The Ontario Equestrian Federation (OEF) is pleased to present seven juniors from across the province with $1,000 through the OEF Youth Bursary Program to help them reach their equestrian goals.
“This is such a deserving group of young horse people and we are thrilled to be able to help them with their equestrian endeavours,” says Dianne Graham, executive director of the OEF. “Supporting the next generation of riders is very important to us and we’re confident these young riders are going to go on to do great things.”
Each year the OEF distributes a minimum of five $1,000 bursaries to youth based on their involvement with horses, their future goals, as well as letters of recommendations from their coaches. Family resources and academic achievements are also considered. The bursaries can be used towards riding lessons, clinics, competition fees, continuing education and other activities that will help them develop their skills.
The 2014 OEF Youth Bursary recipients include:
Although she’s only 16 years old, Chelsea Dernederlanden has big goals to become the best rider she can be.The St. Catharines resident has been riding for the past decade and spent her early years helping out at barns to gain more experience and supplement the weekly riding lessons her parents provided her with. While working twice a week at an Eventing stable, she completed her Learn to Ride levels 1-3 and plans to use her youth bursary money to complete more testing so she can apply for her English Instructor of Beginner certification. Chelsea currently works at a stable in exchange for a part-lease of one of their horses and hopes to show on the Trillium circuit this season – a goal the OEF Youth Bursary will help make possible. Chelsea strives to be a mentor for young riders at her stable and has also demonstrated her compassion for horses by raising money for Whispering Hearts Horse Rescue, an equine charity.
Toronto resident Charlotte Jones-Whitehead has been riding for four years and travels to a stable over an hour from her home twice a week for riding lessons. The 15-year-old aspiring Eventer has been working hard for the past year with Montana, a Welsh Cob mare she rides at lessons. They have worked their way up from Pre-Entry and Entry-level short courses and finished their first full event last summer, where they placed fifth.
While Charlotte babysits and helps at the barn wherever possible, money for lessons is tight. The money she received through the OEF Youth Bursary will allow her to continue her lessons and work towards competing in a few events this year.
At 17 years of age, Rachel Pietracupa already has a long list of achievements and an even longer list of goals.
Although she only started riding about a year ago, Rachel is already planning on testing her skills with the Learn to Ride program and dreams of one day owning her own horse. Rachel’s love of horses is matched only by her love of helping others reach their own personal goals. In 2012, she began volunteering for the Equestrian Association for the Disabled (TEAD) and has since logged almost 400 hours cleaning, grooming, tacking up, side walking and leading horses. Rachel plans on using her bursary to become a CanTRA certified therapeutic riding instructor so she can make it her life’s work to put smiles on the faces of therapeutic riders.
Xavier Sagan Borsato
Sixteen-year-old Xavier Sagan Borsato of Brampton isn’t afraid to roll up his sleeves and help out around the barn. His introduction to horses started two years ago when he would accompany his mom when she went to ride a horse she part-boarded. While she rode, he would muck stalls, clean tack and anything else that needed to be done. When he passed her “test” to see if he was willing to do the less glamorous jobs associated with horses, he graduated to riding. But it wasn’t until the elderly barn owner was badly injured in an accident that Xavier’s true colours shone. With no staff to keep the barn running, Xavier came out every day after school to help with chores. In return, he was given the opportunity to ride a horse named Crown. They have made great progress and have grown together as a team, but Xavier would like to take his riding to the next level. He plans on putting his youth bursary towards more riding lessons with his coach and hopes to take Crown to horse shows off property.
Heidi Sloan started taking lessons nine years ago and hasn’t looked back. Since climbing in the saddle for the first time, the 16-year-old has dabbled in Western Pleasure, Gaming, Dressage, Eventing and currently rides Hunter on a mare she part-leases. Working tirelessly to improve her skills, in the past year Heidi has progressed to jumping a 2’6” jumping course and plans on using her youth bursary for riding lessons in order to continue to develop her skills. The Spencerville resident has never had the opportunity to participate in a clinic and hopes to change that this year thanks to the OEF Youth Bursary she received. She also has her eye on a new saddle to replace the well-worn model she’s currently making do with.
For 17-year-old Michaela Tribble of Keswick, riding is her outlet, the barn is her sanctuary and her horse is her best friend. Michaela started riding about seven years ago and has competed at the Trillium level, but she always dreamed of owning her own horse. In August 2012, after saving up enough money, her dream came true when she bought Princess. When Michaela’s mom died last year, her life was turned upside down. The barn where she had spent so much time with her mother became her refuge. Determined to keep the dream alive, every cent she makes at her job goes towards paying for Princess. Receiving an OEF Youth Bursary will allow Michaela to start saving for her post-secondary education and she also plans on using some of the money for riding lessons to develop her skills.
Gabriela Varela has been riding for the past 10 years and spends every spare moment at the barn. The 16-year-old from Brampton has a long history of volunteering. For many years she assisted her stable with its summer camp program, including caring for the program’s horses and helping campers with chores and preparing for lessons. At the stable where she currently rides, she helps out with chores almost every weekend and is always willing to assist with whatever is needed. As a competitor, Gabriela shows sportsmanship and a genuine passion for the sport and always puts her horse first. Gabriela plans to purchase a new riding helmet with her youth bursary funds and will use the remainder to continue taking riding lessons and perhaps attend a few horse shows, too.
For more information on the OEF or its Youth Bursary program, visit www.horse.on.ca