Jill Henselwood and Black Ice take a victory lap after winning
2005 Canadian Show Jumping Championships
After weeks of being immersed in the Breeders' Cup, for a change of pace we went to see the show jumpers at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto this weekend. The best show-jumping riders in Canada gathered for the Royal Horse Show and the 2005 Canadan Show Jumping Championships in front of a sell-out crowd of 6500. Along with taking home their share of the $70,000 purse, the top three finishers get to compete in the international classes at the Royal Horse Show later in the week, possibly earning a trip to Kuala Lumpur for the World Cup finals in April.
Ian Millar salutes the crowd at the Royal
Defending champion Ian Millar was back aboard In Style, and the rider famous for Big Ben practically owns this event having won it nine times during his career. Also in the event were such well-known riders as Beth Underhill, Eric Lamaze, and Mario Deslauriers.
Ian Millar and In Style take down the top rail in the next to last jump, costing them the win.
After a clear first round in the fastest time, it looked like just another day at the office for Millar, as In Style completed most of the second round course flawlessly. But at the second last jump, his mount knocked off the top bar, handing the narrow victory over to Jill Henselwood, who had ridden a clear second round aboard Black Ice for a total of 2.41 faults, but needed Millar to fault to get the win. The four faults also denied Millar second place as Chris Pratt, the only rider to manage two clear rounds Saturday, finished with 3.23 faults aboard Rivendell.
Jill Henselwood and Black Ice float over that same jump
The win gave 43-year-old Henselwood her first national title in 15 years of competing at the Grand Prix level. Henselwood has represented Canada at world championships, Pan American Games and two World Cup finals. The win didn't come aboard her best horse, but a horse she only started riding two weeks ago that was previously ridden by her student Kelly Small.
"This horse is now 10 years old, but we first identified and purchased him as a five-year-old," Henselwood said. "He took a long time to grow up, but he is finally coming into his own. This is truly an amazing feat for him. I am so pleased with the horse, I can't tell you. When you help develop a horse all the way to the top, it makes you so proud."
The RCMP Musical ride performs the Star
After the Championships, the RCMP Musical Ride came out to entertain the crowd with their brand of equine choreography. 33 well-trained black horses with Mounties in ceremonial uniform performed many spectacular precision riding manouvers including "The Star" shown here. All the horses used are black and have been bred specially for the Musical Ride since 1939 from Thoroughbred, Hanoverian, Trakehner, and Anglo-Arab bloodlines.
The One Armed Bandit and his mustangs on top of the trailer
As well, popular rodeo act John Payne, The One-Armed Bandit, came out with his wild mustangs. He lost an arm to an electrical accident many years ago and controls his mount and four mustangs with signals from one whip and never holds the reins. He herds the four wild mustangs to the top of his horse trailer and back down again and inside the trailer. His act is truly amazing and was named "Rodeo Act of the Year" for 10 consecutive year.