Shelburne teens qualify for equestrian championships

Published on August 28, 2012

Two Shelburne teens will be travelling to Quebec to compete in the 2012 Canadian Interprovincial Equestrian Championships next month.

Reining is a precision skill where the horse is in tune with its rider, the riders guide their horses through precise patterns of circles, spins and stops.

Kaitlyn Harding and Kaleigh Bennicke have been riding seven hours per week in preparation for the competition.

Their coach Norma Grahm encouraged the young women to tryout and both were successful.

Bennicke has been riding since her mother bought her a horse at the age of nine and has been reining since 11-years of age.

“We have done a lot of different disciplines over the years,” said Harding.  “Until you find one you really like and stick with it.”

It has taken years of training their horses for the girls to get where they are today but their efforts are beginning to pay off Bennicke recently placed 60th out of 500 on a world scale for reining.

In the scoring system for reining 70 is perfect and both Harding and Bennicke have come close with a score of 68.

Of course it wasn’t always that way. When they first began competing at a young age their scores were in the single digits.

They will be bringing their horses, Miss Cindy Lou Who and Genetic Jewel to the competition where they will be judged on how well the horses respond to their riders.

Not only do they need to respond seemingly effortlessly but they also can’t express resistance such as pining her ears, refusing to respond or even wringing her tail in irritation. 

They will be performing such things as circles, large, fast circle at a near-gallop and smaller, slow circles at a lope, a sliding stop where the horse accelerates to a gallop and then suddenly comes to a complete halt as well as spins where the horse must begin from a standstill, the horse spins 360 degrees or more.

Harding said this would probably be the end to her reining training as she goes off to university next year. 

She explained it would be too difficult to start over with a new horse near the city.

Both are excited to be able to compete at a national level.