Olympic horse rider Jessica Phoenix gave central Alberta horse riders important tips and tricks in the equine eventing discipline last weekend.
The clinic was held at Extreme Stables east of Ponoka where Phoenix worked with riders to better understand eventing and how to handle their horses. The three day clinic started with dressage where no jumping is involved, the second phase worked on jumping over fences that can fall down and the third phase worked on cross-country fences.
“You’re galloping upwards of 25 miles per hour at fences that don’t fall down,” said Phoenix.
She taught horses and riders techniques and specific footwork to make a successful jump. Results of the clinic gave riders a better understanding of their horses and it created a stronger bond between the horses and their riders.
The Olympic rider has represented Canada in countless international competitions including at the Pan American Games, where she has won several medals for her skills in eventing. Her efforts also landed Canada a spot at the Rio 2016 summer Olympic games.
Getting to that level of competition takes more than just a rider and horse, says Phoenix. Aspiring eventing Olympians will need a team of individuals who know what they are doing.
She suggests family and coaches are just as important as the veterinarian and farrier. “It just all goes into that success at the end of the day … make sure you’re with the most positive people that you can be with.”
Equestrian sports are gaining some momentum worldwide, says Phoenix and she sees growth due to interest from mainstream media. The sport as a whole is growing momentum and Phoenix is optimistic about what that will do for athletes and the industry. “Just growing the sport that way at the grassroots level is what will make us more competitive on the world stage,” she adds.
Seeing improvements from riders is an important part of why Phoenix hosts her clinics. “I honestly feel whether you’re at the Olympic games having your best personal performance or whether you’re in a situation like this teaching somebody…where it’s just complete clarity, it’s incredibly rewarding as a professional and that’s why I love what I do,” said Phoenix.
Stable owner Angie Golley intends to hire Phoenix again to bring further training for riders in the area.