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The Greenhorn Chronicles 22: Deborah Stacey on the Origins of Horse Lover’s Math (1)
















Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Publisher Founding: September 1, 2014

Web Domain: 

Location: Fort Langley, Township of Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Journal: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Journal Founding: August 2, 2012

Frequency: Three (3) Times Per Year

Review Status: Non-Peer-Reviewed

Access: Electronic/Digital & Open Access

Fees: None (Free)

Volume Numbering: 11

Issue Numbering: 1

Section: E

Theme Type: Idea

Theme Premise: “Outliers and Outsiders”

Theme Part: 26

Formal Sub-Theme: “The Greenhorn Chronicles”

Individual Publication Date: September 1, 2022

Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2023

Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Interviewer(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Interviewee(s): Deborah Stacey

Word Count: 3,194

Image Credit: Deborah Stacey.

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN): 2369-6885

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citations, after the interview.*

*Interview conducted July 7, 2022.*


Deborah Stacey is the Founder & CEO of Horse Lover’s Math. Deborah Stacey is the founder and CEO of Horse Lover’s Math (HLM). HLM is an active website for kids ages 8 and up devoted to horses, math and science offering print and downloadable STEM resources and website posts and content that are free and open to everyone. Growing up horse crazy in the suburbs didn’t allow Deborah much opportunity to spend time with horses. She had to find other ways to feed her passion, which she did through reading horse books, drawing horses and watching every program and movie she could find. While in elementary school, she and a friend organized their own horse school, taking turns teaching each other about horses. They even had a chalkboard and gave lectures and tests. The fascination with horses remained strong through high school. After graduating, an opportunity arose to take English riding lessons near her family home. One day at the barn her riding instructor asked if she wanted to work as a groom at a small, private hunter and jumper stable outside of Montreal. She jumped at the chance. Around this time Humber College in Toronto started up a two-year horsemanship program. Deborah graduated with an Honours Degree in Horsemanship in the mid-seventies and went on to work with hunters and jumpers, at a hunter jumper breeding farm, and boarding stables with a focus on dressage. Years later, she had a family of her own and a daughter who loved horses. In school, her daughter struggled with math. One evening, in an effort to help her daughter understand a math word problem, Deborah changed the context from shopping for a bag of flour at the grocery store to buying bags of grain at a feed store. The math operations remained the same; price, decimals and multiplication, but the context changed, now it was about the real world of horses. Her daughter became curious. How much does a bag of oats cost? How does that price compare with beet pulp or sweet feed? She was engaged and she started asking questions. It was an exciting moment for Deborah to see what happens when a child who is struggling finds their passion; they become motivated, curious and open to learning. Using the math worksheets her daughter brought home from school as reference, Deborah started creating math questions based in the real world of horses. She began seeing math everywhere in her work with horses, and Horse Lover’s Math was born. You can find reviews on HLM Level 1 and Level 2, information on Teachers Pay Teachers on HLM Level 1 and Level 2 (Links). Leslie Christian, of Outschool, has been a collaborator with HLM. Stacey discusses: background; an application of mathematics in different disciplines or areas of horsemanship; more advanced mathematics; Humber College in Toronto; no other precedent for this type of program; partnering with any other groups; and the equestrian educational series.

Keywords: British Columbia, Canada, Deborah Stacey, equestrianism, Horse Lover’s Math, Humber College, Leslie Christian, mathematics, The Greenhorn Chronicles, Township of Langley.

The Greenhorn Chronicles 22: Deborah Stacey on the Origins of Horse Lover’s Math (1)

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: We are here with Deborah Stacey from Horse Lover’s Math. She is from Langley, British Columbia. Our meeting was interesting because I am doing interviews with equestrians. I started writing articles on equestrianism. One of them was on the horse capital in British Columbia called Langley, Township of Langley. I put a list of businesses, not complete, obviously, that I found. You contacted me and said, “You’re missing one.” [Laughing]

Deborah Stacey: [Laughing]

Jacobsen: “Mine!” I said, “Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry.” So, I added it. “Why don’t I interview you as well?” So, here we are today, in an aspect of equestrianism that I haven’t seen anywhere else, which is the application of the equine to math education with children, so, I have to take a step back and ask, “How did you get interested or started in horses?” What is your background there?

