by Brent Eades
Toronto’s Royal Winter Fair is the gold standard for Canadian equestrians, the place they go to compete against the best in the country in front of huge crowds.
And Almonte’s Olivia Jones, a 14-year-old ADHS student, will be there this November for the show jumping program, riding her pony Zooey — the foal of a mother who had no pedigree and who was rescued from a meat sale.
Olivia’s family bought Zooey — her ‘show name’ is ZoomZoom — in 2015. The pony had no previous show jumping experience but once introduced to it discovered she liked it.
But she’s a small pony, meaning adult trainers were too big to teach her the skills directly — so that has been all up to Olivia, under the coaching of trainer Adam Hickey at Innisfree Equestrian on Appleton Side Road.
Olivia’s mother Dominique says the pony is “very opinionated — we even had an animal communicator assess her and she said the pony loves to show but hates to be in lessons. This is true, she’s an angel at shows and a hellion at home — very tough to ride.”
This summer Olivia and Zooey competed in the pony jumper division on the Quebec ‘gold’ circuit, jumping courses of up to 12 obstacles at a height of 0.9m. They ended the season in first place, meaning they’re heading to the Royal where they’ll compete with qualifiers from across Canada.
Trainer Adam Hickey says of Olivia, “It’s great to have such promising young local talent. It’s been a pleasure being part of Olivia and ZoomZoom’s competition journey, culminating with a regional championship. Excited to see this partnership perform at the prestigious Canadian Nationals Finals at the Royal Winter Fair.”
Innisfree Equestrian is a hunter/jumper equestrian facility owned by the Bird family and is competitive in the equestrian community at the international, national and provincial levels.
Adam Hickey is one of Ottawa’s most talented hunter/jumper/equitation trainers, and has competed at various provincial, national and international shows earning year end awards, and qualifying many years for the Royal Winter Fair.