At a very young age my mother started me in riding. As I grew up I attended Pony club, three-day evented, fox hunted, and enjoyed starting, and learning how to work with young horses on a breeding farm. As I got older, I rode competitively in Jumpers and loved it. In high school I couldn’t really make up my mind about what I wanted to pursue as a career; I only knew I loved the world of Equestrian. I also had a keen interest in the culinary and dramatic arts. I finished high school with my theory level one chef’s apprentice. After spending many years cooking in various kitchens and still working with the family horses, I decided I wanted to focus on the Movie industry, specializing in Horses. I worked in Mission at a studio ranch for six months, in an apprentice program, learning about and caring for the stunt horses and doing special skills work in feature films such as “The Pledge.” I also had an agent and was doing a lot of movie extra work and auditioning for bigger parts. At the end of the program, I was hired on to work at the ranch full time.
On June 17th 2000, the goals I had set out for myself changed in an instant. While feeding the horses at the studio ranch, a one-hundred-pound bale of hay fell ten feet, landing on my back. I had two broken vertebras and a severed spinal cord. It took two screws, a bar, wire mesh and bone from my hip to reassemble my back. I was left paralyzed from the belly button down, with no feeling or movement. You can imagine I was distraught. For my family it was not much easier to deal with as I had always been classified as the semi normal child. I also have a brother Cameron who was born with a severe brain injury, as well as a sister Rosemary who has Downs Syndrome.
During rehabilitation I decided that I didn’t ever want to ride again. I felt that it would be embarrassing to be led around in circles. Yes, it may be therapeutic for others, but it would do nothing for my mind other than make me much more sad. I did want to remain active, so I tried many different sports: tennis, hand-cycling, kayaking, downhill mountain biking and sailing. I was very keen on sailing and spent much of my summer down at DSA learning how to solo sail. I even got to volunteer and take other children out on the water. This was a very important part of recovery because I was discovering that I was able to still help others without the use of my legs. At the end of the summer I started racing in the sailboats and my competitive side came out.
Back at home after being in rehab for 8½ weeks, I found myself back down at the barn. I was teaching student on my horses, but still too stubborn to get on. While watching another riding lesson, I had a horrible reaction and started to cry heavily. As I tried to wheel away, the coach in the ring insisted it was time for me to get on a horse. Next thing I knew, I found myself being picked up by two people and plopped on a horse. I won’t lie; it was the worst experience I have ever felt. I had ridden horses my whole life and at twenty-two, I had absolutely no sensation of sitting on a horse. I thought that if I sat up I was going to fall down. I was led around in a circle just like I didn’t want to be, and I had a pity party in my head.
When I went home that night I knew I had a major decision ahead of me. Was I going to let the gift that was given to me that day go to waste or was I going to swallow big, dig deep, get over my self-pity and feeling of humiliation. The next morning I got up early, went to the barn and politely and shyly asked to be put back on a horse. That day was the beginning of my new-found love for riding.
Over the next eight years, I would compete in ten international shows, including Athens 2004 summer Paralympics. I was honored with the 2004 Canadian Equestrian of the Year award. I worked for five years at the Royal Bank for Canada; one of those years being a RBC Olympian, which allowed me to do public speaking with regards to various topics. In 2007, I moved to Florida and Colorado to spend quality time at the Parelli Natural Horsemanship International Study Center, while they sponsored my education