Revelstoke and area is losing a pillar of the local equestrian community.
Shandelle Mathusz, who has been active in the community for three years training horses and coaching, has accepted a job at Queen Margaret’s School for Girls in Duncan, B.C. as Head Equestrian Coach.
QMSG is a top-rated private school and currently the only school in Canada that offers riding classes as school credits and includes riding in the school curriculum.
Mathusz has always known riding horses was what she was meant to do. “I actually find it interesting when people told me they tried riding once. I have spent more time riding horses than I have ever spent doing anything else. It’s just a part of me,” Mathusz says. “When I ride I feel a sense of unity and aliveness.”
As a teen, Mathusz decided to do whatever it took to make horses her job.
It wasn’t always easy. English equestrian sport, especially at a high level, is an expensive endeavour. The cost of talented horses and the long term costs associated with boarding at a competitive barn, coaching, veterinary care, farriers, travel and show costs, is prohibitive.
It wasn’t going to stop Mathusz.
“I started off riding and training for my coach in Ontario,” Mathusz explains. “I would help her train horses in exchange for lessons. She gave me a good deal on a gelding for myself. Unfortunately my gelding was injured, but while he was rehabbing I was able to ride a lot of other horses.”
Like people, horses have a personality and physical and mental strengths and weaknesses. “Riding numerous mounts is good because it forces you to be able to ride all the problems and personalities out there, you learn various ways to correct mistakes and be a flexible, brave rider,” Mathusz says.
Unsurprisingly, her talent made her a prime candidate for competing other people’s horses. “I was sponsored at age 14 for eventing (eventing is a three-day competition involving dressage, show jumping and cross country jumping) and I have followed my passion for horses since.”
Ready to learn as much as possible, Mathusz worked at various stables. She has been a groom, exercise rider, instructor, and manager. Mathusz has travelled across Canada, the U.S. and Europe working in the horse industry.
At university, Mathusz trained to be an elementary school teacher and managed to stay involved with horses at the same time. She even co-founded a school team.
Mathusz moved to Revelstoke three years ago. In her time here she has fallen in love, had a baby, and made a mark on the Selkirk Saddle Club (SSC). She sat on the board of directors, worked as a coach and horse trainer and collaborated with other trainers. Western trainer Traci Ludwig became a close friend. Mathusz trained client horses and then purchased an unbroke mare of her own and a pony to train and sell.
Her clients are sad to see her go but happy for her.
“Shandelle and I have had the opportunity to become very close in the last few years. We both have a passion for horses so our friendship formed naturally,” Courtney Vansickle-Nef said. “I have had horses for 17 years and for the first time I took a formal lesson from Shandelle. There was so much to learn. She has a way of teaching that really engages you and your horse. Her teaching style is totally thorough. Explaining it right from the basics. She is so driven she talks and turns her thoughts and goals into reality and not a lot of people can do that. She’s only been gone a week and I am missing her like crazy.”
Mathusz finds the town of Duncan is similar in ways to Revelstoke, small and welcoming and caring. “I miss Revelstoke,” Mathusz says. “But it’s important to follow your passion, even if it means taking you away from somewhere wonderful, even if it’s hard and not what one would expect. Life is a journey and this is my next adventure.”.