The image of a rider and his horse – the Lone Ranger and Silver or Roy Rogers and Trigger – is indelibly stamped into our perspective of horseback riding. That bond between rider and animal is an integral part of what attracted Angela Elvins, president of the Calhoun Saddle Club, to the pastime.
“A lot of people fall into a fantasy of being in love with riding a horse – out on the hills, in the sunset,” said Elvins. “It’s a 24/7 commitment, because they’re a bigger animal and they need care. Once you get into it, it’s a little bit of work.
“But there’s a bond between the owner and a horse. I can see a bond with some people, and I can see where the person is only interested in riding and there is no bond. You can see the difference of whether there’s just a love or a want.”
Elvins has been riding for 30 years, and has owned her present horse, Susie, for 13 (and was even there when Susie gave birth). She estimates that a committed horse owner will spend more time with the animal than a spouse.
“I used to work at a ministry for 20 years, and I used to go out and ride for two hours all by myself, and it totally de-stressed me,” she remembered. “There’s a bigger bonding between an owner and a horse than there is between an owner and a dog or a cat. There’s a spiritual bonding.”
Which doesn’t always mean the rider and the horse are meant to be, she added. “My husband had a horse where he and the horse just didn’t click. It was a woman’s horse. As soon as a man got on his back, he reacted.”
“I felt really bad having to take him back, because he was everything I wanted in a horse,” laughed David Elvins, Angela’s husband.
Geared towards families and relatively inexperienced horsemen, the Calhoun Saddle Club attracts aspiring riders who have taken some lessons and want to show their budding talents. Throughout the monthly summer meetings, the club has given gaming classes in the morning (beginning at 9 a.m.) followed by Western and English-style classes in the afternoon.
In particular, the club gives Lone Rangers-in-training a chance to contemplate making the plunge into a more committed equestrian lifestyle.
“What I normally suggest to people is to co-board or lease an animal and ride for two or three days a week, and that gives you an idea of whether or not you want to be an owner,” said Elvins. “You need to know something about horses before you buy them.”
Of Woolwich’s Calhoun Stables, Elvins added, “Here, the people love their horses, and it’s not a money-grab. In other equine industries it’s a money-grab, but there isn’t a horse in this barn that makes money.” She laughed, “You gotta go get another job!”
The non-profit Calhoun Saddle Club will host three more shows this season – July 21, August 18, and September 15 – beginning at 9 a.m. at Calhoun Stables (1590 Durant Rd.). Spectators are encouraged to attend, and the club is also seeking sponsorship opportunities. More information can be found at calhounsaddleclub.ca.