laughing, smiling, talking, creating friendships, and growing their love of horses and riding in a fun environment where everyone “goes home with something for their hard work and all of the training that they do”. Who could argue with rewarding kids for hard work?