Langley, BC, October 03, 2016 – Horse Council BC VP of Coaching & Education Susan Thompson  presented the Horse Council BC (HCBC) 2015 Horse of the Year Award to Norseman (“Normy”) and his owner Esmee Ingham at the Ingham’s farm in Ladner.

HCBC’s annual awards serve to honour outstanding achievement within BC’s equestrian community.  These awards acknowledge those who have stood out from the crowd over the past year and who have made a positive impact on the community as a whole. Each award recipient was nominated by two or more other Horse Council BC members for an award.

HCBC is reaching out to the various equestrian communities throughout BC so that we are able to present each award at a recipient’s club, competition, or event of their choice, surrounded by their friends and the people that support them.

The HCBC Horse of the Year Award (non-competitive category) any horse used in any form of non-competitive activity (i.e. trail horse, therapeutic, school horse, etc). The horse must have been born and raised in British Columbia.

In Esmee’s own words:

Norseman, also known as “Normy”, bred by Biz Bastian, was born in Smithers in 1996. Growing up in the interior, Normy began his Dressage career at the age of eight with Joni Lynn Peters of Armstrong.

I purchased Normy in 2008 and so began our successful four years of international Dressage competitions together. Due to injuries – to Normy and myself – he was retired from competitions in 2012. Moving him up to our family farm, Normy adjusted quickly to life on the ranch and became one with the herd (even chasing a cow every now and again). To go from a North American Junior and Young Rider horse with a Bronze, Silver and Gold medal to a backyard pet was an easy transition for him, showcasing his sensible mind and easy going nature.

Fast-forward to spring of 2014, after four months of slow and cautious conditioning after the winter he was starting to feel back to his sound and athletic self. Unfortunately, early June, I fell off a horse at work and broke my back. Unable to ride, I could not stand the thought of letting my horse down after months of work on his fitness, so I asked anyone (and everyone) to come over and ride him. From a petite eleven-year-old girl, to my novice horseback-riding boyfriend, Normy packed everyone around out on the trail, happy to go to work. After contemplating the plans for the rest of the year, I wanted to move Normy to the city in order to maintain his fitness over the winter, but I wouldn’t be able to ride until January so I contacted my friend Andrea Taylor (Team Canada Para-Equestrian Coach for Dressage). I am a Special Education Assistant and have brought a couple of my students to visit with Normy on occasion. He could not be any more gentle or kind for a horse of such great size with such small children, so I immediately thought of Andrea and the work she does. Andrea had emailed back stating that her student Ashley Gowanlock was looking for a horse and that they would like to come and try him out. At our family farm, there is no arena, just three very large fields and a few paddocks by the barn. When Andrea and Ashley arrived to try him, he stood patiently in the barn as Ashley came to greet him. Andrea rode him first out in the field, as I apologized profusely that we didn’t have a proper arena to ride in. And next was Ashley… I think I held my breath the entire time she rode.  She went just like the pro that she so naturally is. I continue to look back on this video footage of Normy, who lowered his head and knew exactly what his job was. The connection between Ashley and Normy was instantaneous as she rode so gracefully through the tall, swaying grass. Not even a week later, I trailered Normy to Langley where he lived from mid-September 2014 to mid-April 2015. I watched Ashley’s riding excel over this short period of time together, and although she was hoping to make it to the Rio Olympics with Normy, he needed a maintenance program that would not be acceptable for International competitions and the travelling would prove to be too much – but that did not stop him from trying his whole heart out each ride for Ashley. She was able to increase her riding fitness (which in return, benefits her whole body), try out some fancy tricks (flying changes and half passes) and even went to two local schooling shows. As for me, I drove out at least once a week while I was in school to visit him and help Ashley, and he was the first horse I rode after my accident. It wasn’t until the beginning of April that his arthritis began to get the better of him and so we tapered back the riding until I moved him to Ladner where I was living and working. We then spent the summer with leisurely rides on the beach and giving pony rides to the little girls in the barn.

I may be biased, but I cannot think of another horse than Norseman – an International champion, turned para-horse and pasture pet – that is more deserving of this award. He is truly the perfect horse.

On behalf of Horse Council BC, Congratulations to Esmee and Normie!

Photo: Esmee Ingham and Normy with the owners of Flaminko (Normy’s sire) and Biz Bastian (Normy’s breeder)