Stacey: This is something I noticed that I had in common with many of the equestrians that you’ve already interviewed. I was a horse crazy girl growing up. How does one explain that? I don’t know. But that was a passion of mine. I grew up in the suburbs. I didn’t have a chance to take riding lessons or be around horses any more than, maybe, once a year to go on a trail ride or something. I graduated from high school. I was living in Ottawa at the time.

I decided to take riding lessons. There was a stable not far from where my parents’ home. My home at the time, I started taking riding lessons. Probably just a few months after I started taking riding lessons, my riding instructor approached me, and asked if I was interested in working at a hobby farm, 10-horse barn, just outside of Saint-Augustin (Côte-Nord, Quebec), North of Montreal. I said, “Sure.” So, I packed my stuff and took the train, and arrived to Mrs. Fleet, who owned the farm. I had an apartment attached to the barn, attached to the doorway and led away from the tack room, and from the tack room into the barn.

She sent me into the tack room to clean tack. The next day, we were going to the show. I didn’t want to tell her that I didn’t know how to clean tack. I went in. There was a saddle soap can. I read the instructions on the can and cleaned the tack. So, that’s how I got going to actually living my dream. This was back in the ‘70s. At the time, I learned about a horsemanship course, a 2-year horsemanship program at Humber College.

I thought, “Okay, this would be a good step for me to take to try and catch up with people who have been with horses all their lives and already had this huge base of experience and knowledge.” So, I was accepted and went. In between those 2 years, I worked at a hunter-jumper breeding farm just outside of Ottawa. After I graduated, I worked at a country club North of Toronto. Then, at a certain point, when I was still looking after other people’s horses, and sharing an apartment with three or four other girls, I couldn’t see a future for myself.

My life took a different direction. Then in the 90s, by then, I, and my family, had moved out here. “Out here” being the West Coast, the Lower Mainland, I had my daughter, who was also a horse crazy girl. Not far from where we lived at the time, there was a farm, a barn, called Sunnyside Barn on 24th East of the King George Highway. She started taking lessons there. One thing led to another, I ended up working there, and eased my way back into the horse world. That’s where the idea for Horse Lover’s Math came to being.

I was helping my daughter. She was in elementary school at the time. I was helping her with her math homework. It was one of those boring word problems about apples or whatever. I thought to myself, “If I just change the context of this question to be about the real world of horses, keep the math operations the same, maybe, she’d want to know the answer.” It was like the light bulb went off. I began to see math everywhere in the world of horses. I started working on creating content. This was before InDesign, before individuals had the capability of creating their own website, before social media. Most of these things weren’t happening then.

I was trying to interest a print publisher in Horse Lover’s Math. I had accepted some articles and essays, and a short story of mine had received an honorable mention in the Writer’s Digest magazine’s annual writers competition. I had that interest and experience, but I couldn’t interest a print publisher. So, I had to put it on the back burner. I never let it go. I knew it was a good idea. Then in 2011, I was at another turning point. I thought, “Okay, if I am ever going to make Horse Lover’s Math happen, now is the time.” As the universe would have it, a friend of mine, his daughter was a children’s book publisher. I had an in.

She agreed to meet with me. I brought with me the work that I’d already prepared. She was very supportive. She said that she’d never seen anything like it. But, her company didn’t publish this type of book. She encouraged me. She said if I had any questions, do not hesitate to contact her. When I left there, I said to myself, “Okay, you’re going to go for it.” I made WordPress courses to make my own website. I lean InDesign to lay out my own books. That’s how I got started.

Jacobsen: The general observation is an application of mathematics in different disciplines or areas of horsemanship.

