BEECHY, Sask. — An invitation to represent the province in a national competition is a great 65th birthday present.
Kathie Fitzmaurice, who farms near Eston, Sask., with her husband, Mike, will be heading to Bromont, Que. to compete as part of the Saskatchewan contingent at the Canadian Equestrian Championship Sept. 15-18.
She learned that she made the team on Aug. 22, her birthday.
“When I got the e-mail saying I was actually on the team, I just couldn’t believe it.… I’ve never experienced anything like this,” she said.
“It just goes to show what you can do if you get with the right people.… you’re never ever too old to try something new and just go for it, ” she said.
Fitzmaurice grew up riding horses. With her children raising their own families elsewhere, the five-time grandmother decided to get back into riding.
She bought a horse from Vicki Braun of Braun Ranch near Beechy, Sask., hoping to ride once in a while. Braun began teaching her reining, an equestrian sport similar to dressage where a rider must guide a horse through a series of turns, lead changes and sliding stops.
“I remember the first time I rode with Vicki, I was older and overweight, the whole bit, and I remember saying I’d just like to maybe show one day,” said Fitzmaurice.
Braun suggested she set a goal of competing in a local jackpot.
Five years later, Fitzmaurice has not only shown in local reining competitions, but is travelling to a first of its kind event in Canada. It will feature competitions in reining, jumping, and dressage with each province sending teams of four, with two seniors and two juniors, to compete in each event.
Braun, who will be going to Bromont as a coach, said Fitzmaurice is part of a strong Saskatchewan reining team that includes Braun’s daughter, Brooklyn, 13, the team’s youngest rider, Karly Low, 17, and Christie Reiber, 34.
Mae Smith, executive director of the Saskatchewan Horse Federation, said the team has its work cut out for it against other strong entries. She expects Quebec to be especially strong, competing at home.
The Saskatchewan team is composed of talented riders and good horses and has a good chance of taking home gold, she said.