This horse making a big name for himself
There happens to be a Bricelyn native who knows a thing or two about horse shows.
Lesa Dahl-Leland, a horse enthusiast since the age of eight, was able to win this year’s amateur Canadian National Championship in the adult Arabian show hack competition. The event took place on Aug. 13 in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada.
Dahl-Leland says she has entered a horse in 20 out of the last 27 Canadian National competitions. During that span, she has brought a total of four different horses with her to compete. Of all her years involved in the competition, this is the first time Dahl-Leland has ever laid claim to an amateur title.
The horse which allowed Dahl-Leland to realize her title aspirations, happens to be a 14 year-old purebred Arabian gelding named Round N Around, or Round for short. Dahl-Leland, who still lives in Bricelyn with her husband Craig, was quite complimentary of her horse’s trainer, Bob Gordon, who is located in Princeton. She says capturing the elusive prize would not have been possible without Gordon’s help. “Round is so well taken care of by Bob and his wife Val, they are impeccable,” Dahl-Leland says. “It’s not just the training, but they take such good care of every show horse they have in the barn.”
Dahl-Leland, who bought Round six years ago, admits her experience at the Canadian Nationals had its share of turbulent moments. She says her championship horse was acting peculiar and being difficult to work with just moments before the start of the big event. Needless to say, it created a stressful situation for the Arabian horse enthusiast.
“Every horse has their own personality, and Round was testing my patience, so I was starting to have a little bit of an issue,” Dahl-Leland recalls. “My trainer told me a few things to do differently so the horse would settle down, but here we are at nationals and we had to change our whole routine.”
Despite occasional difficulties with Round, Dahl-Leland says her bond with the animal is quite a good match. In fact, throughout the six years of working with Round, she says the horse’s personality has just grown on her over time.
“When I went shopping for a new horse, he wasn’t my first choice,” Dahl-Leland admits. “But something in my gut just told me that I needed to pick him. He looks a lot like the first horse I took to nationals, from their color, to their white markings. He’s just a great horse.”
So how did Dahl-Leland get interested in horses to begin with? As it turns out, she reveals her father, Gerald, who was a farmer in Bricelyn, had a deep-rooted passion for the equestrian lifestyle.
Before his passing, Dahl-Leland recalls enjoying many childhood horse rides in the same area of Bricelyn she still calls home today. She mentions that her father took a specific liking to Arabian horses, but the actual reason why he enjoyed that breed remains a mystery.
“Every breed has its high points and accentuations, and my dad was just always drawn to Arabians, and I don’t know why, that’s just what he preferred,” Dahl-Leland says of her father.
Meanwhile, Dahl-Leland’s mother, Leota, is now 97 and still lives in Bricelyn, as well. The Canadian Nation Champion says her mother had a major influence on continuing her equestrian interests following the passing of her father.
“She’s been to many horse shows with me, so when my father passed away, she just picked up where he left off.”
Perhaps surprisingly, Dahl-Leland does not make her living in agriculture. Instead, she studied dietetics at Minnesota State University, in Mankato, and handles consulting duties for the food and nutrition departments of area nursing homes. At times, she says it can be challenging to support her passion for amateur horse show competition.
“I have to keep working to support this hobby, it gets very expensive,” Dahl-Leland laughs.