After crossing the finish line on cross country with a clear round, Jada’s tradition to let family, coaches, and friends know she made it around is to offer a fist pump. – Vera Golley photo
by Stephen Dafoe
After years of dedication, Jada Graham and her horse Cilano set off to Kalispell, Montana late last month to compete in Fédération Equestre Internationale’s (FEI) North American Youth Championships.
The 16-year-old Sturgeon County resident competed as part of Junior Team Alberta for five days from July 24 to 28. At the end of the competition, Graham was ranked fifth out of 21 Canadians and 28th out of 49 equestrians in North America.
Graham, one of four on Team Alberta, competed in the eventing category. Eventing combines three disciplines of dressage, cross-country, and show jumping.
“[It] feels exciting knowing how I placed. I couldn’t have done it without my teammates, coaches and all the support from people around me,” Graham told Morinville News in an email interview. “I’m very proud of the work and hours Cilano, and I have put in.”
The young equestrian has been riding for 12 years, having started when she was just four years old. The Montana competition marks her first major competition, just five years after taking up eventing.
It has not been without a lot of effort. Graham has spent the past four winters training in Southern California. But the specific journey to NAYC required qualifying a year in advance and being selected by an Equine Canada selection committee.
With the Montana event completed, Graham and Cilano will take a break.
“[In] September I’ll start back into training slowly and hopefully return to California over the winter and get my qualifying scores for 2020 so we can be ready to hit it again next year but place better,” Graham said.