“It might not look it but there’s a lot of horse under that nag!” Nathan Seifert, exclaimed.
He is a para-equestrian, who has qualified for the opportunity to compete at the BC Summer Games held in Prince George from July 21 to 24, along with teammates Marinka VanHage and Chase Caron.
Nathan can certainly turn a phrase, which is equally matched with his precision horse-wielding skills used during dressage patterns done at the Livestock Arena recently as part of the qualifier.
Connie Taylor, coach of the para-equestrians for the fourth year, has been part of the Prince George Therapeutic Riding Association since 2018 where the para-equestrians have been riding together for years.
“I have always been interested in Westerns and watching people ride,” Nathan said about how he got started in horseback riding.
“Nathan’s my cowboy,” Coach Connie smiled.
“Yup, city boy on the outside but cowboy at heart,” Nathan agreed with Coach Connie, who was quick to say she’s not a dressage coach.
“Jody Kennedy has helped me out learning about it and now we’re all learning together,” Coach Connie said about training with the three para-equestrians, Nathan, Marinka and Chase.
The three athletes have only been working their patterns for about three weeks.
“You all did amazing,” Coach Connie said, addressing the three para-equestrians about their performance in the arena a few Saturdays ago.
“My love of horses is so strong I will probably never give up riding,” Nathan said, who rides Tramp and said he’s a bit nervous going into the BC Summer Games competition. “And may I say something on the record? I appreciate Connie’s help and everything she’s done and I am with her all the way. I literally trust her with my life. Horses are big animals!”
Marinka is more of a doer than a talker and is an all-round athlete that participates in many sports and was recently part of the para-athletic team of curlers.
“Fancy is so funny – because she likes chocolate Timbits,” Marinka VanHage, a 20-year veteran rider, laughed about her mount.
During the dressage patterns Fancy seemed distracted and more than happy to just follow along with the other two horses and riders as they made their way to and from the arena to compete.
“Fancy didn’t listen,” Marinka said.
“She was probably just picking up on your nervousness,” Coach Connie said and Marinka agreed.
Nathan, a 14-year veteran rider, found it challenging to keep Tramp walking at the speed that she was supposed to be going, he said.
“She likes to slow down – as we know,” Nathan said about Tramp, turning to Coach Connie who nodded her agreement.
Chase Caron knows learning to ride is a valuable life lesson, he said. He’s been riding since 2014 and rode Piper during the qualifier.
“It went better than I expected,” Chase said.
“Piper is the horse Chase rides and as soon as he was on her back they just clicked,” Coach Connie said. “They move so well together – they just look amazing together.”
“It’s a very valuable bonding experience and at first Piper was like a rocket – always ready to get up and go – always thinking everything was a race,” Chase explained. “So our relationship was more gradual and now we click.”
Coach Connie is so very proud of these riders, she added.
“They have come so far in such a short time, we honestly only started anything dressage related about three weeks ago and they have come amazingly far,” Coach Connie said about their prep time before the qualifier. “I’m just so proud of how hard they’ve tried and they’ve shown up at every extra practice and they just do their best all the time and I want to thank their parents for all their support every step of the way.”