Ottawa, ON, Feb. 11, 2019 – Equestrian Canada (EC) is pleased to announce the hard-working young athletes who were chosen by the EC Jumping Committee to receive Jumping Youth Bursary funds for 2018.
In recognition of the challenges young riders face as they strive to continue their education while competing at high levels of the jumping sport, the Jumping Youth Bursary was developed for athletes between the ages 14-21 who compete in hunter, jumper and equitation divisions. The program is made possible through a generous donation by Mark Samuel, Kevin Sanford and the Sanford family.
The following athletes have been awarded $2,000 each through the 2018 Jumping Youth Bursary in recognition of their hard work and dedication:
Ashton Wozniak, 17, of Foothills, AB was inspired to take riding lessons at age six after watching horses jump at the renowned equestrian facility, Spruce Meadows. Soon, she would be the one inspiring those around her – not only with impressive results at venues like Thunderbird Show Park, Rocky Mountain Show Jumping, and Spruce Meadows itself, but around the barn and in the classroom, as well. Every weekend and during the summer, Wozniak works long hours at the barn to offset the cost of her board. When her long-time mount underwent colic surgery in 2017, she was by the mare’s side every step of the way, from watching the surgery to caring for her recovery day and night. This strong sense of responsibility also shows in Wozniak’s studies, as she firmly believes in the power of education to achieve her goals. Before attending university, Wozniak plans to take a gap year training horses in Ireland. She would then like to pursue a career in architecture as a form of creative expression, as well as a way to support a future FEI show jumping career.
Danielle LaFleur, 20, of Ladner, BC has earned a sterling reputation in her community – not only as an accomplished competitor in the hunter, jumper, equitation and dressage rings, but as an incredibly hard worker dedicated to making her dreams come true. Starting at age 10, LaFleur would bike to the barn before school and on weekends to clean stalls. When she moved to a barn an hour away, she didn’t let it derail her equestrian career or academic success; instead, she transferred to an online high school in order to better manage her time, and picked up a job at a movie theatre to pay for gas. After graduating with a grade ‘A’ average, LaFleur took a gap year to train a yearling, who is now poised to compete in the four-year-old young horse division. In order to support that goal, she juggled three jobs and worked up to 16 hours a day. LaFleur aims to continue her equestrian and academic balancing act in 2019 by making her FEI debut while concurrently studying kinesiology at the University of British Columbia.
Hannah Rajotte, 15, of Calgary, AB learned at an early age what it means to represent her country on the world stage: as the winner of the 2017 Children’s FEI Classic, she became the sole Canadian representative in Beijing, CHN for the International Finals. There, Rajotte proved to be an excellent ambassador for the maple leaf with her radiant positivity, kindness and respect towards others, and incredible horsemanship. Her winning attitude carries over into her daily routine of training, barn chores, and babysitting to pay for show expenses. She shows grace under pressure not only in the ring, but also in the classroom, where she works diligently to maintain high marks in order to pursue a future career as a veterinarian.
Kieley McQuaker, 15, of Schomberg, ON has enjoyed considerable success since she began showing in the jumper division in 2014, including earning a silver medal with the first-ever Children’s Team at the 2017 North American Youth Championships. Her 2018 season started off equally strong, but was unfortunately cut short by knee surgery. During her rehabilitation, McQuaker continued to be involved with show jumping as a dedicated volunteer for young riders, fundraising and donating money earned through barn work back to the cause. Now, McQuaker is ready to get back in the saddle and continue pursuing her dreams of representing Canada on the world stage at the 2019 German Friendship Games. Furthermore, she maintains a high grade point average to support her dream of attending a top veterinary university.
Mikayla Brabant, 17, of Chestermere, AB has known that riding would be her primary passion in life since the first time she sat on a horse at the age of four. Her commitment was immediately evident as a young child completing household chores to earn money to put towards her first pony. Brabant cherishes the learning process and invests considerable time in the saddle to work on her seat and technical abilities. Most notably, her development as a show jumper has been accomplished without sacrificing academic success. Brabant has been an honour roll student since seventh grade, and received awards for her performance in science and Spanish in high school. As she heads into Grade 12, Brabant intends to maintain her high grade point average in order to get into university to become an equine veterinarian.
Sydney Usipiuk, 17, of Selkirk, MB began her competitive athletic career in hockey and soccer; it wasn’t until 2016 that she shifted her focus to jumping as her primary sport. Despite this relatively late start, Usipiuk’s strong work ethic and mindful goal-setting facilitated a swift climb up the ranks. She spends five hours or more at the barn every day, immersing herself in all aspects of equestrian sport from riding to horse welfare, and seizes every farrier or veterinarian appointment as a learning opportunity. Usipiuk approaches her academic studies with the same vigor and commitment, and her past marks have earned honours with distinction. As Usipiuk approaches her graduation date of June 2019, she plans to travel in pursuit of further equestrian training and experience, and potentially become a veterinarian technician.
About the Jumping Youth Bursary
Each year, the Jumping Committee selects recipients of the Jumping Youth Bursary program based on the strength of applications received. Elements considered in the application process include a transcript of grades and outline of academic curriculum; future educational plans; equestrian experience; commitment and dedication to their sport; a positive image within the sport; achievement of notable competition results, whether at the local, regional or national level; goals within the equestrian industry; and financial need.
For additional details regarding the Jumping Youth Bursary Program, please visit www.equestrian.ca/sport/jumping/athlete-development.