Local finds equestrain success

Emma Edwardson coming off a summer to remember in horse jumping events

You’ll have to excuse Emma Edwardson if she’s been feeling her oats a bit these days, but the young equestrian with big dreams is coming off a summer to remember.

The good natured little filly has been training 4-6 days a week for a couple years now, and all that time in the saddle paid off.

“It sure did,” confirmed proud mom Jennifer, explaining how Emma spent August in Alberta and turned in a strong showing at Rocky Mountain Show Jumping in Calgary where she spent three full weeks of competition with her two horses Jack and Jiani, taking top ribbons in all rings while competing in large classes that included adults and professionals.

Highlights from Rocky Mountain included a first place finish in 3’ Medal Class; a silver medal in Pony Jumpers; third overall in Hunter Classic; third in her Jr./Am Jumper Division; fourth overall in her Jumper Mini Prix; placed 13th out of 36 competitors in the Hunter Derby held in the Grand Prix ring, a first for Emma, who at 11, was the youngest rider in class that day.

“That was very exciting,” she confirmed.

Emma as the story goes travelled to the show with her family but without her usual trainer and rode with two trainers from Edmonton.

Talk to her mom and she’ll tell you her daughter ‘learned a lot and had a great show experience with other barns.”

CLOSER TO HOME: In July at Arbutus Meadows, Emma and Jioni took Champion honours in the 2’9” Hunter division, and did likewise with her jumper horse Jack in the Pony Hunter.

Fast forward to Sept. 28-30, and Emma picked up where she left off at the Saanich Shows In The Sun (SSITS) finals, where she was competing with Jack, Jiani, and her new horse Ginger, an ex-Grand Prix horse.

Emma and Ginger surprised some people and certainly served notice they’ll be a tandem to reckon with when they finished 1st in the Hunter Derby (one of the specialty classes). Edwardson also captured second in the same class with Jiani, giving her the rare one-two finish.

“It was a pretty awesome summer — it was really fun,” said Emma.

Looking down the road, Emma will be moving up with her new larger horse Ginger and focusing on Equitation with her while continuing on for another year with her pony jumper Jack. Emma also has plans on taking Jack to compete in the Pony Jumper Division at storied Spruce Meadows in Calgary next spring, and wants to take Ginger to more off-Island shows in the coming year.

Asked how she’s feeling about her second year of home schooling, Emma made the point “I’m really glad I chose it because I get to ride a lot more, plus I miss a lot of the middle school drama. I still see my friends on weekends,” she explained. “We still have sleepovers, so it’s not like I’m out of touch.”

Contacted in Cowichan, Emma’s coach, Cheryl Keith, who is the head coach at Queen Margaret’s School, had good things to say about her student.

“I’ve been working with Emma since she started in the short stirrup we call it, which is the 2’ beginner division and now she’s jumping three to three foot three consistently, so for her age that’s a big jump in that amount of time.

“If you give her something to practice she practices it over and over — she’s very diligent, she’s a great kid. Her parents have been very dedicated in getting her the right horses and getting her to competitions.

“I teach a lot of kids,” Keith went on to explain, pointing out “I probably have 80 students, and for kids to go on the road for the summer, it’s a big deal, and we’re not talking one horse show here, we’re talking about three weeks of horse shows in a row — five to six days of horse shoes a week, 15 hours a day, so it’s a lot, and keep in mind Emma is one of the youngest and she won all of her equitation events for her age group and she also won one of the classes which is huge.”

AT THE SST’s Keith added, “I bet she was on horse from 9 o’clock in the morning until 4:30 in the afternoon because all the horses, they all jump different classes and different heights, I mean we were bringing her food to her on her horse.

“She for sure loves it, it’s not just a passing fancy.”

Emma’s ‘reach goal’; her three year plan, says her coach, is to place in the top four at the Canadian Equestrian Team Medals (CETs for short, open to riders up to 21). The CETs are broken into three phases — if you finish top four at the regionals you advance to the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto in November  to compete against the top four from the East and Maritimes.

Part of her program includes clear monthly, yearly and l ‘reach’ goals along with a dream goal.

“Her reach goal last year was to be Pony Hunter champion for Vancouver Island and she missed it by .5 or something, it was hardly anything, and another goal  this year was to win the QMF pony medal finals, and she did that. I believe she’s one of the best riders in the province for her age — I mean she’s not even 12 yet,” she said,adding “for me, she’s meeting all the expectations and her goals — she’s right in line where we want to be right now.

“I call her Analytical Emma,” Keith chuckled “because she can analyze everything, and that’s what good athletes do — it’s all just pieces of the puzzle.”