From food, vet bills, dressage saddles, bridles, boots and breeches, Gracie is somewhat of a luxury model 16-year-old Shelby Skinner really can’t afford to run.
Gracie, however, is Shelby’s bestie. They pretty much hang out 24-7 and love to compete in the horse world with future Olympic aspirations.
Shelby rides Gracie, an eight-year-old mare, two to four hours a day, six days a week, spending another two hours a day grooming, feeding and doing barn chores.
To help offset expenses, the Skinner family is holding a fundraiser Saturday from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. with recording artist Lee Dinwoodie the highlighted entertainer.
“I will be doing a demo, there will be a silent auction and we hope to show a midnight movie in the barn,” said Shelby, who is home schooled.
The Skinners live at 7940 Keddelston Road in the BX. Everybody is welcome.
Skinner is a three-day equestrian eventer who has been riding horses since she was a tyke. She knows reaching the Olympics takes more than a love of sport.
“This is no easy undertaking and if I felt I could reach my goal on my will, spirit and determination alone I would,” she said. “But I realize it takes a great deal of money and publicity to make my dream a reality, money my parents just don’t have.”
Horses run in the Skinner house.
“My grandma (Sue Nixon) rode when she was a kid and still does. My dad (Jamie Skinner) rode and competed when he was a kid and his dad (Bob Skinner) also rode when he was younger and as a young adult. My mom (Tracey Skinner) has ridden all her life. My grandma and grandpa (Erv Nixon) on my mom’s side raised thoroughbreds for racing and so did my great-grandpa and great-grandma on my dad’s side.”
Shelby has had three ponies and two horses so far in her career. She has also ridden and trained many more horses for others.
She lives with her mom on her grandmother’s farm which is equipped with a barn, outdoor riding arena, and a small cross-country jump course.
“I am very fortunate to have the setup that I do, right out my door, to help me grow as a rider. Our neighbour and friend (Terry Leggat) from a few properties down, has built an indoor arena and a gallop track around the perimeter of her acreage. The gallop track has been a great addition to my horse’s training for bumping up her strength and stamina.
“She will allow me to ride in her indoor arena for lessons during the winter months. This will help progress my horse’s training when, normally, I would be riding in the deep snow.”
Skinner gives props to her family for support and encouragement.
“Horses are my life and have been for as long as I can remember. I feel being with them is where I belong. One of my aunts is even convinced I’m part horse.”
Skinner has competed in two regional events this season, missing a third of the season due to Gracie nursing a mild strain to a tendon.
“In order to reach my goal of the 2020 Olympics, I need to be moving up at least two levels a season which means competing in more events per year and travelling into the U.S. to compete in larger, upper-scale national events. This will help to gain exposure and experience for me and my horse.”