”It’s a very nice surprise,” said Faye Fox about the news that she’d won a 2012 BC Athlete Voice coaching award. A surprise, maybe, but not one without precedent. Fox has won three of these student-nominated awards in the past four years, a testament to her teaching and coaching skills.
Fox has been coaching since 1990, “or something like that,” she told me, her eyes smiling. It’s clear from talking to Fox that the award isn’t nearly as important as her horses or students.
Fox’s love affair with horses began when she was growing up in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Thanks to her aunt who had quarter horses, Fox learned how to take care of and show horses when she was a girl.
Her passion took her to Toronto where she spent three years learning how to coach English and Western riding, which are “kind of like cats: you like them for different reasons,” said Fox.
From there she moved to Canmore where she met her husband and then to Cranbrook, which was a ten-year long dry spell without horses. It was too much for Fox, and horse withdrawal was one of the reasons they moved to Nakusp.
“It’s like chocolate,” she said, using another interesting analogy, “you always have to have more.”
Fox now spends her time with her Arabians, her favourite breed of horse, one that she believes has an unwarranted bad reputation.
“They’re smart and level-headed,” she said. “You get airheads in every breed.”
The Fox farm has five resident horses that are constantly being trained, a natural result of riding, the coach told the Arrow Lakes News.
“Every time you ride a horse, your training it,” she said. “A teaching horse has to learn to ignore wrong cues and listen right cues.” Just before the interview, Fox had been riding Zorro, training him to be a teaching horse for advanced students.
Fox, a certified coach, emphasizes safety and how to do things right; her students learn everything about horses and equipment as well as how to ride safely and correctly. She hopes that habit will be carried on by one of her students following in her footsteps and becoming a coach one day.
More importantly to Fox, though, is making sure both people and horses are safe and treated correctly, the sign of an award-deserving coach.
“Horses are like big kids, they can hurt themselves and they need care, and they love love,” said Fox.