Lisa Marie Fergusson began riding at the age of four on the family farm in Langley, BC. Also an “A” level Pony Club graduate, she began showing when she was ten and fondly remembers the days where her father would tow a small two-horse trailer with their motorhome as they travelled to events. Now 30, she operates out of Unionville, PA, showing, training, and giving clinics. She spends her winters in Wellington, FL, where she rounds out her education with dressage training from Jim Koford and Betsy Steiner, show jumping schools from Anne Kursinski and Frankie Chesler, and regular assistance from fellow eventer Phillip Dutton.

Lisa’s rise up the ranks suffered a devastating blow in 2009 when she lost her advanced horse, the ten-year-old Welsh Cob-Thoroughbred cross Uni Griffon. She had bought Uni when he was only five days old and admits that the emotional challenges she faced after the loss were especially rough. “I think it is sometimes difficult not to lose your identity to your horse, especially if he is as talented as Uni was,” she muses. “I invested my entire being into him, his personality, his potential, and where I believed we could go together. The lines become blurred and you tend to forget where the horse ends and you begin.”

After taking some time to heal, Lisa’s focus turned to developing Smart Move, a six-year-old half-brother to Uni, who was competing at training level at the time. The pair steadily advanced, and after a win at the Fair Hill and Jersey Fresh two-stars, and a fourth-place finish at the Galway***, the pair declared for the 2012 London Olympics. The unthinkable happened yet again when in mid-December of 2011 “Smartie” was lost in a freak accident, being hit by a car after escaping from his stall. Lisa again found herself with another devastating personal loss. “With Uni I was sad and hurt for a long time,” she remembers. “With Smartie, every wound was reopened and compounded, but this time I was mad. I’m not saying I felt sorry for myself, but you start to feel pretty helpless when you work so incredibly hard and you put in everything you have and have it taken away again. The loss is hard enough, but the disappointment is crushing.”

Lisa came out of her darkest days with an insightful outlook. “I don’t think anyone who has lost a loved one would classify themselves as “unlucky”; it just seems so much bigger than that,” she says. “There is no doubt that I have had my share of misfortune. They say that with great love comes great risk. I love, and have loved, each and every one of my horses with all my heart, and each time that I have lost my friend and partner I have lost a very big part of me.”

Today, with three horses currently running at intermediate or above, Lisa is poised to make yet another mark on Canadian eventing with her promising string, including full brothers to both Uni (eight-year-old Uni Sprite), and Smartie (seven-year-old Honor Me). “I like to think that the challenges I have faced are preparing me and my upcoming horses with a unique advantage. You may call it character building or heartbreak, but I call it preparation. I am not prepared to give up on my dreams. Uni Griffon and Smart Move have prepared me well and when I do get the opportunity there will be success. I believe that I have two choices: let it negatively impact me, or have it empower me. In honour of the love, respect and lessons my horses shared with me, I choose to continue in hopes of realizing my dreams and their dreams. They would want that for me.”