Sonia Dantu has served as the Executive Director of the Alberta Equestrian Federation since 2007. It can be a challenge to work for organizations whose main purpose is to do something other than make a profit, so her secret to success is, “It is not about the money; it is about being dedicated and committed to the social cause of those that support your organization and working toward collective goals.”

The current climate is a tough one for the AEF. “Given the current economic situation in Alberta, recent changes in provincial government and the announcement of $1.5M in cuts to Sport in Alberta, the main goal is to continue to ensure we are delivering services and membership without increasing fees to the membership.”

In the face of this downturn, Sonia was responsible for one particularly notable achievement in 2019 in securing a young athlete development fund that was pitched by John Anderson of Rocky Mountain Show Jumping. Sonia explains, “Canada does not have a skills-based jumper medal series at this level. This is important, not only to help identify athletes who have the potential to become Canada’s next high performance athletes, but also fills the gap in the alignment for a continued pathway for athlete progression in the discipline of show jumping and overall long-term equestrian development. As this medal program is essential in the athlete development pathway, bursaries are awarded for Canadian athletes to use toward furthering their development throughout the following year.

“Fortunately, AEF has been lucky enough to receive a few donations a year; some are smaller, others are more, each one is appreciated and allows us to offer additional programming. Many donations are for our scholarship fund, bursaries, trail development, athlete development and officials development. John has the ability to see how important this [program] is to sport in Canada, thus the donation came forward from their family’s foundation to help AEF start this program.

“The intent, we hope, is to continue with a donation for 2020 to continue to help grow and develop the program and the athletes. The plan for 2020 will look different from previous years, but support for and toward athlete development will continue.”

Foreseeable Future

“The AEF will continue to focus on being more than just ‘insurance;’ AEF has a lot to offer and members are seeing that more and more every year. AEF continues to build on, and build up, the ‘community’ to continue to find ways to bring various equine groups together. It often seems the industry is fractured and we have more to gain by working together than alone. By continuing to work on projects such as emergency preparedness for equines in Alberta, we can bring groups together as this is a passion everyone shares: the welfare of the equines.”

Mission Possible

“I would love the opportunity to be able to look back and see how far we have come within equestrian in sport, recreation, education and industry. To know that we made a difference and did whatever we could to provide equal opportunity for everyone. None of us would exist without the support of our members, bottom line.”