Town­ships Rider reaches Rio

Stanstead Journal - - FRONT PAGE -

The Ayer’s Cliff Fair ex­pe­ri­enced a first dur­ing its Sun­day pa­rade this year: it was led by an Olympic Eques­trian just back from the 2016 Olympic Sum­mer Games, in Brazil. Colleen Loach, the daugh­ter of for­mer Sun­ny­side teacher Mau­reen

Hal­lam-Lemay and who grew up in the Ayer’s Cliff area, com­peted in the Eques­trian Team event­ing at the Olympics along with team mem­bers Re­becca Howard, Jes­sica Phoenix and Kathryn Robin­son, fin­ish­ing in tenth po­si­tion over­all with a to­tal score of 339.10.

“I was born on a farm and my fam­ily al­ways had horses. I was seven when I be­gan tak­ing jump­ing les­sons at Tur­tle Hill,” said Colleen Loach in an in­ter- view with the Stanstead Jour­nal. At a young age, she be­gan com­pet­ing at the Ayer’s Cliff Fair and at the Ayer’s Cliff Coun­try Show, even­tu­ally mov­ing on when to the Que­bec cir­cuit.

Ms. Loach qual­i­fied for the Cana­dian Olympic team at the Jersey Fresh In­ter­na­tional Three Day Event in May and the team was an­nounced at the end of June. She re­ceived a phone-call giv­ing her the good news soon after. “I re­al­ized I had a good chance to make the team but I was very ex­cited, very happy when they called. I had fo­cused on this dream and I was lucky it came true. We had only one week of train­ing in Ocala be­fore leav­ing for Brazil,” said Colleen who also went to the Lon­don Olympic Games four years ago as the groom for Olympian Pe­ter Barry.

Her sport, Team event­ing, is made up of three forms of com­pe­ti­tion: dres­sage, jump­ing and cross-coun­try jump­ing. “It is like a triathlon for horses,” said Ms. Loach who was rid­ing Qorry Blue D’Ar­gouges, a horse be­long­ing to Pe­ter Barry. Dur­ing the three day event in Rio de Janeiro, held at the Na­tional Eques­trian Cen­ter, the horse and rider com­bi­na­tions had to per­form pre­cise move­ments in an en­closed area in ‘dres­sage’, com­pete in two show jump­ing events, and com­plete a five to six kilo­me­ter cross-coun­try course, jump­ing nat­u­ral bar­ri­ers like ditches and fences. “It is a real en­durance test for the horse,” she added.

Colleen was first up in the dres­sage com­pe­ti­tion for the Cana­dian team when a tech­ni­cal glitch got her off to a bad start. “The mi­cro­phone gave loud feed­back three times in a row and that star­tled my horse. We lost some points but he did re­gain his com­po­sure. It was un­lucky and un­fair,” said the eques­trian when asked about the un­for­tu­nate in­ci­dent.

It cer­tainly didn’t ruin her Olympic experience in any way. “They re­ally did a great job and the venues were great. The Ath­lete’s Vil­lage was re­ally nice and it was such a cool experience stay­ing with all the other ath­letes.” Be­sides com­pet­ing, Colleen vis­ited the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue atop Cor­co­v­ado Moun­tain and watched a men’s Rugby Sev­ens game and a Women’s bas­ket­ball game.

Now that she’s back from Brazil and back to her full time work as a groom and rider, Ms. Loach has other chal­lenges. “I’m try­ing to syn­di­cate Qorry Blue D’Ar­gouges. He’s for sale,” she com­mented. When a horse is ‘syn­di­cated’, peo­ple buy ‘shares’ in a horse that has proven it­self and is con­nected

to a pro­fes­sional rider.

Ms. Loach was on her way to a new eques­trian op­por­tu­nity the day we did the in­ter­view. “I’m now head­ing to Ocala, Florida, to work at the sta­bles of Clay­ton Fred­er­icks, the coach for the Cana­dian Event­ing Team. Mr. Fred­er­icks is also a mem­ber of the Aus­tralian Olympic Eques­trian team and an Olympic sil­ver medal­ist. “I plan to keep train­ing and I hope to be in the World Eques­trian Games, in 2018, and then Tokyo,” con­cluded Colleen.

Photos cour­tesy

Colleen oach lead­ing Qorry Blue D’Ar­gouges at the Na­tional Eques­trian Cen­ter in Rio de Janeiro.

The mag­nif­i­cent ‘ Mr. Blue’ (Qorry Blue D’Ar­gouges).

Photos cour­tesy

In Cana­dian red and white, Colleen oach com­petes in the jump­ing com­pe­ti­tion dur­ing the 2016 Olympics.

Qorry Blue D’Ar­gouges gets some well-de­served at­ten­tion from Colleen oach after a com­pe­ti­tion.

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