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Quality Inn - Sudbury
Paul Lefebvre - MP for Sudbury
Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019
Local riders and horses busy at Rick Smith Memorial
by Randy Pascal

With more than two-thirds of the circuit now behind them, riders competing in the Trillium Hunter Jumper Association (THJA) 2013 show schedule are battling hard to earn their berth at the Provincial Trillium Championships in Palgrave in September.

The majority of the Northeastern Ontario competitors were in Chelmsford last weekend for the Rick Smith Memorial staged at Foothills Farm. The event represented the sixth of eight stops on the summer itinerary, with shows at Knowlton Ridge (August 10th-11th) and Eastwood (August 24th-25th) still to come.

Making her regular visit to Foothills, 11 year old Richelyn Cormier enjoyed a solid weekend, taking first place in the Pony Pleasure Hack grouping on Sunday afternoon. Despite having spent four years together with her horse "Flicka", Cormier was still a little surprised at the outcome.

"She (Flicka) performed a lot better today than usual," acknowledged Cormier. "She has small front legs, because she's a Quarter Horse, so she doesn't always get the horse strides. I got on her this morning and she pranced from the barn to here. She was pretty fast today."

A native of Redbridge, some 20 minutes outside of North Bay, Cormier has been riding since she was six, showing since the age of eight, working hard on improving each and every year. "I keep my heels down a lot better now," she said. "I used to lean forward a lot more when I was younger. Now, my reins are a lot shorter and I have better balance."

Putting herself in solid position to qualify for Provincials, Cormier entered the Rick Smith Memorial with a little extra confidence, her horse seemingly a nice fit for the local venue.

"I prefer this site (Foothills) because Flicka gets to dig in to the ground more because it's grassy," Cormier stated. "When she wants to give herself an extra burst of speed, she digs one heel in and pushes with the other. This setting helps her a little more than a dusty sand ring."

For 13 year-old Jessica Leonard, Foothills Farm is home, the site where she trains with her brother and father. Like Cormier, Leonard points to one primary focus in her role as a rider. "Balance is a key point for me, because it's hard sitting on such a large animal," Leonard said.

With two regular mounts, Leonard had just finished competing with "Metropolis", a pony with a tendancy for moodiness at times. Thankfully, Sunday wasn't all bad.

"I thought it was good, but it wasn't perfect," Leonard noted. "She (Metropolis) wasn't tired enough, she was a little crazy out there. She just wouldn't show down."

Events ran from late Friday afternoon right through until roughly the same time on Sunday, with several groupings that proved particularly interesting for those in attendance.

Riding an 18 year-old chestnut thoroughbred ("Tir-Nan-Og" - Tara), Blayr Legris beat out 40 other horses and riders with a score of 97 out of 100, capturing the Benjamin Moore & Co. Hunter Derby division.

Picking up no less than five first place ribbons with her mount "Spot On" (Tori), Kassia Bouffard emerged as the Antarés High Point Champion from the weekend.

To the delight of the crowd, Ian Robertson walked off Saturday evening as Rick Smith Memorial Gentleman's Classic Champion while Dave Scott was presented the RSM Sportsmanship Award sponsored by Greenhawk (Sudbury).

With more than 85 registered horses on hand, the Rick Smith Memorial Show is the largest in the North East. Locally, riders can look forward to the August Classic at Trevella Stables in Hanmer, which is set for Sunday, August 18th.

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