The Hill Equestrian Centre was established in 1982. An old barn, built at the turn of the century, was the base to a handful of students who spent their days trotting around a dirt ring dreaming of one day riding in the Olympics. A number of years later Jim and Dorothy Hill, owners of the Centre, believed enough in the philosophy that horses and children were an excellent combination, that they established a facility that has supported this concept for over 25 years.
Now operating as Timberwind Stables, the organization has hosted national championships, provincial summer games, international clinics, horse shows, and numerous summer camps. The lesson program has introduced many children and adults in our community to recreational and competitive riding. Programming has also been offered in conjunction with a number of local organizations including Lakeland College, Bea Fisher, 4H, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Horses and Memories, The Lloydminster Exhibition, The City of Lloydminster, as well as both the Lloydminster Public School and home schooling systems. A wealth of information has been shared within the walls of this building. Experts representing a wide array of specialties within the horse industry have conducted clinics in a variety of disciplines including reining, driving, horsemanship, dressage, show jumping, colt training, hoof care, sports psychology and equine health management.
Currently weekly lesson programs are offered by a number of individuals with specialties in horsemanship, beginner rider, show jumping and dressage. A number of 4H light horse clubs use the arena to continue riding through the winter months. The arena is also kept busy with the very popular sport of dog agility. Avalon Dog Agility Club and the Lloydminster Hotdoggers, as well as a number of individuals, use the facility for training sessions, workshops, and trials. It is interesting that the conversations between the dog and horse owners frequently are about the similarities in training and hearing the passion for their four legged team mates!
Team Timberwind riders compete primarily in show jumping and hunter competitions. We also have riders competing in dressage, a discipline in which all of our riders initially receive basic training. Both our horses and riders begin competing in the hunter division in which horse and rider are judged on their ability to smoothly ride a course of natural jumps. To be successful in these events, riders must jump rounds with the set number of strides between related obstacles using correct form and technique. A well executed hunter round is a beautiful example of seemingly invisible communication between a rider and horse.
A number of riders aim to earn their way in to the “Jumper ring” where the exciting sport of show jumping takes place. Although this discipline has evolved to the point where the top horses and riders jump enormous courses with the smoothness and ease of a classic hunter, it does remain a pure sport in that is not judged. In simple terms, the horse and rider team which leave all the jumps up with the fastest time is the winner of the event. The sport has become so popular that amateurs and professionals can compete at a broad range of heights and types of competitions. The derby class is a highlight of the horse show as the long courses are made up of natural obstacles such as ditches and banks. The crowds love the fun classes such as the horse and dog relays and the gambler’s choice, where riders make up their own course of jumps which each are assigned points related to their degree of difficulty. The finale of the horse show is the Grand Prix event in which the top horses and riders compete over large, intricate courses for prize money.
Timberwind Stables riders compete at various levels of the sport primarily in Alberta and Saskatchewan at events such as the one held at Spruce Meadows as well being part of Team Saskatchewan at the Canadian Equestrian Championships in Bromont, Quebec. It is exciting to see riders progress from the beginnings of the sport — learning to ride at summer camp – to being successful competitive riders. It is an important part of this sport for riders to be involved with all aspects of horse care so all of our riders perform daily stable duties as well as working along with the veterinarians and farriers to manage the health of their equine partners.
The organization that began with such a simple philosophy has played a role in the lives of both the riders who went on to compete internationally as well as those who simply learned about the compassion, responsibility and joy derived from recreationally riding and caring for horses.