Langford rider Montana Garrington and Holly leap over a jump during a recent practise. The pair are preparing to represent Zone 6 in show jumping in Abbotsford next weekend.

BC SUMMER GAMES: No horsing around for equestrian athletes at Games

Disciplines vary for West Shore riders heading to Abbotsford Games

To those on the outside, equestrian events may seem a solitary endeavour. But as Montana Garrington can attest, the special relationship between rider and horse makes this sport every bit as much about teamwork as any traditional multi-player sport.

Garrington, an 18-year-old member of the Zone 6 (Vancouver Island-Central Coast) show jumping team competing next week in the B.C. Summer Games in Abbotsford, took on a new horse late last year. She had parted with her longtime show pony, Raven, some years before and decided to take a lease on a larger, more suitable horse for eventing, Holly.

Since December, this Langford resident has been getting to know what makes her new mount tick.

“I’m so lucky, she’s such a great team player and if I make mistakes, she’s totally just there to save me and is ready to do her job,” she said. “I’ve never met a horse that likes working as much as she does.”

The 2016 Royal Bay secondary grad jokes that often times horses make better teammates than humans. “My teammate just doesn’t (speak) English.”

In general, “eventing” includes show jumping, dressage and Garrington’s favourite, cross country. For the B.C. Games, cross country is replaced with vaulting, which is essentially acrobatics on horseback, and para-equestrian events are also included. The various disciplines are judged separately, but the points accrued in each will combine in the team standings.

Garrington spent the winter months learning to adapt to Holly’s different characteristics, style and temperament and qualified for the Games with her top two results from various shows this year. “I didn’t really think I was ever going to make it because of my age, so I’m excited that I actually made it through.”

Holly’s owner, Highlands resident Julia King, never got a chance to compete in the Games but as Garrington says, “she’s really excited that she gets to live the experience through me.”

King, Garrington’s mother Michelle and several others are making the trip to support Montana and the rest of the team.

As for her chances of medalling in Abbotsford, Garrington is confident, first and foremost, in her teammate’s abilities to do what she is asked and then some.

“Holly is an amazing horse. She only started jumping in 2013,” she said. “Julia showed her for one season, and before that she was kind of a trail horse and sort of an all-round (mount), with some Western riding in there. It’s nice that she has that trail background, because it makes her really brave and smart and stuff.”

Garrington is joined on the Zone 6 show jumping unit by longtime friend Petra Pinkerton of Central Saanich, plus Linnaea Crawshaw of Campbell River.

Meanwhile, Zone 6 teammate Rachel Brears of Colwood is in a slightly different situation when it comes to her equestrian division, vaulting. More often than not she finds herself explaining what it is to people not already involved.

“For people who have never seen it, it’s definitely a big difference (from show jumping or dressage). You’re not controlling the horse and you’re doing all these crazy things on top of it,” she said.

The 16-year-old Royal Bay student has been involved for about nine years and mostly competes on the mainland, often in Abbotsford. Her South Island group sometimes does demonstrations, however, at events such as Metchosin Day and the Saanich Fair.

A self-confessed shy person, she likes how the sport has forced her to come out of her shell. “You have to get really creative with it, make up choreography and make up routines,” she said. “There’s also a lot of team building with it; we work with younger riders and set new goals. There’s always something new to try.”

As for the Games, she’s excited to experience the multi-sport aspect and watch the other equestrian events. She’s been working regularly on her current routine, but said she won’t be too worried about the scores.

“You learn how to figure out what you have to improve on,” she said, and let the judges take it from there.

Greater Victoria vaulter Meredith Glidden joins Brears and Garrington on the Zone 6 team, as does para-equestrian Tyler Wooley, and three up-Island dressage riders.

The B.C. Summer Games run from July 22 to 24 in Abbotsford. Watch the Gazette in advance for more stories on West Shore athletes and teams competing. Visit for previous Games profiles.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

South Vancouver Island B.C. Hydro Customers without power

Due to high winds nearly 3,900 B.C. Hydro customer will be out of power

Sidney signs off on 2020 budget with 1.79 per cent tax increase

Budget also includes additional funding for Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea

Search begins for two missing scouts near Sooke

Crews headed to Jordan River area after receiving call just after 2 p.m.

Scaffolding falls due to strong winds at Millstream Village Sunday afternoon

No injuries or vehicles damaged, according to West Shore RCMP

Cold water swimming a morning ritual for Willows Beach crew

Group turned heads when they slow-walked into the Polar Plunge

VIDEO: 2020 BC Winter Games wrap up in Fort St. John as torch passes to Maple Ridge

More than 1,000 athletes competed in the 2020 BC Winter Games

Massive early-morning blaze destroys Vancouver Island home

Firefighters from three departments called in to battle fire at unoccupied residence

Still six cases of COVID-19 in B.C. despite reports of Air Canada passenger: ministry

Health ministry wouldn’t comment on specific flight routes

Violent ends to past Indigenous protests haunt Trudeau government

Trudeau adopted a more assertive tone Friday, insisting the barricade must come down

VIDEO: Wounded Warrior Run leaves Port Hardy on eight-day trek down Vancouver island

The team’s fundraising goal this year is $250,000, which is double last year’s goal.

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

Most Read