Stacey: My elevator pitch is: I’ve researched the math curriculum guidelines for grades 4, 5, and 6. I create math content drawn from the real world of horses to meet as many curriculum goals as possible. So, for horse crazy kids, the motivation to learn is built in. I don’t organize the workbooks or the content around the math. It is around the horse information. So, in the workbooks for example, there could be questions about fractions in horse science, e.g., understanding horse height, or in sports, like the fractions around a thoroughbred racetrack.

So, what is motivating kids is their passion for horses, I’ve had comments. I did, as I’ve been working on this (this is before Covid), volunteer at my local elementary school to help out in the math classes, because my kids are adults. I wanted to be familiar with what kids are like today. I developed a Horse Lover’s Match math club, where I would have a group of kids. I went to different classes in grades 4, 5, and 6. I gave them my feel. I described to them what I would be doing. Anyone who would participate, we would meet in the all-purpose room at lunch on Tuesday, say. I developed these activities. Not sitting down, this is one thing I learned in this.

One section of the level 2 workbook is about mustang brands. The BLM in the United States, when they capture horses; they give them a freeze brand. They use the international angle system of brand. It is like a code. If you know how to read the code, you can know how old the horse is, where it was captured, and what their net tag number is. So, I developed these materials to teach kids how to do that and gave them actual examples and real photos of brands on horses necks, asking them, “How old is this horse?” etc. I really love that. I printed out pages. I brought it in from the math club. Kids didn’t really engage with it. They wanted to be standing up and moving, and doing things. That was a good lesson for me. I developed, at least, 10 activities for kids to do.

Then Covid hit, that particular part of Horse Lover’s Math has been put on hold. I am hoping next year to be able to approach home school groups, local elementary schools, and equestrian barns, where they offer riding lessons to kids with a half-day workshop for Horse Lover’s Math.

Jacobsen: How are you hoping to develop this into more advanced mathematics if at all?

Stacey: I’m not. I satisfied with grades 4, 5, and 6. Along with the workbooks, there is an active website. The posts are free and open to everyone. Another goal, I have, as I have shared with you; I was a horse crazy girl growing up. I didn’t really have the opportunity to become a good rider. So, in my mind, I had, “In order to have a career with horses. You’ve got to be a good rider.” You don’t, actually. You can have an academic career with horses, as we have touched on already. There are all these universities and colleges now doing research, who have professors and undergraduates. So, this is another goal of mine. For this to open the door for kids, so many kids by this crucial age group, they start to become closed to learning. The joy, the excitement, the fun of learning, which, I believe, we are all born with becomes shut down.

So many kids, “I don’t like math.” I’ve had so many kids tell me, “I didn’t even know I was doing math because the focus is on horses.” I’m hoping. My market, my target group, is very much a niche group. That age group and horse crazy kids, it’s not all kids. It’s not in the high school. I’m hoping that those kids by getting excited by learning will open the doors to them, who knows where it will lead. One of the sections on the website is courses and careers. So, kids can see that they don’t need to be a rider. They can be an equine science researcher. So, that’s a little side there.

Jacobsen: When you went to Humber College in Toronto, how did the horsemanship program compare then from now?

Stacey: That’s a good question. There is much more variety now, like I said. I wasn’t aware of these equine science programs and all of this research being done. It was the only one that I knew of, at Humber College. I’m sure there were ones in the States. I would assume, at that time. Even now, there are even high school programs incorporating equestrian subjects and learning. I think you mentioned one, because there is one based in Brookswood, perhaps.

Jacobsen: Maybe?

Stacey: When I took it, which was back in the ‘70s, there were riding lessons. There was in-classroom work. There was learning about anatomy and lamenesses. That sort of thing in the classroom. It was just a 2-year course. So, I think I was much more basic back then, than what is the variety of availability now. There is this area, which I find exciting, now. An area, which can be referred to as, natural horsemanship feel, like Pat Parelli, Jonathan Field, Josh Nichol, and Warwick Schiller. Their approach to training horses and how horses think, is so much different than when I was involved. It was one of the reasons I got out when I did. It was because I didn’t really like what I was seeing. There are places, universities and colleges, that have programs focused on natural horsemanship.

