A girl and her horse: a calming influence

CENTRE WELLINGTON – A local actress says her horse provides a calming influence while she pursues her acting career.

Fifteen-year-old Madison Brydges of Arthur has numerous acting accomplishments to her name, including Flatliners, Big Top Academy and the new Grand Army.

In 2017 and 2018 she even moved to Montreal to film Big Top Academy, which aired on TVO Kids.

However, the move meant the teen had to put her horseback riding on pause.

Not long before her move, she purchased Scarlett, a mare she boards at Travis Hall Equestrian Centre in southern Centre Wellington.

The pair was at a point where they were jumping fences before Brydges left for Montreal, and the actress has not quite got fully back into the sport.

“It definitely has taken a lot of time for me to get back on,” she said. “I don’t think I’ve been back on a horse in so long, maybe around two years because of Montreal plus school, plus dance and I can’t really get injured.”

Brydges was originally riding Scarlett’s mom but her coach, Cindy Johnson, suggested she purchase Scarlett.

Scarlet, Brydges and Travis Hall Equestrian Centre coach Cindy Johnson.

“When I met her (it was) literally love at first site,” Brydges said. “Like she was so fluffy, she was so energetic and I literally fell in love with her and now she’s mine.”

Even when the teen couldn’t ride while doing Big Top Academy, she went out to the barn to see her horse when she was home in Arthur.

“If there was one way I could stay, I’d say ‘I want to go to the barn’ … and I’d bring her in, brush her, feed her,” Brydges said. “It would just be something so calming to let everything go before I went back to Montreal.

“Because even though I missed everything in Montreal, I still missed this place so much more.”

Since the conclusion of Big Top Academy and her return to Ontario, Brydges has been slow to get back in the saddle because it may be her last year of competitive dancing and she doesn’t want to risk injury.

“I’m growing up a bit more and I want to start focusing on my career, which will be acting,” she said.

“So it will give me more time with Scarlett and more time with acting.

“So I’m very excited for that.”

Her goal is to get back in the saddle this summer and she’d like to get back to the hunter level of riding.

“Maybe I’ll work her back up to jumping, but I feel like I want to keep her on the ground,” Brydges  said.

For serious jumping Brydges said she’ll support other riders who would like to compete on her horse.

“I will watch from the fence and film,” she said.

Big Top Academy was recently picked up by Hulu in the United States and it is airing in the United Kingdom, so Brydges said there might be another season.

However, right now she’s focused on the release of Grand Army on Netflix this spring and on completing auditions for pilot season, which will continue to take place for the next couple of months.