Equine Canada – Jamaican bob sled team?

Canadian riders deserve better horses. Let the revolution begin.

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Lesley Grant Law has written another great blog for Horse Canada and she certainly hits on some painful reality notes about where Canada’s top equestrians sit on the international stage. Personal bests don’t even come close to top finishes in dressage, show-jumping and certainly not eventing.

Since being married to an Olympic gold medalist (Leslie Law, 2004 Olympics, Athens) her standards defining success have certainly been altered. She touches on two aspects that are severely lacking in Canadian eventing and without these two elements we will never be competitive.

  1. Lack of horses and funding to acquire them
  2. Lack of owners and a culture that fosters this group

There have been riders in Canada that have proven to the world that they have what it takes to get to the top while successfully producing horses with world-class results. But regardless of the result, these riders have not been able to acquire another world-class horse. Certainly riders are responsible for networking and finding owners, but it is obvious that Canada lacks a program and culture to match riders and owners. There has been no formal effort to ensure that these riders get the support required to keep them at the top. Here are three glaring examples of Canadians with notable results and no support to get them to the next level.

Stephanie Rhodes-Bosch
Member of the 2010 WEG Canadian silver medal winning team, Steph was the top-placed Canadian finishing 9th on Port Authority. At Rolex in 2010 she placed fifth. With results like this, one would expect that an owner would have materialized with other horses for her to ride. Shockingly, she has only ever competed one horse at the FEI level. A British rider that brought up her young rider horse with results like Steph would likely have other owners.
Stephanie Rhodes-Bosch FEI results

Rebecca Howard
She has rode for Canada at the 2010 WEG as an individual (23rd place), 2011 Pan Am Games (6th place) and the 2012 Olympics (eliminated). In 2012, Rebecca and her current upper level horse Riddle Master showed world-class promise by placing 12th at Badminton and 11th at Burghley. These two consistent placings were the best results that a Canadian had delivered at these competitions certainly in recent years or maybe ever. (If someone has history on Canadian placings, please share). This is not an easy accomplishment, yet Rebecca does not have another advanced horse either.
Rebecca Howard FEI results

Jessica Phoenix
Riding for for Canada at all of the major games since 2010, she has had success on two different horses.

  • Exponential: At the 2010 WEG she rode Exponential as an individual and withdrew after cross-country. At 2011 Rolex they placed 7th. This pair went on to be the only Canadians to complete the 2012 Olympics, London, finishing 22nd.
  • Pavarotti: With this horse Jessica won the individual gold medal at the 2011 Pan Am Games, Guadalajara. In 2013, they placed 10th at Bleinheim. Most recently at the 2014 WEG they placed 29th. Keep in mind this was their first four-star competition together and that the cross-country course was the end of the line for many more experienced pairs. If you watched Jessica ride this horse through the second water, there is no disputing that she is one of the best riders Canada has ever produced. Jessica has more horses to ride than any of the other Canadian pros, but are these top international horses? The results speak for themselves.
    Jessica Phoenix FEI results

What needs to be done
People that care about the sport of eventing in Canada have to take action without the confines of the official program. At the 2010 WEG, Canada won team silver. That stellar result was not enough to kick start a major shift in owner culture. We at Eventing Connect are prepared to help riders connect with owners and are working on some initiatives to be announced in the next couple of months. But much has to be done. If you are willing to help in any capacity, please contact us.
Please forward any ideas or suggestions to tracy@eventingconnect.today

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