FLORIDA—While Manitoulin was under a deep freeze this winter Honora Bay’s Kyla Jansen, proprietor of the Honora Bay Riding Stable, headed for sunny Florida and the opportunity of a lifetime when she had the chance to learn from world-renowned horse trainer Sean Patrick.

“He’s probably one of the best horse trainers in the world,” Ms. Jansen boasted.

Ms. Jansen reached out to Mr. Patrick who invited her to come and intern under him. She readily agreed, packed her bags and headed south.

[quote_right]“It was super amazing,” she said of the experience. “I was there for three weeks getting at least three riding lessons a day from each of these guys. I was riding six to eight hours a day.”[/quote_right]

Mr. Patrick was working on the Road to the Horse Championship this winter, which took place at the end of March. The Road to the Horse, which takes place in Kentucky, gives up and coming trainers “a chance to put themselves out there,” she explained. The event is a colt starting competition where renowned trainers must start and compete on a horse chosen from a herd of unstarted (untrained) three-year-olds.

“It just so happened that Dan James, an Australian trainer, and Jimmy Anderson (last year’s Road to the Horse champion) were there (at Mr. Patrick’s) too,” Ms. Jansen explained.

Ms. Jansen said the first day left her feeling a little like a fish out of water. “I hurt for days,” she said. “My feet, my legs.”

Horseperson Kyla Jansen goes through the obstacle course during her training in Florida.
Horseperson Kyla Jansen goes through the obstacle course during her training in Florida.

A true rider can communicate with their horse with just body language, Ms. Jansen added. “I know the basics but having somebody watch you and say ‘your upper body moves too much, hands wiggle and obliques aren’t tight’ really helps a lot.”

While in Florida she also had the opportunity to work on spins and sliding stops (driving the horse so hard their rear end is actually underneath them when the come to a sudden stop.) The latter, she said, took a lot of courage to do.

“I feel so blessed to have been able to train under three world champions,” she added, “and they were not patronizing at all. They thought I was worth their time, I guess.”

As an intern, Ms. Jansen did whatever needed to be done on the Florida farm, including giving riding lessons, which she also does for her many students back on Manitoulin.

She said she is looking forward to sharing the wealth of information she received while in Florida with those students this spring and summer.

She was also pleased to share the news that Mr. Patrick plans to make the trip to Manitoulin this summer, a place he has visited before, in exchange for a Lake Manitou fishing trip organized by Ms. Jansen, which she happily agreed to do. She is hoping to have a clinic with Mr. Patrick lined up at her stable for the end of August.