Dinnie has been riding and hunting literally since before birth as her parents Judge G. A. P. Brickenden and Catherine (McCormick) Brickenden were intimately involved in equestrian pursuits (breeding, showing, hunting) in the London, Ontario area. Mrs. Brickenden rode to hounds side saddle regularly and Dinnie achieved her colours with the London Hunt at age eight. Later, she attended boarding school in England where she joined Pony Club.
At the time there was only one "discipline" - the one which gave rise to Pony Club in Britain i.e. Hunting and all that it entailed in the care and management of the horse. She further developed her riding skills through participation in gymkhanas, polocross and at the famous French equestrian centre, Saumur. In Britain and later at International Language School, Sorbonne, France Dinnie found the common bond of Pony Club resulted in sharing experiences e.g. hunting together, despite cultural and language differences.
Dinnie's name is synonymous with Pony Club in the southwestern Ontario (London) area. On February 29, 1948, the day after the Eglinton Hunt Ball, with the assistance of Adele and Dick Rockwell, she founded the London Pony Club. This of course resulted in her becoming the first DC of London from 1948 - 50, a role which she reprised occasionally in subsequent years. Once underway, the London Pony Club grew dramatically with the specific objectives of teaching basic stable management and developing young horses and riders capable of hunting. Other events, difficult to imagine these days, included organizing and leading pony trekking rides from London to Lambeth and from Markham, north of Toronto down to the shores of Lake Ontario.
Rally was soon added to the list of activities and two of the fund raising efforts to support such expenses were a Musical Ride with 16 riders and a Square Dance on Horseback performed at local fairs, with bonnets for the "mares" and straw hats for the "geldings". A few years ago Dinnie resurrected this event, teaching it to current members who presented it at the International Plowing Match in Glencoe, ON and at the Western Fair in London, ON. Because she has continued her involvement with Pony Club for several decades, it is impossible to list all of Dinnie's achievements and contributions to our organization. However two stand out because they were the inaugural events to equestrian competitions which continue to this day. In 1950 Dinnie was asked to select 12 members from across the country whom she had observed at Rally and felt could represent Canadian Pony Club in Mexico at the first Junior International Jumping Competition. Horses were provided by the Mexican National Team to the 12 scramble teams, each consisting of one rider from each of the four competing countries - Canada, Mexico, USA and Venezuela. When the competition came to Canada, Dinnie leant three of her home bred jumpers to the event which was the precursor to today's InterPacific Exchange.
Another time, Brigadier McKee, National Pony Club Board Chair and Manager of the Royal Winter Fair asked Dinnie and Adele Rockwell to find a dozen ponies and riders to provide competition in a new class created for an English "hunter pony" that had come to the Royal Winter Fair with the English International Jumping Team. This became the first year of the Junior Division of the RWF; previously the only junior classes were for under saddle and hackney ponies. While the English pony won the class, Dinnie's younger daughter Kelly Hall - Holland (who would later become a member of the Canadian Equestrian Team) took second place.
Despite the fact that her own children have long since aged out of Pony Club, Dinnie has continued to be a much valued contributor to the organization she started 60 years ago. After 86 years she is still riding to hounds herself and she continues to support and encourage Pony Club members to try the sport. She has also shared her considerable equine knowledge through our education programme, providing demonstration lectures especially on breeding and conformation.
Dinnie began showing at the Royal Winter Fair in 1927, riding and driving ponies, saddle horses, hackneys, hunters and jumpers as well as regularly placing in the Cup Classes with her home bred Canadian Sport Horses. She has also shown internationally in the USA, Mexico, England and France. Noteworthy accomplishments include winning the President of Mexico trophy, the prize awarded at the very first International Show Jumping competition at the Royal for international teams and open jumper riders in 1949. On her family's hunt horse Roger II, she defeated a class consisting of Open Jumper and international riders from Canada, Ireland, Chile and the USA. Two years later she won the first Canadian International Dressage competition, again at the RWF, riding her mother's big grey hunter Raffles II on a bet that after being hunted side-saddle for 10 years, the horse would still be straight...and he was!
Dinnie and her family have not only been successful competitors themselves but have loaned their home bred Registered Canadian Sport Horses to Canadian Teams for the Pan-Am games, the Olympics and the World Championships in Aachen, Dublin, Hickstead, New York, etc.
Dinnie has also been a senior judge for a wide variety of equestrian disciplines both within and outside of Pony Club. These include Dressage, Hunter, Polo Ponies, Equitation and Hack classes as well as 4-H competitions Because of her fluency in several different languages she has not only been in demand in Canada, but England, Germany, Spain, Italy and Switzerland as well.
Canadian Pony Club is not the only organization to have benefited from Dinnie's energy, enthusiasm and expertise. She continues to be active in her home community and has been a director on several boards: National Ballet of Canada, Canadian Olympics (including chair of the Equestrian committee and liaison for Mexico, 1968), Royal Winter Fair, Western Fair, Centre for Equine Research, University of Guelph, Partners In Research- London; and several alumni committees of the University of Western Ontario.
At London Pony Club's first Rally in 1948 we managed to scrape up 12 riders and mounts. Our 12th rider Timothy Wright had never yet cantered, and his borrowed pony hadn't cantered for years. But we entered our full complement and had a great time until Church Service, when we were told to choose a hymn and sing it. We chose "Onward Christian Soldiers" - after all, everybody knows "Onward Christian Soldiers" - but how about the second verse!? We ended in a cacophony of dissonance. The next year's Rally we were all there again and General Churchill Mann had the words for the entire hymn printed out for us. As well, Timothy and his new mount could canter (and jump too!)
Hunting with Enfield Chace in Hertfordshire as a Pony Club member (that meant a reduction in the capping fee too!) I had one of the best of the boarding school horses and arrived early at the meet (10 a .m.), having hacked for 1 ½ hours to get there. I was the first in at the kill at 5:30 p.m. and was duly "blooded" and congratulated and asked how I'd managed to do so. I told the truth - my horse pulled so hard I was tired out, and he wasn't. Also I didn't know the country and was lost so I stayed with the hunt until someone pointed me home in the right direction. An unusual coincidence was that the meet was at Brickenden Grange and my family name was Brickenden.