International Lesson Horse Day Essay Winner: Jamie

Lesson horses aren’t needed just for riders: meet Jamie, a miniature horse teaching beginner drivers the basics with reader Kendra Gale.

Photo by Jennifer Jacula

Jamie is worth her weight in gold. Well, maybe more than her weight, as she’s only 32” tall.

Jamie, Circle J Just a Memory, is an AMHA registered Miniature Horse. Born here with my family, she had a show career, driving in the show ring and competing in combined driving, was an unsuccessful broodmare, and then found her calling as a lesson horse, and has taught many, many people to drive. Her youngest student was just four years old, but she is an excellent teacher for beginner drivers of all ages.

What makes Jamie so amazing as a lesson horse is that while she is extremely safe, and takes her job very seriously, she is never on autopilot, and always does exactly as she’s asked – whether that’s what her driver intended or not. I asked one young student, “What happens when you don’t ask for the transition properly?” and her very apt reply was, “Absolutely nothing.” Jamie doesn’t take over and do anything for you; instead, she makes good drivers who learn to do it right.

She’s also forward and fun to drive, and all students can drive her, from the very nervous beginner to an advancing learner who wants to do more and polish their skills. Jamie is happy to show off her canter transitions or dressage skills, still expecting the same high standards of her drivers as she did for their very first lessons.

Just this week, after a very long winter here in Alberta, I decided I should drive Jamie to make sure she was “polished up” for her summer lessons and workshops. While we had a lovely drive, as always, it was a silly thought – Jamie is always exactly the same, whether she drove yesterday or months ago. She is very proud of her job, and while she has her quirks – being left in the barn alone for even a moment will turn her into a crazy mustang – as soon as the harness comes out she is all business.

People are always trying to buy Jamie, usually people who don’t even know how amazing she is and are just blinded by her pretty blue roan colour. But Jamie will be here, helping me show many more people how much fun it is to drive a Miniature Horse for the rest of her days.

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