So, it has really expanded over the years.

Jacobsen: When you were first developing this…

Stacey: Yes.

Jacobsen: …you came across no other precedent for this type of program. Correct?

Stacey: No, and still now, if you Google “Horse Math” or “horses and math,” you should do that and see what you get. It still pretty well stands alone. As I have worked on it over the years, initially, I really tried to keep it restricted to math. I was having increasing trouble doing that. With the rising importance of STEM subjects, I, now, describe it as also being science. So, math and science, kids learn about math and science through their love of horses.

Jacobsen: Have you tried partnering with any other groups who, after you had done it, thought of doing something along similar lines?

Stacey: I haven’t tried partnering. One of the challenges things for me is it’s just me doing everything. Yes, it could be a reason to find a partner to help. Someone suggested, “Why don’t you try to find a publisher?” I could feel in myself. I didn’t want to lose control. You get a publisher involved. I didn’t want to give over that control. I do have a wonderful person who is responsible for the maintenance and backend of my website. I’ve had, initially, an illustrator because, along with photographs and some of my own graphics and drawings, each of the workbooks; I’ve hired an illustrator. I have partnered in that way. Beyond that, I haven’t found another group.

One thing I do is through my Google Alerts, periodically; I find different equine organizations. You mentioned equine therapy when we first started talking. I’ve come across articles of people who have an organization that focuses on at-risk youth or providing kids with the opportunity to be with horses in such a way that it encourages their confidence and competence. I will reach out to them and offer free downloads of Horse Lover’s Math content if they would find it useful for their organization. One early organization, which I contacted, we’ve stayed in touch. [Laughing] It has a great name: Detroit Horse Power. This is a young man named David Silver who started this organization, who has been a pony clubber and is a teacher. He started this organization to help inner city youth kids, primarily black kids.

Jacobsen: That’s fantastic.

Stacey: I don’t know if that is what you were looking for, but that is one thing I am actively doing. I just contacted a woman in Ontario. So, she and I are communicating. She’s excited about using some of the materials. She is going to let me know what she needs.

Jacobsen: At the periphery of the journalism, those tidbits of information become helpful for a journalist, as I do not have a team behind me, do not have institutional backing. This is not a paid position. These are things, I find, either intellectually interesting or consider important to present to a public intellectual audience. It doesn’t have to necessarily be restricted to people paying for an article, as it is a free outlet. Yet, the grade reading level can prevent a full comprehension of the written material. That, in a very direct way, restricts the people who comprehend properly the intended content. So, the way to buttress the reader and help them is to have it as a conversational presentation as well.

Stacey: Also, storytelling, some of these anecdotes, they’re stories. That is always an entertaining way of conveying information and draws people in.

Jacobsen: 100%, and also, this starts with, myself at, zero background knowledge.

Stacey: I read that! How did you get this idea that this was an area? I mean, now, you’re out cleaning stalls.

Jacobsen: So, today, we were at the FEI barns. I was cleaning stalls, doing landscaping and gardening, came back to home base and did more landscaping and gardening. That was the day. Basically, it’s whatever they need me to do. Yesterday, it was getting the sprinkler system set on 30 -minute timers [Ed. Staff as the timers for some of the sprinkler systems.] and setting three on at a time while doing second pickings for the stalls while doing stall fronts. Wherever you are needed, you go there. One of the biggest lessons from this industry. It’s a barn. There’s always work. I was in restaurants. I was thinking, “Money is not an issue. What can I do?”

