By: Molly Sorge
Young Guns! Profiling show jumper Veronica Bot.
It’s quite fitting that Veronica Bot’s biggest win this season – the overall Caledon Cup title at the CSI2* Canadian Show Jumping Tournament – came as a result of consistency, because that’s the young rider’s number one goal.
With clean rounds and clean jump-off trips in Phases 2 and 3 of the three-phase Caledon Cup aboard Cool Down 3, Bot placed second in both phases to claim the overall title on September 23 at the Caledon Equestrian Park in Caledon, ON.
“The Palgrave series is a core component of our show schedule, and it was a highlight of the season for us,” said Bot, 22, of the show jumping tournaments held throughout the season at the Caledon Equestrian Park in Palgrave, ON. “It was definitely something we were working towards, and I was hoping to improve my results from last year. It was unexpected to win, but exciting.
“My goal has always been consistency, and it’s always a case of, ‘What is the consistency applied to?’” said Bot, who has been jumping at the 1.45m level for three years under Canadian Olympian Chris Delia’s guidance. “The height wasn’t so much of a leap, from 1.40m to 1.45m, but the difficulty of the courses was greater, so it was a good learning opportunity. It’s now that I’ve become pretty comfortable at this level and feel like I can take risks in the jump-off. It took a while to get to that point.
“Now I can say, ‘I want to be consistent at the 1.50m level.’ That would be my next goal. Hopefully a consequence of doing consistently well at the 1.50m FEI level is to qualify for a Nations’ Cup team, so that’s part of my goals for the next few years and what I’m working toward,” she continued.
Delia has enjoyed helping Bot solidify her skills at the FEI levels, saying, “All summer she has had good results, but not great results. By the end of the summer, she was so confident. She really let down her hair and went for it in the jump-off. If I had to criticize her, I’d say she can be too analytical and uses her right brain too much. But by the fall, she was so confident that she just trusted her right brain to function without hyper-management, and she just rode and went for it and had fun out there. It was a magical thing and really palpable; a lot of people noticed it, watching her ride. There was such a difference in the way she rode.”
Bot is hoping that magic follows her to the Royal Horse Show, held during the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, from November 2 to 11 in downtown Toronto. She plans to show Cool Down 3 in the Canadian Show Jumping Championship and Quidam’s Caprice M in the 1.40m Junior/Amateur Championship and the Uplands Under 25 National Final.
Variety Is the Spice of Life
Hailing from Burlington, ON, Bot comes by her right-brain dominance naturally. She completed her undergraduate degree in physics from McMaster University in April and is now attending a part-time graduate degree program in biomedical engineering.
“I’m a very analytical person, and my mind is very compatible with math,” said Bot.
She applies that analytical approach to her riding, as well. Delia noted that when Bot dismounts after a lesson, she doesn’t stop learning.
“She’ll go on YouTube and watch rounds,” said Delia, who operates Chris Delia Stables in Burlington, ON. “She reads articles and books. I think she dreams about how to ride better. I would attribute a lot of her success to what she does off the horse as much as what she does in the saddle.”
Bot took a bit of an unusual path to the FEI levels of show jumping. She showed in short-stirrup and then pony hunters before detouring from the conventional next steps of junior hunters and equitation to focus on jumpers. In 2010, she bought Brimstone, a Thoroughbred that had experience in eventing, barrel racing, and reining and started showing in the 1.0m jumpers.
“He was very brave and easy to turn!” said Bot with a laugh. “He was good for me to learn on, and he taught me how to be competitive.”
But when she moved to train with Delia in 2014, a new equine partner was in order.
“Her original horse was brave, but he was difficult to ride,” said Delia. “I think she did a good job given the limitations of that horse, and I think that has contributed quite a bit to her abilities.”
Delia found her Calato’s Charles, the horse that would take Bot to her first two North American Youth Championships in 2015 and 2016 and got her experience competing at the 1.45m level.
In 2017, Cool Down 3, an 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Chacco-Blue x Lysander), and Quidam’s Caprice M, a 12-year-old Oldenburg mare (Quidam’s Rubin x Calido I) joined Bot’s string. Calato’s Charles is currently taking a break from showing.
“Cool Down 3 is a pretty brave guy,” said Bot. “I’d say his strength is his bravery and his power. He’s a very scopey horse. The challenge with him is keeping him together and working on rideability.
“Quidam’s Caprice M is very careful; it’s rare that she’ll have a rail. If she has a rail, it’s something I did wrong. But the challenge with her is that because she’s so careful, she’s a little bit sensitive to her surroundings and getting her to focus can be difficult for me. They’re both very different and totally different than Calato’s Charles, who is very lazy. But I think that’s good. I think you learn a lot of different riding skills when you have different types of horses.”
Wherever the Future Takes Her
Cool Down 3 was Bot’s mount for the 2017 North American Youth Championships in Saugerties, NY, where they earned individual bronze and team silver. It was also on Cool Down 3 that Bot jumped in her first 1.60m grand prix at the CSI3* at Rockwood, ON, in the summer of 2017.
“Even if you’re consistent all the time, you don’t think you’re going to win necessarily because horses are unpredictable and competition is unpredictable,” said Bot. “I do work hard. I know I have good horses and I have a good program, and I’m focused, so maybe it isn’t a mystery why I’ve been able to do well. But I never expect to have these things happen.”
Bot credits Delia’s program as a major component to her success.
“He teaches me in so many different ways,” she said. “Riding isn’t just position and technique; a lot of it is mental composure and emotional control. It was a big effort from everybody in the barn at Chris Delia’s and I really appreciated all their help through the whole season. There are a lot of good moments, but there were also some challenging moments when I had to learn some lessons. Everybody supported me the whole time and I really appreciate that.”
According to Delia, Bot isn’t just a rider, she’s a horseman.
“She’s very hands-on with her horses,” said Delia. “She’s not a princess who expects everybody to do everything for her. She gets down and bandages her own horses, she keeps track of the vet visits and everything. She’s like working with a young professional who takes her career very seriously. It’s been a real pleasure working with her. She has the perfect combination of intelligence and work ethic and discipline. She’s a good role model.”
Her busy schedule hasn’t left much room for other hobbies, but Bot really enjoys watching the Food Network and experimenting in the kitchen saying, “I don’t have a lot of time to spend on that, but it’s fun when I can.”
Right now, Bot is combining her culinary hobby with showing and part-time studies, and she’s evaluating what route she might take in the future. In terms of competing, she’ll head to the 2019 Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, FL, to spend the winter showing for the first time.
“One of the reasons I wanted to take a little bit of a semi-break from school is that I want to learn about the industry and see what the lifestyle is like,” she said. “I’m pretty open-minded. I’m only 22, so I think I have some time to figure out whether I want to be a show jumping professional or do something related to my education. I’m in the stage of collecting information and seeing what career path is best for me. I want to keep the doors open to and try to do my best at both and see what happens in the future.”
Reprinted with permission from the October 2018 edition of The Warm-Up Ring, the official news of Equestrian Canada’s Jumping Committee.