Calgarian Kara Chad Part of Canadian Contingent Feeling Ready for Spruce Meadows

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Spruce Meadows — Tiffany Foster weathers winds of change

It’s not often that a rider jumps a clean round and still looks back to see every fence knocked over.

That’s what happened to Canada’s Tiffany Foster at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Florida, though, when a tornado touched down right in the middle of one of her rides.

“It was chaos, people were screaming, it was like a movie,” Foster said Thursday from Spruce Meadows, where she’s competing at The National. “If you’d looked back, it would have looked like the worst run in history, like I just demolished the ring.

“It looked like a disaster, but we were clear.”

The tornado hit right as Foster entered the ring for a jump-off at WEF, and she was fortunate to be riding Verdi, a horse she says will “quite literally run through a wall of fire.”

While there are many riders who would’ve stopped and run for cover — the way pretty much everyone in the audience did — Foster fought through and completed her clean run.

“I just kept going, I didn’t want to have to do the whole thing again,” Foster said. “As I’m going, this wall of wind comes and blows my helmet right off, so I jumped the last two jumps with my helmet just flying behind me.

“There was just stuff flying everywhere. There were palm trees falling down.”

Making the entire ride situation that much more insane was the fact the equestrian facilities in Wellington, Fla., are almost entirely temporary.

“I had to try to get back out of the ring, but I couldn’t because the ring was down,” Foster said. “I basically just sat there trying to get my helmet off while my horse was like ‘what is going on?’ ”

When it was all said and done, the tornado run was nothing more than a bizarre anecdote to go along with an encouraging run of results for Foster.

After something of a rebuilding year in 2013, the Vancouver native has come out of the gate flying in ’14. At WEF, Foster rode Victor to four wins and Melody des Hayettes Z to another.

It’s given her a boost of confidence and has her excited for a busy summer that’ll include the world championships and a trip to Germany for the prestigious Nations Cup in Aachen.

“Maybe not quite as much momentum as Eric (Lamaze), because he’s winning every class he enters, but I feel like I’m right behind him,” the 29-year-old said. “We were laughing the other day, saying that we came here last year not knowing these horses at all. But now that we know them, we’re feeling pretty good about it.

“I think this summer’s going to be really good.”

With Lamaze and Foster riding well and a Canadian team coming off a Nations Cup win in Mexico in early May — that team included Calgarian Kara Chad, Chris Sorensen, Ian Millar and Jonathan Millar — Foster says there’s a rising sense of belief amongst the Canadian contingent at Spruce Meadows and at competitions abroad.

 

Calgary Sun - Jun 5, 2014

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