Salmon Arm’s Rebecca Howard and her talented steed Riddlemaster are setting their sights on the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Brazil.
Howard and Riddlemaster – or Rupert as he’s known to his friends – have just been named to the short list of the 2015 National Eventing Team. They were among 10 horse and rider pairs recently appointed to the list along with 32 named to the long list.
The short list is made up of those who are capable of being on the team, Howard says, but final selection comes later. Those on the short list have had proven results at international three- and four-star competitions.
Being on the short list provides training assistance to her when the Canadian national coach comes to England, as well as funding support.
Howard and Riddlemaster have been living and training in England since they competed in the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Riddlemaster has been doing well in high-level competitions since then, but hit the back rail of a jump with his hind leg at the Badminton Horse Trials in May. He injured his stifle joint, so was forced to take an extended rest at the farm in Marlborough near London where he stays.
Howard has just started working him.
“He’s looking and feeling really good – he’s just getting fit again.”
She’s confident he’ll be back at full strength.
“It’s never a sure thing, I suppose, but everybody is pretty optimistic. He looks really well, he just needed the time to recover. It’s just a matter of getting him fit again.”
The goal is to get Rupert back up and acquiring qualifications for the Olympics, she says.
In the meantime, Howard is hoping to track down a horse for the Pan Am Games next July in Toronto.
“I’m trying to be creative and figure one out. If it doesn’t happen in the next six or eight weeks it won’t happen, but it’s not out of the question.”
If she secures a horse, she doesn’t know if she will definitely get to go.
Along with Riddlemaster, Howard says she has four to six horses at the farm.
“I ride for Tim and Jonelle Price – my horses are based at their farm. I train my horses out of their facility as well as ride for them.”
She says Riddlemaster makes it difficult to find another horse.
“Rupert is an exceptional horse and those don’t come along every day.
Finding others attempting to follow in his footsteps is the hard part.”
Howard came to Salmon Arm recently for an early Christmas where she taught a few clinics, visited with family and managed to get in a ski at Larch Hills.
Although her roots are in Salmon Arm, she loves England too.
“I love the sport over here as well as the country to live in. You can’t compare the sport over here, it is the best in the world, no doubt. As a place to live, I really really like it.”