The Ontario Equestrian Federation is pleased to present six juniors from across the province with $1,000 through the OEF Youth Bursary program to help them reach their equestrian goals.
“Supporting riders at the grassroots level is essential to the health and development of our sport,” says Dianne Graham, executive director of the Ontario Equestrian Federation. “We are pleased to be able to help these young equestrians reach their goals. We know how hard they are working to pursue their love of riding, which is why bursary programs like this are so important.”
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 fees, continuing education and other activities that will help them develop their skills.
The 2015 OEF Youth Bursary recipients include:
Amy Del Vecchio
Sixteen-year-old Amy Del Vecchio of Whitby, ON. has been riding for 11 years and juggles riding, part-time work and Pony Club events with trying to maintain a high average at school in preparation for university. She hopes to become a veterinarian. For years she has volunteered every weekend, and most summer days, doing barn chores and helping with summer camps and events. Two years ago, she got her own horse, Orion, a green off-the-track Thoroughbred she saw not as a challenge, but as an opportunity. A member of the Canadian Pony Club since 2006, she achieved her C1 level with Orion and hopes to test up to her C2 before she graduates in 2016. She took on the role of youth representative for her club this year and works hard to set a good example. To help cover her costs, Del Vecchio works part time to pay for half of her board costs and extra expenses. However, there is little left over for anything extra. The OEF Youth Bursary funds will help her pay for the costs of showing, attend clinics and perhaps buy a much-needed new show jacket as she prepares her horse for the show ring this year.
When Taryn Oliver rode a horse for the first time during summer camp at the age of 12, she was hooked. Lessons proved to be too expensive, so Oliver had to find another way to spend time with horses. She volunteered at a boarding facility and her parents agreed to let her take lessons for a summer. To fulfill her love of horses year-round, she volunteered at the Equestrian Association for the Disabled (T.E.A.D.). Now in her fourth year of volunteering with T.E.A.D., Oliver has developed a passion for equine-assisted therapy. Last summer, the 16-year-old from Hamilton successfully completed her Western Rider Level 1 exam in the Equine Canada Learn to Ride program. She is currently working towards her level 2 exam and is taking lessons at Sunrise Stables in preparation. In the future, she hopes to attend the University of Guelph to study equine management. She plans to put her OEF Youth Bursary funds towards her Rider Level 2 exam and also wants to take more lessons as she works towards her goals.
Seventeen-year-old Grace Paura from Fort Erie, ON. fell in love with horses at the age of seven when her cousins brought their horses to live on her family’s farm. She was taught how to do daily tasks, like mucking stalls, grooming and measuring feed and supplements. In exchange for her help, her cousins let her ride. Bitten by the horse bug, when she turned 12 she helped care for six horses at a nearby stable owned by Dana and Nancy Hoover. Five years later, she is still there. She assists with riding camps for children during the summer months and lessons during the school year. She currently rides a young Mountain Horse owned by the Hoovers, with the guidance of her coach, Diana Gilforte. Paura plans on putting her OEF Youth Bursary funds towards furthering her equine education through the University of Guelph’s Equine Management program.
Julia Petrie of East York, ON. credits riding with giving her self-confidence, pride and a sense of accomplishment. As a little girl, Petrie had difficulty reading, a challenge she overcame with a book about a girl and her pony and the confidence she gained through riding. Today the barn is Petrie’s place to relax and leave behind the pressures of school, where the 17-year-old has a heavy schedule that includes being on the swim and volleyball teams. In order to help pay for her riding lessons, Petrie has worked for the past four years at the Animal Rehabilitation Centre in Toronto where she is an assistant. However, she is currently saving her money to attend the University of Guelph where she wants to study animal biology before pursuing veterinary medicine. The OEF Youth Bursary funds will allow Petrie to continue taking riding lessons while she saves for her post-secondary education. She also hopes to compete at a combined show this summer, which the funding will assist with.
Christina Sykes of Ajax, ON. has been riding for the past 10 years. The 17-year-old started in the Hunter/Jumper ring before turning her attention to Eventing three years ago. In order to fund her passion, Sykes works at two barns every Saturday. When she’s finished her chores at one barn, she heads to her lesson barn where she works to help offset the cost of her instruction. Never one to complain about the hard work that comes with horses, Sykes enjoys the time she spends at the barn. Her coach, Terri-Lynn Hughes of Fairly Big Farm, says Sykes has an exceptional attitude and works enthusiastically at any task she’s given – from unloading hay wagons to helping other riders from her barn at horse shows. Sykes, who has shown at a few competitions, plans on using her bursary funds to compete at more shows this summer. She also wants to become a certified Instructor of Beginners, a goal the OEF Youth Bursary program will also assist with.
Noémie Tremblay fell in love with horse when she attended summer camp at the age of eight. Now 14 years old, the Orleans, ON. resident is an avid rider who has taken weekly riding lessons every year since that first introduction. She is currently riding three times a week as she works towards her Rider Level 4 in the Equine Canada Learn to Ride program. Tremblay is also an active member of the Centaur Riding School show team and has won numerous awards in the show ring. When she’s not riding, Tremblay volunteers to help out around the barn, assists in the summer as an assistant day camp instructor and does chores one evening each week to help her mom pay for riding lessons. Tremblay plans on using her OEF Youth Bursary funds to try for her next rider level in the Learn to Ride program and to take part in a Dressage4Kids event in the U.S.