Equestrian Canada (EC) Eventing Committee Chair, Ruth Allum of Ashton, ON, is embarking on a national tour to share the joys of eventing from coast-to-coast.

From April to August, Allum – who is an EC certified eventing Competition Coach Specialist – will teach clinics across six provinces, focusing on the skills athletes need to prepare both mentally and physically for horse trials and three-day events. EC will feature her journey in a series exploring the eventing experience nationwide.

Allum kicked off her tour at the Johvale Spring Clinic in Pritchard, BC, held April 21-23, 2018. Keep reading to join Allum inside her cross-country XC journey!

The growth of grassroots level eventers in Canada is something everyone has been discussing a lot over the past few years. As Chair of EC’s Eventing Committee, I hear a lot of ideas for growing our sport and am passionate about spreading education, awareness and enthusiasm for eventing across our vast country.

With that in mind, I made it my personal mission to embark on a journey visiting eventers, both recreational and competitive, across Canada in 2018. Through clinics organized with Provincial Horse Trials Associations, Provincial and Territorial Sport Organizations and eventing facilities, I am gaining a more thorough understanding of what we as a sport are doing that’s working, what we need to do to grow, and just how amazing the Canadian eventing community is as a whole.

While geographically spread out, we are a dedicated bunch who are in it for the long haul and truly love this amazing sport. Experiencing eventing not from my own backyard, but from province to province, will inevitably give me a better understanding of the strengths that each provincial community has developed and the challenges that they face.

Just one stop into my journey, I have already met many amazing equestrians, seen some fascinating facilities and training programs, and learned things I intend to bring back to my own facility.

Horse Trials British Columbia (HTBC) ran a multi-day clinic at Johvale Stables in Pritchard, BC. Johvale Sables is in a spectacular location with incredible views of the Thompson River and Valley, and the mountains and hills. (Which I learned are not the same; however, when you live in the flatland of Ontario, hills tend to look like mountains! We just need one decent hill to change the way our horses stay fit.)There was a little something for everyone: water jumps, banks, ditches, logs, and technical upper level questions – all of which were guaranteed to get anyone hooked on eventing.

There were 76 horse-and-rider combinations and seven clinicians (including myself) lined up for various riding and athlete development sessions over the weekend. The other clinicians were:

  • Sarah Bradley, EC High Performance 1 Coach;
  • Barb Crabbo, eventing high performance athlete, owner and trainer;
  • Maeve Drew, EC Competition Coach and 2017 Competitive Coach of the Year;
  • Chelan Kozak, EC Competition Coach Specialist;
  • Brandy Saunders, EC Competition Coach; and,
  • Sara Sellmer, EC Competition Coach.

Clinic Day One
The first day provided every weather experience necessary for a good clinic: sunshine, frost, rain and hail. No one stopped riding or teaching through it all, highlighting the toughness and resourcefulness of eventers. All clinicians started in a ring to assess the strengths and weaknesses of each rider before heading onto the cross-country course. The day finished with a HTBC Young Riders pizza party and an informative talk on both leg protection and the after-care of the event horse by clinicians, Drew and Sellmer.

Clinic Day Two
Challenging my groups, I taught a new footwork exercise in the ring, followed by exploring more cross-country. Everyone rose to the challenges I threw at them and grew in confidence throughout the day. At lunchtime, I gave a presentation to the attending coaches and coach candidates on how to become an EC certified coach, and maintain and progress in certification.

I have been a certified coach for over 20 years and am passionate about the value in certification and education as we build strong eventers across the country. I always have time to share my thoughts on getting certified with anyone who is interested. That evening, I also hosted an athlete development talk on how to build a Yearly Training Plan (YTP) and the new Canadian eventing rules for 2018.

Clinic Day Three
Time to put together the skills we had been working on! We headed straight on to cross-country to consolidate everything we learned and ensure horse and rider confidence. The groups were comfortable in their environment and game to try the new skills they were learning. I saw smiles, hugs and high fives as new goals were met and made.

So many eventers in one place, all with one goal – to improve, learn and share the joy for their sport. I was sad to get back in the car for the drive back to Kelowna, BC at the end of the day.

Final Thoughts from BC
The side of eventing in BC that struck me so deeply is the sense of community. Entire families pack up for the weekend to camp beside their horses and support their riders. There is a campfire every night and camaraderie like I haven’t seen before. Furthermore, there is an intense dedication and thirst to educate riders and coaches in all aspects of both the sport and horse care in general. I watched the Young Riders hang out like best friends, even though they only see each other at HTBC functions. I witnessed an incredibly welcoming and inclusive environment of which I was thrilled to be part. Eventing in BC, you guys rock!

“I love Canadian eventers, I love Canadian eventers,” was the mantra that kept running through my head as I boarded the 4:05 a.m. shuttle to the airport for the flight from Kelowna to Edmonton, AB. I must love Canadian eventers, as that’s an early start!

My flight from Edmonton to Ottawa was scheduled to land at 2:31 p.m., which was good because I had lessons starting at 4 p.m. back in Ashton. The next morning, I taught five more lessons before heading out in the opposite direction to Halifax, NS for the second leg of the tour. I couldn’t wait to visit the Nova Scotia Horse Trials crew next and see what is happening in eventing on the east coast!

Read about Ruth’s clinics in Nova Scotia and PEI in the next edition of the EC Insider, and catch her at upcoming stops on her cross-country clinics tour:

  • June 2-3, 2018: Location TBA, New Brunswick
  • July 1, 2018: Location TBA, Newfoundland
  • Aug. 23-26, 2018: Oakhurst Three-Day Clinic & Competition, Ashton, ON

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