Sunnybrook Stables

Franzi's International Exchange Experience


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So, who am I?

      My name is Franzi. I am from Germany and I am 21 years old. I came to Sunnybrook in July 2006 and I stayed and worked at the stables for three great months.

Two of my most memoriable experiences, the Rocky Mountains and Calgary Stampede.

Here is my Story.

Since I am very little I loved horses. When I finally turned 6 years old I started riding. My friend’s mother had a little farm and so I was allowed to brush the horses, care for them, and of course ride them.

My first riding experiences are different from the ones most people make. I didn’t get lessons and I nobody told me how to ride a horse – I just jumped on it… and rode.

     Well, actually I didn’t ride at first; I mostly fell off and got on the horse again. Then I fell off and got on the horse again. I also didn’t know how to saddle up a horse (I was only six), so I decided I wouldn’t need a saddle. And that’s how I still like riding most, without a saddle AND without a bridle (if I trust the horse enough).

     With 9 years I learned western riding and I am still training to maybe ride in reining or cutting classes sometime in the future.

     With 14 years I started the first horses myself. One pony, Rudy, I trained western is just the best horse ever (for me), sadly he is much too small for me, but still he is one of my best friends.

Me and my best friend, Rudy.

     Since years it was my dream to go to the States or to Canada and work with horses.

     I am not allergic to horses. My first interest wasn’t to learn about Curly Horses. I already could ride.

Me & Rudy.


Jumping Rudy, no reins, no bridle, no fear.



Trail ride for summer camp at the stables.

My new best friend, Seleena, with our awards for Champion Horse at the Canadian Curly Classic Show.

Entertaining a group of children at summer camp.

An adult camp for learning to ride.

Having fun on Palladin.


      So, why did I go to Deanna’s Sunnybrook Stables?

      Here in Germany riding is a big sport. Especially the part of Germany I live in (Nord-Rhein-Westfalen) is a “horse-country”. You can learn quite a lot about each riding discipline here. But most people don’t have the possibility to have their horse close to their own house. People drive long distances to ride their horses, to go into lessons and to work with horses. I wanted to experience the work at a stable. I wanted to stand up at the morning, step out of the house and to stand right in the middle of a horse-herd. I wanted to train horses, to work with young horses and to find out if this is really the work I want to do in my future.

     Deanna gave me the possibility to do all of this.

Seleena and me, leading the way across the Red Deer river

 in the rocky Mountains

And my expectations were fulfilled. After three months at Sunnybrook Stables I know that this is what I wanna do. The work isn’t easy, but it’s fun.

     My dream is to learn as much as I can about horse training (especially Reining and Cutting), so I can build my own stables and train horses, breed horses and give lessons for people who want to become a team with their horse.

Taking a break at camp.


 Life at the Sables
I was quite happy the three months I lived in Canada. I got along with Deanna’s family, and I was happy that there was always someone there, although Deanna was at work. I could always find somebody to talk to, if anything happened.

     My main work was to train the young horses, to put some miles on them and to start them under the saddle. Together with Jeanette, the exchange student from Denmark, it was quite a fun – work, although there was always a lot to do.

Although I ride for a long time, I still learned a lot. Every time I work with a young horse, I learn something new, because they are all different, they all need different training. I watched Jeanette and how she worked with the horses, and I also watched Deanna and her work and I found quite different styles from the ones I already knew. So I picked out all the stuff I liked and advanced my skills. Stephanie, the woman who usually starts Deanna’s horses under saddle, also taught me some things about horses, which I haven’t seen in Germany before.

One of my many ribbons on Seleena.

     I think you can learn from all people, as long as you are open for new things.

     I also did work that just has to be done, like caring for the horses that had to be inside, because they had a wound or something. I helped with the riding lessons and also got to teach some kids myself. There was not much to do about cleaning stalls, because the horses are always outside, what I appreciate, and just come into the stalls for riding camps.

A real western Cattle Drive!

After the Horse Show.

The ultimate experience, climbing the Rocky Mountains.

A serene lake in the Rockies.



Some of our experiences.

Heritage park in Edmonton.


Klondike Days in Edmonton.

Riding Palladin in the greatest outdoor show on earth, the Calgary Stampede.

Camping in the Rocky Mountains.

Getting ready for a trail ride at the stables.

Another new friend from the stables, Jeanette from Denmark, at the Calgary Stampede.

And after work?

     I didn’t only work at the stables; I also got around a lot and saw many places.

     The most amazing thing was going to the Rocky Mountains. I could take my most favourite horse, Seleena, with me, what made the trip just perfect. I have never ridden in such a great nature before. Those four days were some of the happiest days of my life and I wanted to stay for ever. This trip made my stay in Canada unforgettable and I would always do it again.

     Deanna took me and Jeanette to B.C. where we saw a lot of great places. Again the nature was breathtaking and I saw my first wild bear, eagle and a damn big elk. This is something you will never see in Germany. I also found out that the Canadian deer is unbelievably big. Our European deer is really tiny in contrast to the Canadian animals.

     I rode Palladin, Deanna’s best friend, at the Calgary Stampede. It was fun, although Pall and I needed quite some time to get along together. But in the end he did great for me and kept me from blame. Riding at the Stampede is a big thing for a European person, when I came home a lot of people where quite jealous and told me they would rather have liked to see me bullriding.

     We did a lot of trail rides and fun stuff with the horses and Deanna showed us a lot of places.

     Finally Jeanette and I had one week of holiday and flew to Los Angeles. I wanted to see this city since I was 15, and finally I travelled there. I didn’t expect to do this when I came to Canada, it just happened, somehow.

All in all
I had a great time. I didn’t only learn what I really want to do, I also found a lot of friends and I am very thankful for that. I already miss a lot of you people over there and hope I can come back and visit you one day.

     I also miss my little favourite horse Seleena, which I hope I am able to buy one day. I made maybe about a million experiences for life and I don’t regret one single day.

Thank you all for everything


Lifetime memories of my special girl, Seleena.

A Native drumming circle at the stables, healing horses session and Native dancers at Stampede.  Some of the experiences that are unique to Sunnybrook Stables that  I was able to observe.


If you think you might be interested in participating in our exchange program, please email us and download the Exchange Package and Application .

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