Calgary, Alberta – Kate Jackman-Atkinson of Neepawa, MB, won the 1.10m division of the inaugural $25,000 Western Canadian Show Jumping Championships on Saturday, September 4, held as part of the Rocky Mountain Classic III show jumping tournament at Anderson Ranch in Calgary, AB.
Held over three days with all scores counting, Jackman-Atkinson was in third position coming into the final day of competition in the Western Canadian Championships. Two clear rounds riding Neopolitan in Saturday’s two-round final put Jackman-Atkinson in top spot with an overall score of 2.78 faults.
“I have had Neopolitan since 2003, but she was hurt and it has been five years since I competed with her,” explained Jackman-Atkinson of her 13-year-old Irish-bred mare. “I brought her back to competition, and it is so nice to win!”
Despite competing at Anderson Ranch for the first time, Jackman-Atkinson and Neopolitan had no trouble adjusting to the new venue. “She loves galloping on grass, so this worked out pretty well for us!” said Jackman-Atkinson, who is the editor of the Neepawa Banner. Her husband, Matthew, is a professional trainer who also competed at the Rocky Mountain Classic show jumping tournament. “It is our first time showing outside of Manitoba since we moved back there in 2006. This is a really nice facility. The horses like the footing, the jumps are nice, and the course is beautiful.”
Of the format, competing over three days to claim an overall championship, Jackman-Atkinson said, “I thought it was really neat and different. You watch events like the World Cup Final that are run similarly, and it was fun to be a part of that. You don’t often get that at the lower levels. It was special.”
In the awards ceremony, the top eight horses were invited back into the ring for ribbon presentations. The top three finishers were then invited to step onto the podium, where they were presented with gold, silver and bronze medals, sashes, and bottles of sparkling wine, which the winners had fun spraying on each other. All division winners were also presented with a pair of Wildkart Stirrups, compliments of Francis Berger of Equus Integral.
While Jackman-Atkinson was presented with the gold medal with a total score of 2.78 faults, Jenna Macoun and Sprite earned the silver with 5.27 faults after jumping double clear on the final day, and Macaela Sobie of Calgary, AB, won the bronze riding Cha Ching.
In the 1.15m division, Lynne Teasell of Okotoks, AB, dominated the competition, winning both the gold and silver medals. With Calida, a 10-year-old Holsteiner mare, Teasell posted four clear rounds to take the gold medal with a perfect score of zero. With Verina, an eight-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare that Teasell has been riding for one year, a final score of 1.03 faults earned the pair silver. Glynis Barnes of High River, AB, was also double clear on the final day to earn the bronze medal with 1.80 faults riding Millennium Z.
“It has been such a fun competition, being consistent over all three days, and I am so happy with my girls!” said Teasell. “This is my third season with Calida, and she can be a little on the kooky side – she is pretty hot and gets nervous, but she tries really hard. She has really come into her own this year; she is hunting the fences and is just naturally fast. Verina is very sweet and tries very hard, and the two of them are best buddies. They get turned out together, and they are stabled together.”
A family doctor, Teasell was cheered on in the Western Canadian Championships by her husband, Greg Schnell, and their two sons, Michael, 7, and Matthew, 4. Teasell keeps her horses at Aspen Creek, commuting to train with Tamie Phillips of Strathmore, AB. “Tamie has been fantastic, she is a wonderful coach,” raved Teasell. “Because she competes herself, she has such good feel. And she accepts Calida’s quirkiness, which is important!”
Of the inaugural three-day Western Canadian Championship, Teasell said, “I thought it was really fun. It is nice to have a goal. With a final at the end, it gives you the feeling of pressure. It is a nice goal to try to be consistent from day to day.”
A regular competitor at the Rocky Mountain Show Jumping competitions produced by John Anderson and his team, Teasell said, “What John has done for the sport is amazing. He is giving us that stepping stone to reach the next level. The shows are well organized, it is a beautiful facility, and John is so encouraging of the kids. He is also continually improving the facility, the fences are beautiful, and the footing is great. We are very lucky.”
Calgary area athletes held down the top three positions in the 1.20m division. Melissa Macdonald took the gold medal with a total score of four faults riding Fate. Elizabeth Easton earned the silver with a score of 8.45 faults riding Cetro Z while Calgary’s Angelica Jones was third with 8.77 faults riding Platinum.
In the final round, Macdonald of Millarville, AB, was double clear to earn the gold medal with Fate, a nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood/Thoroughbred-cross mare bred in Wilsonville, Oregon. The pair has been together for three seasons, and has advanced up through the levels together, starting in the .90m division. Macdonald hopes that she and Fate will be able to compete up to the 1.40m division together.
“She is super excited to jump all the time, she loves it!” said Macdonald, 16, who trains with Erin Taylor at Ironstone Farm in Calgary. “I found the Western Canadian Championships to be very nerve-wracking. The pressure was on every day, and everything was riding on the jump-off.”
Macdonald’s family lives on a farm in Millarville and has western trail horses. While her parents ride recreationally, Macdonald’s older sister is also a show jumping competitor. “Right now, I am looking forward to doing the 1.20m division at the Spruce Meadows “Masters” for the first time, and my long-term goal is to show in the International Ring at Spruce Meadows,” said Macdonald, who is a student at Holy Trinity Academy in Okotoks. “That is why I came to Rocky Mountain this week, to prepare for Spruce Meadows. The Grand Prix ring here is easy to gallop around in, and it is close to home.”
Presenting sponsors of the inaugural $25,000 Western Canadian Show Jumping Championships were Cavalor, Starting Gate Communications, and Rocky Mountain Media. The Western Canadian Show Jumping Championships offered five divisions – 1.10m, 1.15m, 1.20m, 1.30m and 1.40m, with a total of $25,000 in prize money being distributed. Riders counted their scores over three days of competition held Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
The $25,000 Western Canadian Championships were introduced in 2010 by the Canadian Equestrian Development League and the Alberta Hunter Horse Society, two Alberta equestrian organizations formed to encourage and grow the sport of show jumping at the grass roots level.
The Rocky Mountain Classic III concluded the three-week Rocky Mountain Classic show jumping tournaments. RockyMountain Show Jumping hosts its tournaments at Anderson Ranch in Calgary’s south end, a world-class facility featuring permanent stabling for 300 horses and a grass grand prix field complete with natural obstacles. For more information on Rocky Mountain Show Jumping, please visit www.rmshowjumping.com.
Photos:--Kate Jackman-Atkinson of Neepawa, MB, and Neopolitan won the 1.10m division of the inaugural $25,000 Western Canadian Championships at the Rocky Mountain Classic III at Anderson Ranch in Calgary, AB.
--Lynn Teasell (left) of Okotoks, AB, and Glynis Barnes celebrating their domination of the 1.15m division of the Western Canadian Championships.
--Caroline Jones (left) of Rocky Mountain Show Jumping and presenting sponsor Jennifer Ward (right) of Starting Gate Communications congratulate Melissa Macdonald and Fate on their victory in the 1.20m. division of the Western Canadian Championships.
All photo credits – Cansport