The inaugural Rocky Mountain North American Championship, featuring a World Equestrian Games format, was an enormous success – so much so that the Alberta Equestrian Federation and Rocky Mountain Show Jumping are preparing to host the Championship again in 2020 and are increasing the purse to $200,000.
This year’s event was hosted over five days in June at Rocky Mountain Show Jumping in Calgary, AB, in a venture introduced to the sport by the Alberta Equestrian Federation with the assistance of RMSJ president John Anderson. The 2019 edition featured $150,000 in Athlete Development Awards and gold, silver, and bronze team and individual medals awarded to competitors. Separate competitions were held at the 1.10m, 1.20m, 1.30m and 1.40m levels, with each group formulating their own teams of four, which could include one professional rider if they chose to do so.
The first day started with a Table C speed competition with faults converted to give each rider their first score. The team competition, called the Team Cup, was held over two days with the faults incurred added to the first score to determine the winning teams. As with the WEG, the teams were presented with their winnings before continuing on to the individual phase.
Following a day of rest for the horses, competitors carried their cumulative scores forward to the final round of competition on Sunday to determine the individual winners. Athlete Development Awards were provided by the Alberta Equestrian Federation as part of their lucrative Athlete Development program in their ongoing efforts to promote the growth of the sport by supporting riders in the development of their careers.
In addition, medalists were also presented with custom saddle pads, coolers and a commemorative jacket, all presented by Armando Hassey of Animo. Each competitor was also gifted a great Animo t-shirt at a competitor’s party on the eve of the Championship.
“I spent the summer this year in Western Canada and actually kept my horses at John’s facility. Everyone there is so friendly and the venue is beautiful. I was so glad to be a part of this first-time initiative by Rocky Mountain,” said Armando of Animo. “The competition was great, and all of the exhibitors were having a ton of fun! I’m sure that next year it will be even bigger.”
2019 marks the second year that the AEF has helped to support the RMSJ North American Championship, although in 2018 the format was limited to just the 1.30m division and for riders under the age of 30. “We are proud to support the RMSJ North American Championship for the second year in a row and are pleased with its expansion to include the other three divisions,” said Sonia Dantu, executive director. “It’s a longstanding goal of our federation to support athlete development initiatives like this and provide funding
where available. A positive aspect of this program is that it offers opportunities to all levels of athletes to participate in something that is usually only available to a select few in the sport.”
A long-time member of the USET, Richard Spooner, was one of the professional riders to join a team. “It was a great opportunity to build camaraderie with the students,” commented Spooner. “Competing on a team is significantly different than competing alone. Your score counts to the rest of your teammates’ overall result.
“The WEG format is educational, fun, and with the funding provided, very profitable to the participants,” enthused Spooner. ”It was great to see all of the riders work together and support their fellow teammates.” Spooner was also the winner of the $60,000 Bryan Anderson Memorial Grand Prix during the FEI portion of the June Classic that same week.
John Anderson has worked for many years to build the Rocky Mountain Show Jumping venue into something spectacular and is best known for is his dedication to building the sport from the grass roots. “I simply love the sport that has given so much to me over the years,” explained Anderson. “I will continue to develop new concepts that allow riders both young and old the opportunity to enjoy the sport as I have over the years. Introducing this format of Championship allows riders to get together and work towards a common goal and is tremendous experience.
“I’ve had that opportunity to compete on several Nations Cup teams around the world, as well as the World Equestrian Games and Olympics. Although this competition is not at the same level, it still gives athletes a taste of the experience, the pressure, and how to work together. It’s unfortunate that riders don’t have a chance to experience the tension of team competition before they are named to the team, as this stress can seriously impact their performance. I believe we need to prepare athletes from a young age on how to handle such situations.
“The prizes offered by the AEF at this competition are very generous, so those who earn them have the ability to support their development in what has become a very expensive sport over the last number of years. These funds provide athletes the chance to pursue their equestrian dreams with additional funding. Hopefully, a few of these riders really get the bug and continue their careers to the top of our sport and one day represent their country.”
The Championship is open to all riders and will be held in 2020 during the Mid-Summer Classic II from July 22–26 with the same format and the increased purse. In addition, two FEI tournaments are being added to the Rocky Mountain Show Jumping calendar next July, being coined “The Northern Star Series.” For more information, visit the RMSJ website at