Volume 92, Issue 3
Friday, May 29, 1998
Jumping for summer jobs
By Ian Ross
Tuition increases and high youth unemployment have pushed many students into summer jobs they would rather not be working. For a handful of horse jumpers, however, this is far from the case.
Arriving at Labatt Memorial Park last weekend for the Forest City Show Jumping event as part of the summer tour, several students have found riding as a chance of a lifetime employment opportunity.
With competitions every weekend and top prizes often hovering around $10,000, the possibility of earning a year's tuition, books and housing for a 60 second performance is very real.
Allison Moore, a second-year biotechnology student at Carleton University, competed in the event but took a four-point fault (one beam knocked over) in the preliminary round with her Belgian Warmblood horse which removed her from first place contention. Moore, who has been riding since the age of four, was not disgruntled by the one costly error as she was quick to point out that her enjoyment of the sport far outweighs the stress of the competition.
"I've always loved horses," she said. "Every girl goes through an 'I love horses' phase, I just never grew out of it."
Training with her horse on Friday, Saturday and Sunday during the school year and every day of the week during the summer months, Moore admitted to being successful takes a lot of dedication and energy from both the rider and the horse.
"Three or four days a week [during the summer] we work just on jumping," Moore said. "The key is timing and repetition but some horses have the natural ability to go further."
Competing in the same circuit that takes over 60 riders through Ontario and Quebec, Elliott Stone is another student who puts total concentration into learning and developing in the sport of horse jumping.
At the age of 15, Stone is the youngest rider in his riding class and he's only half way through high school. A careful balance of homework, through correspondence with his Midland high school and horse jumping practising has allowed the young star to stay competitive with his elder riders.
While to some spectators it appears the horse does most of the work during shows, Stone noted it is the long hours of training involved in preparing for the one minute performance that determines if the horse and rider will find success at the finish line.
"It takes about a year to learn what a horse can do," he said. "Mainly, the horse does most of the work but a great rider can turn a good horse into a great horse."
Both Stone and Moore give credit to their coaches for quality competitions so far this season and hope that through a partnership of coach, student and horse, one of their rides will pay off big.
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