Equestrian – ‘It’s kind of like yoga on a horse’

Mackenzie Osteerg gets some training in prior to the PG Classic Dressage Hunter Jump Show June 8-10 at the Agriplex. Bill Phillips photo
Mackenzie Osteerg gets some training in prior to the PG Classic Dressage Hunter Jump Show June 8-10 at the Agriplex. Bill Phillips photo

BY BILL PHILLIPS

bill@pgdailynews.ca

Harmony is needed to guide a 1,200-pound horse over a three-foot jump, with you on its back.

You both have to want to go over the jump and you have to be working together.

Ekaterina Filatov and Quincy at the Prince George Agriplex. Bill Phillips photo
Ekaterina Filatov and Quincy at the Prince George Agriplex. Bill Phillips photo

“He obviously does the really hard work,” says equestrian Ekaterina Filatov of competing in show-jumping and dressage. “I’m sort of the captain of the ship. It really does involve listening to him (Quincy) and being in a lot of balance. I find that with the levels of dressage, you have to train your body to be more tactful. It’s kind of like yoga on a horse. Every little movement counts. There’s a lot of communicating between you and the horse. Nobody else sees, but you two are having this conversation. It’s definitely a partnership.”

Filatov will be one of about 100 other riders competing in the PG Classic Dressage, Hunter Jumper Show on June 8-10 at the Prince George Agriplex. This annual event has been hosted for over 28 years and attracts up to riders from across the province, including many junior riders.

Filatov started riding in Richmond when she was about seven years old and when her family moved to Prince George, she immediately started looking for a coach. She will be competing in both dressage and show-jumping.

“It’s fun to see what horses and riders can do together,” she says of the show.  “It’s cool to watch the jumpers, that’s exciting. I think dressage is just beautiful.”

The PG Classic is one of the biggest equestrian events in Prince George which will include a special show jumping extravaganza on the Friday evening from 4-8 p.m. and on Saturday there will be dressage, essentially horses dancing to music, to choreographed patterns, and some of them in costumes from about 5-8 p.m.

In addition, the show is a qualifier for the B.C. Summer Games, which will be held in Cowichan Valley, and riders will be judged by an Equestrian Canada-licenced judge from Victoria.

“It’s an opportunity for Summer Games riders to have more feedback from a highly qualified judge before they go on to Cowichan for the competition,” says Jodie Kennedy-Baker, an organizer and coach. “It’s an opportunity to be in competition with other northern B.C. riders.”

The event will draw riders from across northern B.C. and most of them will be female.

“Equestrian in northern B.C. is probably about 98 per cent women,” says Kennedy-Baker. “It’s great because it gets women out of the house and off the couch. It’s a sport that looks easy but it’s actually physically fairly demanding.”

She says it’s like yoga or cross-country skiing in that it is a full body workout. And then, of course, there’s the fun of handling hay, a truck and trailer, and scooping out the trailer at the end of the trip, that contributes to the physicality of it all.

It takes many years to train a horse really well.

“It’s a lifelong sport,” she says.

John Brink, of the Brink Group of Companies, presents Jodie Kennedy-Baker of the PG Classic with $1,000 as Mackenzie Osteerg and Ekaterina Filatov look on. Bill Phillips photo
John Brink, of the Brink Group of Companies, presents Jodie Kennedy-Baker of the PG Classic with $1,000 as Mackenzie Osteerg and Ekaterina Filatov look on. Bill Phillips photo

The event got a nice financial boost this week as the Brink Group of Companies signed on with a $1,000 sponsorship. Owner John Brink says he’s been around horses all his life, even though he only started riding when he was 70 years old. His sister rode competitively when he was growing up in Holland, so his weekends were spent at horse shows.

“Riding a horse in dressage is probably one of the most difficult sports in the world,” Brink says. “A horse is an amazing animal, about 1,200 pounds. It has a mind of its own. The key is to be able to ride it and be in harmony with the horse. If it is done well, it is amazing to see. The road to becoming a good rider has a few humps and bumps along the way.”

Brink says he got bucked off three times in one day. The key, as the old saying goes, “dust yourself off and get back on.”

And the sponsorship is a fit for the Brink Group of Companies.

“We like to be supportive of things that most people are not quite as involved with,” says Brink. “If we can be one of the lead sponsors, we like that because it brings riding more to the public.”

The sponsorship will provide a direct benefit to the riders, says Kennedy-Baker.

“The contribution will go towards reducing the costs for junior riders for their entry,” she says.

So mark your calendar for June 8-10 to take in some of the PG Classic Dressage, Hunter Jumper Show at the Agriplex. There is plenty of seating, admission is free, there’s free parking, and it’s a family event. You’ll probably already be at Exhibition Park for the Relay for Life, so take a break from the relay and take in some top notch equestrian performances.