Whether rough-and-tumble western riding or the more dignified English version, Serenity Enders has, from a very early age, shown a certain versatility.
The Grade 12 student, whose family runs Sweet Talk Stables just south of Calgary, has been on horses virtually since she could walk and is consistently working on her craft … or rather, crafts.
Enders, 17, competes at the FEI level in show jumping, but she has also been a fixture at the Calgary Stampede, earning a ton of prizes through the years. Her specialty is cattle penning – the art of herding 30 cows, picking out three and putting them in a pen, with time a factor. She has been doing that since she was six, when she won her first buckle.
“There’s a little less stress compared to show jumping,” she said, smiling. “A little more ‘just go out and nothing to worry about.’”
But it is the sport of jumping that has become her new love. Enders made her Spruce Meadows Masters debut this September, competing in 1.40- and 1.45-metre classes. The third one – the Paramount Resources 2* grand prix – marked her first appearance in the International Ring, where she and Princessa placed 18th.
“Yeah, actually I was not too nervous after coming through the gate,” she began. “It was like just another round … a bigger one!
“I know a lot of people before me were struggling with the course so I was hoping to get around. My horse isn’t a stopper, so I wasn’t too worried about it. I messed up, but she was good. I’m happy to do it on her; she’s great to learn on. She’ll never do anything bad at the jumps. She’s okay with me making mistakes, which is good. There was one spot where I messed up, but I thought it was a very good round for my first time.
“Takes a little of the stress off … hopefully.”
Princessa is a 14-year-old mare which the family has owned since she was two. “My sister and I have traded her off a few times,” Enders explained. “I started riding her again this year just because I was hoping to move up and she has more experience than the other horses. I don’t know, I may not give her back to my sister now!”
The entire experience, rubbing shoulders with the top riders in the world, wasn’t lost on her. “It’s very cool,” she said. “I’ve watched all these people on TV all the time or in the other rings. Riding around with them is pretty cool. And just seeing them around the barns, it’s different from the other shows.”
Asked to choose one to emulate, Enders shook her head. “So many,” she noted. “I don’t think Beezie Madden competes so much internationally anymore but she’s a super beautiful and nice rider. Ben Maher … there are a lot I like to watch.”
This past summer, Enders did a lot of competing in Edmonton and at Calgary’s Rocky Mountain Show Jumping and wherever she goes, she’s bound to have a sister or two or her mom to lend a helping hand. Enders’ siblings Shaelynn and Hope also compete at the FEI level; the former has reached the 1.50m category, while the latter worked as a rider for Spruce Meadows and is now based out of Ben Asselin’s Attache Stables. Another sister, Karissa, also competes.
“I obviously look up to them, they all help me,” Enders, the youngest of four girls, explained. “They’re very supportive. We talk to each other about our rounds and help each other with our horses. It’s reassuring. Two of my sisters have already competed in the International Ring and they just told me it’s a big ring, you go out there and it’s easier than you think.”
Doing her high school online gives Enders the opportunity to compete during the winter, typically heading down to California or Arizona for a couple of weeks. She has represented Canada on youth teams three times, twice in Guatemala and once at Thunderbird Show Park. Generally coached by her mom, Joyce, trainers Frank Selinger and Dayton Gorsline have also helped her over the years.
Enders admits she doesn’t know what the future holds, but ideally (and quite likely) horses will somehow be involved.
“I would like to keep riding and find someone to ride them under,” said Enders. “I would really like to be able to get more experience, have good horses and go around the world … in the future. But this is a good start.”