Brigitte McDonald competing in the ride off.
Calgary, Alberta – It was an emotion filled week at Anderson Ranch for the Rocky Mountain Fall Classic and the Running Fox CET Prairie Regional Finals. Throughout the year riders competed, looking to qualify to ride in these finals, which was the last stepping stone on the road to the 25th Annual CET Medal Finals held at the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto in November.
It has been a challenging year in Calgary with the loss and devastation during the flooding this past summer. This past week, however, shocked the equine world with the tragic loss of one of Calgary’s finest equine personalities, International riders, Canadian Equestrian Team member and finest horseman, Bryan Anderson, who passed away after a fall with a horse out riding his fields at his ranch south of town.
Bryan was a true competitor, always rising up to the challenges that faced him in the ring. Countless Grand Prix victories both nationally and internationally lined his resume, proving what a skilled rider he was. But aside from being a tough challenger in the competition arena, he was also a highly respected horseman and coach.
Not only building the skills and knowledge of his students, Bryan always taught them to rise up when facing adversity. He showed that numerous times in the ring, he would always be looking for the win, but regardless of the placing the one thing that was never waiving was his amazing sportsmanship. All of that was instilled in his students, and this week was no different.
Therefore a fitting end to the CET Regional Finals saw Brigitte McDonald, a student of Bryan Anderson, on top of the podium. Not only haven risen up to all the challenges set through the 4 phases, but standing up to the emotional strain of having lost her coach and friend earlier in the week.
“It is very exciting and I am very happy. I have worked a long time and put a lot of hours into this and it finally has come to fruition,” said Brigitte about her win. Brigitte was coached during the finals by Bobbie Reber, Karen Linkletter, and Bryan’s brother John Anderson. In addition she was on a new mount for her owned by John Anderson & Tracey Epp. “He is a little bit greener and this was his first CET, but he answered a lot of questions that I asked and put in a lot of effort for me so it turned out great,” commented Brigitte on her partner.
She kept her trainer close to her heart this week. “I wore the armband with his initials on it in the colour green, as he always bugged us that he wanted the barn colours to be green. But we were all so stubborn and would never let him do it, but I thought that I would give it to him this week,” tearfully reflected Brigitte. “He started my riding career and taught me everything I know, so I thank him for that. This one is for you, Bryan.”
The CET Finals were founded by Barbara Anderson, the matriarch of the Anderson family. “I was amazed at the increase in the abilities on the flat, the depth of these riders has increased over the 25 years,” remarked the CET Finals founder. “Their capabilities and abilities are far better than they were when it first started, and I can’t believe it was 25 years ago.”
Barbara talked about the Regional Finals champion. “I thought that under the circumstances of losing her coach and also a member of our family – she had worked with Bryan for 7 years – that she did an exceptional job. She rose to the occasion and she did wear an armband with Bryan’s initials on it every time she was competing. But I thought she was exceptional; I am very proud of her.”
Barbara Anderson will attend the 25th anniversary of the CET Finals at the Royal Winter Fair this fall.
There was an additional honour that was given out on the 25th Anniversary of the CET finals. The award introduced this year was as a sportsmanship award. All the competitors in the CET Prairie Regional Finals were given ballots and voted on their choice of who displayed the best sportsmanship. That distinction went to Brigitte McDonald as well, displaying such amazing regard for all the other competitors.
The story behind this award, aptly named “The Come Hell or High Water Cup”, is one of people helping one another during the flooding that happened in Calgary and surrounding area this summer.
“It was donated by David and Marcy Scratch. Their family donated some money towards the prizes for the CET medal this year. They were victims of the horrendous floods in Calgary, and we were able to help them out with a home for a month, on the ranch, while their house was being repaired,” remarked John Anderson, President of Rocky Mountain Show Jumping. “They wanted to do something in thanks, and came up with this great idea. I asked my brother if he would like to use my horse for Brigitte to compete with in the finals, and he came out with her to work with the duo numerous times in preparation. It was great to see how well they worked together, which only solidified to me his excellence as a coach,” added John.
In addition to Brigitte McDonald representing the Prairie Regional at the CET Finals this fall, she will be joined by 3 other very skilled riders, as the top 4 from this event qualify for the championship. Here is a list of the top 4 from the Running Fox CET Regional Medal Finals that qualified for the Royal:
Running Fox CET Prairie Regional Finals Top Four
1. Brigitte McDonald
2. Breanne McAllister
3. Chelsea Walsh
4. Amy Higgins
Congratulations and good luck to Brigitte McDonald, Breanne McAllister, Chelsea Walsh and Amy Higgins focus moves towards this fall and Toronto.
Rocky Mountain Show Jumping hosts its tournaments at Anderson Ranch in Calgary’s south end, a world-class facility featuring permanent stabling for 300 horses and a grass grand prix field complete with natural obstacles. For more information on Rocky Mountain Show Jumping, please visit www.rmshowjumping.com.