Jan Stephens has been an Equine Canada Steward for 45 years, officiating each year at many major equestrian competitions across Canada, often serving as Chief Steward. In addition, during this time she served on several Equine Canada committees designed to improve the sport.
In 2000 Jan was named an FEI Steward. With the sudden passing of her close friend and mentor Sandy Sillcox in 2008, Jan became an FEI Steward General for Canada in Jumping, Eventing and Reining. Also at the international level, she is Regional Representative for the International Jumpers Officials Club (IJOC). For countless years she chaired the Stewards Committee.
She remains active in Canada and internationally both stewarding and conducting clinics. Jan loves her stewarding jobs because she feels that stewards are the voice of the horse. She is a current member of the EC Horse Health and Welfare Committee.
Jan developed her early love of the horse while growing up in Trail, BC, where she was exposed to both English and Western disciplines. At 17, she persuaded her parents to allow her to take a year off school. She traveled to Maidenhead, England, where she obtained her assistant instructor’s certificate from the British Horse Society, adding an international dimension to her love for horses that has lasted to this day.
Says her husband Dennis, “Her love of horses even led to our marriage. Jan came to Winnipeg to see the equestrian events of the 1967 Pan American Games. We fell in love. In 1970 my wedding present to Jan was a horse trailer. She came with two horses!”
When she won Jump Canada Official of the Year Award in 2014, chair (at the time) John Taylor noted, “Jan Stephens has been the strength and driving force behind our stewards program in Canada. As a tireless international official, she is a welcome figure at many shows and events. Without people like Jan our sport would not survive.”
Jan’s favourite story occurred at the 2010 World Equestrian Games in Lexington. At that time, each of the four finalists had to jump each other’s horse to determine the champion individual rider. Jan was struck by the care each rider showed for their own horse. In one of the most competitive events in the world, each rider took the time to tell his competitor how to ride his horse for optimum performance.
Jan’s future goals centre around the steward’s principal functions: to ensure safety of horse and rider, and fair competition. Her continuing participation in EC’s Health and Welfare and National Rules committees reflect her desire to ensure equine well-being is maintained in an era of increasing concern over ever-changing weather conditions where high temperatures and humidity can impact horse and rider performances. Numerous competitions and clinics are also on her calendar for 2020.