Megan Attwood is not just horsing around 0
Megan Attwood and Victor train for jumper division competitions at the Clear Round Equestrian Centre (CREC) near Lafontaine
Twenty-one year old Midland resident Megan Attwood is an accomplished rider who currently sits in first place at equestr ian jumping events around North Simcoe, but her pleasure in winning awards is nearly eclipsed by her love of riding and jumping when she's not competing. She says, I compete but I'm not competitive. I show because I want my horse to learn and get better."
Attwood and her horse, Victor, are only in their second season of competitions in the North Simcoe Show Series jumper division but they've both improved in literal leaps and bounds. "Last season my horse and I started in sixth place and we worked and worked and ended in first place and that's what I like; to be able to work and have him improve and deserve what we get. If you just go and constantly get first place..." She shrugs and waves the answer away as if it's too boring to finish.
She first started riding 13 years ago when she joined a friend for a summer week at a local horse camp. "The camp was fun and then my friend starting taking riding lessons, so I started them as well." She was 14 years old when her parents bought her a lease for a horse so she could ride almost daily; a tip from a family member on a horse sale led her to Ottawa a couple of years later where she first met Victor, a nine-year old Arabian Standardbred.
Victor is a small horse--at 14.2 hands he's technically a pony-- and Attwood adds that she had to start training him from scratch: "Basically, he was completely untrained. No one could go near him." They spent few months just getting to know each other, and she rode him for the first time about eight months after she bought him. By the end of the first year she was riding him regularly and she says with evident pride, "He's a very fast learner." They trained together for about two and a half years before they started competing and now Victor loves to jump.
Attwood and Victor train at the Clear Round Equestrian Centre (CREC) near Lafontaine under CREC's owner and coach Stacy Robertson. When they compete, one of Attwood's favourite courses is called Gambler's Choice, where the team jumps a variety of heights, each worth different points. She says, "You jump as many jumps as you can in a certain time and you can only jump the same jump twice and you want to jump the ones worth the most points. They give you a list ahead of time so you have a chance to get a feel for (the course) and see what you want to try but if you knock a jump over, not only does it not count but you can't jump it anymore. If that was your second and fourth jump but you hit it on your second you have to think on your feet about what to do next."
The team travels to competitions in Elmvale and Orillia but many are held in the CREC arena and near show times Attwood tries to ride a minimum of five times a week. Competitions run from April to September with at least 11 shows on the schedule. The occasional training spill reminds Attwood that the sport does have its dangers: "The worst thing that's happened so far was last winter when he tripped going over a jump. He face-planted and I face-planted and we both really hurt ourselves. People say to get back on the horse after something like that but I couldn't because he had hurt himself, so after that jumping was a little scary."
The Midland Secondary School graduate is currently studying at Laurentian University in Barrie with an eye on a future career as a school teacher. She says, "Basically I stay close (to the Midland area) because of Victor." With about another decade of competing ahead of them before Victor will retire, Attwood is glad she's attending a local university so she can spend as much time training and riding as possible.
The London 2012 Summer Olympics are being held in early August and Attwood will be watching the televised events and following the progress of her favourite Canadian equestrian-- Eric Lamaze. "I'm also looking forward to the Olympic jump off events because that's my favourite; it's what I do and I can compare it to myself."
Attwood's advice to youngsters interested in becoming a rider is to join a horse camp in the summer instead of jumping right into riding lessons; she attended camp for three or four summers as a youth. A typical day at horse camp would involve riding in the morning and education and horse theory in the afternoon. Attwood says, "Not only are you riding but you're learning about the horse, how to groom a horse, horse illnesses and how to take care of a horse. In riding lessons you only learn how to ride and tack up a horse but half the stuff I know about horses I learned in theory at horse camp."
CREC is holding horse camps this summer but the dates aren't posted yet. For cost and course content visit www.clearroundequestriancentre. jigsy.com/campor call owner Stacy Robertson at 705-529-6070.