Firstly, I'd like to thank Olivia for giving me the opportunity to blog on another platform! I'd also like to start off by introducing myself! Why would you want to read anything I have to say, if you have no idea who I am or what I’ve done?! So I’ll take this opportunity to tell you a bit about myself and my experience in the equestrian world.
In upcoming posts, I’m planning to explain some cavaletti exercises I did while riding with Ingrid, talk about setting goals, how to stay motivated, training tips, rider fitness, product reviews, and much more.
My name is Tori Morgan, well actually it’s Victoria, but I only use that for official things! I was born in Ottawa, Ontario in Canada and grew up in Gananoque, ON. I took my first riding lesson at age 10 – before this I had no interest in horses, to be honest. I loved animals, but I had never been around horses, so I never gave them any thought! Mum heard through a friend about lessons at a local riding school, so she decided to sign my sister Alex, and I up. We were those kids that got signed up for almost everything possible! My parents were great, giving us the opportunity to try anything and everything we wanted. Some of the things I remember doing growing up iclude: swimming, soccer, basketball, figure skating, T-ball (like baseball but for small children), archery, sailing, kayaking, and clarinet. Of all those things, horses are the one thing that stuck!
Anyways, after that first lesson in the pouring rain (there was no indoor), I never looked back. It wasn’t long before I started spending all my free time working at the farm – after school, on weekends, and during holidays. I’m sure my parents thought it was a phase, poor them! I took every opportunity to ride any horse I could, this is when I started riding the more difficult horses that weren’t suitable or ready for the riding school.
A few years into riding, I joined Canadian Pony Club and participated in everything they offered: Rally, Prince Philip Games, tetrathlon, quiz, winter camp, educational clinics, show jumping, dressage, and testing. I really grew up through Pony Club, getting the base of all my horsey knowledge. I went up through the testing levels and achieved my A level in 2016 – this is the highest Pony Club level possible, that very few candidates attempt and even fewer successfully pass.
After high school, I went to work for Selena & Morag O’Hanlon in Kingston, ON for a year as a working student. This was a big change for me, going from a local riding school to an Olympic barn! I think it really opened my eyes to the depths of horse management, routine, a training program, and much more. This is where I really got into eventing and competing. Before I started working for them, I did the local show here and there, but nothing recognized, and I would not have called myself competitive! That changed once I started working for the O’Hanlons; the competitive atmosphere rubbed off on me. After my year as a working student was up, I went off to St. Lawrence College as my parents wanted. I only did a fast track course in a year, because I really couldn’t be asked to sit in a classroom for any longer than that! I found myself always going back to help the O’Hanlons whenever I could while in school, mostly on holidays, because for a fast track program the course load was VERY heavy. They just couldn’t get rid of me. When I graduated College, I found myself back with Selena & Morag as part of their staff. This time I brought my horse, Bentley with me. They helped me bring this 10yo gelding (that had never jumped successfully) up to competing at the 1* level in both Canada and the US. We were even top-placed Canadians at Plantation Field International (in Pennsylvania) in 2015 and 2016 in the 1*.
Bentley is also the horse I achieved my A level Pony Club with. With Morag’s help, I bought a 3yo Thoroughbred mare named Aren’t We Naughty (Annie) from Box Arrow Farm in Portland, ON in 2015. I have the O’Hanlons to thank for so much! They taught me all about care, management, planning, and scheduling, which helped me in the next giant leaps I took. I knew Bentley was at his last season of competing at the prelim/1* level when he was 17. I had always stayed at home during the winter season and watched as all the other eventers have fun in sunny Florida – well not this year! With Morag’s help, I secured a job with Bruce Davidson Sr. in January 2017.
I packed up Bentley and Annie and made the two-day journey to Ocala, Florida. Bruce gave me the amazing opportunity to ride a lot of quality young horses under his watchful eye every day. I must have ridden around 5-7 horses a day! This is where Annie started competing, and she had a successful season at Novice. It wasn’t all just fun and riding, I did do a lot of work looking after 18 horses. I have to laugh looking back on it, some things were a little baptism by fire! Take learning to drive a truck and trailer (the trailer was a four-horse head to head, not small!), I sat in the back seat as Bruce drove telling me how to do it. We finished our cross country school, Bruce jumps in his car that his wife drove and says “I’ll meet you back at the farm.” Guess who had to drive home? Me! After that I was official trailer driver and I only hit the fender once… oops!
My next adventure after Ocala brought me across the pond to Mϋnster, Germany in July 2017 where I worked and rode for Ingrid Klimke. How did I get an amazing opportunity like that? Simply by emailing and applying! To apply, I had to send in videos of myself riding. I had previously ridden with Ingrid in a clinic she did in Toronto, so I sent a few videos from that and she remembered me! Who knows if that helped me out or not? I then did a 10-day trial in November 2016 to see if I fit in with their team. Short story made even shorter, I was accepted!
Working for Ingrid was an incredible experience – watching one of the best riders in the world ride every day, well nothing can beat that. I got to experience all aspects of her program: cavaletti, in-hand work, cross country schooling, conditioning/hill work, show
jumping, starting young horses, schooling competition horses, and the ins and outs of how she runs her yard. Oh, and Open Training days. I will go into more detail about my time at Ingrid’s another time. I will also tell you about a few cavaletti exercises! I made amazing friends there that I’m still in contact with, and I’m hoping to go back and see them this year.
Let’s skip forward to the present. I am now riding for Nicola Wilson in Danby Wiske, Northallerton with a two-year visa. I started working on December 3rd, 2018 and I have loved every minute of it so far! When I got home from Germany, I didn’t know what to do with Annie. I had two options: try to sell her or raise money to bring her to the UK. The first option didn’t work, as no one was buying horses in Ontario at the time she was posted for sale. She had a few people try her and like her but no one that followed through with a purchase. I then decided. Right, I’m going to give it my best shot at fundraising to get this horse a flight. With the help of so many amazing people, WE did it. I raised enough money to get her here to England. I even went on CTV (a local tv station in Kingston, ON) and did an interview to help get people’s attention and support (it was terrifying, and I still haven’t watched it!). We held an online auction, a raffle for a beautiful jacket, and did a High Tea lunch where a lot of people made very generous donations. Annie went into quarantine on February 7th and is scheduled to fly to Amsterdam on March 10th. I have mixed feelings about her coming – I am super excited but also extremely nervous. In my mind, flying my horse here is a huge commitment and I just don’t want to let anyone down who has helped me along the way.
Thank you to everyone who has read this far. Now you know a little about who I am! I’m excited to share some of my thoughts and stories with you. If any of you are interested, I also send out my own blog (through email), which will have different content than what I share here. If you would like to receive it, feel free to send me a message: firstname.lastname@example.org
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