Raymi Rides with Eurico Rosa Da Silva

Boooom. It’s summertime or almost summer which is even better. It’s June which is adventure time. This is the best month to get outside because it’s not super hot yet, and there are no bugs. So when the bell rings, I put on my boots and hat and come ready to ride. This was a day in the country. We rounded Wheelabrator in Milton and kept-on driving north on Hwy 25 to Sideroad 15. I posted an Instagram of the entrance.

On Tuesday the 22nd of June , myself and other gals toured stables and rode horses with a famous jockey, Eurico Rosa da Silva.

group photo with all the gals at the horse barn

Eurico with Raymi, KarmaCake and We’rAddicted

You can read about Eurico on Canadian Thoroughbred magazine and Horse Sport magazine. He’s a World class equestrian that has won all the biggest horse races in Canada including the Queens Plate, a couple of times. He’s even met The Queen. Over the last seventeen years he worked his way up the rankings at Woodbine Racetrack, a career detailed in his autobiography, Riding for Freedom.

Eurico Rosa da Silva brushes sport horse

Eurico Rosa da Silva brushes Athena, a five year old Dutch warmblood at Halton Place

Halton Place is an amazing ranch (it’s a ‘showbarn’) where all manner of horses live and work. These beauties run races at Woodbine and jump fences in sand rings at other show barns all across the province. The ones we rode do equine-therapy where they work in people’s minds. Athena is still working now because I’m thinking about her.

Eurico Rosa da Silva puts bridle on Athena

Eurico Rosa da Silva adjusts Athena’s bridle before our ride.

“This is a good horse,” Mr. da Silva says, holding the bridle. “She is smart and willing, you see.” He slips the gear over the animal’s muzzle and brings a strap up over her ears. “She lowered her head for me.” This is especially significant gesture for jockeys who are vertically challenged.  But having said that, Eurico doesn’t need to use the mounting block to get atop a horse. He high steps and turns himself into the saddle in one fluid movement.

Raymi with Dutch Warmblood Athena at Halton Place Equestrian

Dressed and ready to ride Athena in the arena.

Halton Place is the home of Louise Masek and Look Ahead Sporthorses. Louise and Eurico are friends and he helps her manage the sportiest horses and he brings clients, friends and people like us to her facility. She is amazingly kind and generous.

Louise Masek with Eurico Rosa DaSilva and sport horses

Louise Masek of Look Ahead Sport Horses with Eurico Rosa DaSilva

Louise is very passionate about her business and about breeding perfect equines – animals which conform to breed prototypes. I get the impression she’s really happy with her life, despite its many daily challenges, and that’s because she’s really accomplished something with her horse breeding program. Louise has an Hanoverian stallion who’s getting lots of attention and she’s getting lots of requests for his semen from other horse breeders around the world. Charlie is quite popular with the mares in the barn too and quite vocal about it.

vetrenarian with two ounces of horse semen

Vet with beaker filled with horse semen from Charlie the stallion

Every time a horse was led by Charlie’s stall he would whinny loudly and remind everyone that he was willing to work for free. There are young and old horses here, and some are getting ready for competition while others’ careers are winding down. Some spend their days outside and others hang around relaxing in the barn.  It’s a pretty swanky setup.  The horse stalls here are extra roomy and bedded with straw on rubber mats. Eurico told us about the horses he knew, and he described the best features of the animals he was just meeting for the first time.

helmets at halton place

Now that he’s retired, at age 45, Eurico da Silva helps Canadians sharpen their brains. He calls his business Mind Coaching and he usually points to his own head when he says the name.  He’s a life coach who focuses on brain acuity and on helping high powered athletes and executives build mental awareness which a jockey needs and develops early to stay alive. He needed to stay sharp to keep safe, and Eurico told us all about his near-fatal accident in Macao, the worst of his career, in which he was airlifted by helicopter to a hospital in Hong Kong. Eurico has seen some things in his life and can share many of these experiences with his clients and friends. He doesn’t normally give riding lessons, but he’s kind and generous with his time and he told me so many things about himself and about how to treat the animals, and just what a horse expects from someone in the saddle holding the reins.

Raymi mounts the horse

Eurico Rose da Silva holds Athena while I get mounted in the saddle.

Eurico showed me how to mount and take the reins inside the bright and beautiful indoor arena. Overhead in the beams are hundreds of barn swallows which make incredible music that’s probably a chorus of complaints at our presence in their nesting grounds.  I found egg shells on the sand in the arena, and so I know there were baby birds in the mud nests overhead. This is the season for birthing animals and there were new calves in the field and week old foals in the barn and in fact one horse had just given birth earlier that morning.

baby foal on the straw in pen

A baby foal born hours before we arrive at Halton Place riding facility.

Eurico tells me that horses need daily exercise, especially if they are kept in stalls which is what happens when horses stay on site at the racetrack. Horses should be groomed, and their stalls kept clean. During the grooming, horses need to be checked-over for any physical problems.  The sturdy steeds we borrowed were lively and curious and it’s true they seemed happiest in the huge arena where there are bits of fence which are jumps.

riding horses with eurico rose da silva

Eurico Rosa da Silva warms up Athena and teaches me balance and position.

