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Spruce Meadows’ warm-up tournament a great place to school horses PDF Print E-mail
Written by LUCIA TRISCHUK   
Friday, 25 March 2011 13:32

Spring Welcome Tournament sees amateur and professional show jumpers participate in the same event

As one of the most elite show jumping facilities in the world, Spruce Meadows holds 16 tournaments each year, the majority of which are professional and amateur specific.

The Spring Welcome Tournament is an exception to the traditional structure of most Spruce Meadows competitions; both professional and amateur show-jumping riders enrol to compete against each other.

Jenn Serek, a professional show-jumping rider from Calgary, thinks it’s exceptional the way this tournament is run.
Jenn Serek, professional show jumping rider, attempts to clear one of the jumps at the Spring Welcome tournament last weekend at Spruce Meadows.
Lucia Trischuk/Calgary Journal

“This is Spruce Meadows’ only tournament that allows amateurs in the same ring as pros. It’s a great way to see the up-and-comers.

“For amateurs, it’s a learning experience to compete against their coaches or other professionals. And for the pros, it’s great to see our students try their best. Nothing is more fulfilling for a coach than seeing your student beat you.”

For Rob Chad, an amateur show-jumping rider from Calgary, said, “It’s all about amateur development. We need these shows to seed into the bigger shows. For kids to see pros and Olympic riders in the same ring is a huge incentive and inspiration.

“Because the sport is very sophisticated, it takes a lot of hard work to make your way up in the ranks. It depends how much finesse you have and how much dedication you have to your horse and the sport individually.”

Spruce Meadows is one of the only horse jumping facilities that allows professional versus amateur competition.

“It’s a fantastic community to ride in. It’s receptive, and in this competition, coaches are able to teach us and say what we can do better,” Chad said. “They are experiencing first hand what we are experiencing.”

Jon Garner, competition manager at Spruce Meadows, said that allowing an event like this permits anyone to compete.

“This is our final winter series indoor tournament. It’s non-qualifying and it’s made of mostly athletes from Western Canada.

“This show is a great one for first-time jumpers because there is no pressure to win. All the other amateur riders are in the same boat, amateur versus professional. It’s a great stepping stone to building the rider’s confidence.”

Participating in this tournament is beneficial for both the professional and amateur athletes.

Serek said, “A majority of the pro riders, such as myself, use this tournament to school young horses.

“It’s a warm-up tournament for all the spring, outdoor tournaments; because of the huge difference between indoor and outdoor riding, it is a nice transition.”

For Chad, it is one of the major competitions of the year.

“Amateurs train all year individually and with their coaches to get ready for this event. It is a big one for me, seeing as I have only been riding for five years.

"It’s a thrill and it’s a lot of fun, and to have a few bragging rights every now and again is great," he said.

“I hope to continue to show jump and to enjoy myself. All of us jumpers would eventually love to jump bigger and higher.”

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect the proper writer. It was originally posted with the wrong byline. We regret the error.