As the saying goes, “If you want something done, ask someone who is busy.” No one embodies this philosophy more than Martha Worts. With multiple irons in the fire, she is one hard-working multi-tasker . . . just don’t ask her to cook dinner.
Worts is the Canadian Sales Manager for Overseas Horse Services, a company that coordinates flights and logistics for horses internationally. She is often the first point of contact if you are looking to fly horses in and out of Canada. The company manages many of the flight arrangements related to international show jumping horses competing at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, AB, and the Royal Horse Show in Toronto, ON, and has often been part of the team that coordinates the transportation of the Canadian Equestrian Team horses for various major games competitions around the world. Well-connected within the industry, Worts says her biggest focus is on relationship building. Everything that can go wrong with transportation will go wrong eventually and it’s important to have strong relationships in place with a good team to ensure that the horses’ journey continues comfortably.
As a natural extension, she is also a partner in International Animal Lounge, which focuses on importing and exporting pets to and from Canada. The business focuses predominantly on cats and dogs, especially new puppies, but Worts has experience importing everything from parrots and bearded dragons to alpacas. It’s an interesting and challenging job and when she says no two days are ever the same, we believe her!
Worts makes her home in picturesque Uxbridge, ON, with Graeme Nicholson. A long-time Equestrian Canada (EC) Senior Jumper Judge, Nicholson is renowned for the incredible craftsmanship that is showcased through his business, Custom Made Chaps by Graeme Nicholson.
What is your role in equestrian sport?
In addition to my work with Overseas Horse Services, I have been the Executive Director of the Ontario Trillium Hunter/Jumper Association for the past seven years. I also do project management for the Northeast Association of Equine Practitioners based in New York. They just rebranded as the Saratoga Veterinarian and Farrier Conference, an annual event that ties together vets and farriers to provide continuing education.
How long have you been involved with Equestrian Canada, and in what capacity?
My earliest involvement with EC would have been as a competitor. I’m from London, ON, and grew up showing on the Trillium circuit for years and years. I moved away from competing as I focused on university.
I did my Bachelor of Arts in history at Western University, then my Masters in history at McMaster, and was on the trajectory to teach at the university level when I started getting burnt out. I was looking around at the horse shows, noticed that a lot the officials were getting on in years, and wanted to be part of the next generation of officials.
I started shadowing on the tail end of my university years. Then I moved to the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) around 2008 or 2009 to get more experience shadowing and have been stewarding ever since. I’m currently an EC Senior Steward and an FEI Level 1 Steward.
As a volunteer, I joined the EC Jumping Committee in 2020 and am now a member of EC’s Category A as well. I am also a member of the Royal Horse Show Ring Committee.
What age did you start riding and what was the name of your first pony or horse?
I was about six years old, and the pony was called Gemini. I started riding in a lesson program at Sunset Stables in St. Thomas, ON, with Judy Davey. My dad worked with her husband, and I had been begging to go horseback riding. My parents gave in, thinking it would just be a phase. How wrong they were!
Are you currently still riding?
Yes, I still ride when I have 15 minutes. I have a horse named Leroy, officially known as Living on a Prayer for all the trouble he gets in. I ride for pleasure at Hilltop Equestrian in Uxbridge, run by Pam MacGregor.
What is your favourite competition memory?
I was assisting with the boot check for the team show jumping competition when Canada won gold at the 2015 Pan American Games. It was fun to be part of the officials team for that event. I will say, it was hard to stand up straight by the end of that day. Checking all four boots for every horse was a lot of up and down!
Favourite horse show venue?
To watch a horse show, my favourite venue would be The Royal.
Which competition is still on your bucket list?
I would like to see some of the venues in Europe. I would like to get to Tops Arena (Valkenswaard, The Netherlands) and the Windsor Horse Show (England). There is a long list of venues in Europe that I would like to get to.
If you could ride any horse, which one would you pick?
Big Ben was a big hero when I was a kid. I was obsessed with him!
I’m lucky. I work in the airline industry so I get to see a lot of places I wouldn’t normally get to. I went to the United Arab Emirates and it was probably one of the coolest places I’ve ever been to. We went to a horse show and didn’t know anyone! It was fun to sit with people who had never been to a horse show.
I was there for the Animal Transport Association conference that’s hosted annually around the world. Reputable animal transport companies get together and go through the latest and greatest in animal transport. We usually go to places where they are doing new and exciting things in our industry. Etihad Airways is based there and does a lot of horse transport.
Cats or dogs?
Cats. I have a cat named Rupert that thinks he’s a dog. I get enough puppy time at work.
Last show you binge-watched?
I’m watching StartUp on Netflix. It’s basically about the adventures you run into running a start-up. It’s edge of your seat. It’s a little bit violent but very interesting. I don’t binge-watch very often but that’s what we are into right now.
Favourite motto or saying?
On a long enough trajectory, everything works out!
What three things are always in your fridge?
Mould! I don’t cook at all. Seriously, I would say chocolate milk, extra-old cheddar cheese, and some type of fruit. I don’t even enter the kitchen. Graeme does all the shopping and cooking. If it were up to me to run a household, I would be homeless!