Bursary Program Helps Young Equestrians Reach Their Dreams

The Ontario Equestrian Federation is proud to present eight juniors from across the province with $1,000 through the OEF Youth Bursary program to help them achieve their equestrian goals.

“We would like to thank everyone who applied and to congratulate this year’s bursary recipients,” says Dianne Graham, executive director of the OEF. “Youth are our future and we are delighted to be able to help them further their riding and horsemanship skills through the bursary program.”

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 feeds, continuing education and other activities that will help them develop their skills and reach their goals.

The 2013 OEF Youth Bursary recipients include:

Melissa Bayer
Melissa Bayer plays an integral role on her family’s farm in Smiths Falls, ON. The 17-year-old has been a member of the Pony Club for 11 years, achieving her B2 level. She has competed nationally in Pony Club Quiz competitions, placing in the top three. Dressage is Bayer’s favourite discipline and she shows her Friesian sport horse, Jisk, at Second Level. They were named champion in Freestyle at the Silver Championships and were also champion in Junior Second Level. Bayer volunteers her time with the Lanark County Therapeutic Riding Program and assists wherever needed with Pony Club. She plans on putting her youth bursary funds towards becoming a certified instructor and also wants to compete in the FEI Junior Rider Dressage classes.

Samantha Franco
Seventeen-year-old Samantha Franco of Newmarket, ON. has watched her passion for horses go from doodling pictures as a child to becoming an accomplished rider. After many years of riding school horses, part-boards and leases, she gained the skills to transform her own horse, a Thoroughbred named Teddy, from a spooky, tricky ride into a brave competitor currently showing the 1.0m Jumpers. Franco dreams of becoming an equine veterinarian and intends to use her youth bursary funds to assist with her tuition when she goes to university this fall.

Isabelle Gauthier
Isabelle Gauthier of New Liskeard, ON. began taking riding lessons seven years ago. Since then, the 15-year-old has competed and placed in many shows and has obtained her English Rider Level 6 in the Equine Canada Learn to Ride program. She is currently training two horses through natural horsemanship and looks forward to competing with them this summer. When she’s not riding, Gauthier volunteers her time with a local therapeutic riding centre. Gauthier plans on using her youth bursary funds to further her natural horsemanship knowledge. She also wants to advance through the levels of the Equine Canada Learn to Ride program and perhaps pursue her instructor certification.

Alicia Vancasteren
Sixteen-year-old Alicia Vancasteren of Minesing, ON. began riding at the age of 12 and has been taking weekly lessons ever since, competing every summer at the North Simcoe Challenge Series. Last summer, she competed at her first Ontario Horse Trials Association Eventing show and hopes to compete this year at the Entry or Pre-Training Level. When she’s not riding, Vancasteren can be found helping with just about everything at SevenSummitsEquestrianCenter. Despite her busy schedule, she still manages to maintain a 92 per cent average at Barrie North Collegiate. Vancasteren wants to use her youth bursary funds to improve her riding through private riding lessons and clinics. The bursary will also assist her with the costs of the upcoming show season.

Jessica Ritchie
Jessica Ritchie of Paris, ON. credits her love of horses to her grandfather and the yearling Morgan he bought when she was five years old. As horse and rider grew, they took lessons and joined 4H, as well as Pony Club. She eventually purchased her own horse, Flirt, which she took lessons on. However, the mare developed health issues last spring that took a financial toll on Ritchie and sidelined her riding. The 17-year-old hopes to use her youth bursary funds to continue to care for her horse and begin taking riding lessons again to reach her goal of showing on the Trillium level.

Eszter Simon
Eszter Simon of Ottawa, ON. got hooked on horses during a week-long riding camp when she was 10 years old. She came back for several weeks each year for the next three years and the rest, as they say, is history. From there she progressed to weekly riding lessons and has part-leased a horse for the past several years. Simon plans on using her youth bursary funds to try for her Rider Level 6 in the Equine Canada Learn to Ride program and to pursue certification as an instructor. The funds will also allow the 16-year-old, who is an Honour Society Award recipient, to continue to part-lease her current equine partner.

Angelica Brisson
Angelica Brisson of Haileybury, ON. has been riding for the past eight years and currently has her Rider Level 4 in the Equine Canada Learn to Ride program. She has had the opportunity to ride a variety of horses and ponies over the years, which she has shown at local horse shows. She has her D2 level with the Canadian Pony Club and hopes to use her youth bursary funds to lease a pony for the Prince Philip Games. The funds will also help offset travel costs associated with travelling from her home in northern Ontario to attend clinics. The 14-year-old also plans on testing for her Rider Level 5 and Pony Club C level.

Justina Reinhart
Kitchener, ON. resident Justina Reinhart was bitten by the riding bug at the tender age of six years old. As she grew older and logged more time in the saddle, she gained experience and eventually got a horse of her own. Unfortunately, she discovered her horse had a chronic hoof issue and could no longer be ridden. After investing time and money into her beloved Dominic, she got him serviceably sound for light work and found him a permanent retirement home. The 16-year-old is now leasing a Canadian sport horse mare named Sumi and hopes to return to the Trillium circuit this season. Reinhart intends to use her youth bursary funds to help pay for competition feeds so she can fulfill her dream of showing.

For more information on the OEF Youth Bursary program visit www.horse.on.ca

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