Salmon Arm’s Rebecca Howard is ready to start a collection.
As part of the Canadian eventing team at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, Howard earned a silver medal. Team USA claimed gold, although Canadian team member Jessica Phoenix of Cannington, Ont. topped all others, winning gold in the individual eventing competition.
Howard and her horse Roquefort – affectionately called Rocky – held the second highest score for the Canadian team and individually was ranked sixth overall.
“I’m so proud to be part of our team,” said Howard. “I’m really excited about my first medal and now I’m really keen and hungry to start a collection.”
Her sights are set on the London 2012 Olympics, where she and her more experienced horse, Riddlemaster, will once again be part of the Canadian contingent.
She says the Pan Am Games were an exciting experience, “a great, great trip.”
Rocky, she says, “was essentially a good boy,” although he was “actually quite naughty in the dressage.”
The competition consisted of dressage, cross-country jumping and stadium jumping.
Favoured as a top contender in the dressage, Rocky bobbled a couple of times, surprising Howard.
“He felt good in the warm-ups,” she said, noting he’s never made miscues like that before. “He was just a little more flighty than normal.”
Rocky was back to normal over the gruelling cross-country course, however.
“He couldn’t have jumped any better; he just jumped great,” she enthused.
The pair gathered a couple of time faults because Rocky got tired over the last few fences coming back, Howard said.
Rebecca and Rocky have a good show jumping record, so knocking down two rails in the first round was also a surprise.
“We haven’t done that before,” she said. “One rail was mine (in terms of mistake), one was his.”
However, riders had a chance to do two rounds.
“It was nice to go in a second time and redeem myself. It was really good, the second round.”
In the end, the Canadian team earned a very respectable second-place finish.
“It was pretty cool standing on the podium – no doubt. Putting your personal disappointments aside, the whole team thing was pretty cool.”
She said the Canadian and U.S team members are good friends as they compete together all the time.
The two teams are also “fiercely competitive,” she said.
And these Games happened to belong to the U.S. team.
“Team-wise it was definitely America’s weekend. They were brilliant all around.”
Howard is coach and resident trainer at The Fork Stables in Norwood, N.C.