After defeating provincially ranked and regular riders alike, a Ponoka rider still in high school can call herself the champion of the Alhambra Fall Championship, for her skill division.
Hannah Sim provincially qualified in the Thompson County Horse Trials and the Alhambra Summer Event, where she rode her way through the three phases of the competition; dressage, stadium and country.
To be considered a provincially ranked a rider must place in two of the six available events.
The Alhambra Fall Championship took place Sept. 21 and 22 at an area just outside of Red Deer.
After she found out she was in first place, Sim couldn’t wipe the smile off her face. “It was the last event with my horse, who I’m selling, so it was probably the best way to end the season,” said Sim.
Sim has been riding Sierra Lynn for the last three years, the length of her eventing career. However, the 17-year-old mustang can’t compete at a higher level and is being sold to a younger rider at Sim’s barn.
“On the way to cross-county, I cried all the way there because it was the last time with my horse,” said Sim.
“I need something that’s more of a challenge. I’ve been with her so long. Our bond, we clicked easily,” she added.
Although she was competing against some of the top riders in the province, Sim wasn’t nervous because she doesn’t put any pressure on herself to perform. “I didn’t feel pressure ever because my thing isn’t about doing good, it’s about doing my best.”
Before she begins each event, Sim concentrates on remembering the course or test at hand while hoping not to mess up her run. As she exits the ride, Sim keeps focusing on the positive, even if she doesn’t place as well as she’d hope. “It could always be worse because with horses you could be potentially hurt.”
Sim competes in events in Canada and the United States and relies a lot on her family for support to help her ride better. At one event in Montana, her entire family came and stayed the week.
“My mom came every single day to watch,” said Sim, referring to the Alhambra Fall Championship.
Her dad was tied up in harvest duties but that didn’t stop him from rooting for her from the fields. “My dad was texting me all weekend.”
“They’re very supportive. They don’t care how I do but they get pretty excited about how I place,” she added.
Sim credits her barn, Extreme Stables, for her championship title and her riding skills. “My barn, they’re the reason I’m doing all of this. My coaches are there. I wouldn’t be doing that good without their coaching,” said Sim.
She rides five days per week, one to two hours per session.
Sim grew up hearing about her Opa’s riding expeditions in Holland, and even though he was in a riding accident she knew she wanted to grace the saddle, as he had.
Sim has been riding at Extreme Stables for five years and has two more competition levels she can achieve.