Young show-jumpers giving back at Spruce Meadows

When the Chad sisters talk about giving back to show-jumping’s youth with their new charity initiative, it’s hard to get around the fact they’re pretty young themselves.

But Calgarians Bretton, 20, and Kara, 18, will be using this year’s Summer Series at Spruce Meadows to give back to their sport, as they’ve introduced a new award to help developing junior riders continue developing their equestrian skills.

With the Y2 Junior Rider Award, the sisters will jointly contribute $20,000 from their prize winnings, with five junior riders receiving $3,000 each to put toward the further development of their careers.

“For me and my sister, being able to grow up into show-jumping, we’ve been supported by tonnes and tonnes of people so we wanted to give back to the sport a bit and help other youth develop and grow,” Kara said. “Hopefully it catches on and people really start to recognize it.”

The award winners will be selected based on competition results and good sportsmanship, with eligible riders selected from the Junior Amateur Jumper and Open Division classes at the 1.20-metre, 1.30-metre and 1.40-metre heights.

While it hasn’t been long since either sister was competing at the junior level themselves, Bretton admitted the award was also a way for them to keep connected with the younger riders on the circuit.

“There’s not that many people who really do this sport,” Bretton said. “So it’s important to keep it connected.

“We’re lucky to have had the support that we did throughout our junior career so we thought it’d be a great idea.”

While the Summer Series will mark the first time the Junior Rider Award has been presented, it’s only the latest initiative the Chad sisters’ charity Y2 has undertaken. The non-profit youth foundation has been around for a couple years and has focused its mandate on “youth helping youth.” The charity has also partnered with the Robb Nash Project, which tours schools and youth venues engaging young people through music and words.

The charity’s mandate is something the sisters say hits close to home, and they’re both quick to acknowledge the support that helped them along their paths to the International Ring.

All that support appears to be paying off, too. Earlier in May, Kara made her Nations Cup debut and jumped double-clean to help Canada capture the Furusiyya event in Mexico. That competition saw her teaming up with a couple of her equestrian heroes, as the Canadian squad also included Chris Sorensen, Jonathon Millar and Ian Millar.

“It was a little bit intimidating at first, but once I got to know them — and I knew them before a little bit — but you basically travel with them everywhere so there’s a lot of team camaraderie and spirit, and that was something I loved,” Kara said. “(Ian Millar) has been in the sport for such a long time and, sad to say it, but he won’t be in it forever, so it was great to be able to have that experience and learn from him, and not just what he has to say but how he performs and copes with the challenges.”

Black & White