Knowing that youth are the future of our sport, Equestrian Canada (EC), with the generous support of Mark Samuel, Kevin Sanford and the Samuel-Sanford family, is pleased to announce this year’s recipients of the Jumping Youth Bursary.
The bursary was developed to support young athletes competing in hunter, jumper and equitation divisions striving to continue their education while competing at high levels of equestrian sport. Riders are selected by the Youth Bursary Committee based on academic achievement; equestrian-related results and goals; commitment and dedication to jumping sport; and demonstrated financial need.
The following athletes have each been awarded $2,000 through the Jumping Youth Bursary in recognition of their hard work and dedication:
Addison McQuaker, 16, from Schomberg, ON, was born into riding. Her parents Mac and Christi have been competing on the A-circuit for over 30 years showing hunters and jumpers up to the Grand Prix ranks. The McQuakers own and operate Gryphon Farms where she and her eight-year-old Oldenburg gelding Golden Ticket (Stakatto Gold x Cindy Crawford) aka “Snoopy,” enjoy training and lots of fun moments together. Currently attending Grade 10 virtually, McQuaker has plans to attend university. With her school online, McQuaker finds it difficult to participate in other sports but in addition to riding, she is also passionate about the arts. One of her favourite things to do is to get up early and go for a hack to watch the sun rise with her best friend Snoopy.
Olivia Blaber, 17, of Ottawa, ON, began her fascination with horses at the age of two, when she took a $2 pony ride at the Perth Fair. At the age of five, Blaber rode at a summer camp and after more riding lessons, moved to a competitive hunter/jumper barn. At the age of seven, she began competing on the Eastern Ontario Silver Circuit in the pony hunters. She also tried swimming, figure skating, skiing and track and field, but in the end committed to her love of riding. She has worked as a junior ski instructor throughout high school. Blaber’s partnership with her 11-year-old Canadian Warmblood gelding Mauna Lani (VDL Ulando H x Krisinsky), began in the summer of 2020. “Mau” was the first of six horses she tried and she found she couldn’t say no to his lovely canter, powerful jump and his silly, puppy dog personality. Currently in grade 12, Blaber plans to attend university in fall 2023, to study health or biomedical sciences with a view to a career in public health.
Sabine Paquet, 20, of Calixa-Lavallée, QC, started riding at the age of 10 when she told her mom she either wanted to dance or ride horses. She had a friend who had a horse and that made the decision for her. The more she rode, the more she took the sport seriously. Looking back, she’s thankful she chose riding, because according to her, she has no rhythm for dance moves! For several reasons, Paquet does not own a horse but prefers to have half-boards, finding joy and satisfaction from building trust with different horses. She enjoys groundwork, going hacking and grazing horses on a summer day. Currently studying veterinary medicine at the University of Montreal, she has a goal to specialize in equines and an interest in doing a residency in sports medicine. Once she completes her schooling, she hopes to serve the equestrian community in Quebec.
Sloane Betker (pictured at top), 15, of Kelowna, BC, began riding at the age of two on a retired polo horse owned by her grandfather. She got her first pony aptly named Bumblebuzz at age five and progressed quickly to do her first 3-foot hunter derby when she was 8 years old. Betker helps with chores and caring for the close to 40 horses in addition to her own three at her family’s busy boarding farm. Although riding is her passion, Betker is a competitive athlete in freestyle skiing, judo, and sport climbing. This past summer she was on the podium for the climbing Canadian Nationals and qualified to represent Team Canada at the World Championships in Texas. She plans to attend university where she would like to focus on becoming a veterinarian, while riding, or follow in the footsteps of her mother and grandfather and become a lawyer.
Taylor Winther-Blair, 20, of Prince George, BC, was riding before she could walk, growing up on the farm where her mother, Sorine Winther, is a trainer. She has loved horses since day one and continues to work on the farm alongside her mother and sister. Her homebred nine-year-old Canadian warmblood mare Cella (Cabardino x Graf Top) ̶̶ short for celebration, was named because she was born in the middle of her mom’s and stepdad’s wedding ceremony. Her mom rode her as a five-year-old after which she took over the partnership and the duo has been together since. Winther-Blair swam competitively throughout high school until school started to take up more time and she made the decision to focus solely on riding. She is currently attending the University of Northern BC, studying her honours in biology, with plans to apply to veterinary school at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine.
About the Jumping Youth Bursary
Each year, the Youth Bursary Committee selects recipients of the Jumping Youth Bursary program based on the strength of applications received. Elements considered in the application process include a transcript of grades and outline of academic curriculum; future educational plans; equestrian experience; commitment and dedication to their sport; a positive image within the sport; achievement of notable competition results, whether at the local, regional or national level; goals within the equestrian industry; and financial need.
For additional details regarding the Jumping Youth Bursary Program, please visit HERE. https://www.equestrian.ca/sport/jumping/athlete-development