Nanaimo teen to receive top jumper award

Kassidy Ruelle, 15, has been riding since the age of three and turned heads in 2013 jump competitions
A lifelong dedication to her sport has made Nanaimo’s Kassidy Ruelle a talent to watch in equestrian.
The 15-year-old member of the Queen Margaret’s School equestrian team will receive an award today from the B.C. Hunter Jumper Association in Surrey for a championship finish in the 0.90-metre B equitation category.Ruelle amassed 285 points in the category last season, giving her a first-place finish by a 22 point margin.
As someone who has been riding equestrian since the age of three, Ruelle has found a passion for the sport that is evident by her daily routine.The Grade 10 student will typically ride two horses in the morning before school starts at 8:45 a.m. Lunch hours often involve more riding, or studies in equine science, while afterschool her schedule tends to include more riding, or tutoring for her classes.
“I’d say it’s been pretty special.Grade 10 has been a tough year, juggling everything and keeping everything balanced. I ride whenever I can,” she said.Indeed, many of Ruelle’s earliest memories involve horseriding of some kind.”My mom used to ride with me in front of her when I was really little,” she said. “She used to do little jumps; probably my earliest memories.”
As Ruelle’s talents have grown over the years, by her side has been her mother and QMS head coach Cheryl Keith, who introduced Ruelle to equestrian as soon as she could.But it would take a handful of years and a pony named Hercules that would lead a young Ruelle to conclude that riding was something she wanted to do for the rest of her life.Her first two ponies were “pretty naughty,” until Hercules came along, an understanding horse that showed her riding did not have to be a scary thing to a seven-year-old pro in the making.
As her abilities continued to grow, Ruelle became a rider whose talent for judging a young horse’s true competitive nature. The skill has come in handy for Ruelle, who has a knack for training horses that has helped her afford to compete.She has also shifted from the more aesthetic hunter competitions to jumping, with this year’s results standing as evidence that the choice has begun to pay off.
“When I was little I used to go into the show ring and be so flustered I’d fall apart,” she said. “Everything’s come together. It’s less stressful and I have more people helping me.”Having a talented daughter who can see a horse’s true nature has been a bit of a blessing for her mother and coach as well.
“I have multiple sclerosis, so I have to be careful. She’s very helpful with that, she probably (rides) three or four horses a day, plus goes to school,” said Keith. “From a coach’s perspective, she’s great. .. She can get on a new horse and put it into a category and find the best way to make it go.”
In addition to reaching new heights in competition, Ruelle said she hopes to start a Vancouver Island horse training business in the future.
[email protected] 250-729-4228 © Nanaimo Daily News

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