Sarah Cummings poses with West Bay following the pair’s double-gold para-equestrian performance at the North American Junior Young Rider Championships in Lexington

Sarah Cummings poses with West Bay following the pair’s double-gold para-equestrian performance at the North American Junior Young Rider Championships in Lexington

Cranbrook para-equestrian rider claims double gold

Sarah Cummings rides West bay to podium in Lexington, Ky., as she continues her pursuit of the 2016 Paralympic Games

For The Townsman

Sarah Cummings of Cranbrook recently competed for Canada’s Para-Equestrian Team at the North American Junior Young Rider Championships in Lexington, Ky. Cummings and her new partner West Bay performed their dressage tests in perfect harmony to place on top of the podium and collect two individual gold medals.

Her first gold medal was won for the individual championship test,  where the horse and rider follow a specific pattern with compulsory moves and are judged on precision, harmony, impulsion and obedience of the horse, and skill of the rider.

The second gold medal was secured in freestyle dressage,  where the rider choreographs their own pattern to music of their choice. The freestyle must include the compulsory moves, but also allows the rider freedom to choose their own creative maneuvers.

In comparison, this judged event is much like the free skate or long program in figure skating.

“We dance our butts off and loved doing it,” Cummings said.

The fun doesn’t stop there, Cummings and her teammates climbed onto the podium to collect the silver medal for Team Canada.

The teams were judged by an international panel representing USA, Canada, Mexico, Germany and France. Canada’s team was marginally beat out by the USA team by a mere three per cent.

The North American Young Riders was a highlight for Cummings this season and was a taste of what it could be like to ride at the 2016 Olympic Games. In order to qualify for Canada’s Para-Olympic Team, Cummings must continue to compete in competitions across North America. This takes extreme dedication, hard work, passion, training, athleticism and funding.

Cummings pushed forward and traveled with her horse West Bay to compete at two more show venues. The international experience that she gained riding for Team Canada shone through as she achieved personal-best scores at these qualifying national competitions.

Cummings is overjoyed because, with these scores, she now sits sixth overall on Equine Canada’s list of eligible riders for the 2016 Olympic Games.

There is no stopping this inspirational young lady. With her goal so close in sight she is ready to leap towards her next challenge. In order to move forward, Cummings and West Bay must travel and compete at the last Olympic qualifiers in Wellington, Fla., in January 2016. It’s all up to generating enough funds to turn her dream into reality.

Cummings’ next fundraiser is Sept. 26. She is hosting a horse fun day at Wycliffe. This is a small horse show that will offer classes in both Western and English. Spectators are welcome to come out and enjoy a day of fun, as well as, support Cummings’ Olympic quest.

Entry forms for competitors are available by contacting secummings.2010@gmail.com.

Cummings wished to thank all her sponsorship to date.

“I am so grateful to everyone that has helped me so far,” Cummings said. “Friends and family help me every day, but without the overwhelming generosity of the community and local businesses, none of this would have been possible for me. I look forward to partnering with more businesses to continue my success.”

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