Written by: Horse Media Group

Young riders are benefitting to the tune of $150,000 from two new Canadian programs initiated by John Anderson to give up-and-comers a financial boost.

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Jacqueline Colborne and Betty Boop De Vidau were winners of the inaugural Rocky Mountain North American U30 Championship at RMSJ in Calgary, AB. As gold medalist, Colborne earned $5,000 of the $20,000 in prize money plus $10,000 from the athlete development bursaries offered to the top five finishers. Photo by Amanda Ubell Photography

John Anderson’s Rocky Mountain Show Jumping in Calgary, AB, is living up to its commitment of providing quality programs for athletes of all levels and ages. This year, $150,000 will be distributed to under-30 athletes across Canada through two new programs: the J.C. Anderson Legacy Medal and the Rocky Mountain North American U30 Championship.

The podium following the Rocky Mountain North American U30 Championship. Photo by Amanda Ubell Photography

The podium following the Rocky Mountain North American U30 Championship. Photo by Amanda Ubell Photography

J.C. Anderson U25 Legacy Medal

This jumper-based medal series at the 1.20m-1.25m level is open to any junior, amateur, or open athlete under the age of 25 as of January 1st with classes held at competitions across the country. Competitors entering a minimum of two J.C. Anderson Legacy Medal classes during the year will be eligible to compete in the Eastern Regional Finals at Angelstone in Erin, ON, or the Western Regional Finals at RMSJ. The top 10 athletes from each region will be invited to compete at the National Finals at the 2018 Royal West in October. Each of the 20 qualified riders who attend the final will receive $2,000 in bursaries to help with travel expenses. In addition, these riders will receive athlete development bursaries totalling $27,500 with the national champion receiving $10,000 and purses awarded down to fifth place.

“This new series gives younger riders the chance to ride in the grand prix ring,” explained Anderson. “The format for the qualifiers is very simple: the first round is judged as a jumper-type equitation class. There is a time allowed and time faults will be reflected in the judge’s score as a minus one point for each second over. Each rail will incur four points taken off the score. In the jump-off, the judge can call back up to a maximum of ten. They ride the jump-off and it is based on the execution of an efficient, time-saving pace and track while minimizing knockdowns and the course designer is encouraged to make the time allotted very snug.”

Promoting the equitation division has been a focus of the Anderson family for decades. “My mother [Barbara Anderson] founded the CET Medal 30 years ago,” explained Anderson of his family’s commitment. “The CET medal is seeing younger and younger riders every year competing in it and I personally think it’s because our riders, especially in the west, are getting better.”

“It is my hope that a venue in the east picks up the National Finals [of the J.C. Anderson U25 Legacy Medal] in the future, and maybe we rotate it back and forth,” said Anderson. “I would love the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair to host the National Finals, then it’s not always in one place.”

The Legacy Medal will receive $75,000 annually but has the potential to grow if the series takes off. “I’ve offered it to a number of tournaments throughout the country and if they choose to run it, great, if they don’t, that’s fine too. We think that people are going to adopt it,” explained Anderson. Angelstone Tournaments in Ontario have been offering J.C. Anderson Legacy Medal classes this year, but being a brand new program, the uptake has been slow. “[Angelstone founder] Keean White is great, he’s one of the real forward-thinkers in our sport and the only way our sport is going to develop is if you have forward-thinkers that actually go do something.” Anderson added, “Manitoba has run two so far, Alberta [RMSJ] has run two so far, and we’ve had four to eight entries in each of these classes. It’s going to take time to get adopted.”

He believes that it will be a really special program once people realize what’s at stake. “That $10,000 might be enough for that rider to make a trip to one of the circuits in the winter to help develop their career even further. We’re going to know in two or three years if it’s going to work, if people want to do it, and if there are any tweaks that need to be made. It either survives or it doesn’t ‒ but I’m a real believer in trying things.”

