August 19, 2008 Media Release
Sundre, AB - The Rocky Mountain Challenge 2008 Canadian Nationals saw over
170 entries from the United States and Canada compete over five days at Red
Deer River Ranches west of Sundre, AB in the sports of endurance,
competitive trail and ride n' tie.
Sunny and partly cloudy skies accompanied the Open competitive trail riders
over their two-day, 80-mile bid to become Canadian Champions. The terrain
offered a challenging test including hard climbs, long flats, lots of
technical riding, plenty of water, and some bog.
Many seasoned competitors found the terrain and the time frame challenging
and had to push their limits to achieve finishing times.
Both Gold and Silver medals were scooped up by the two Alberta team entries
which included three first-time Nationals contenders (Holly Tibble, Kandace
Krause and Christine Smith) and some talented veterans.
Gold Medal - Natasha French of Millarville, AB on Savannah, Cathy Kolesar of
Coutts, AB aboard Classical Dancer and Holly Tibble of St. Albert, AB riding
Silver Medal - Linda Riley of Leslieville, AB riding Kittasha, Kandace
Krause of Canmore, AB riding Jasmine and Christine Smith of Calgary, AB
riding JV Prism.
Cathy Kolesar also earned the Individual bronze medal.
Natasha French of Millarville, AB aside from capturing the gold medal for
Alberta, was also named the Canadian silver individual medallist. French was
caught up in emotion during the presentations earning her first team medal
at her second Nationals appearance. Riding a 14.2 hh Arabian mare named
Savannah, French was happy with the results. "She did great! She’s just so
consistent. She definitely was fresh when we started. She was definitely
peaking for this ride. She’s just my little energizer bunny."
This was French’s second time to a National competition representing
Alberta. Her last appearance was in 2000 in Saskatchewan where she was a
team alternate riding an Arabian mare named Rosie.
French and Savannah have had a short but successful career together. In
2007, they won Provincial Grand Champion in their first open season together
and were pursuing a successful ride season leading up to Nationals.
"It was unbelievable. It didn’t even seem real. I've had such a great season
and it was such a great event. I'm just in awe and amazed at the horse. It
was certainly a proud moment."
Christine Smith of Calgary, AB nominated her horse JV Prism, an eleven
year-old Arabian gelding and was selected to represent Alberta in her first
season of Open competition and only her second season in the sport of
competitive trail riding. A bit of a hard-luck horse, she bought Prism three
years ago from JV Ranch in Coutts, AB after the ranch recovered the horse
from an abusive owner and rehabilitated him. Smith spent three years just
gaining some trust and control over her nervous mount and also nursed him
back from a ripped heel bulb, an injury that had Smith considering
After overcoming so many obstacles, yet one more would be thrown in the path
of this pair. "He had a bad fall fifteen miles in on day two." Attests
Smith. "He lost 13 points from it. He skinned all his knees and his nose. I
wanted to quit and he wanted to keep going."
And so they did and despite the unfortunate circumstance, Smith's results
assisted the Alberta team in winning the silver. "It was the best
competition we’ve had, it was just phenomenal. I'm so proud of him."
"I was quite honored to be on the team."
Smith was introduced to the sport of competitive trail riding through Clay
Gerow, the owner of the facility where she boards her horse near
Millarville, AB and a local competitive trail rider, Leanna Marchant who she
credits a great deal to.
"I'm happy for Christine. She had done well this year." Attests Marchant who
trains with Smith."She always rides that horse and looks after him like
gold -if she hadn't fallen, she would have been in third overall. She did a
wesome. She placed like I did two years ago." Says Marchant who offers
perhaps a glimpse into Smith's future.
Marchant was on the 2006 silver medal Alberta team placing fifth
individually on her horse Samson's Fire. Now, at age nine, her horse has
already produced credible and consistent results including Provincial Grand
and Reserve Champion titles. Overcoming some saddle fit issues this year may
have influenced her horse being passed over by the team vet and chef d'
equipe for Alberta in the final team selections. "I was disappointed, but I
said I would win." And she did.
Marchant rode as an individual and captured the individual gold medal.
"I had only lost four points. Four points in two days... That's huge." Says
Marchant, beaming. Marchant was equally as thrilled with Alberta’s gold and
silver medals even though she was not on the team. "Other people got
selected and we got gold and silver and that's huge. This way, others got
acknowledged and I still got acknowledged with Sam."
"That was the hardest ride I've done since the Alberta Equestrian Games in
2005.” Says Marchant who has also competed in BC and Montana as well as her
homeland of Australia. Marchant's lofty future goals include planning to
qualify in the 100-mile endurance to represent Canada at the World
Equestrian games Kentucky two years from now."He's in his prime. We'll see
if he can do it and if I can do it." She says with a laugh. "He's not fast
but he's consistent."
The Canadian Nationals are hosted every two years, alternating between
eastern and western Canada. The Nationals also declared champions in
endurance and ride n' tie with a total of eight events being hosted in the
five days of competition.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
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