Tag Archives: inspiration

Racing the Wild Coast – Movie Coming Soon!

Do you have goosebumps yet?

In October 2016, team riders Sarah and Rose rode in the inaugural Race the Wild Coast from Port Edward to Kei Mouth in South Africa.  Throughout the race, they and ten other riders were filmed on their journey… the product of which will be coming soon to your screens!  Stay tuned here and at the Rockethorse site and we will keep you informed of the release date as it becomes available!

What was it like to be filmed while riding this epic race?


Sarah and Asad being filmed during vetting later in the race. Photo courtesy of Rockethorse Racing.

“I am not going to lie, I avoided the film crew at first.  I was worried that taking time to interview with them on my holds would slow down my vet checks – and having efficient vet checks and horse changes was my strategy for the race.  Any time I saw them approaching I would make myself busy… fussing over my horse or my pack.  Once I had my routine down later in the race, I took some time to let them in.”


Sam and Monde catch up to Sarah. Photo courtesy of Rockethorse Racing.

“We would be riding on a goat track the edge of a cliff with a hundred metre drop straight to the ocean.  Then we would hear the whip whip whip sound of the helicopter approaching and just think ‘oh crap, what is coming next?’  ‘don’t spook, don’t spook, don’t spook’ and of course ‘don’t look at it you fool, they told you not to and wave at the cameras.  Slap a smile on your face and pretend that your chafed damp legs aren’t stinging like a thousand wasps got in your pants.  You are having fun remember?’  Later in the race when I was alone fighting to keep Asad moving, the familiar sound of the chopper told me that Sam and Monde were closing in.  It was a telltale sign that something exciting was about to happen.”


Jamie following Rose on her second horse Eclipe into a vet check. Photo courtesy of Rockethorse Racing.

“My headlamp turned out to be water resistant, not ‘swim rivers’ water proof.  The second morning, getting ready in the dark, I was quite happy to have the camera crew following me around with their bright lights.”


“At a certain point, I found myself looking for the camera crew when something hilarious or frustrating was happening.  It started to feel like a natural extension of whatever it is that drives me to blog in the first place.  Sometimes when I’m trying to write a blog and reconstruct an event and find the right pictures, I think how much more convenient it would be if I just had a camera crew.  That said, I don’t like seeing myself in photos or on video.  Seeing myself on video, I can’t help wondering if I look that goofy all the time.



And if you are feeling motivated and inspired by the video, why not apply for a spot in the 2018 race?

Can’t make it for one reason another?  Not to worry, Ashley will do it so you don’t have to.  Help her fundraising efforts by purchasing an ESRR tee or hoodie!


It’s about Passion-by Jean Abernethy

“If you let yourself be drawn into your life by the strange pull of that which you are passionate about, you will not be led astray”. —Jean Abernethy creator of Fergus the Horse


In my experience, staying true to one’s passion has been the thread that keeps life meaningful, and fun. No doubt, in writing this philosophy to equestrian readers, I’m preaching to the choir.  After all, we are equestrians, first and foremost because of a major passion….horses.


In forging a career which combined horses and art, I can now recount with delight the number places I’ve been, because of my passion for horses. I never considered travel to be one of my passions, but here I am, many years, and thousands of miles later.


Learning to drive as well as ride horses, opened doors for me. As an artist, drawing various harnesses, from draft harness to race harness, made my knowledge valuable to the standardbred industry. I also got a job in Georgia driving carriage horses in some beautiful historic places.  Because of my studies as an artist, I already knew the harness, what the parts were called, how it all worked.  My boss just needed to show me the tricks of putting it on. I’ll never forget driving in Barnsley Gardens in North Georgia.  It was the site of an old pre-Civil War cotton plantation-turned-resort.  Some of the trees, rosebushes and shrubs in the gardens around the mansion are well over 150 years old.  The mansion itself lost its roof to a tornado in the 1950s. Driving for Yellow Rose Carriages, is an experience I’ll always treasure.


Near my home in Marrietta GA, Kennesaw National Battlefield Park was a place of solace for many miles and years in the saddle. Civil war tranches are carefully preserved there.


Visiting Monty & Pat Roberts’ Flag Is Up Farms in the San Yanez valley of California, to take a seminar with then, stable manager Crawford Hall changed my horsemanship for the better, and opened innumerable doors for me as an illustrator. Fergus himself, was born shortly thereafter.


