After successfully leading the Equestrian Canada (EC) Jumping Talent ID program for three years as the Youth Development Program Advisor, Canadian Olympian Beth Underhill is stepping down from the position to focus on her riding, students and business.

“This has been one of my most exciting endeavours, and I will always continue participating in youth initiatives and helping our young riders to grow,” said Underhill. “I have a lot of involvement in the industry with my own competitive riding, my business, and with the Royal Horse Show, the EC Jumping Committee, and various other committees. With all of my commitments, it’s tough to have the capacity to continue with the program at the same level of involvement, but I am still very much committed to the program and to the education of young riders.”

The Jumping Talent ID Program was launched by the EC Jumping Committee in October 2015, and following an extensive interview and assessment process, Underhill was selected as the inaugural Youth Development Program Advisor. During her time in this position, she has generated remarkable results by focusing on talent identification, support and mentorship of up-and-coming Canadian jumping athletes at the FEI Children’s, Junior and Young Rider levels.

“On behalf of EC, I would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to Beth Underhill for her tremendous efforts over the past three years as Youth Development Program Advisor,” said Karen Hendry-Ouellette, EC Manager of Sport – Jumping Department. “It is through her tireless dedication and passion for youth that we have seen these programs grow, paving the way for a strong pool of future Canadian Equestrian Team athletes. We are thankful for her service and wish her only the best in her future endeavours both in and out of the saddle.”

Underhill worked closely with young riders, trainers, parents, and owners in order to facilitate the development of competitive teams and individuals for FEI competition. And her hard work certainly paid off.

In 2017, under the guidance of Underhill as Chef d’Équipe, the Canadian jumping athletes had a landmark year at the FEI North American Junior and Young Rider Championships (NAJYRC), racking up a total of seven medals – including an incredible sweep of the individual Young Rider podium. At the 2018 edition, Canada brought home another four medals, including team and individual gold in the Children’s division.

Underhill was also Chef d’Équipe for Canada at the 2017 CSIO 4* Odlum Brown BC Open in Langley, BC, where Canadians earned the gold medal in both the CSIOCh* and CSIOJ* Nations Cup. Plus, she was instrumental to Canada’s involvement in the international Under 25 (U25) program, helping to fill Canadian teams for the first time, and guiding the riders to top six finishes against strong fields at the prestigious Hermès Under 25 Team Event in Wellington, FL in 2017 and 2018.

“To not only fill youth teams, but to sweep the NAJYRC Young Rider medals in 2017 and accomplish gold medals in the Children’s in 2018 shows that this program has really benefited these up-and-coming riders,” explained Underhill. “And, for that, myself and the Committee are really grateful to have had the opportunity to work with and meet young riders from all across Canada who have come together and represented their country with pride.”

Underhill continued, “As a team member in the past myself, I know what those goals require and the dedication and commitment that is needed. I think from what we are seeing our young riders accomplish, it holds us in good stead for the future of our sport.”

Outside of the competition ring, Underhill also ensured the Jumping Talent ID Program had a strong focus on education, fundraising and sponsorship.

“I felt education was a very important element in getting the program started,” explained Underhill, who created a seminar series that allowed young riders to learn from top athletes and support personnel. “Having people like Nick Skelton, Laura Kraut, McLain Ward, FEI veterinarians, and FEI stewards as presenters helped educate our young people on sport and sportsmanship, which was something that was important to me. I am also proud of the fundraising we were able to do, and the sponsorships that enabled us to provide clothing and products to our youth teams. We didn’t have any of these elements at the beginning of the program, so we built them from the ground up.”

Underhill concluded by thanking her fellow members of the EC Jumping Talent ID Committee. “All of my thanks and appreciation to the committee members of the past three years, Dayton Gorsline, Marni Von Schalburg, David Ballard, Hyde Moffatt, and Alex Grayton.”