Jennifer Van Leeuwen
Owner, Trainer & Coach
I grew up in Ontario and started taking riding lessons at the age of 7. By the time I was 10 I was spending all day at the barn. Just hanging out and watching the lessons, helping the younger kids and leading the stark beginners.
By the time I was 15 I'd already spent years mucking out stalls and volunteering with holiday camps. I got my dream summer job that year working at an overnight all girls camp, where I taught riding & horsemanship to horse-crazy girls just like myself!
During the year I cleaned stalls to help pay for my lesson and lease where I rode at a Hunter/Jumper barn. It seemed that people were always offering me their green or difficult horses to ride. And as my dad once said to me, "If this is really what you want to do, than no matter what, NEVER turn down a free ride". So I took what I got. And I soon found myself helping my friends work through problems with their horses as well.
After high school, thanks to the guidance of my coach at the time, I decided to attend Olds College in Alberta. Their English Horsemanship program combined the experience gained from a top working student position, classroom equine knowledge and the regular college experience. I graduated with honours in 2005 and became an Equine Canada level 1 coach.
I moved even further west and began working with a level 3 eventing coach, where I rode, taught and helped run the barn, gaining invaluable experience. I had always wanted to try eventing but never had the chance. I still remember my very first cross country course, where I was terrified and forgot to breath through the first 5 fences, only to take a deep breath and realize this was "THE BEST FEELING ON EARTH!"
In 2011, I struck out on my own. Running a successful program in Aldergrove BC, where I taught mostly Hunter/Jumpers and eventers all while continuing my riding education with some of the best local coaches. After 6 years my husband and I decided to make the move to Merritt BC where I am now based.
In moving to "ranching" country, I have had to expand my skill set and have since added Western riding lessons to the roster.
During my time in Merritt, I have discovered what is known as Equitation Science. A science based training system for horses that helps to make our requests and expectations of our partners clearer and more concise. This helps to eliminate any mixed signals on our part, leading to horses that are overall happier, healthier and better partners. Allowing us to be better riders for them.
Equitation Science is a journey that I have just begun, but am very excited to see the results in not only my horses but those of my students as well. I am looking forwards to seeing where it takes me!