A new club has formed in Cranbrook that will provide horse enthusiasts with a less-represented form of horse training. The East Kootenay Equestrian Association (EKEQ) will focus on the English style of riding such as dressage, show jumping, and mountain trail, giving those interested the opportunity to engage in something other than the Western style.
There are several Western-focused clubs that are centred around gymkhana, barrel riding, poles, roping, and reigning, but when Sadie Turko, who has more than 35 experience between both styles, moved to Cranbrook four years ago, she discovered that she had to travel to see or do English style riding.
“I think there’s a great need in this area,” said Turko. “Having moved from the Calgary area and running our own facility and being in really the heart of that kind of world, there is just nothing out here.”
Turko said that the club began in February 2018 with the formation of their board of directors. Turko is treasurer, Kersten Struthers is president, Marci Cushner is vice president and Carla Conkin is secretary. They have their constitution, bylaws and status as non-profit club all in place, now they just need to get members.
“We did a survey and we got quite a bit of interest back and one of the questions we asked is what would you like our club to do and number one was the dressage, number two was the mountain horse and number three was the show jumping, plus there was driving and other interests as well but those were the three major things.”
They will be hosting an open meeting on May 14 at 6:00 p.m. at the Wycliffe exhibition grounds, which going forward will be there main meeting place for the group. They have also set up an email address that potential members can contact at email@example.com
The purposes for their association are detailed in a pamphlet they put together and include: promoting equestrian activities in the East Kootenays, supporting equine sport, education and skills development, working with other equestrian clubs, organizations, recreational groups, government agencies and the general public to promote and support awareness and understanding of the benefits of equestrian sport, and supporting and promoting the development and access to equine facilities in the East Kootenays.
At the Wycliffe grounds there is good infrastructure for the Western style in place — a big ring, stands, areas for cattle — but the EKEQ will have to develop areas and implements for jumps, which they plan to do by attaining grants. They also plan to host drop-in mini clinics with people like international show jumper Kyle King, or Turko herself.
Turko is a retired equestrian nationally certified coach and was the first double-certified coach in Canada, meaning a coach in both Western and English. She has run three major facilities across the country in Manitoba, Toronto and Calgary and has mentored 32 coaches to get their own national coaching certifications. She has worked as a judge and a clinician and has a certification in course designing. She said her highlight there was being the course designer and equestrian specialist at the Winnipeg PanAm Games.
She had to retire from being a coach and running facilities because of health issues, so she moved here as the elevation and environment are easier on her lungs, but she has been sorely missing the horse world.
“Any showing that we’ve been able to do we’ve had to travel to Calgary to do it. There are a few little shows in like Trail and Nelson and stuff but not to the degree it could be. So our hope is to be able to develop that for the people of this area and develop the facilities so that they can do that without having to travel so far.”