I decided something that would be interesting. For one, it is the horse capital of British Columbia. For two, I know people that talk about horses all the time, want to try working with or around them. So, why not? I decided to just take that jump. My work experience, writing experience, my education, [Laughing] none of it has any applicability to this industry. It has turned out fabulously because it has melded so well into the independent journalistic work by me, especially because it is in Langley. There is a lot of opportunity to write about, learn about, extend a hand to people in saying, “Hi, my name is Scott. I do journalism. Would you like to talk about horses?”

Most of the people, most of the time, are very open to these things. It’s very lovely. Myself, I like this particular series because, as far as I know, this might be one of the first educational series of the journal, where it is very explicit: I am utterly ignorant and am going to have conversations with all facets and people, as much as I can, starting nationally, with equestrians. The conversations will be presented as follows: You’ll learn about the people, and then the industry. You’ll learn as I am learning in a lot of ways. So, the sophistication of my questions will develop along the way. Even in show jumping, names like Eric Lamaze, Erynn Ballard, Tiffany Foster, and Ian Millar.

These names meant nothing to me before. I had no idea who these people were. Now, I know. Now, I make the proper call for a horse, to move around a horse and not be nervous around them. Things everyone does. What are the differences between alfalfa hay, timothy hay, and local hay? Things of this nature. Or, simply, barns and keeping things clean for clientele. There is this whole aesthetic to equestrian culture. So, the short of the long has been what most people have been telling the whole time, basically. [Laughing]

Stacey: [Laughing].

Jacobsen: “It’s a lifestyle.” That explains most things because there are no transferable things, I had into this industry prior. You’re either a foot in the door phenomena and slowly getting in, or in 10-fingers and 10-toes. It’s all week. You don’t stop. That’s, more or less, without deep knowledge or presentation of the story; my mini narrative into the industry. I love it, despite the all-weather hard labour. I do love it. I am excited to see how the bits and pieces of knowledge and practical application begin to knit together with more full ranch work.

And, get this, I only (have) had a horse step on my foot, once!

Stacey: [Laughing].

Jacobsen: He was a boy, a colt in other words, no steel toe. I was lucky, in other words.

Stacey: [Laughing].

Jacobsen: My toe was completely mangled. I’ve heard of way worse. It took about two weeks to heal. You get used to that kind of stuff.

Stacey: Yes, it’s going to happen, in one way or another.






American Medical Association (AMA 11th Edition): Jacobsen S. The Greenhorn Chronicles 22: Deborah Stacey on the Origins of Horse Lover’s Math (1). September 2022; 11(1).

American Psychological Association (APA 7th Edition): Jacobsen, S. (2022, September 1). The Greenhorn Chronicles 22: Deborah Stacey on the Origins of Horse Lover’s Math (1). In-Sight Publishing. 11(1).

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. D. The Greenhorn Chronicles 22: Deborah Stacey on the Origins of Horse Lover’s Math (1). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, Fort Langley, v. 11, n. 1, 2022.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (17th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2022. “The Greenhorn Chronicles 22: Deborah Stacey on the Origins of Horse Lover’s Math (1).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 11, no. 1 (Winter).

Chicago/Turabian, Notes & Bibliography (17th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “The Greenhorn Chronicles 22: Deborah Stacey on the Origins of Horse Lover’s Math (1).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 11, no. 1 (September 2022).

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. (2022) ‘The Greenhorn Chronicles 22: Deborah Stacey on the Origins of Horse Lover’s Math (1)’, In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, 11(1). <>.

Harvard (Australian): Jacobsen, S 2022, ‘The Greenhorn Chronicles 22: Deborah Stacey on the Origins of Horse Lover’s Math (1)’, In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 11, no. 1, <>.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 9th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. “The Greenhorn Chronicles 22: Deborah Stacey on the Origins of Horse Lover’s Math (1).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vo. 11, no. 1, 2022,

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. The Greenhorn Chronicles 22: Deborah Stacey on the Origins of Horse Lover’s Math (1) [Internet]. 2022 Sep; 11(1). Available from:


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Based on work at


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, or the author(s), and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors copyright their material, as well, and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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