Rocky Mountain North American U30 Championship

This program allows North American junior, amateur, or professional show jumping athletes aged 30 and under as of December 31st the chance to compete in a three-phase 1.30m championship for $20,000 in prize money and gold, silver, and bronze medals. The Championship was held this year during the RMSJ June Classic 1 CSI2*, June 20th-24th, and attracted a strong field of top young talent.

In addition to the prize money, there is a $50,000 athlete development travel bursary program for U30 athletes attending the championship. Qualified athletes can apply to have expenses incurred by attending the championship reimbursed, including shipping, entry fees, training, horse show costs, flights, etc. Riders send their expenses in to their provincial federation, who then submit the claims to AEF for reimbursement. This year riders received $1,000 bursaries to offset their expenses.

Anderson said that the idea for the U30 Championship was born of a gap in the system. “There was no clear pathway, because you have to go from FEI children’s level (1.20m) and your next step is under-25 (1.45m). There are some riders out there who may take longer to mature or they got into the sport later.”

“I’ve been lucky, I got to go to the World Championships; I’ve competed in the Olympics, and done the World Cup Finals. There’s a real sense of satisfaction doing something like that. Let’s offer something like this to the young riders in a championship format. You do a speed phase, then you do a jump-off class, and then you do a last round. Scores are all tabulated together and then the top ten jump off carrying their scores forward.”

J.C. Anderson’s Legacy

Funding for these athlete development programs is provided via the J.C. Anderson Family Foundation and the J.C. Anderson Legacy Fund through The Calgary Foundation and the Alberta Sport Connection Donation Program to the Alberta Equestrian Federation (AEF).

Anderson explained how the charitable nature and forward thinking his late father, J.C., has made these programs possible. “In 2013 we hosted the CIEC – Canadian Interprovincial Equestrian Championships – where all the provinces came out. It was a wonderful event. My father passed away in 2015; he loved this venue, he loved the show jumping, he loved the sport, he loved the horses. He was there that week at the CIEC, and all these kids just put a smile on his face. He said to me ‘You know John, some day you kids are going to be responsible for handling donations out of foundation funds that I’ve set up.’ He said it would be great to somehow do something for this sport, especially for these young kids who work so hard to compete.

“My dad was very philanthropic; in 2001 he gave $11 million to the Calgary Foundation when Anderson Exploration sold; that fund is J.C. Anderson Legacy Fund. Since 2001, [the Calgary Foundation] has given away about $12.5 million to charitable organizations across the country and there’s still $13.5 million in the fund; that’s the power of endowment. He also set up what was called the J.C. Anderson Family Foundation, so collectively, between foundation funds, a certain percentage of that each year has to be given away to charities.

“I sat with the [executive director] of the Alberta Equestrian Federation one day, Sonia Dantu, and I talked to a good friend of mine, Don Wilson, from Alberta Sport Connection. I said there’s got to be a better way to help these young athletes in our sport. Because, let’s face it, this sport is insanely expensive and there are so many young and talented riders in our country that get missed. So why not help some of these young athletes with some of the funding?

“So I made a donation out of the foundation funds that I had available to the Alberta Sport Connection in the amount of $150,000. They in turn made a donation to the Alberta Equestrian Federation. And Sonia then enlisted my help to create some good programs. Long and short, we tweaked a few things and we saw a couple of needs.”

Not all of the funding is earmarked for equestrian programs. “Sometimes funds go to the Stars Air Ambulance, the Calgary homeless shelter, Children’s Wish Foundation, Easter Seals, and other charitable organizations.”

Anderson summed up the value of the two new initiatives, the Legacy Medal and the U-30 Championship. “With these two programs, $150,000 is going directly into the pockets of our up-and-coming athletes that we are hoping will carry our sport into the future, provide us with more Olympians, more medals, and some great international successes. All I’m doing is carrying on in my father’s footsteps of being a giving person and supporting things that have been good to him throughout the years. The sport show jumping is one of those things for me. I’ve always been someone who says ‘let’s support our youth’ and that’s been Rocky Mountain Show Jumping’s motto since day one.”

Read more about all of RMSJ’s programs at rmsj.ca/programs/#HRP