June 4, 2008 

Para-Equestrian Canada Announces Team for 2008 Paralympic Games


Para-Equestrian Canada is pleased to announce the team members who will be representing Canada at the 2008 Paralympic Games. 

The selected team members, in alphabetical order, are Lauren Barwick, Karen Brain, Ashley Gowanlock, Eleonore Elstone and Jennifer McKenzie.

 “We are sending a very strong team to the Games, and I am confident that they will be very competitive” remarked Elizabeth Quigg-Robinson, Chef d’equipe for the Canadian Paralympic Team.

June, 2008 

Well, a lot has happened since my last update but most importantly ………  I AM ON THE TEAM TO BEIJING!  ……. Actually held in HONG KONG!  I feel like I’ve been in a whirlwind the past little while and it feels surreal at the moment, but it is happening ……. Odie and I ARE going to Hong Kong and I am SO excited to be going!  I need to pinch myself to make it feel real!

The plans for the Team travel and quarantine are:

-         Aug 17 – horses & riders go to California to begin quarantine for 1 week

-         Aug 25 – horses & riders fly to Hong Kong

-         Aug 26 – arrive in HK

-         Sept 6 – Games start

-         Sept 13 – horses fly home to Canada, riders fly home between Sept 13-18

The one thing I want to boast about & means the most to me is my little Odette, aka Odie, Dettie!  I am so incredibly proud of her & how stoic she’s been through this whole years worth of competing already in California & the mainland.  She really has been a trooper and while I feel nervous about all the travelling for her, I know that when I reunite with her in the barn in HK, it will be HER that looks at me with her big brown eyes & comforts me!  She has made me so proud of her, I want to scream at the top of my lungs ….. GO ODIE!  I received Odie a brief 4 years ago, just before I left for the Athens Paralympics, and I never would have thought that 4 years later she would be my next Paralympic Partner.…. But she is, and I hold that accomplishment dear to my heart.  Anything from here on in is simply icing on the cake in my opinion!  I still have “lofty” goals for Odie and I in HK and every day of training between now and then has to count.

                                With lots of love,

                                      Karen & Odie ……. About to enter the Kingdom of Kings in the big International world – no more little “Queen” stuff!

UPDATE:  July, 2006

    Karen just returned home from England where she won the Grade IV Team test and came second in the Grade IV Individual Championship test at the Hartpury CPDI***, held July 5-7, 2006 at Hartpury College in Gloustershire, England.

      For more info see:  http://paraequestrian.ca/nm-show.asp?story=57

     Karen will compete in the Para-Equestrian Canada 2006 National Championships and the Para-Equestrian 2006 Pacific Rim International CPDI*** Competition September 1 – 3, 2006 at Milner Downs in Langley, BC

Please come and cheer the competitors on!


Life after Athens has been very good to me.  I have had many exciting opportunities come my way, and some wonderful sponsors that have helped me out immensely with such items as a saddle, saddle pads, tack, horse blankets, riding hats, riding clothes and horse products, etc.  (Please see our new Button “Super Sponsors”)

I  have received many wonderful acknowledgements of my two Bronze Medals in Athens from various Clubs and Organizations throughout Canada, and have been given the opportunity to speak to many different groups of people, including BC Horse Trials Association, Pony Club, Parkwood Hospital, BC Premier’s Athletic Award Presentations, School groups, Riding for the Disabled Groups,  Para-Equestrian Athletes, those newly incurring spinal cord injuries, children with disabilities, etc.

Some of the most touching moments “after Athens”, was all the Olympic and Paralympic Medal winners walking (wheeling) into the House of Commons in Ottawa and being given a standing ovation from all the Members of Parliament.  It brought tears to my eyes which was captured by the media.  Apparently, it is the only time that those “other than members of Parliament” have been allowed on the floor of the House of Commons! 

Another great honour came my way when I had various school students contact me to write essays, school projects, etc. on their “Canadian Hero”, or “Hero on Horseback” which one girl wrote.  I feel very humbled and grateful for those honours.

I am also thrilled to announce that award-winning and renowned children’s author, Nikki Tate, is writing a Biography on me, with a release date of Fall, 2007.  I taught her, and her daughter Dani, for several years before I left Victoria, BC in 1997 to try for the Canadian Three Day Event Team, and she dedicated her third book in the StableMate Series, Jessa Be Nimble, Rebel Be Quick ………… to me.  It says, “For Karen and M & M,  living the dream”.   Merlin and Matzi were my two horses I took out East with me.    She also visited me in Parkwood Hospital when she was in London, Ontario for a book signing in November, 2001.  If you would like to follow the progress of this book, click on  http://nikkitate.blogspot.com  for updates.

In the fall of 2005, I made the tough decision to move home to BC again, and I have not regretted it for a moment.  I love being home with my family and friends and able to ride every day of the year OUTSIDE if I wish!  The really tough part was leaving my friends in Ontario, and packing up all my belongings accumulated in almost nine years away from home, and giving them away, or shipping them home.  My constant companion Merlin, and his (adopted) sister Odette, were shipped by Horse Transport to Langley, BC and I borrowed a truck and trailer to pick them up and bring them home.  I sadly sold my truck “Piglet” who had travelled so far with me for so long, in Ontario.  I did not think she would make the long trip home again, and someone offered to preserve her.  I cried when I left her.   Merlin and Odette now almost live in my backyard!  They are only one street over at a lovely, small barn, and I can walk there in a few minutes.  All the neighbours in our small subdivision know me by name, and cheerfully say hello as I ride the horses through  there all the time.   They even sometimes get the bonus of a “treat” for their gardens!

I am now concentrating on making the Team for Beijing and being competitive there!  There are only three qualifying shows, with the first one at the beginning of September, 2006 in Langley, BC.  Odette is not quite ready for this Level yet, so I will probably borrow a horse to ride.  The next qualifying show is the end of September in Belgium, and I will borrow a horse for that competition also.  The third and last qualifying competition is in England in 2007 at the Para-Equestrian World Championships.  I plan to train with Conrad Schumacher in Germany in preparation for Beijing - we just have to finalize our plans regarding this.  My goal for Beijing is to bring home Gold and I hope that VDL Odette will be my partner in this effort.

Thank you to everyone who has helped me over the years to get to this point.  There are so many of you who have given me a helping hand when it was needed, either emotionally, financially, physically, or otherwise.  I sincerely thank you all. You are all “super” to me!



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