Sara Edwards had one dream career from a young age. To work with a horse, of course.
Edwards is the owner and operator of SE Equestrian where she works with not just one but many horses and their riders as a riding coach and through a series of schooling shows she has organized at the GNE fairgrounds.
"I always wanted to work in horses. I never thought about doing anything else," said Edwards. "It's not really a career, it's a lifestyle."
As a child, she begged for riding lessons and finally received them as a birthday gift from her aunt. She was hooked immediately and spent 12 years showing competitively. She competed on the provincial and national circuit and later worked as a groom at the Royal Winter Fair and in Florida during the winter circuits.
"I never thought about doing anything else," said Edwards.
She's been coaching for nine years, and makes every effort to instil a passion for horses, their care and equestrian sportsmanship in her students.
"I make sure the kids have fun and a good experience," she said. "And they have to take care of their horse, not just ride it - It teaches responsibility for another being."
When it comes to sportsmanship, Edwards pushes her students to support each other as a team. Though equestrian sports are - for the most part - individualized, she said she encourages her students to help each other in the barn and at competition.
"Not only is it great for physical activity," she said. "The kids form good friendships here. They find a common bond."
Many of her students start at an SE Equestrian summer camp where they too get hooked on the sport. Though itâ€™s hard not to love the life around someone like Sara Edwards.
"That feeling you get when youâ€™re riding - I can't put it in words,â€ she said. "It's your happy place. It makes a bad day a good day."
Edwards gives private and semi-private lessons both at the barn and freelance for competitive and recreational riders of all levels and ages. She also runs summer camps at Sandy Acres Equestrian Centre in Nottawa.
And in the spirit of a lifestyle career, the SE Equestrian brand also includes Edwards' skills making custom-design show and competition ribbons and A-level braiding and clipping for competition horses.