Canadian Nationals 2015 will forever hold a deep meaning for Natalie Alves, an 18-year-old rider from Mission, British Columbia. “I will remember this show fondly,” says Natalie, “not because of the ribbons, but because of the journey taken to get there.”
Natalie describes her 10-year-old Half-Arabian mare Shake It Up Baby+// (aka “Stella”) as “the kind of show horse most people dream about. With talent to spare, a work ethic like no other, and a personality that makes being in her presence a privilege, Stella performs in and out of the show ring with style and charisma. She is truly one-of-a-kind.”
In March 2015, after returning home from the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show, Stella had to overcome her greatest obstacle yet – emergency colic surgery. “It is devastating to watch an animal so full of spirit being completely drained of the will to continue to fight,” says Natalie. Stella’s life was in the good hands of Dr. Bob Moats of Clover Valley Veterinary Hospital in Langley BC, a veterinarian with many years of experience with colic cases. Approximately seven hours after a surgery that Dr. Moats described as ‘text-book’, Stella was up and about.
Ninety days of stall rest followed. After missing out on most of the show season with Stella, Natalie was excited to ride Stella again. Dr. Moats gave the mare a clean bill of health and encouraged Natalie to begin riding her horse as if she had never been sick. “The first ride I took on Stella was incredibly effortless and I was thrilled to realize my charismatic, athletic girl was the same as ever!” says Natalie. A mere six weeks later, they were on their way to Manitoba.
“To be able to compete at all at Canadian Nationals 2015 was a gift, but to compete so successfully was more than I ever could have imagined,” explains Natalie. “Trotting into the arena on Stella was emotional each and every time because for the first time in my life it was not about the end result. Being on my horse at all was enough to give me the feeling of true joy. Stella has taught me the meaning of being grateful for every ride, and I thank her endlessly for that.”