Jesse Alexander Photography. Horse riding competitor Maia Tickell was one of many riders at the recent show.

Locals shine at Kelowna Riding Club Spring Classic

Over 140 riders from across B.C. and Alberta came to compete

By Joanna Cockerline

The rains and flooding Kelowna has faced didn’t dampen the spirits of those who attended the Kelowna Riding Club Spring Classic Horse Show held May 4 to 7.

Over 140 riders from across B.C. and Alberta came to compete in English hunter, jumper, and equitation divisions, from pony classes to fast-paced jumper rounds. While show organizers reported that approximately 70 per cent of this year’s competitors came from Alberta, local riders captured many victories.

Kelowna riders who train at Equi-Life Sport Horses and Foxwood achieved many wins and championships, as did many other Kelowna-based competitors. Riders who train with K&S Elite Sport Horses, coached by European-trained duo Katinka and Sebastien Devrainne, were highly successful, with Sebastien Devrainne, Carol Pendleton, Lillith Steur, and sisters Payton and Sloane Betker all earning numerous successes and multiple championships.

Sloane Betker, 9, even placed in The View Winery Hunter Spectacular with her pony Theodorable Teddy, competing against a large field of talented adult and junior riders. K&S rider Cassidy Booth, 19, won the show’s highest class, the 1.15 m Jumper. Jessica Hultgren, who rides out of Serendipity Farms and is coached by Megan Creel, was the 0.70 m Jumper Champion and also had wins in the Short Stirrup Hunters. Her sister Isabelle Hultgren, 14, debuted a promising new mount in Medals classes. Paynton Equestrian Team riders Sophie Everest, Madelyn Tonn, Grace Macnaull, Aimee Colthorp, and Emmalyn Carls – all coached by Kate Paynton – celebrated many victories, as did riders coached by Kelowna’s Julia Bostock.

Yet horse shows are about so much more than winning.

That’s how Hunter Bollhorn, 13, put it. Beyond riding, her highlight is caring for and bonding with horses—alongside two-footed friends who share that passion.

Bollhorn rides with Equi-Life Sport Horses, led by Head Trainer Lindsay Legroulx, whose unique approach goes beyond instilling riding skills and responsible horsemanship. Equi-Life focuses on making training fun and strong partnerships between the horse and rider, while developing leadership skills, compassion, and lasting friendships.

“Lindsay doesn’t just train [her students] to ride horses,” Portia Tickell, the mother of another of Legroulx’s students, Maia Tickell, attests. “She helps them develop into amazing people.” Maia, 11, was adopted from Nicaragua and was initially not expected to fully walk. Since she joined the Equi-Life program in 2014, Maia has thrived.

“I love being part of the Equi-Life team,” Maia said. “It’s not just about the winning—it’s about the learning and fun.”

Other parents have also seen the difference connections with horses make. Cindy and Tyler Bollhorn appreciate that their daughter, Hunter, 13, also at Equi-Life, loves spending time at the stables rather than the mall. Hunter, a Child/Adult Equitation winner at the show, even pursues e-schooling so she can extend her days learning while also spending longer days at the barn and building on the partnerships she cherishes.

And partnership is what riding is all about.

“I’m so proud of him!” were the first words Paige Meyers, 14, exclaimed when she came out of the ring, patting her horse. A teammate of Tickell and Bollhorn, Meyers was Children’s Hunter Champion and the winner of the 0.85 m Junior/Amateur Medal as well as the Children’s Equitation on the Flat.

Following the show, Meyers volunteered to muck out the stalls at the Kelowna Riding Centre to clean up after the competition. Many of the world’s top Olympians emerged from humble beginnings and pursued their sport by mucking stalls and gaining experience from the ground up.

Competitors and spectators alike agreed the spring classic was a fantastic show.

“We were really impressed that despite difficult weather conditions, show organizers were able to create such a successful and well-run horse show,” Leila Templin, winner of The View Hunter Spectacular and Assistant Trainer at Foxwood, acknowledged.

The horse show is just one of numerous horse shows held at the Kelowna Riding Club, spring through autumn (www.kelownaridingclub.com). These free family-friendly events welcome the public, offering everyone a chance to enjoy a bit of country in the city.

The Kelowna Riding Club Spring Classic also exemplifies how community supporters can contribute. The show was made possible by many volunteers, plus generous support from Antares, Basil & Mint Restaurant and Bar, Bridlewood Riding Centre, C-Horse Equestrian, Capri Insurance, D&L Equine, Day Growers, Diamond H Tack, Drummond Law, Equi-Life Sport Horses, Fairweather Farms, Full Throttle Equestrian, Grant Thorton, Greenhawk Kelowna, Jack Ketel Farrier Services, Juniper Hill, K&S Elite Sport Horses, Land Rover Kelowna, Laurie Saindon, Le Tack Truck, Lifeworks Family Chiropractic, Mission Creek Ranch, Okanagan Equine Veterinary Services, Tempest Aviation, Trophy Den, Truck Works, and Voltair. Given the tourism boost the show brings, Sandman Hotel & Suites and Siesta Suites also chose to sponsor. The View Winery held a much-enjoyed wine and cheese gathering during the $500 The View Winery Hunter Spectacular.