Meadow Creek Vaulting Club has been shortlisted for the 2017 FEI Solidarity Award. This award is given to an individual or organisation that has demonstrated skill, dedication and energy in expanding an equestrian sport.
This year, voting is open to the public – from now until October 1st. The results of the public vote will count for 50 percent. An exclusive panel of judges will make up the remaining 50 per cent. The winners will be announced at the FEI Awards Gala in Montevideo, Uruguay on November 21st. Visit fei.org/fei-awards-2017-votes to cast your vote.
Based out of Creekside Equestrian Centre, east of Olds, Alberta, Meadow Creek Vaulting Club is run by the Van Der Sluijs family, who have spent their lives to promoting, organising, coaching and competing in the sport of vaulting.
Sisters Jeanine and Angelique Van Der Sluijs have competed since they were children in Holland, each taking an interest in vaulting at the age of six. Together, with help from their parents Herman and Marijke, they run the club. Their eldest sister, Masha, preferred riding horses as a youngster, and does not participate in vaulting.
“When we moved here from Holland in 2001, since there are so many horses in the area, we assumed there would be a vaulting club, but there wasn’t, so we formed a small group and started practicing,” said Jeanine. “A couple of years later, we became a non-profit group and now we have 28 members.”
Members range in age from five years old to 30, and the club offers a range of programs from introductory classes for beginners to intensive training for international competitors.
“We have some local members, and also some people who come from further away to practice and compete as members of the club,” said Jeanine. “Training at the highest level means training five to six days per week.”
While they share coaching and training duties, Jeanine said she and Angelique each have their specialties. For example, Angelique has trained all of the club’s vaulting horses since she was 14 years old. They currently have 10 horses available for use.
Jeanine, a five-time national champion who has competed at four world championships in the past seven years, including as a pas des deux with Angelique in 2014, said they are just wrapping up the 2017 season, and looking forward to another successful one next year.
She said, “It was quite a surprise to learn we had been nominated, and it is a big honour to be shortlisted for the FEI Solidarity Award. It is very special to us to know that we are supported in this way.”
Jeanine encourages new members to check out the Meadow Creek Vaulting Club, and said, “The sport is good for helping develop coordination, strength and balance,” and appeals especially to those horse lovers who enjoy gymnastics and dance. Plus, she said, “Vaulting can be a great introduction to the horse world. You can experience it without the expense of owning a horse.”