When Laura Prentice grows up, she wants to teach horseback riding lessons. The 13-year-old has been riding English style for six years, and recently competed in the bronze level dressage show at Northern Tempo Equestrian Centre in Whitehorse.
Prentice won the title of champion in Training Level Junior, first for the Prix Caprilli Test 2 Junior, and for a second time received the Lorene Robertson Award, awarded to the competitor who demonstrates a high score, dedication, persistence and good horsemanship.
Prentice has been riding her horse, Highland’s McDuff, since October and said the bond between a horse and a rider is an important part of competing.
“He’s got a lot of character. He kind of thinks that he’s kind of more important than everybody, but that’s okay,” she said. “It’s about being one with your horse and working as a team and celebrating the harmony and your love for the sport.”
Eighteen riders registered for the seventh annual show, held July 7 and 8 by the Yukon Horse and Rider Association. Dressage is the French word for training, and is sometimes described as horse ballet. The sport requires the rider to train the horse to make precise movements.
Sanctioned and unsanctioned events were held at this year’s show. Sanctioned events are officially recognized by Equine Canada.
Prentice competed on both days. She believes the relationship she has with her horse helped her win the Training Level Junior category and the Lorene Robertson award.
“It was an honour (to receive the award) because I know that you need to have a connection with your horse, and I think it’s really special that the judge noticed how my horse and I work as a team,” she said.
Inge Sumanik coaches many of the young riders, including Prentice, and hosted the show on her grounds for a second year. Robertson, who died after a riding accident in 2014, was a client of hers and also a good friend.
“Lorene was quite a positive force in the community, and really just loved horses and loved learning,” said Sumanik.
“She built bridges within the community and was happy on top of a mountain sitting on top of a horse as well as in the dressage ring.”
Sumanik worked with Robertson’s family, including her partner Hugh Monaghan, to create the award. Both adult amateurs as well as teenagers have won it.
“It’s quite an honour for me to help maintain Lorene’s memory,” she said.
Judy Linton has been part of the Yukon riding community for over 20 years. She also competed for a second time in the dressage show, coming in second place for Western High Point Adult and first in Pas de Deux Adult with Catherine Grasholm.
“Lorene … was an important part of the riding community, and a really nice person as well, and someone that really loved her horse,” Linton said.
“So I think it’s a great way to honour her, by honouring someone who’s deemed to be a good horse person.”
Linton stopped riding when she was a teenager. In her forties, she reignited her love for the sport when a friend encouraged her to get back on the horse. “It was like now or never,” she said.
She always wanted to do dressage, but chose to ride western-style instead of English. She described western as a type of riding “for people that don’t want to sit on big horses in an English saddle.”
Linton used to compete at the old showgrounds in Porter Creek, now Whistle Bend. This was the first time performing with her horse, Badger.
“Part of what you’re judged on in dressage is how willing the horse is to perform the maneuvers and how obedient it is, so the relationship between the horse and rider is critical,” she said.
“It’s a great way to see young people enjoy their horses and enjoy the sport and learn and become better riders and better horse people.”
Sumanik said the Yukon riding community is small but strong. She is currently preparing for a general competition on July 20, 21 and 22, which will also be held at the Northern Tempo Equestrian Centre. The event is open to the public.
“We all work together to support the riders as well as the number of volunteers, so it’s quite a supportive environment,” she said.
Prentice will once again compete, and two weeks after that she is heading with her riding team to a horse show in Palmer, Alaska.
She seems to have not only good horsemanship, but also team spirit. She loves the supportive community and friendly competition.
“I think that we all did really well,” she said.
“We were all champions.”
Contact Kallan Lyons at email@example.com