Something’s been brewing north of the border lately, and while I’m not exactly sure of all the ingredients, I’m starting to be certain of the general flavor. It tastes suspiciously like success.
I made my first trip to the Bromont Three-Day Event in Quebec (p. 8), which hosts CCI***, CCI** and CCI* divisions. It isn’t yet what I’d call “a destination event.” It’s tucked away in a remote, French-speaking locale, the spectator count is low, and to my surprise, I was the sole member of the equine media there doing daily interviews. In comparison to the fanfare of, say, the Fair Hill CCI***/** (Md.) each fall, Bromont is significantly lacking in atmosphere.
But it seems like that fact could change soon. Because while entries at many U.S. events this spring have been critically low, Bromont got a significant bump this year. The dates are perfect for horses who might have gotten slow starts or endured small setbacks earlier in the spring, it’s within easy driving distance from the East Coast, and Derek di Grazia’s courses are challenging and thoughtfully planned.
It seems as though Canada’s premiere event is just beginning to shine, like a diamond gradually unearthed from the rough. And after watching their performances at Bromont, I’m convinced that the same can also be said about the current crop of Canadian competitors.
Since the early spring events in the Southeast, I’ve noticed a new edge to the northern riders. When I visited California in March, I found a growing enclave of them there as well. The Canadian contingent looked strong at the Rolex Kentucky CCI**** in April, and by the time I saw them run at the Jersey Fresh CCI***/** (N.J.) in May, a new quality standard was evident. While the final placings at these competitions might not seem that impressive on paper, the individual performances in all three phases have definitely improved on the whole.
So maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised by the Canadian clean sweep of the one-, two- and three-star divisions at Bromont. It was a firm declaration that their successful spring season wasn’t a fluke—the Canadians have been quietly re-investing in themselves and their sport, and it shows.
Olympic gold medalist and current U.S. Equestrian Federation President David O’Connor took over as international technical advisor for the Canadian eventing team three years ago, and the program he implemented is clearly beginning to bear fruit. Meanwhile, Bromont is growing after it hosted its first CCI*** only last year, and this year they offered the inaugural Greenbrier Farm Team Cup competition, complete with ample prize money.
Bit by bit, things are improving within the sport in Canada. It may not be a leading nation in eventing this year, but its star is clearly on the rise. My hat’s off to my Canadian friends for all of their recent successes.