Jess and Sabrina: A love story

Jess and Sabrina: A love story

Sabrina Michaud left Quebec for Saskatchewan 7 years ago—not speaking a word of English. That's where she met Jess, the horse that changed her life.

August 2, 2019

Sabrina’s story is first and foremost a love story for Jordan, a young man whose roots are in the Prairies. He’s the one she originally follows to Western Canada. A few months after arriving in the plains of Prince Albert, Sabrina visits a horse farm where she meets Martine who practices the demanding discipline of reining. “Aside from pony rides at the Saint-Eustache Flea Market in Quebec, I’d never really had any contact with horses," says Sabrina.

That moment turns out to be life-changing. Sabrina starts to look after a retired horse and learns step-by-step the basics of equine care and how to communicate with the big, sensitive animals. She also befriends Martine, who will become an inspiration for Sabrina. “I suddenly had complete access to horses. I even jumped occasionally,” says Sabrina. “I made friends at the riding stable, and I soon realized that I just had to have a horse of my own to compete.” She acquires Jess, a 3-year-old filly she rides as she begins to learn reining. A new passion unfolds.

“Reining is a form of competition where riders guide their horses through specific figures, circles and stops,” explains Sabrina. “The rider must give the impression that the horse is doing everything without instructions. It’s a lot of work, but it’s very rewarding to be able to establish such a level of communication with the animal,” she adds.

Gradually, a bond of trust is established and, through trial and error, a partnership develops between horse and rider: “Jess has always been very understanding and very honest. Physically, she’s very careful with me and if I make a mistake from inexperience, she protects me. If I’m having a bad day or I'm feeling down, Jess senses my mood and becomes especially calm and quite sweet.”

Then Sabrina moved to Regina. Far away from her family and the precious friends she made in Prince Albert, she feels uprooted once again. Jordan is, of course, at her side, but Jess is an increasingly important presence in Sabrina’s life. “Thank goodness I had Jess. When the people you love are far away, it’s wonderful to have a horse like her.” Reining demands concentration and training also helped Sabrina to set her worries aside. “Every movement I make sends a message to Jess, I can’t let my mind get clouded with worry.”

One weekend each month during the summer, Sabrina and Jess compete in reining competitions through the Saskatchewan Reining Horse Association. Sabrina gets to catch up with friends and nurture connections within the riding community. “As riders, we don’t see one another during the winter. We catch up in the summer months,” says Sabrina. “In the evenings, we have meals and take care of our horses together, as much as we can.”

Sabrina’s equine passion has also brought her closer to her sister Catriane. “She and I didn’t have a great relationship when I left Quebec,” says Sabrina. “It’s odd, we both got involved with horses at the same time and we started to reconnect. We now call each other every day and have become really close, despite the distance. We even dream of owning a stable together. It’s definitely our love for horses that brought us together!”

Photo credit: The Little Romantics

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