For Erica Van Meenen, the joy she takes in seeing her students succeed is evident.
As the owner and trainer of Abigail Equestrian, Van Meenen recently watched as her Team Abigail students jumped to success at the Vernon District Riding Club’s Hunter/Jumper competition eariler this month.
Team Abigail’s riders include:
Stephanie Hamilton, on her mount Anastasia, winning numerous classes, Open Jumper division champion and Junior/amateur Jumper division reserve champion, sixth in their Jumper medal, and top placings in every class entered;
Shelby Krywonos aboard Lucifer, winning her Jumper Medal, third in the Foxsprings Farm Hunter Derby, Open Jumper first place and reserve champion in the Open Jumper division, along with numerous top placings in their other classes;
Abby Lawlor on her mount Humphrey, double firsts in their Low Hunters and second in their schooling hunter, along with many other top placings;
Jordan Krywonos on her mount Nautica with first and second in their Equitation classes.
“Stephanie is 11 years old and has been riding with me for four seasons,” said Van Meenen. “Her horse Anastasia is a very energetic 13-year-old chestnut thoroughbred mare. Stephanie has goals of competing in the ‘big jumpers’ one day and rides with me almost daily.
“She also helps exercise my horses, and I nickname her my assistant coach.”
Krywonos is 17 and has been riding with Van Meenen since she started, and leases one of her horses, Lucifer, a 16-year-old bay Holsteiner gelding, 16.2 hands.
“This is her second season leasing him from me. They compete primarily in the Jumpers but have found recent success in the Hunter Derbies and Jumper medals,” said Van Meenen. “Shelby is in the VSS High Performance program which has helped with scheduling for competitions and riding lessons.”
Lawlor is 10 years old and has only been riding since September 2015.
“I just found her her new pony Humphrey and she has only owned him for about two months. This was her second show ever and also second show on him — he is a 13-year-old American Sport pony/Welsh cross, 13.3 hands.
“She currently competes in the Hunters, and they have made huge progress in a very short time — maybe she will follow in the footsteps of her uncle, who rode on the Canadian team.”
Krywonos is 16 years old and like her sister has ridden with Van Meenen from the start. Her horse Nautica is a 14-year-old chestnut Dutch warmblood/Hanoverian, 17.3 hands.
“He is a beautiful but challenging mount, and they compete in both Jumpers and Equitation. Jordan also is in the VSS High Performance program that really helps with scheduling for horse shows and lessons.”
Van Meenen is an Equine Canada-certified coach (Equine Canada is the national governing organization) who has been coaching for about 15 years and riding for almost 30 years.
Van Meenen said there are specific criteria judges look for when riders and horses are competing.
“Hunters are judged on the horses’ style, form, way of going and conformation,” she said. “The rider needs to ride well to show the horse to the best of its ability. Hunter rounds are given a score out of 100.
“Jumpers are judged against the clock with clear rounds and fastest times placing highest. Refusals, knocked down jumps, and times slower then the time allowed receive faults. There is often a jump-off over a shortened course with tight technical turns and long gallops to determine the winner.
“Equitation is judged on the rider’s position on the horse and how they ride and handle their horse. The courses usually are more technical then the hunters but not as fast as the jumpers.”
Team Abigail’s upcoming shows include Thunderbird Show Park in Langley next month and in September; Maple Ridge Equi-Sports Centre in August in Maple Ridge; Paso Robles in California in November.