Friess, Jazzy team up to top inaugural jumper show

Meagan Friess always wanted to excel in dressage.

The equestrian sport, where the horse, on cues from the rider, performs a variety of intricate maneuvers testing its flexibility and responsiveness to aids and balance, is one that takes years to master.

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And Friess was training to attain her first level of dressage.

Deep down though, she always liked to jump.

She may have found the perfect horse in an 18-year-old mustang named All That Jazz.

"I've only been riding her for a month," said Friess, 15, who has seven and a half years of riding experience on the saddle. "I used to jump on her sister Rhythm. (Jazzy, her barn name) is very responsive, trustworthy and loves to jump."

The two teamed up Saturday in the hunter classes at the inaugural Summer Classic Hunter Jumper Show at the Agriplex organized by the B.C. Interior Hunter Jumper Association.

The weekend included 35 riders ranging in age from five to 69-years-old from Prince George, Smithers, 100 Mile House and Mackenzie.

The BCIHJA is a relatively young organization, established in April 2014. Its first show last fall attracted 37 riders.

"The hunter classes are judged on rhythm and flow and ride in classic tack (no bling)," explained Meg Meints, chair of the BCIHJA. "It's not a timed event - it only takes between 90 seconds to two minutes to complete (the course)."

In between shows and to increase both rider and horse skills, Anthony Lothian, a course designer from Williams Lake, travels to Prince George twice per month to give lessons.

The association also brought in professional rider, trainer and coach Ashleigh Charity from Okotoks, Alta. who specializes in show jumping for a three-day clinic to work on more specific techniques such as circling and turning.

"We've got more members this year and I've noticed a difference in rider development in the last year," said Meints. "They have really improved."

Sunday featured the majority of the same equestrians competing in show jumping classes.

All That Jazz, owned by Leslie Matthews, and Friess won the Division 1 hunter class Saturday morning.

"Jazzy is very responsive to the rider," said Friess. "She picks up the canter easily and she's been a jumper her whole life."

Friess, who's going into Grade 10 at College Heights secondary, would eventually like to compete in eventing, a three-sport discipline that's similar to a triathlon that combines dressage, cross-country and show jumping.

Jane Lloyd-Smith travelled all the way from Smithers to compete herself and brought two of her students along with her.

She rode her big 11-year-old Swedish warm blood gelding named Pavel, who Lloyd-Smith named after former Vancouver Canucks star Pavel Bure.

Lloyd-Smith, 57, is a retired director of resource management for the provincial Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource. She and Pavel spent three months from January to March competing in dressage events in California.

The practice paid off - in April, they won the dressage class at an event in Langley.

"He's become a great horse," said Lloyd-Smith, who has 34 years of riding experience. "The key is rhythm, space, style and grace. You have to make it look easy."

The next BCIHJA event is slated for Sept. 25. More information can be found on its Facebook page, B.C. Interior Hunter Jumper Association.

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