by Cassidy Nunn | photo by Nunn Other Photography –
For Meagan and Zach Nance, horses are their passion, their business and the reason this couple found each other. In 2013 Meagan, a Victoria-based English riding coach and trainer, attended a Certified Horsemanship Association (CHA) clinic in Oregon where she met Zach, a cowboy from Detroit, Texas. The two connected over their shared love of horses and began a long-distance relationship. Two years later they married and continued their cross-border partnership until Zach was able to move to Victoria a year later. He joined Meagan at Brookside Stables and they combined forces to create Nance Equestrian. Their son, Bryce, was born in 2019 and the Nance’s lives are about to get even busier with the addition of their second baby later this year.
Zach grew up on a large family ranch with more than 40 horses on it and he can’t remember a time when he wasn’t working with horses. “Growing up I would always ride the difficult horses because no one else wanted to,” he says with a laugh. However, his first “real formal riding lesson,” he says, was when he attended college in Oregon to complete a two-year Equestrian program. Zach is now a CHA Level 3 Western coach and Level 3 English coach. He has also attended farrier school (trimming and shoeing horses’ hooves), but “my passion is working with un-started horses,” he says and the primary focus of his work these days is on riding, training, and “starting” horses. This process involves all the basic training and riding on a young horse or one who has never been “backed,” or ridden, before. This means Zach is often the first person to sit on the horse, which can be quite a dangerous and physically demanding job, but his laid-back demeanor when working with young or unstarted horses has led him to be a highly sought after and successful trainer on the Island.
Meagan began riding at the age of four and was instantly hooked. She started to help with training horses at 14 and by 16 she says she took on “coaching as a side job.” While she attended university for pre-law, her coaching career continued to take off and she decided to pursue it full time. She worked her way through the CHA certification process to become a CHA Level 4 English coach (the highest you can be within the association) and a CHA Level 1 Western coach. Zach and Meagan, who both still compete, are sponsored by CWD (an English saddle and tack company) and Sidney’s very own Cottons and Blues.
Juggling a more-than-full-time business, time to ride and compete themselves, and family life can be hard at times, but the couple makes it work. “It’s busy,” says Meagan when asked how they manage it all. “We have less time to do things together.” Meagan usually spends her two days off riding alongside Zach, helping with training the horses and schooling the horses they own. Meagan’s parents help with childcare and Bryce enjoys spending time with his parents around the farm, learning the ropes (as much as a two-and-a-half year-old can!) of running a busy stable.
Though the couple worried at first when the pandemic hit, as most small business owners did, Brookside Stables has become even busier as more people have been interested in taking up outdoor sports. The Brookside team has students ranging from ages five to 79 and includes another riding coach who mainly teaches beginner riders while Meagan keeps busy with her group of students, half of which compete in the disciplines of show jumping and eventing. With 32 horses under their care, including boarding, training and school horses, they have some staff to help with cleaning paddocks and feeding.
Meagan plans to continue coaching her students and dreams of one day hosting CHA clinics while Zach has a goal to continue training up the levels in showjumping. Together they hope to continue to include and pass on to their children the way of life that the two enjoy so much.