Driving to a Friesian breeding farm near Raleigh, North Carolina, for a client who wanted Friesian horse cartoons, led to the creation of my character “Kase” now a member of Fergus’s herd of friends. To my delight, my passion for horses, and my artistic career, had taken me coast to coast in the USA.


Just a few years later, I flew to England to visit an equestrian friend I met in California. Our combined passion for horses had us gazing into the church-like rafters of the last pre-1900 riding arena (school) left in England that was still in equestrian use…the racing stable of the legendary Eclipse…and Epsom Downs. (where I later took Fergus for a gallop on this photo I took during my visit. (I rarely put Fergus into a photo that I have not taken myself.)


Membership with American Horse Publications has taken me to several US cities, too, and I’ve been treated to, not just tourism, but tourism that interests equestrians: Saratoga, Keenland, Williamsburg…and in SanAntonio Texas I made this sketch inside the Alamo. Cameras were not permitted inside the building.



My passion for horses has drawn me to visit, repeatedly, a saddle manufacturing shop and a saddle tree manufacturing shop, tucked away in the Tennessee hills. Each is as colourful in character and culture as its proprietor. These special places have now also become part of my story. Here are four saddles that I have built and ridden.


The experience of riding 25 miles a day for two weeks, gives one a new perspective on travel, and history. With friends and family members, my little mare Willow and I accompanied this special group of horses and people from Lindsay to Cornwall, ON. How I treasure my journal kept daily along that adventure! Here we are in the middle of the pack, on the road near Douro, ON.


After the publication of my first book, Fergus has taken me to New York City where I had a ride in Central Park and toured the stables where the carriage horses live.


Since moving back home to Canada from the US, I’ve been privileged to work for South Algonquin Trails, a trail guiding company near Harcourt, ON. There I learned more of the history of Ontario’s legacy of logging and forestry.


A side note, my grandfather, I was told, drove a “Snatch Team” while working in the bush in winter. This required exceptional horsemanship. On iced logging roads the sleighs, heavily laden, would slide along nicely, pulled by one pair of horses. Two teams, however, were often needed to get the sleigh started. Imagine the caution and expertise needed to hook a team of 4 onto a sleigh, enormously laden with logs. Two drivers would send all 4 horses into their collars at once to start the sleigh (hob-nailed boots on ice, and sharp-shod horses!) Once the sleigh was moving, the driver of the front pair, or “Snatch Team” would unhook on the move, and get out of the way, leaving the remaining team to take the load out. One misstep could be tragic.


Being a part of the crew at South Algonquin Trails has brought me closer to my own history, and has also connected me with whole new rounds of friends; friends who have introduced me to playing Mounted Games, and my very first Competitive Trail Tide. The friendships, lessons and experiences working for and with my SAT friends, are too numerous to account for in a single blog…and 2017 is already filling up with scheduled travel and adventure…



A passion is a pathway to an enriching life. Never brush it aside. Dive in heart first. When life gets tough, your passion, your deepest love, will be the thing that holds it all together for you.  Saddle up and keep going…


Jean Abernethy creator of Fergus the Horse


Weekly Review

Monday – Hit  the gym and did 6km in just under 34 minutes.  Notice I have literally no clean clothes for work or the gym, I pass on the barn and get the house in order. Did I mention that temperatures are dropping again?

Tuesday – Gym work is 6km in 37.5 mins with llots of incline work.  Then in the evening, my second session with Heather from Equifitt.  I already blogged about it here.

Wednesday – The temperature is really starting to get cold.  I get a text from Lynn after I leave the gym (having done 4.3k in 22 mins) asking if I was still coming – pretty much everyone else cancelled because of the cold.  I’m game if you are!  So instead of waiting around for my lesson, I went straight there to get it done so Lynn could leave at a better hour.  Linda, Lindsay and Rae were in the lesson – it got conglomerated because we were the few willing to brave the cold (we also are all owners – hmmm, connection?)

Bentley took a while to warm up to nice soft frame, but did so beautifully.  Well, at first he was very hyper, throwing his head around… i thought he might lose his bridle! Can’t blame him, he hadn’t been ridden since Saturday.  Once he lost the hyper and got his muscles warmed up, wow!  He sure is a beauty!  It is a jumping lesson, and we must have been doing well because Lynn kept raising the jumps.  We finished with a first – a triple bar!  I cannot believe how confident  and easy he has become.  Lynn measured it when we cooled out, 3’2″ – personal best!  Not bad for a trail horse.

Bentley gets a "bra" and some extra special food for working so hard.
Bentley gets a “bra” and some extra special food for working so hard.

