As the son of professionals Scott and Dee Walker, Sam grew up riding at the family’s Forest Hill Farm in Caledon, Ontario. Displaying natural talent from an early age, Sam competed in his first grand prix at the age of 13 at the Caledon Equestrian Park. During the five years he spent training with Missy Clark and John Brennan, Sam topped a starting field of 175 entries to win the ASPCA Maclay National Championship in 2018, becoming only the fourth Canadian to ever claim the United States’ most prestigious equitation final.
At 20 years of age, Sam has been a frequent competitor at the North American Youth Championships (NAYC). In 2018, he helped Canada take the team bronze medal in the Junior division. The following year, he moved up to the Young Rider division where he led Canada to team gold before claiming the individual silver medal. In 2022, he was a member of the bronze medal team, bringing his NAYC medal tally to four.
Currently the highest ranked Canadian in the FEI Under 25 rankings, Sam works alongside his parents in their training business. He enjoys taking students to the ring when they are at home shows, as well as coaching the small group of clients that accompany him on the road. Through his business, Sam Walker Inc., Sam concentrates on the training and sales of international-level horses.
What age did you start riding and what was the name of your first pony?
I started riding before I could even walk. I was really young, maybe two years old. My first pony was Dandy Randy, he was a little miniature pony.
You are currently named to the National Team Program ‘B’ Squad with Hermelien vd Hooghoeve. How long have you been partnered together, and what have been your goals with her this season?
This is our second season together. She’s graciously owned by Evergate Stables. My goal with “Mya” is to continue jumping at the five-star level, and we will do our best to represent team Canada in the future. I’m really grateful to have the ride on her. We’ve had recent success in grands prix in Michigan and Toronto, and I’m looking forward to jumping shows such as The Royal and other indoor shows on her this fall.
I also have Evita, owned by Mar Bill Hill Farm, and Angelika Hero Z, owned by Cabana Coast. Nalu Quality is my newest horse and an up-and-coming horse for the future; hopefully we’ll be on Nations’ Cup teams.
What is your favourite competition memory?
With Mya, it was jumping clear in my first five-star grand prix at Angelstone last year. My overall favourite memory is winning the derby at Spruce Meadows this year with Evita. It was my very first derby ever, my first time at Spruce Meadows, and I was the youngest person ever to win it. To be Canadian and win in your home country is pretty cool.
Editor’s Note – Sam and Evita won the $137,700 Sun Life Derby during the CSI5* Spruce Meadows ‘North American’ tournament in July.
What is your favourite horse show venue to compete at?
I have two. The Royal Winter Fair and Spruce Meadows. What I like about The Royal is the history and the turn-out; they always have such a big crowd, and everyone is always cheering, plus it’s my hometown. It’s prestigious to have it in my own backyard, so to speak.
Growing up as a kid, I always watched Spruce Meadows and finally going this year and getting to show in the International Ring was amazing. I won my very first class in the International Ring, the AON Winning Round, during the ‘National’ tournament. I was very lucky and beyond excited to show there. You feel very special when you walk in under the clock tower; there is no other feeling like it in the world.
Which competition is still on your bucket list?
Definitely Aachen. That seems pretty spectacular.
What is your dream vacation?
A golfing trip to Scotland.
Cats or dogs?
Dogs. We have two dogs, a chihuahua named Minnie and a Jack Russell named Pirate.
Last show you binge-watched?
They are movies, but I’m binge-watching Harry Potter right now. There are eight of them and they are two-and-a-half hours long each, so I’m pretty busy.
What are the three most used apps on your phone?
Let me look! On my phone it shows you what your most-used apps are. Instagram, Spotify, and SnapChat.
Favourite motto or saying?
If you’re not winning, you’re learning.
What three things are always in your fridge?
Celsius the energy drink, chicken, and mayonnaise. I would also say potatoes, but they don’t go in the fridge.
If you could ride any horse in the world, past or present, which one would you pick?
Presently, it would have to be King Edward.
What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?
I feel like my life is public sometimes. Most people know that I play a ton of golf. I’m about a five to six handicap. And I can ride a unicycle.