Dick and his wife, Kathi (fondly known as Poke), own Twin Hearts Farm just outside of Kingston, Ontario, on 50 acres that was part of his family’s farm. There, they keep four horses, including retirees Sifton and Jackie Oh, and their up-and-coming eventers Graf Bobby (by Grafenstolz) and Crown of Hearts (by Harvard).

Dick’s mother Jane was a Leitch, whose family owned Leitchcroft Farm in Thornhill. Her brother Jack was an eventer and Dick’s cousins rode and hunted. One cousin, Jeannie, is married to dressage rider Gary Vander Ploeg.

“I’ve been riding all my life,” says Dick. “I never had any formal riding education. I’d hop on our horses and go for hacks or in winter, hook them up to toboggans and flying saucers.” Many of the horses were Anglo-Arabs from his grandparents’ farm in High River, Alberta.

When he was 18 he met Kathi, who was also from Kingston and had spent a good part of her childhood hanging out at a local riding stable. They started working together with his mother’s hunter mare, Dolly. Dick went on to study at the University of Guelph. During the summer, he and Kathi worked at Leitchcroft and that’s where they were introduced to eventing by the likes of Gwen Lehari, Martha Griggs, and Rob Robertson.

“We went back to Kingston after the summer and said ‘let’s try to event Dolly’ and Mom said ‘absolutely not,’” recalls Dick. Mom was right; Dolly’s career as an event horse was short-lived, as she would pin her ears and crank her tail in the start box, then refuse to leave. They had better luck with Pocket Rocket, a horse that came from Jack Leitch.

“The Laframboises [the famous Ottawa-area eventing clan] helped us out in terms of problems we had that resulted from our greenness in eventing,” says Dick. “We had a really great time with Pocket Rocket. Leitchcroft had a Hungarian horse breeding program that produced a lot of nice event horses and we got another young horse from there.”

The Baylys married in 1973. Dick worked as a research technician at Queen’s University while Kathi ran the farm. Because there was no eventing close to Kingston and few event coaches, she read and researched extensively and listened to advice from experienced horse people. She developed a keen eye for conformation. “When she says ‘that looks like a good horse,” I totally believe her,” says Dick. “I’ve always had good horses and that’s because of Poke.”

Two of their horses (Lauderdale and his full sister, Jackie Oh) came from Leslie Saila of Glen Oro Farm “and those horses were awesome.” They would often buy two weanlings or yearlings so that the youngsters would have a pasture mate. Sifton, now retired, is a son of Rio Grande and the Baylys bought him as a foal as a pal for Lauderdale. “He is my best friend and was a successful eventer,” says Dick, who had many top placings on the horse.

Like most of his horses, Sifton could be playful under saddle. “I always leave a little bit of a buck in my horse. I like to feel that sense of excitement in them, but I know that’s a bad habit,” Dick admits with a sorry-not-sorry laugh.

Kathi, he says, is “the brains behind this operation. We are a team. Poke is amazing, as she puts so much effort into getting the information we need to train the horses. She is super at understanding them, knowing their character and sensitivities. I really listen to her.”

Six years ago, veteran eventer Morag O’Hanlon and her daughter, Canadian team member Selena, became neighbours. “They come over and train horses here, as we’ve got a good stadium course and a nice cross-country course for young horses. They have really helped us a lot with our horses.

“Morag was a fantastic help last winter. She spent a lot of time trying to correct my many faults! She said ‘I know you can ride, but let’s fix your position.’” The Baylys also consider longtime farrier Terry Osborne and veterinarians Shaun Finucane and Maura McMurray as important members of their support team.

Bayly has competed to preliminary (a highlight was when Sifton and Lauderdale both won their preliminary divisions at Richland Park Horse Trials in Michigan a few years back). His two current young mounts are at pre-training level, and he and Kathi travel to half a dozen horse trials a year in Canada and Vermont, New York, and Pennsylvania. He enjoys the diversity that the sport offers.“Eventing allows you to go to hunter shows, allows you to go to dressage shows, allows you to go hacking – you have to have an all-round horse.”

Dick recently retired from his job after 30 years, but has no plans to stop training and competing. “I don’t know how I ever worked and rode before I retired!” marvels Dick. “I used to get up at four a.m. and ride with a headlight on my helmet. Now, I ride in the mornings and spend the afternoons on the tractor.”