Starting this year, the FEI provides monthly rankings of the world’s top Under-25 show jumping and dressage riders. Horse Sport has tracked down the top five Canadian riders in each discipline and asked a few quick questions. Keep reading and find out about Tim Wilks’ guilty pleasure and Naima Laliberte’s experience riding in Aachen.
Top U25 Canadian Show Jumpers
KARA CHAD – ranked #35
Hometown: Calgary, AB
Trainer: Eric Lamaze
Horses: Bonnie M Z, Calimero VD Leuba, Canaille D, Carona, Celine H, Cicero 117, Crescenda Z, DSP Colfosco, Firkov du Rouet, Generously Paid For, Idee-Fixe D’Exaerde, Judika KM
Thoughts on trainer Eric Lamaze: He is an inspiration … he wants it just as much for his students as he does for himself. To have his support is unbelievable. I hope to one day have that drive to win like he does.
About sibling rivalry with sister Bretton: Definitely there’s a rivalry, but I honestly think that it motivates both of us. We’re always neck-and-neck or one is beating the other. It really does help us perform to the best of our abilities. (Calgary Journal)
TIM WILKS – ranked #107
Hometown: Oxfordshire, GBR
Trainer: Sean Crooks
Horses: Air Rose Z, Elton Van Het Exelhof Z, Hocus Pocus, Knock Out Van’t Paradijs, Loeki Van Het Lindehof, Ma Pomme De Tamerville, Quelbora Merze
Major competition highlight: Jumping double clear in my first 5* nations cup in Falsterbo (representing GB at the time).
First major horse: Quelbora Merze, he’s a very special and sensitive horse with a heart of gold. He’ll always be my favourite horse because of everything he has done for me and for what we have achieved together.
Biggest guilty pleasure: Definitely peanut butter or pizza!
Heroes: My parents, because without them none of my achievements and experiences would have been possible. They have given me every chance and opportunity I could have asked for and I’ll forever be grateful.
BEN ASSELIN – ranked #146
Hometown: Calgary, AB
Trainer: I still tend to have a couple of people I seek most help from. The most recent and consistent help I have received is from Ludger Beerbaum. I like to learn something from everyone; I find the best coaching is watching other people, especially the very best such as Steve Guerdat, Eric Lamaze, Ludger, etc.
Horses: Livestream 2, Pekin St Denis, Veyron
Major competition highlight: In 2014 jumping double clear in the Nations Cup in Calgary and winning with Team Canada. I was one of only two double clears that day and the atmosphere with the event being at home was incredible.
First major horse: My first major horse was Makavoy. Attache Stables purchased him as an eight-year-old and my father rode him for the first year-and-a-half or so, developing and fine-tuning him to the top of the sport before handing the reins over to myself. Makavoy took me to the very top of the sport in a very short period of time and took me to venues all around the world such as Aachen. Makavoy gave me confidence to do anything. I was only 19 years old, but I was sitting on one of the best horses in the country, in my opinion. The amount of experience Makavoy has given me is priceless and he will always be a horse that sits closest to my heart.
ALEXANNE THIBAULT – ranked #147
Hometown: Boucherville, QC
Trainer: Francis Berger
Horses: Chacco Prime, Sanjay
Major competition highlight: So far, I would say my biggest achievement as a rider is my double silver medal at the North American Young Riders Championships back in 2017. It was my first real time competing with a team and being able to represent my country. It was such an accomplishment and a great opportunity. The feeling after my last round, when I knew we had kept our medal, was incredible. Being individual silver medalist as well really showed me that hard work pays off. I trained so hard for this and to have this amazing result was so rewarding.
My idea of perfect happiness: For me, the goal is really to have my private barn and to run the business with my sister and father. They have always been invested in the horse world and I don’t see any of them quitting anytime soon. As for competition, I would like to perform in more Nations Cups. Having the chance to represent Canada at some of the biggest competitions and venues would be an honour. Developing younger horses is also something I enjoy very much and will keep doing.
SAM WALKER – ranked #140
Hometown: Nobleton, ON
Trainers: Scott and Dee Walker, Missy Clark
Major competition highlight: Winner 2018 CET National Medal Final; winner 2018 ASPCA Maclay finals; 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th in the $10,000 U25 GP at the Ottawa International Horse Show.
Favourite horse show memory: Either winning the 2018 ASPCA Maclay finals or placing in the top five in my first $50,000 national Grand Prix!
