International show full of WC riders

WEST CARLETON – It’s the biggest equestrian show in the Eastern Ontario region, so you know there’s going to be a strong West Carleton presence.

The horse industry has always been popular in West Carleton featuring competitors and horse lovers of all ages.

Wesley Clover Parks, the largest equestrian centre in Eastern Ontario located in nearby Kanata on Corkstown Road, kicked off its two biggest weeks of the year hosting the Ottawa Internationals I and II horse shows, the largest equestrian competition in Eastern Ontario. From July 10 to July 14 and this upcoming week July 17 to July 21, the beautiful equestrian centre plays host to two weeks of Federation Equestrian International sanctioned competition with more than $250,000 in prize money on the line including the $134,000 FEI Grand Prix, the $37,000 FEI Capital Classic and the $15,000 National Grand Prix (all slated for this upcoming week).

West Carleton Online dropped by the show Saturday afternoon (July 14) to speak with one of West Carleton’s young competitors and was also able to speak with Wesley Clover Parks President and Grand Prix rider Karen Sparks who spoke to us about the facility and the show.

Sparks says over the two weeks there will be more than 700 horses competing, their riders and about 1,500 people responsible for getting the horse and rider through the competition.

“With every horse comes a whole support team,” Sparks told West Carleton Online from the VIP tent on a beautiful Saturday.

Sparks says competitors have come from as far away as the Philippines this year, but the majority of riders are from the Toronto and Quebec area.

“These two weeks are our Crown Jewels,” Sparks said of the show.

Wesley Clover hosts about 12 equestrian events a year on the grounds including dressage, cross-country and hunter-jumper events.

“What we’re trying to do here is have a hub where all the rural area riders can meet and have a safe place to compete,” Sparks said.

The show continues this Wednesday (July 17) to Sunday. The feature class goes at 4 p.m. during the weekdays and 2:30 p.m. on the weekend. Sparks says the show averages about 5,000 spectators on weekend days and the event is free to attend, although the park does accept donations to support the retired hoses residing at the centre.

Erin Wormald and Goa. Courtesy Linda Wormald
Carp’s Erin Wormald and Goa. Courtesy Linda Wormald

Carp’s Erin Wormald, 14, spent last weekend competing in the 0.9 metre Junior Amateur jumper division on Goa facing off against 41 other entries.

Erin first started riding at six, suggested to her as a way to strengthen her legs and knees.

“My doctor suggested riding because my knees dislocated easily,” Erin told West Carleton Online before her Sunday afternoon event.

Her knees were so fragile, they could and would dislocate just from walking. Erin rides out of Pinewood Stables where she is coached by Sophia Nihon. Friday, Erin had a great class finishing fourth out of 42. 

This season, Erin is competing on 18-year-old mare Goa. Erin’s coach Sophia Nihon says it’s the perfect horse for Erin.

“Goa’s competed at Spruce Meadows, has done all sorts of cool things and is now showing Erin the ropes,” Nihon told West Carleton Online.

This year, Erin has a light competition schedule as she recovers from knee surgery just last November and a similar surgery two years ago. She will only attend about seven events this season.

In her spare time Erin makes bows and charms that, at this horse show, are being sold at Performance Horse and Rider. Erin donates the proceeds of her sales to TROtt, the Therapeutic Riding Association of Ottawa-Carleton.

Some of the bows and charms Erin makes to raise money for TROtt. Courtesy Linda Wormald
Some of the bows and charms Erin makes to raise money for TROtt. Courtesy Linda Wormald

Although the relief from her knee issues hasn’t come, Erin is still riding and competing.

“It didn’t really help my knees,” Erin said. “I just stuck with riding because I love it.”

Erin will be back in the saddle at the show this week as well.

The ponies and young amateurs usually kick off the first week at the Ottawa International.

MacLaren's Landing's Anna Landry with Lunar Eclipse on the left and True Blue on the right. Courtesy Karen Landry
MacLaren’s Landing’s Anna Landry with Lunar Eclipse on the right and True Blue on the left. Courtesy Karen Landry

MacLaren’s Landing resident Anna Landry, 11, competed in the Large Pony division and is coming home a champion. Anna trains out of Fiddler’s Green Stables which originated in the Woodlawn area but has now migrated to Stittsville. Anna is coached by Becky Nuth and Christine Wiggins.

Anna’s pony is named Lunar Eclipse and this is Anna’s second year showing her. This year, Anna also competed on True Blue, a medium pony owned by Crown Meadows.

Anna and Lunar had a great week at Wesley Clover. The duo won a first, two thirds and a fourth in the four class division and was named Division Champion in the Large Pony class.

“He is an older very accomplished pony that has been an amazing pony for Anna to learn on,” Anna’s mom Karen, who is also a trainer at Fiddler’s Green, told West Carleton Online.

In the Medium Pony division, aboard True Blue, Anna came home with a first and to 10th place finishes.

“He is a young promising pony in his first year of showing,” Karen said. “Anna started riding him in March.”

Karen says her daughter started riding pretty early.

“Anna has been riding basically since she was in the womb,” Karen said. “She has grown up at Fiddler’s Green and been riding her entire life. She got her first pony at nine-months-old and has been showing since she was six. In past years she has qualified and competed at the Royal Horse Show (nationals) and the Trillium Championships (provincials). This year she is trying to qualify her Large Pony for nationals and her Medium Pony for provincials.”

Anna Landry with her coaches Christine Wiggins, Becky Nuth, her pony Lunar Eclipse and those cool, red Weslt Clover championship coolers. Courtesy Karen Landry
Anna Landry with her coaches Christine Wiggins, Becky Nuth, her pony Lunar Eclipse and those cool, red Weslt Clover championship coolers. Courtesy Karen Landry

This is the fourth year Anna has competed at the Wesley Clover event.

“It’s probably our favourite show of the year,” Karen said. “It’s a very well-run show with great prizes, and those amazing red trophy coolers, and Anna always seems to ride well there.”

Anna loves the life as well.

“I love horses and really enjoy going to the horse shows with my friends,” she told West Carleton Online via her mom. “It’s always a challenge and you never know what will happen.”