Brianna and Jesse Pecore hope to ride to victory while representing Ontario on the saddle at the Canadian Interprovincial Equestrian Championships this month.
The Stoney Creek siblings will compete as juniors and seniors for the province’s three-member reining team at the multidisciplinary event taking place Sept. 13 to Sept. 15 in Calgary, Alta.
“This is our first time going to the championships and this is Ontario’s first time having a reining team there, so it’s pretty exciting,” 17-year-old Brianna said. “I’m nervous, although I get nervous every time I go into the show pen because all the attention’s on you, but I’m excited and I can’t wait to get out there.”
Brianna and Jesse will compete in their respective age categories against Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec reining team members for the best individual scores.
Reining is a western discipline where riders guide horses through a precise pattern of circles, spins and stops. Horses are judged on their ability to perform the movements.
While Brianna and Jesse have their own horses, they have yet to meet the ones they’ll be competing with at the championships.
Brianna’s 15-year-old horse, Hollywood, is too old to make the trip.
Jesse’s 12-year-old horse, Argo, recently retired from the sport.
“We’ll be using leased horses down there, so it’s going to be interesting,” said 18-year-old Jesse, adding both Ontario and Quebec’s reining team members will be riding leased horses at the event. “When we get there, we’ll have two days, about two hours each day, to get to know the horses before competing on them. We’re very fortunate, though, because we’ve had the opportunity to ride different horses and our coach, who’s making the trip with us, is a fantastic horseman, so I’m confident that we’re going to do well.”
Brianna and Jesse submitted a declaration form expressing their interest in a spot on the Ontario reining team and outlining their results from the 2013 show season in July to the Ontario Equestrian Federation.
Riders’ scores had to come from a minimum of three Ontario Reining Horse Association or Equine Canada-approved competitions with at least one score of 68. They were then given points based on their show results.
Riders were selected for the team by a committee comprised of six people, who took into account the points awarded to each rider and whether they met the criteria.
Brianna said she couldn’t have been happier when she found out she made the short list in August.
“I was really hoping to earn a spot on the team and I kept bugging my mom about whether or not they had called to let us know either way,” she said. “One day, she called me and said, ‘You got it.’ I was very excited.”
Jesse said hearing the news he had scored a spot on the team made his day.
“I was overwhelmed with joy because it’s not every day that you get an opportunity like this and especially at such a young age,” he said. “It’s awesome to be able to be a part of that. It’s super exciting.”
Brianna and Jesse have been riding horses since 2007.
They took up reining about three years ago and ride and train at TM Equine in Binbrook.
“I started doing English (riding), but it wasn’t really good for my joints because I have arthritis, so I switched over to western,” Brianna said. “I love riding horses – when a horse takes off and we go really fast, I get this really big rush. Everyone in the reining world is so nice too, everyone’s very supportive of one another.”
Jesse, who had played hockey for seven years before taking up the sport, admitted he’s competitive by nature.
“I decided to quit hockey because I’m very competitive and my sister can’t be better than me at something,” he laughed. “Then I got really into the sport like she did and it’s just been uphill from there. I like to win, but I also like the social aspect of it, the networking part where you get to meet different people, see the various techniques that they use and learn from them.”
Brianna and Jesse said they’re really looking forward to meeting the rest of Ontario’s team at the championships, which will include eight dressage riders and jumpers from across the province.
“It’s going to be fun to socialize with them,” Jesse said. “Because we’ve only ever really competed in Ontario, it’s also going to be great to compete against other riders from across Canada, just to see the level differences. The competition should be super exciting.”
Brianna said a positive attitude will be the key to success at the championships.
Confidence also will play an important role, Jesse added.
“Having confidence is really important,” he said. “If you’re confident in the way that you ride and in your technique, I wouldn’t say nothing’s going to go wrong, but probably far less problems are going to occur because you are confident in what you’re doing. I think that’s what’s going to get us mostly through it, is just the confidence that we have in ourselves.”
Brianna said her ultimate hope for the championships is to make new friends and earn her highest score.
“I hope to get my first 70,” she said. “I’ve been close to getting that score at other competitions, but haven’t been able to land one yet. The championships would be a great place to do it.”
Jesse said he hopes to make Ontario and riders interested in reining across the province proud.
“Since this is Ontario’s first time having a reining team at the championships, I really want to make a positive impression and represent the province well,” he said. “I want us to make such an impression that more riders will want to compete at the event next year and for many more years to come. That would be something.”
Brianna and Jesse would like to thank their coach Jesse Coffel and TM Equine owner Tanya Merrett for their support.