Established 1985

The Mane Bit

Issue 6


December 1999


From the Editor

Winter is coming, and we all know what that means: indoor riding. Most of us groan at the thought of that, but we don't realize how lucky we are. Many stables don't have a place to ride in the winter, much less a brightly lit arena directly in front of their horse's stall. So just think of how lucky we are, and you'll feel better. (a cup of hot chocolate helps too, but try not to go overboard)

The annual Christmas Party at Harrogate will be on December 12. It will be pot luck as usual.

We want to do something of a Secret Santa between the riders and the horses. So we will put up a list of all the horses and we want you to write your name beside a horse (one person per horse), and wish them Merry Christmas in some way, eg.

I hear they're planning something in return.

Michelle Colpitts


A Harrogate Christmas Song

Santa Riding

To the tune of Jingle Bells

Dashing round the course,
Jumping great big jumps
Cantering on my dark bay horse
And landing on my rump

Oh, Harrogate Hills, Harrogate Hills,
Horses all the way.
Riding with my friends all year
And lots of time to play. Hay!



A Very Big Thank You from Pat

The arena has been specially re-furbished with a new bedding. Now the horses will have great footing, although it will take a few lessons of horses trotting around before everything will get settled in. This wonderful transformation took place on Friday, Nov. 19.

This new base is a mixture of sand and shavings, which will create less dust and won't freeze!

Tom Madsen of Madsen's Landscaping provided the bobcat and operator (Jeff), while George Padanyi and his friend, Doug, came up from Toronto with snow ploughs. Between them, the old footing was taken out and put in the sand ring. Later, Donna, Vuokko, Mary-Christine and her husband, Peter, helped transport a massive pile of shavings into the arena. Thank you very much to all those who helped re-decorate!!




Donna has been teaching riding for Pat for 12 years. She part boarded Cheyanne for 6 years and showed her on the Trillium circuit in dressage for three years. As well as teaching riding on Mondays and Saturdays, Donna is the Ringmaster at all of the Harrogate shows. (She also does a lot of things behind the scenes!) Here is a poem about her from Jill.

Donna is a teacher, (a certified riding instructor)
Donna is a pal
She's kind to every creature
She always wishes well.
I've known her for a long long time
Since I was just a squirt
And I remember clearly
How she picked me from the dirt (when I fell off).
She has a witty husband
His parents named him Paul.
She has a big blue van (Chrysler, V6 engine, seats 7)
And she drives it to the mall (Eaton Center, that's where she works)
A couple years ago
She went to buy a mare
She came back with great Duchess (an 8 year old TB X Belgian)
Her beauty made us stare.
I think it's time to end this rhyme
And boy it's just in time.
So here's the latest news update ...



Being on the Bit

Being on the bit is a very hard term to define, much less achieve with perfection. Another way to say 'on the bit' would be to say 'on your aids'. Most riders assume that if the horse's neck is round, and the rider has good contact, that the horse is 'on the bit'. But there is more to it than that. When a horse has truly become 'on the bit', he is responding to leg, seat and rein aids, and accepts them with relaxation and confidence. When a horse comes 'on the bit', it means he is beginning to use his hindquarters more, and is bending throughout his body. He can then stretch through his back and strides.

The horse should be in front of your leg, and move forward without hesitation. To be correct, the horse should stretch over his back and into your rein contact when you use your leg and seat aids.

Correct contact is an important part of getting a horse 'on the bit'. You cannot simply pick up the reins and have contact, there must be an elastic-feeling when your leg and seat ask the horse to send his energy from his hindquarters, over his back, through his neck, pole, jaw and into the contact you've created.

If your horse is never 'on the bit' because he is hollow and tight in his back and stiff in his poll, try exercises to help him increase the suppleness of his lateral bend (side to side) and his longitudinal bend (topline).

This article came from Horse Illustrated Magazine (May '98), recommended by Katrina, then modified to fit our newsletter.


Harrogate Horses


Sputnik came from Louisiana, where, because of an unsuccessful racing career, he was moved to Canada. Here, he competed in the Open Jumper Division until he broke his coffin bone and retired from jumping. He came to Harrogate in 1989, and suffered a life-threatening injury to his hock just 2 weeks after his arrival. But, against all the odds (and 2 vets recommendations for euthanasia), Sputnik recovered, and continued as a feisty school horse, not for beginners.

Now, some people mistake this 22 year old to be Willie's relative, with his identical bay coat and white blaze but they are not related (plus their ages are very spaced out). At the present time, he is not being ridden very much other than by Marisa. For social problems that come up, he has the constant support of his girlfriend, Omby. (She's the other Harrogate Horse featured in this edition because Sputnik wouldn't have it any other way)


!!!!! Alert !!!!!! Alert!!!!! Many people are often wondering if Omby's breed is palomino or appaloosa. Also, which is her colour? Fear not! The Mane Bit has the answer; Breed: Appaloosa, Colour: Palomino. Omby has been with Pat since the early 1990's, where Pat got her at 5 years old. She has done her job well, teaching the beginners, and reminding the more advanced.

When most people come for an assessment, it's Omby they ride. She's incredibly trustworthy for beginners, those with back pain and those who are nervous after a fall (these last two are from my mother.) If only Omby wasn't so grumpy when she was being groomed, she'd be the absolute perfect horse!



We have two new horses at Harrogate, who have come in the last month or so. Buttercup is a palomino QH X Saddlebred, and he is owned by Robin MacFarlane. Buttercup came from Goldmills, and Robin has had him for 3 years. He now stays in the stall that previously belonged to Chuckie, then Pete (who stays outside with Wapiti now).



Raison is Nadine Venier's new horse, a dapple grey TB X Arab, who uses Glory's stall and hangs out with Teddy and Buttercup in the fields. Pat described him as "....he is fairly green, but has a generous attitude, and really wants to learn. Already you can see signs of a great parternership developing between Nadine and her new horse".

He is 8 years old, and Nadine got him as a surprise Birthday present from her parents. They found him at BranView Farms, where Nadine started exercising him. We all hope to see him in Harrogate shows, as well as the away shows. His show name is "Polar Express." (Maybe he'll help Santa at the Christmas Party.) Good luck Nadine & Raison!


Did you know?

There will be no Christmas camp this year but there will be lots of time for practice rides. What a good gift to find in your stocking! Hint! Hint to parents!

If you and your Harrogate friends want to book a special lesson with Pat, she would be pleased to arrange it.

Right from the Horse's Mouth

The greatest joy on earth is found on a horse's back.



Short Story Contest!!

The Mane Bit wants even more interaction with it's readers, so we've decided to have a short story contest. It's open to anyone under 18 who rides regularly at Harrogate or anyone over 18 with an imagination. The winner will get their story printed on the back page of the Mane Bit and there may be more than one winner!



  1. The story must have something to do with horses.
  2. Drawings or pictures are not guaranteed to be published.
  3. The story can be no longer than 1 page long.
  4. Only one story per person.
  5. Stories must be submitted by Jan. 9, 2000.

So turn on your computer and start typing! All stories can be given to Michelle, or put in the Mane Bit Comments & Articles Box in the lounge. (This is the same box where you drop cheques and notes for Pat.)