Edited Press Release
Northern Ontario’s Holly Heikkila recognized with the 2022 Jane Hunter Memorial Sportsmanship Award sponsored and presented by Prue Richardson of Northwind Farm.
Given annually to the most sportsmanlike pony competitor who has shown throughout the year and competed at The Royal Winter Fair, the Jane Hunter Sportsmanship Award is in honour of Jane Hunter, a longtime supporter who worked with The Royal Winter Fair for nearly 20 years and whose positive attitude and love of the event continues to inspire all those associated with it. For the fifth consecutive year, the award was sponsored and presented by Prue Richardson of Northwind Farm, who is highly regarded for her expertise in breeding and developing top quality hunter ponies. Now retired, Prue spends her time judging and mentoring as many riders as she can.
“Sponsoring this award is my way of giving back and contributing to the sport,” said Prue. “Since retiring, I spend my time mentoring as many people as I can who ask for my help, and this award embodies that.”
A rider from Foothills Farm in Chelmsford, Holly (12 years old) competed in the Large Pony Hunter Division at the Canadian National Championships at the Royal Winter Fair on 10-year-old Leroy Brown, owned by Karen Jackson of Flesherton, ON. While it was the first time competing at the Royal for both pony and rider, the team delivered strong rounds with a win in the Large Pony Stake and earning the title of Reserve Champion of their division.
“The opportunity to compete at the Royal is an honour, but being recognized with this award made my first Royal Winter Fair a truly unforgettable experience,” Holly says, adding that it felt like the icing on the cake of “the best year of my life.”
“It was a dream come true. Showing Leroy and getting to know the other pony riders on our circuit this year was the most amazing experience. I made friendships and contacts I know will be with me for the rest of my life,” Holly says.
Holly’s coach Cathy Inch, who nominated her for the sportsmanship award, says that Holly not only possesses strong horsemanship and work ethic, her positivity stands out wherever she goes. “Holly brings that positive attitude to the show ring, her training and her riding lessons,” Inch says.
“Outside of the show ring, Holly puts in the work and is developing into a true horse person. Holly is the type of rider that takes the time to develop a bond and partnership with the horses she rides. She has the ability to get the best out of everything she rides. She is outgoing, takes time to know and encourage her fellow competitors and is attentive to make sure new riders feel welcome.”
The Royal Winter Fair is the Canadian National Championships and the largest combined indoor agricultural and international equestrian event in the world. Celebrating its 100th anniversary, the Royal Winter Fair took place November 4-13, 2022 at Exhibition Place in Toronto. The Jane Hunter Sportsmanship award ceremony took place on Saturday, November 5th before the final phase of the Canadian Show Jumping Championships.
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