Local rider wins $1,000 Ontario Equestrian Federation bursary

A Rockwood rider was recently awarded one of five $1,000 bursaries from the OEF (Ontario Equestrian Federation) Youth Bursary program.

Shalom Leger, 15, has been riding since she was 7 years old and is now working her way up the levels of eventing.

Eventing is an equestrian competition consisting of three different disciplines: dressage, cross-country and stadium jumping. Dressage is a judged flat work competition, cross-country is an endurance race over mixed terrain and stadium jumping is a timed event where horse and rider try to complete the course quickly without knocking any rails down.

This year Leger is moving up to the pre-training level and said she would not be able to do it without the OEF bursary.

“It was just an amazing opportunity and finances, you know horse riding is expensive, and I’ve been working but the help to go to compete with Lulu this summer especially, it will be really helpful,” Leger said.

She and her horse Ultra Luminous (Lulu) competed in entry level last year because it was their first season together.

“She’s a really good jumper so she could do pre-training last year but we didn’t want to because she hadn’t really done that much … she’s only 7 so when we got her she was 6 so she really hadn’t done that much competing so we took her entry just so she could get experience.”

However, in order to move out of pre-training and into the training level, Leger said she needs to qualify in three events this summer, which are the events her bursary will be funding.

“It will be the entry fee of three events because in order to move up to training, which is my next year goal, I need three minimum eligibility requirements,” she said.

“So that means I need to get a certain mark or better in dressage and I need to be clear cross-country and no more than 12 faults on stadium and so going to those three events I’ll be able to do that and then by doing that I’ll be able to qualify for training next year.”

Without the funding Leger said she may not have been able to compete in eventing this year due to other commitments.

“I’m actually going to Australia this fall because I made the Canadian Mounted Games team, which is amazing, but of course expensive,” she said.

“So I’m not sure if I would have been able to do eventing this year, which would have really been hard for us because you know we wouldn’t have been able to advance.

“So I’m really, really thankful for this bursary so that we can keep moving.”