The Okanagan’s strength in the sport of equestrian riding was recently on display as Kelowna-based rider and her horse out of Kamloops, won the Canadian Western Championships as well as the Alberta Dressage championships earlier this month.
Kelowna rider Janine Little and her horse Sietske, a Friesian mare owned by Liz and Leanne Peniuk of Kamloops, won Third Level Open Champion, Freestyle Open Champion, and the Overall High Point Champion at the Western Canadian Regional Dressage Championships and the Alberta Provincial Dressage Championships.
Both Equine Canada Gold-sanctioned competitions were held at the Parkland Dressage Festival in Red Deer, Alberta, September 13 to 16.
“This has been a dream season,” Sietske’s owner Leanne Peniuk said, noting that the horse-rider pair has earned championships at every competition entered this year, some by a whopping 10 per cent score over the closest competitor.
Little also won every class entered with Liz and Leanne Peniuk’s horse Diamond Gem, who was Second Level Open Champion at the Alberta Provincials and Western Regionals.
“I couldn’t have been more proud, as an owner, to have both my horses do so well,” said Peniuk. “These victories just go to show what can happen when you put a talented horse with a talented rider and let the magic happen.”
And magic it was for the crowd who watched Little and Sietske at the championships. The freestyle competition, in which horses are ridden to perform a variety of highly specialized movements choreographed to music, was especially compelling. Sietske and Little earned top scores, rousing applause as fan favourites at the Wine and Cheese Freestyle Gala, and high praise from a panel of international FEI (Federation Equestrian Internationale) judges, who commented that they would like to see Little represent Canada in international competition. That has been Janine Little’s dream since she was a child.
To pursue that goal, Little trained with three-time Olympic gold medalist Anky van Grunsven in the Netherlands in 2005 and 2006. She operates Little Dressage out of Pirjo Holt’s Serendipity Farms, where she has had an excellent season with all of her clients’ horses.
She has been continuing to develop other horses for the sport including Dominic, a Hanoverian gelding owned by Susanne Zimmermann and a new talent, Landino, owned by Konra Young, with plans to make their competition debut in 2013.
“I am very pleased with the results Sietske and Diamond Gem achieved at the cha,mpionships,” Little said. “And I’m excited about the potential of all of the horses with whom I’m working as we prepare for the 2013 season and beyond.”