Jan Stephens was named the recipient of Jump Canada’s Official of the Year Award for 2014.
Stephens, a native of Oakbank, Man., has been a member of Equine Canada since 1974. After completing high school a year early and with university still more than 12 months away, her dad gave her the option of going to England to ride — an opportunity that she gladly took. This experience solidified Stephens’ lifelong passion for horses.
Stephens’ career in officiating started in the mid-1970s with local stewarding and judging. With young children, Stephens didn’t have much of an opportunity to ride anymore but wanted to stay involved with the sport. The first show she remembers working at was the Victoria Day Horse Show, in Winnipeg, MB, with organizer Margie Teske.
During her very rewarding stewarding career, Stephens has officiated at countless national and international events including the 1999 Pan American Games held in Winnipeg, MB; the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games held in Lexington, KY; 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, MEX; 2012 London Olympics and 2014 Central American and Caribbean Games in Veracruz, MEX.
In addition to her FEI steward status for jumping, she is an FEI steward for eventing and reining and has been FEI Steward General for Canada for these disciplines since 2008.
Stephens has been the chair of the Equine Canada Steward Committee, and been on the Equine Canada Officials, Competitions and Equine Health & Welfare Committees as well as a current member of the Jump Canada Rules Committee. As the chair of the Equine Canada Stewards Committee, Stephens also conducted clinics across Canada for the purpose of recruiting and developing new stewards.
Stephens loves her stewarding jobs because she feels that stewards are the voice of the horse.
“We act as the advocates for the horse and their welfare is our primary concern, so what could be better than being a part of a sport/industry that deals with this mythical creature who dances, and runs and flies at our request,” said Stephens. “What could be better than trying to be their guardians on the field of play? What could be better than trying to ensure that all players have equal opportunity to compete fairly?”
This award is particularly meaningful to Stephens because she is receiving it on the same evening that that her friend and mentor Sandra Sillcox is being inducted into the Jump Canada Hall of Fame.
“I owe much of my stewarding knowledge and approach to Sandy,” added Stephens. “Equine Canada has many dedicated and highly competent officials. Thank you very much to Jump Canada for this award. I am both humbled and honored.”
“Jan Stephens has been the strength and driving force behind our stewards program in Canada. As a tireless international official, she is a welcome figure at many shows and events. Without people like Jan our sport would not survive. I cannot think of a more worthy recipient of this award,” said John Taylor, Chair of Jump Canada
In its inaugural year, the 2004 Official of the Year Award was presented to Tom Michiel. Other recipients include Francois Ferland (2005), Michel Vaillancourt (2006), Marjorie Dennis (2007), David Ballard (2008), posthumously Alf Fletcher (2009) and Sandra Sillcox (2010), Harriet Cherry (2011), David Esworthy (2012) and Kim Morrison (2013).