North Saanich resident Amy Wellburn is living out her dream.
The 20-year-old Parkland Secondary School grad is currently in Kentucky with her horse Nelson competing in the North American Young Rider Championships in the discipline of dressage.
“Riding is my main focus right now,” explained Wellburn before she left.
“I was in school studying general sciences at Camosun but when I found out I had qualified to go to Kentucky I took a semester off to focus on riding.”
Wellburn had to go through a rigorous qualifying process that meant she had to attend various shows and compete in front of two judging panels.
She was the only B.C. young rider that qualified.
“I was put on a team with two others representing Western Canada, a boy from Alberta and a girl from Manitoba. Then there’s other competitors coming from Eastern Canada for a total of 10 Canadians attending.
“It’s pretty special to be representing Western Canada and especially B.C. and Southern Vancouver Island,” Wellburn said.
Athletes from Canada, the U.S., Mexico, the Caribbean, Puerto Rico and Bermuda will be competing in Kentucky until July 20.
“In preparation I’ve been training six days a week to stay on top of everything. It’s been a lot of hard work but we are bonded now as a team,” Wellburn explained, adding that the acclimatization to being in Kentucky will be an important aspect.
“You can’t predict things when you’re working with animals. You don’t want to push them too hard and you have to be sensitive to how they are doing in a different environment.”
She said local sponsors, coaches and friends and family have been integral in her qualifying and preparing for the Championships.
“I train with Lisette de Rooy in North Saanich as well as Shelly Lauder from Vancouver. They’ve both been great and huge helps to me and Nelson, I wouldn’t be here without them. Also, so many local businesses and family and friends have been so supportive. It’s very humbling,” she said.
“Right now I’m just focused on competing and I’m excited just to go down and be a part of the experience. It’s a once in lifetime opportunity.”