Top U25 Canadian Dressage Riders
Renaissance Tyme – ranked #17
Déjà vu Tyme – ranked #93
Hometown: Sainte-Adèle, QC
Trainer: Evi Strasser, Robert Dover
Horses: Renaissance Tyme, Deja Vu Tyme
If you could ride one horse who would it be? Aside from my own, I would choose Valegro. He is simply amazing to me. I’ve been really lucky to see him live a few times and he really just takes your breath away. He is such a confident horse with a strong personality and presence to him. You can just tell he is having as much of a blast doing his job as Charlotte is and it’s always so lovely to see a horse trying so hard for their rider. In the end that is the goal I seek in every partnership.
Devon L – ranked #27
Hallmark – ranked #102
Hometown: Caistor Centre, ON
Trainer: Diane Creech
Horses: Devon L, Hallmark
Major competition highlight: 2017 was my first year competing in the U25 GP division and also competing Devon L, bred and owned by Louise Leatherdale of Leatherdale Farms in Minnesota. It was a very exciting year learning and training the Grand Prix movements and building a partnership with Devon. In 2018, we qualified for Dressage at Devon and proved how strong our connection had become by sweeping the U25 division. Knowing how special it is competing at Devon, it really meant a lot to me, especially because this level was still very new to me. I will always be grateful to Louise for supporting my journey.
Where will you be in 10 years? I have been in the horse world practically since birth and can’t imagine myself doing anything else. My passion for learning and growing in the sport will hopefully carry me to become the best trainer and horsewoman I can be. I am sure this will take more than ten years, but I can’t wait for what is to come.
LAURENCE BLAIS TETREAULT
Utah – ranked #35
Hometown: Montreal, QC
Trainer: Mathilde Blais
Major competiton highlight: Making the Nations Cup team for Canada [at AGDF in Wellington, FL] and getting the silver team medal.
First major horse: Pissaro. I did my first big shows with him in the junior division. He was a great teacher and I won my first medal with him. We won the freestyle gold at NAJYRC as well as team gold. He is now happily retired in a field.
NAIMA MOREIRA LALIBERTE
I Do Kiss – ranked #4
Statesman – ranked #38
Hometown: Outremont, QC
Trainer: Ashley Holzer
Horses: Statesman, I Do Kiss
Major competition highlight: Often my highlights are simply achieving my personal goals, seeing results in the ring after working hard at home to improve specific things. One of my favourite experiences was participating last year as an U25 rider in Aachen. I finally got to see and experience this amazing venue for myself. Riding next to the best riders was super-inspiring. The most fun was riding in the closing ceremony and feeling the electric atmosphere.
First major horse: My first horse ever. He is a black Lusitano named Nao. I got him when he was 4 and I was 10 years old, and now he is 19. The connection I have with him is what kept me going through many emotional times. He was such a warrior for me. I definitely see his influence when I look for a new dance parter. Subconsciously and consciously I look for the familiar feeling I had with Nao. His legacy guided me to choose so many amazing horses to train and ride.
CAMILLE CARIER BERGERON
Acoeur – ranked #11
View this post on InstagramSound of Silence and I finished first with 71% in the YR individual test at the Ottawa CDI 2 weeks ago ????? It truly makes me excited to see how far we’ve come together! It wouldn’t have been possible without you @piavirginia ❤️ Thank you❤️ ?Thank you @florencetanguay_ for the great picture ? #ogilvyequestrian #biopteq #leveza
Hometown: Mascouche, QC
Trainer: I have been training with Pia Fortmüller for just over a year. I previously trained with Albrecht Heidemann for four years.
Horses: Acoeur, Sound of Silence 4
Major competition highlight: There have been many moments in competition that have had a significant impact on me; however, the one that has stood out most was my individual two gold medals at the North American Youth Championships on my horse Lowelas (Leo) in 2014 in the FEI Juniors. This was my first championship, and achieving my goal of making it to the championships as well as the added bonus of being on the podium made this a truly life-changing and impactful event. It really fuelled my desire to keep working towards one of my long-term goals of riding in the U25.
Who is your greatest inspiration? Isabell Werth. Isabell has three horses in the top five in the world ranking list, and she has obtained 10 Olympic medals in her life. She truly is an inspiration to me due to her ability to to bring out the best in any horse. She has brought many challenging horses to the Grand Prix level, and I find it so impressive and inspiring to see how present she has been in the international dressage scene over the years. She inspires me not only as a rider, but also as a person. I was fortunate enough to meet Isabell in Wellington during the 2018/2019 winter season, and I was so impressed by how down-to-earth she was, and how generous she was with sharing her knowledge and learnings with us, as well as how genuine of a person she is. I feel so lucky to have such an inspirational role model to look up to, and so grateful I had the opportunity to meet her.