With cooler temperatures and under rainy skies, the competition began to heat up for the Canadian team on Day 2 at the FEI World Championships in Herning, DEN on August 7. The vaulters were in day two of three and the dressage combinations were taking to the Grand Prix ring.

Para dressage horses and riders continued to acclimatize to the venue while the show jumping riders and horses arrived on site to start settling in.


Canada’s first of two dressage combinations entering the World Championships Grand Prix ring for the first time, was Ryan Torkkeli of Thunder Bay, ON and Sternenwanderer (Lord Loxley I x Ragazzo) a 16-year-old Rheinlander gelding owned by Ingetraud Bolz & Dieter Laugks.

The solid performance was full of emotion for the rider that has been living in Europe and training with Laugks and “Sternie” working towards qualifying for today’s ride. But the northern Ontario native made it clear it was so much more than that.

Ryan Torkkeli and Sternenwanderer. (Cealy Tetley photo)

“This is a huge moment for me,” Torkkeli shared. “I have been wanting to do this for 25 years! I don’t think I’ve had a better feeling in the arena before.” With a final score of 68.354%, he was proud of what he and his partner accomplished together but knew there was room for improvement.

“I had a really super feeling, he was energetic and really in front of me. It’s too bad about the mistakes that we had, but I am so happy that he really fought for it. He rose to the occasion and I am so happy with it. We are improving everyday. I am just so honoured to be riding and representing my country.”

The partnership that has been building between the gorgeous bay gelding who’s named for the star on his head (stern is German for star), is continuing to grow. Trokkeli spoke very fondly of him, when asked what he’s like. “He’s extremely intelligent, opinionated. He knows when to present himself, and that’s what he did today. He seems to really enjoy the big arena atmosphere, and he knows it’s all for him. I’m really proud of him!”

Naima Moreira Laliberté of Outremont, QC was also contesting her first World Championship on Statesman (Sandro Hit x Brentano II), a 15-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by KML Inc. She scored narrowly above teammate Torkkeli and finished with a 68.385%. Another solid performance that she and the team were happy with.

“I’m just so happy to be able to be here to compete,” Laliberte expressed in the interview after her test was complete. “Of course, I would have liked to have a higher score and a mistake-free test, but to finally compete in the stadium with the best in the world was amazing.”

“My horse was very tense and nervous in the beginning; it was difficult to channel the energy and navigate the test but I was happy how it went and improved throughout the ride. He started to settle in and focus a bit more.”

She also talked lovingly about her horse. “He is lovely and his personality changes all the time. In the test it changes every five meters.” She knew that this was another step in their road to the Olympics, which she is aiming for in another two years. “That’s why I am here, to learn. It is a long journey, and there are so many factors but it’s a learning experience. And I’d like to thank Equestrian Canada for this opportunity to learn and to be here, it is quite amazing to be at the World Championships. Thanks to the whole team for their dedication, patience and passion.”

Chef d’équipe Christine Peters was very proud of how the combinations performed. “For Canada,” Peters explained, “Denmark was about developing for the future, both Ryan and Naima where competing in their first World Championships and both put in solid performances, demonstrating so much talent and potential for the future. We are extremely proud of our riders and look forward to Paris.”


Day two was all about the technical test for vaulters and their lunging teams. All three Canadian individual competitors brought their A-game and posted some personal best performances when it counted! Word was spreading throughout the day that the Canadian team had come to perform and make a statement. With the vaulting community a tight knit and collegial one, many other countries and athletes were both supportive and enthusiastic about the days results.

Shaina Hammond and William II Z. (Kaiser-impressions photo)

Shaina Hammond competed once again with the 11-year-old Zangersheide gelding William II Z (Wilson x Celano) owned and lunged by German Maik Hausmann with support from groom Sophie Kuhn and trainer Pauline Reidl. Her score of 7.012 saw her improve from the previous day in the standings ending the day in 22nd out of 35 performances.

“That was my highest tech score of the season, so it’s really awesome to have that happen here,” said Hammond after completing the test. “My horse was phenomenal! He got a 7.9 so having an amazing horse just makes everything work so much better because you can just worry about yourself. I was a little more nervous today but I was able to still keep it together and have a nice performance. Makes me feel better about going into tomorrow that I am good I can do it.”

Her coaches beamed with pride and were also pleased with her performance saying that it was the cleanest round they have seen her do and felt that it was the perfect time for it to happen.

Eighteen-year-old Averill Saunders continued to show maturity beyond her years on Westfalian gelding Rockemotion (Rockwell x Di Versace) owned by Hans-Peter and Marlies Krukenburg and Kai and Nina Vorberg and groomed and lunged by Nina Vorberg. The teen presented an intriguing routine that she choreographed about the human body that landed her the second-best technical score of the day at 8.393 just behind the French athlete Manon Moutinho.

“It felt so good,” she said just after coming out of the ring. “To finally be able to show something that I’ve been working on all season, it was the best feeling. This horse is my heart horse, and with the lunger, my team, it’s the dream team.”

“The routine has been something that I’ve been wanting to do for years and it’s stuck in the back of my mind since 2019. To be able to bring it out this year and show it, is exciting. I have wanted to be a surgeon since I was twelve, so the nervous system and human anatomy has been something I find really interesting. And to be able to bring it into an artform is really cool.”

Talmage Conrad and William II Z. (Kaiser-impressions photo)

Her coach Daniel Janes, who himself competes in vaulting for the United States thought the routine was more than cool. “Averill’s test was phenomenal. She’s shown a lot of potential in practice, and today with the great relationship with her horse Rockemotion, she was able to perform her best and it was a world class performance.”

She seemed to sense that her and her teammates hard work and dedication to the sport is being noticed and shared a message with Canadian vaulters back home. “Keep working and trying hard. We’re getting there and starting to make waves in the vaulting community!”

Talmage Conrad also competing on William II Z, put up a solid performance to the song Ivory Black. He explained that he interpreted the routine to mirror the lyrics that talk about a man that is losing something that he once had and begging for someone to remind him of what he once had so that he can be who he is and happy again.

He was definitely happy at the end of his performance where he hit 7.571 points and landed in 12th place out of 18 of the day. “That felt the best it’s ever felt,” he explained just ringside. He was enthusiastic about what it meant for the technical test but also for setting him up for the freestyle on Monday. “I know we’re doing it right. All of it, it all just fell in the same room at once, it was quite exciting. Let’s do it again tomorrow!”

Complete results here.