Doing Canada Proud, or at Least Having Fun…

Cap pulled down, jacket pulled up. Coffee clutched in woolen covered hand, and jeans peeking out over the tops of butterfly covered rain boots. Wrapped in a Witney horse blanket. Homeless person you ask?

No. Diehard show jumping fan used to all of the tricks Mother Nature is capable of throwing at the already difficult questions asked by the course designers at Spruce Meadows’ world renowned facility in Calgary, Canada. 

Huddled in my usual spot of the west grandstand overlooking the action of the Spruce Meadows International Ring, my brow is furrowed and my look is of extreme concentration. I have so much to be thankful for this past week, so much to be excited for (I am finally back in Calgary after six months AND I graduated from university this week) but currently, the only thing on my mind is who will jump clear, will the flooded sections of the ring wreak havoc on the competitors, and are the oxers really THAT wide.

Does an intervention need to be staged on my obsession with show jumping and anything horsey? Oh sure it does, but in my defence I haven’t even been to a horse show in nearly two weeks!

Despite my blatant absenteeism from my blog I feel like I owe my fans (should that read simply “fan” or rather “mom”…) a summary of the last week of our European Young Rider’s Tour.

After the adventures in Bonnheiden, Belgium we packed the horses up, traveled back to Holland for a few days of light hacking before once again hitting the open road in the direction of Lamprechtshausen, Austria.

If you’re wondering where Lamprechtshausen is you just head straight to Timbuktu and keep driving until your car falls off the edge of the earth. It can also be found by driving about 25 kilometers north of Salzburg. Either way, it was impressive to see how a large horse show with nice rings just sprung up quite literally out of nowhere!

The ponies at the show jumped 1.30m!!! The best part was the victory gallop where someone's Jack Russell got into the ring and nipped at the heels of a pony on the victory gallop. Made me feel at home! 

It was a good show for the team. Everyone had moments where they were stars and other moments where their stars could have used a little more shine! The Nation’s Cup went a lot better overall compared to Bonnheiden, with the Canadian team finishing fourth overall out of nine nations.

It looks like we abuse the horses but he LOVES his ribbons!!! 

The highlight for me was when our youngest member (just 16 years of age) went first for Canada and managed to post the first clear round of the day! It blows me away to see the poise these riders are able to demonstrate when I am on the sidelines sick with nerves and my job is “only” to comb the horse!

Chef d’equipe, Dayton Gorsline, believes that these riders will all have strong futures representing Canada in international competitions. Dayton thought it was “truly remarkable to see how well they ride when considering that Young Riders competitors can be on the team until the age of 21.” The Canadians ranged from 16 to 18, with the youngest only starting to compete in the 1.50m earlier this year. 

After the Austria show the horses went to Belgium for a rest period before chartering a plane, this time with the destination Canada. The plane was full of horses as it was the same time for the European horses to head to Calgary to compete at the Spruce Meadows Summer Series.

While the European Young Rider’s Tour seems to have come to an end, it’s not the end of the book, but rather the turning of the page with this new chapter titled “the Spruce Meadows Summer Series.”

Wish us luck as both my riders endeavor to get into the International ring for the first time, but in the meantime, if you don’t see my little girls in the ring, look for me, tucked into at least eight layers of clothing, intently watching the show jumping as though there was nothing else in the world but horses…

The sun sets on Canada's European Young Rider's Tour. . .