TRURO, N.S. – To ride in the Royal Horse Show in Toronto, part of the 95th Royal Agricultural
Winter Fair, would be quite a feat for any young rider.
To compete and win a major event would definitely be outstanding.
Earlier this month, riding a 22-year-old horse named Twisted, Makayla Clarke was in new and uncharted territory.
“This was the first time I had ever rode in a national competition,” said 15-year-old Clarke, of Hilden. “To get there I had to compete at four equestrian-sanctioned shows and I had to be selected to represent the Maritimes. In Toronto, It was all very mind-blowing to be riding with the top riders in Canada and other parts of the world.”
Clarke shared how she and Twisted made it to the $5,000 MarBill Hill Pony Jumper Final.
“A jumper has to jump over obstacles in a ring; there were 12 obstacles, small fences, and horse and rider try to complete the competition as fast as possible with no faults. Following two successful rides we made it to the final.”
The final was both exciting and rewarding for the local rider as she finished in a first-place tie with Grace Munro, of Wolfville, riding Ever So Clever. The horses had identical times of 23.10 seconds.
“I had never won a major race before,” Clarke recalled. “That was definitely my biggest win. It’s been a goal of mine for three years to compete nationally. What I remember about the experience is shock. I came out of the ring quite emotional, I couldn’t help it. To get the win competing against a good friend (Grace Munro) that made it even more special.
“To have accomplished it riding Twisted, a 22-year-old rescue pony, I’m so proud that I just can’t come up with the words to describe it. He’s a little firecracker but a lot of fun to ride.”
For the future, Clarke looks to move up to higher heights with jumpers.
“I’m interested in getting another horse, that’s in the near future which is really exciting. I’m definitely planning to continue competing, I have a bit of an addiction – I’m a crazy-horse girl.”
Clarke developed a love for horses at a young age.
“My friend, Ashley Bates, had a horse and I started going to the barn with her. Ashley would let me care for her horse and the riding followed. I went to horse shows with
Ashley and I soon began taking riding lessons from Erin Groves.”
In 2012, she became a regular at Horseplay Stables in Brookfield.
“That’s where I started taking lessons from Danica Ellis. From that first lesson,
Danica knew that jumping was where I wanted to go. So, for the past five years, it’s been interesting and very helpful taking lessons from Danica. It seems that if one plan for me doesn’t work out, she’ll come up with another one.”
An exceptional student, Clarke is in grade 10 at South Colchester Academy in
Brookfield and is involved in the school’s Options and Opportunities Program.
“It’s a program that gears you towards what might be a suitable career for you after high school. This is my first year being involved with the program, it runs from grade 10 to grade 12. To become involved you have to keep your marks up, you have to be consistent; I find it an amazing program.
“At this time I’m not certain what my career will be; I’m going to take my time in deciding. I’m really enjoying my high school experiences, I’m happy to be involved in a number of activities.”
Another talent for Clarke involves playing hockey. Learning to skate on a neighbour’s pond at a young age, she played in both the Truro & Area Minor Hockey Association and the South Colchester Minor Hockey Association. A right winger, this is her first season with the Wilsons Home Heating Cyclones, a midget AA girls team.
“I love being with my friends playing hockey. The sport is something I definitely enjoy.
In the winter there’s not as much horse riding so hockey is number one. I guess I’m a pretty serious competitor, let’s put it this way. I don’t play for second place.”
Lyle Carter’s column appears every second Tuesday in the Truro Daily News. If you have a column idea, contact him at 902 673-2857.