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Metchosin-born horse leaps grand prix hurdles

Paula Leweke of Paula’s Horses has high hopes for Bella
Bella with breeder Paula Leweke. (Courtesy Paula Leweke)

In the barn they call her Bella, but in the jumping ring she’s Beneficial – in all ways.

Bella was born in 2012 at Robin Hill Farm in Metchosin – more commonly known simply as Paula’s Horses – to dame Ivy. Her sire was imported by Dreamscape Farms in Vancouver. Both have Olympic grandsires, explained Paula Leweke, who raised Bella.

Bella Balatora is her registered name – Bella, for beautiful and Balatora, a feminized version of the second highest mountain in the Himalayas.

“I wanted something that meant beautiful, strong and powerful,” Leweke said.

Bella was a feisty foal. From the start she showed power and athleticism that parlayed into an athlete and current jumping partner for rider Alicia Gadban Lewis.

Gadban Lewis calls her a special and rare combination of a horse invested in her job. Bella loves doing the work and is careful, but confident.

“She’s a total athlete. She knows when to turn it on and when it’s important ,and then in tune with when to relax,” she said.

Based at Imperial Stables in Delta, Gadban Lewis has had Bella since July 2017. She had no need for another horse at the time, but knew Leweke and saw the value of Bella. A client in the mainland barn was looking for an investment horse and purchased Bella.

Gadban Lewis rode her over the years and within a couple of transactions, now calls Bella her own.

“Her and I have a really strong partnership. I put a lot of trust in her and I think she puts a lot of trust in me,” she said. That’s key in the World Class Grand Prix in which these two athletes compete, where they’re jumping 1.50 metres.

READ ALSO: Metchosin ‘horse hero’ vying for Horse Canada prize

Leweke harbours not-so-secret Olympic dreams for Bella, putting a little pressure on the horse’s current partner.

“That would be a huge goal. Who knows? That’s a long way away and a lot of hurdles to jump over to get there. I’m going to do as much as I can with her,” Gadban Lewis said.

Metchosin residents may remember Bella, who was ponied up and down the Galloping Goose and worked with several riders and trainers on the Island – and as far off as Kamloops – in her younger years.

“What a lot of people don’t know is that horses that are super athletic are worth a lot of money,” Leweke said. The sale benefited both Beneficial who has scored an equally athletic rider, and other horses at the Metchosin farm, a scenario Leweke calls “horses helping horses.”

“Sometimes these horses only come once in a lifetime,” the breeder said. However, she has her fingers crossed as the same dame is pregnant for only her second time – from the same sire – and is due to birth in June 2022.

Christine van Reeuwyk

About the Author: Christine van Reeuwyk

Longtime journalist with the Greater Victoria news team.
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