Living the dream: Army logistics officer excels at job and horse competitions

Article / March 10, 2016 / Project number: 16-0027

Kingston, Ontario — Dedication, teamwork, commitment – some of the traits that make a good soldier are also ones that make a good horse show competitor.

Captain Leanne Karoles and her horse, named Remember I’m Awesome (Lacy), have put those characteristics to good use and have proven that they are a team to be reckoned with. Capt Karoles is a Regular Force Logistics Officer at the Canadian Army Doctrine and Training Centre Headquarters in Kingston, Ontario. She has been in the military for 29 years and has been showing horses since she was 14 years old.

Horses have been a passion of mine since I was a little girl,” said Capt Karoles. “I was the horse-crazy girl in school; I couldn’t get enough of being around them, which led me to showing horses. I love the collaboration and coordination of effort that is involved with this sport.

Capt Karoles shows her eight-year-old mare, Lacy, on various Quarter Horse Circuits in Canada and the United States. A quarter horse is a breed of horse that excels at sprinting short distances faster than a Thoroughbred and is one of the most popular breeds in North America today. They are very versatile and can be found working cattle on a ranch, racing, trail riding or performing, like Lacy does.

There are eight events in which Capt Karoles shows Lacy, including:

  • Halter – judges the horse (led by its halter, not ridden) on its physical characteristics, movement, balance and suitability for breeding
  • Hunter under saddle – judges the horse on the consistency of each gait and overall movement at a walk, a trot and a canter
  • Trail – judges the maneuverability, safety and alertness of the horse through an obstacle course simulating a bush trail
  • Showmanship – judges the exhibitor’s appearance and showmanship abilities, horse grooming and tack fitting skills, as well as the ability to lead the horse through a pattern or set of maneuvers.

She is undefeated in both Open and Amateur Performance Halter Mares in Ontario. Performance Halter Mares is a class in which you must qualify to compete. To qualify, Capt Karoles competed in nine circuits and showed to approximately 20 judges in Ontario in 2015.

Lacy is boarded and trained at a farm in Orillia, Ontario. Capt Karoles dedicates two full weekends a month to training with her coaches, Andrew Dewar and Pat Chamberland.

Mr. Dewar has been impressed by Capt Karoles’ dedication and drive. “She is the first up every morning prepping her horse and organizing the day’s events and then lending a hand to help everyone else,” he said. “She is always trying to improve herself, and understands and appreciates coaching. She diligently practices so she improves every time she rides. Lacy and Capt Karoles are a fantastic team and Pat and I look forward to seeing what they do this year.

Lacy is ridden daily by Mr. Dewar to keep her in shape and to practice her disciplines so she is continuously challenged. When Capt Karoles is not training with Lacy she is doing her own physical training program at least five times a week.

The training and travelling do take their toll but the effort is worth it to Capt Karoles. “I am happiest when I am with my horses and I love the challenge of competitions,” she said. “And nothing beats the feeling I get when Lacy and I have been working really hard on a manoeuvre and then it suddenly all comes together. It’s magic.

Although Capt Karoles finds the shows stressful, her training in the military and Lacy’s attitude have certainly helped. “We just try to go out there and do our personal best,” she said. “It’s what I was taught in my training, don’t worry about everything else – just do your best. And it also helps that Lacy is a bit of a diva. I can always tell if she is going to give me a good performance when she enters the ring, raises her head and whinnies at the crowd. It’s as if she is saying, ‘Alright ya’ll, I’m here!’

"I can always tell if she is going to give me a good performance when she enters the ring, raises her head and whinnies at the crowd. It's as if she is saying, 'Alright ya'll, I'm here!'"

The Canadian Armed Forces also sees value in its members being so involved and committed to athletic endeavours. “To successfully participate at a high level of competition, whether in an individual or team sport, demands dedication, commitment, sacrifice and a desire to succeed,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Craig Moore, Commanding Officer at the Canadian Army Doctrine and Training Centre Headquarters. “Similar traits are essential for military professionals, both to enhance their individual abilities and to contribute to the team that is the Canadian Armed Forces. Activities such as that pursued by Captain Karoles greatly contribute to the development of military members, building their work ethic and their understanding of the teamwork essential for success.

"Activities such as that pursued by Captain Karoles greatly contribute to the development of military members, building their work ethic and their understanding of the teamwork essential for success."
Lieutenant-Colonel Craig Moore, Commanding Officer at the Canadian Army Doctrine and Training Centre Headquarters

Most recently, Capt Karoles travelled to Virginia to compete in the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) All Novice and Level 1 Championship Show (East). Capt Karoles was the only Canadian Military member who competed in this championship. She placed seventh overall in performance halter and 54th out of 106 entries in showmanship at this competition.

The AQHA Novice Show was the largest competition I had ever participated in,” said Capt Karoles. “It was amazing just to be a part of it but I am so pleased with how Lacy and I placed. The icing on the cake though was that they introduced me as a Military member when I entered the ring; it made me so proud to serve.

Next , Capt Karoles and Lacy are planning to compete in Michigan in March and in North Carolina in April. These shows are to prepare for the 2016 Novice Championship Show in North Carolina in May.

The support and encouragement that I have received,” said Capt Karoles, “both from my chain of command as well as my peers, has allowed me to continue to pursue my personal dreams while achieving professional goals. It’s the best of both worlds.

By Karla Gimby, Communications Advisor, Canadian Army Doctrine and Training Centre

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