Introducing the 2023 GRIT Team


Unique in equestrian sport, GRIT sets the standard for high-performance equestrian development by providing athlete testing, education, enhanced training, and support services to riders that demonstrate podium potential, ages 13 to 26.

GRIT is a high-performance athlete and coach development program for the three Olympic disciplines of eventing, dressage, and jumping. Athlete-centered and integrated, GRIT provides athletes and coaches with additional training, opportunities, and enhanced services to supplement their existing program.

The 2023 GRIT program places a specific emphasis on mental health and performance. In collaboration with the Canadian Sports Insitute of Ontario, psychologists will work closely with the athletes and their support team to ensure specific needs are met.

As GRIT’s Head Coach and Advisor, Christilot Boylen will continue to support athletes with in-depth technical and tactical guidance for Dressage and Eventing. Christilot also helps all GRIT athletes in strengthening their fundamental riding skills and improving their groundwork.

Ontario Equestrian is pleased to announce a new addition to the GRIT Leadership Group, Ruth Allum. Ruth is the head coach at Oakhurst Farm, specializing in 3-Day Eventing. As a coach, Ruth’s commitment is to the total physical and mental preparation of both the rider and the horse. She demonstrates her dedication to over 50 students at Oakhurst Farm and, through her work delivering Eventing clinics and NCCP workshops, coach education from coast to coast and online.

Active as a coach for over 30 years, Ruth has helped develop more than 60 horse and rider teams to the Preliminary (EV110) level and above. During this time, Ruth has guided 8 athletes to the North American Young Rider Championships, coached many combinations to the Canadian Eventing National Talent Squad and on the Canadian Eventing Team Long List and coached the Guatemalan Equestrian Team to qualification for the 2015 PanAm Games. In 2011, Ruth was awarded the Equestrian Canada High-Performance Coach of the Year, and in 2020 she was listed as one of Horse Sport’s Top 50 Influencers in Equestrian Sport.

As GRIT’s Performance Advisor, Ruth, will collaborate closely with GRIT’s Technical Coaches in designing and implementing the program curriculum, as well as serving as the primary point of contact and resource person for the Coaches of GRIT athletes. Ruth will guide discussion during the review of the athlete’s Individual Performance Plan and Yearly Training Plan. She is also supporting coaches in completing their NCCP Certification with two GRIT coaches participating in the 2023 Equestrian Canada High Performance 1 Cohort.

As a Coach and Advisor with the GRIT program, Ian Millar brings incredible knowledge and experience. He is a huge advocate for the proper training of foundational skills to support athletes over fences. Ian thirsts for learning and always seeks the latest and best research to improve technique and give his riders an edge.

Ian is also actively involved in guiding the design of the GRIT program. Ian will lead sessions at GRIT camps and support athletes at designated competitions and clinics in collaboration with GRIT athlete coaches. As the recently named Chef d’Equipe for Equestrian Canada, we are encouraged that this continuity will be a very positive step for athletes as they move from amateur high-performance sport to the international stage.

Ontario Equestrian is pleased to announce the athletes selected for the 2023 GRIT team.

The following 12 athletes have been selected and are listed in alphabetical order:

Victoria Andersen-Helwig

Kelly Belanger

Emalee Bodimeade

Sydney Boldt

Ashlynn Crowley

Olivia Gowan

Saffron Klotz

Ruby Stringel

Avery Tallman

Kayla Welsh

Kyleigh Whitwell

Taylor Wood

GRIT Grads

Grit Grads

The GRIT Grads archive is a collection to celebrate the graduates of the program. Search or browse the directory to read more on their success stories and connect with them through social media.

It was a very competitive application process and the OE team is encouraged to see such a determined group of young equestrians benefit from newly developed program offerings.

As part of GRIT, education and support services are provided to the athlete’s coach, parents, owners, and other relevant individuals in their support team. Throughout 2023 the GRIT Team will have access to:

  • 4 coach/athlete consultations
  • 2 site visits at the athlete’s daily training environment
  • 4 training camps
  • 1 in-competition monitoring
  • 2 online weekly strength and conditioning sessions
  • 4 mental health and performance sessions
  • 1 fundamental riding skills assessment
  • 2 functional movement screenings
  • 2 social media campaigns
  • 1 social media challenge
  • performance tracking
  • GRIT apparel and promotional material
  • free strength and conditioning equipment
  • access to over 30 pre-recorded industry-leading professional presentations

To learn more about the GRIT Program click the link below!

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