Horses teach the power of non-verbal communication. Athena’s ears were bent forward which means she’s inquisitive and enjoying the exercise. She was curious about me when I brushed her sides. It takes some time and patience to understand what a horse wants; you have to pay attention to them, and in that respect they show us how to communicate. They don’t speak English, but they can read our body language and they can understand our tone of voice. When Athena’s ears were bent forward, she was listening and attentive. Her swishing tail told me that she was happy.

raymi at back of Halton Place riding arena

Tuesday was Eurico’s first time meeting Athena, a clever five-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare. She was joined by Raven, a retired racehorse who has won many matches at Woodbine. Athena was clearly eager to follow Eurico, and she was very patient with us neophytes clambering all over her body and hugging her head for selfies.  Good riders quickly learn the personalities of their horses and they adjust their riding style to better fit the horses’ temperament. This is what Eurico tells us, but it’s lost on me as I have no style at this point, other than balance and self-preservation.

my friends at Halton Place

Horses treat everyone as equals at first; its only after you interact they form opinions. But even then, even if you’re unbridled and annoying, they ask for nothing but kindness.

Climbing the Walls and Bouldering

Raymi on Scollard St pre climb before the gymLast Wednesday the middle of August we went to Markham rock climbing at The Hub with friends a plenty along for the ride. We were in a newish black Dodge caravan.  Casie was there, and so was Joel, and Martin and Steven Branco and ..

casie Stewart with Raymi the Minx - 15 August 2018

The smell of the Amicos deluxe pizza from Parkdale still lingers in that van, wherever it is now.

Raymi with Amicos Pizza in vanWe went straight up the Don Valley Parkway at rush hour all the way to Markham and somehow managed to get there in under forty minutes.  Reflecting back on the group conversations and laughs in the van, the drive was one of the best parts of the nite.

arrived alive at Hub Climbing in MarkhamRegistering and watching the Hub Climbing orientation and legal cover-your-ass videos were not. Uggh . Why does everything cool these day require filling out forms and signing waivers? Don’t answer. I know. Somebody somewhere died once and ruined it for everyone.

signing waivers at Hub ClimbingRaymi-signs-waiver

Now if there’s even a hint of danger there’s a form to fill out. Pretty soon there will be forms and waivers at restaurants when you order shellfish, or more than three drinks.

Brandon Rowland at Hub Climbing leads the orientation

The danger started immediately – we learned how to fall.  First from a small wall and then from a great height.

learning how to fall from a great height at Hub ClimbingWe fell.

falling off the wall at Hub Climbing in Markham

And then we had a bouldering orientation.bouldering orientationWhich is required before anyone can go off bouldering on their own.

Bouldering is what rock climbers call traversing or climbing over things without ropes to catch you when you fall (you don’t need them cause the ground is close by and covered in soft foam mats). Bouldering happens on a horizontal plane of stepping stone rocks and Brandon’s orientation shared wisdom regarding the alphanumeric codes and the colour of the rocks. And how to be safe.

Brandon Rowland takes group on tour of the Hub climbing gym in Markham

Brandon’s Orientation Tour took us all over the gym. He would stop now and then to caution us sternly about where to look up, and why, especially when passing under arches.  He used the technical term pancake to describe what could happen here.

And then just like that we were free to climb and explore all the challenges on our own. And we climbed the walls with abandon but of course we were still being supervised as that is the name of this particular activity – Supervised Climbing.

Raymi the Minx rock climbing at Hub Climbing in Markham - 15 Aug 2018

Then we did speed climbs – twenty four feet straight up in …. how many seconds?  This wall seems taller than the others.   Martin could do it under ten seconds, and Joel did it in 11 seconds.

Martin Dasko does the speed climb wall

My time was 18.61 seconds and that was a good score in our group.  I’m proud of myself for rising to the challenge in less than twenty seconds.

Raymi on the speed climb wall in under 18 seconds

I probably could have done it faster, but I kind of blew myself out climbing the other walls before I even knew there was a Speed Climb challenge.

Raymi Lauren - Raymi the Minx - climbing gym, speed climb, Markham, 2018

Next we tried a bouldering challenge which is the proper name for a length-wise climb without safety ropes across a traverse of boulders.  We started on the longest one in the gym, which is also the longest indoor bouldering traverse in Ontario, and maybe all of Canada..  Who knows?  The floor is only a few feet away and covered in mats. I made it all the way across in forty seconds.

The static line is a half-step tight rope that’s harder than it looks- i need one of these in my apartment.

raymi and Casie walk the line

At the slide climb wall the climbers can go over the top and then slide down. I helped Casie…

Casie Stewart at Hub Climbing - Slide Wall climb over the top with Raymi the Minx

Not really.

Raymi with Casie on the wallLast we tempted the Dragon.

Raymi climbing the DragonThe Dragon is a 23 ft foot plywood sculpture painted two-tone green and covered in small stepping-stone rocks, which everyone here calls boulders. Unfortunately most of the climb is at an acute angle.  And therefore impossible.

raymi climbs upside downThe Dragon is two challenges in one – once you fall from the neck of the beast you find yourself in the pit which is hard to escape from…

Raymi face plants exiting The Dragon gold foam pit at Hub ClimbingI just gave up.Raymi in the gold pit at The dragon

I’m still there now.

group of bloggers go bouldering

Come visit me and we’ll go bouldering.