Calgary’s Chad siblings in running to become Canadian show-jumping stars

Bretton and Kara Chad are done with just being happy to be here.

For the past two years, the Calgary sisters have readily admitted that riding through the Spruce Meadows clocktower and into the International Ring always felt like a thrill.

That hasn’t changed, necessarily, but after a couple years proving they could hold their own, the Chads have set their sights a little higher this summer.

“I’ll speak for myself, but the last two years have been a bit more about surviving out there,” said Bretton, speaking Thursday with her younger sister by her side. “This year, it’s about putting it together and shooting for those top results.”

To crack the show-jumping world’s upper echelon, the sisters have made some changes this season.

Bretton, 21, spent a semester abroad — both Chads study full-time at Claremont-McKenna College in California — in Brussels last year and began training with Eric Lamaze at his home-base of Artisan Farms, which is located just outside of the Belgian capital.

Training with the 2008 Olympic gold medallist has proven fruitful for other Canadian riders, including Tiffany Foster, and both sisters have decided to spend the Summer Series training with Lamaze.

They’ll follow their time in Calgary up by heading to Europe with Lamaze, where they’ll compete in three competitions on the Longines Global Tour.

“It’s incredible to train with someone that’s really, really competitive in the sport and is at the top of the sport,” Bretton said. “It really opens your eyes to every single detail that we might have been a little naive to before.

“And just the competitiveness he brings to it is one of the biggest changes for us, which is great, because we need to be more competitive.”

It’s worth noting that when the sisters talk about wanting to be more competitive, they’re being humble in a big way. They’ve already racked up impressive resumes at Spruce Meadows and have both won events in the All Canada Ring, North American Ring and Meadows on the Green.

They’re so highly-regarded around the Canadian show-jumping scene that when talk turns to which riders might join Lamaze, Foster and Ian Millar on this summer’s Pan-American Games team, it’s not rare to hear the Chad family name mentioned.

Both sisters have, after all, represented Canada on the National Young Riders Team at four international tournaments, winning team and individual silver medals.

“It’s all happened really fast,” said Kara, 19, who spent five months training with British gold-medal winning rider Ben Maher for five months in 2013. “There’s that spot open, and a goal of mine was the alternate spot, possibly.

“But just to be overall considered … there’s obviously a strong, strong, strong A-Team that’s set up there, but it’s a goal to keep striving for and see what’s possible. Anything can happen in this sport.”

While the sisters may be on a rapid rise up the international ranks, they’re also maintaining their connection to the local junior equestrian scene. For the second year, the Chad are sponsoring the Y2 Junior Rider Award during the Summer Series.

The award, to which the sisters jointly contribute $20,000 of their prize winnings, goes to five international junior riders and is awarded each week with a representative from Spruce Meadows. It’s awarded based on results and sportsmanship, and the sisters say it’s about more than the money.

“It felt great to give the award to an individual every week who seemed to really appreciate it,” Bretton added. “When you’re a junior, you win your class, but there’s not a lot of attention, it’s nice to get an award.”

 

Calgary Sun - Jun 4, 2015

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