A Langley-based rider has won the prestigious J.C. Anderson Legacy Medal, outpointing the best young riders in the country to take gold and win a $10,000 bursary to further her training.
Emma Woo, a 16-year-old South Surrey resident who rides out of Jump Start Stables in Langley, becomes the first B.C. rider to win the award.
She competed in September in Calgary, riding her eight-year-old Zangersheide gelding, Hello Harry Z, but didn’t learn she was the national champion until Friday, Nov. 15, a few days before the official announcement by Horse Council B.C. on Monday, Nov. 18.
Woo said the win was a surprise.
“It was, like, a shock to me,” she told the Langley Advance Times.
“It took a little while to sink in.”
Now the top Canadian junior rider in her sport, Woo hasn’t committed herself to competing as an adult.
“I’m not super sure about that, just yet,” she said.
Horse Council manager of competition and sport, Ali Buchanan, described the Anderson award as “very prestigious.”
“We were pretty thrilled for her,” Buchanan commented.
Woo has been riding for the past five years in Aldergrove, with coach Ashley Papalia of Papalia Training.
The J.C. Anderson Legacy Medal is a skills-based jumper medal series open to young riders created to identify young riders “who have the potential to become Canada’s next high performance athletes,” an online mission statement reads.
It describes the competition as “a jumper equitation Medal series with classes held at competitions across the country at the 1.20m – 1.25m technical height.”
Open to all equestrian athletes across the country under the age of 25, the award was created by John Anderson, a former show jumping rider with the Canadian equestrian team, and owner of Rocky Mountain Show Jumping in Calgary.
To win, Woo had to outdo the top riders in the country in a format where the top 10 athletes from each region compete in the national final series held across the country.
Each final round was judged in real-time at the competitions, as well as video recorded for review by a panel of senior judges.
Stéphanie Leblond of Quebec won silver and a $7,000 bursary, while Serenity Enders of Alberta took bronze and a $5,000 bursary.
Smaller bursaries were also awarded to the next seven top finishers.