Thursday – Gym was an incline day – 3.85km in 26 minutes.  I was supposed to do cardio rower too, but after wandering around the gym in a daze for a while, and asking the staff twice, I determined that my gym has everything BUT a cardio rower.  So I just did my strength exercises and left.  It was now -24 C outside plus wind chill.  So I decided to get groceries insted of ride.  If it were this in January, I would still go… but I have had enough of these below -20 temperatures and cant be motivated to bobsled my horse down the icy hill in polar vortex temperatures, only to trot circles for an hour.  Spring, please come soon!

Friday, I squeaked out 4.77km (3 miles) at the gym in 26 mins.  Then had a nice but cold ride in the arena for an hour.  It did seem to take forever to get even a somewhat acceptable performance out of Bentley.  I am attributing this to the cold’s effects on myself, he was all crooked for the better part of 30 minutes, but I assume it must have been me being cold and crooked as I had a lot of difficulty correcting and preventing it.  We did work a bit on speed/cardio – doing intervals of 10 min trot (more like jog), 5 min canter,  3 times over.  He was pretty tired by the end, but not done, and likely could have done much more after a walk.  This is comforting to know since hes so fat right now, that he isn’t as out of shape as I thought.

Saturday was early off to the barn to do some mucking, so I could get out in time to have lunch with my Grandparents and Aunt.  Lee had decided to complicate the day by booking our car for an oil change during this time (and he was to be at work).  This was already creating stress, since I had little wiggle room for time.  But he assured me he would do the shuttling of the car around town so I could leave the barn in time for lunch.

Then the issue hit – he picked me up at the barn, and the car was roaring like a tyrannosaurus.  Somehow the service must have broke our car.  Seriously didn’t have time for this.   I was roaring as much as the car since the service I never wanted (or believed could wait until next week) resulted in the ruin of my day.

As they hoisted the car up and I fumed, they showed me and explained what was wrong.  At some point in the past, there had been work done on the exhaust system, and a poor patchwork job was done.  Over a few years, the exhaust pipe connection worked its way out (since the pipe they used was too short), and was hanging down below the front of the car, making the wretched noise.  I silently vowed never to buy a used car again – I just don’t know what other shoddy fixes may have been done and have lost all confidence in it.

They put the pipe back in, said it was safe to drive but I will need to get a permanent fix done at a muffler shop.  As soon as I got in however, it sounded loud again, I think it was perhaps the lift that was the last straw, and the thing had fallen out again.  As they said it was safe to drive, I went to lunch.  Halfway down the line, the check engine light came on.  Sigh.  Thankfully I was able to make it to lunch and my afternoon appointments without my car bursting into flames (though driving was torture) and mom and dad agreed to let me borrow their car for a day or two.

In the evening, I got together with Linda and we did a OCTRA conference call to discuss some ideas for The Pulse.  The plan was to do dinner, then ride.  Well, as a bit of domino effect from my car troubles and stress, it never played out that way.  Instead we spent the night there, making pizza and laughing with 2/3 of her daughters (who I have known since we all were toddlers).  Linda dropped on me some wisdom – I don’t have to do ANYTHING. It’s ok to take a break.

This flowed over to Sunday, where our initial plans to go skiing cancelled in favor of other activities.  I didn’t even end up riding, but instead enjoyed a day at home – visiting family, tidying up my basement, relaxing, and cooking for the first time in months (its been a long winter of frozen pizzas).  I didn’t even realize how much I had missed that – I used to love to cook and bake.  I still did my core workout of course, but didn’t put pressure on riding.  Bentley is doing fine on riding 2-3x a week and I will have plenty of time once it isn’t -20 outside to bring up the fitness level.  I realized this was the first weekend I had given myself a break in perhaps years (except when I was sick and forced to stay home).  Despite resigning my full weekends at the barn several weeks ago, my expectations of myself filled up every day and slowly the stress level rose.  Even riding became more work than fun in my mind, and I was looking for excuses not to do it.  So reflecting back on a lazy Sunday, it was well worth the freckle on my training plan in order to refocus, recharge and motivate me.  I am excited again!

Perhaps when I get that taste of spring – the first ride outside, the first hike down the Bruce trail, the first time I don’t lose my keys/phone in all my layers, this motivation will multiply.  For now, I will ride when I want to ride, and not feel bad if it isn’t a daily chore.

This week was a little heavy on the gym and light on the photos, so please enjoy this cartoon I found online: