What started out as an activity to keep herself busy one summer, continues as a dream to one day represent Canada in the Olympics.
Kenzie Wakefield, 17, first learned how to ride a horse 10 years ago. She’s been competing in the equestrian sport of jumping for about five years.
“It kind of happened by accident,” she says. “My mom just wanted me to get out of the house one summer.”
Wakefield, an Oak Bay resident, recently attended the B.C. Summer Games in Surrey, representing Vancouver Island as the only show jumper.
It was her first time at the Games, and she won a bronze medal on day one of the competition.
“I feel like I’ve been able to represent my province and the Island. … I’ve never done anything at all this hard before.” she says.
Wakefield wasn’t without challenges during the Games.
It was a different experience, she says, because it wasn’t like the regular horse shows she’s used to.
On the second and third day of the competition, rain made the course “mucky” and even more challenging, she says.
But for Wakefield and her horse, Orlando, it was enough just to experience competition at that level.
It’s been a goal of Wakefield’s to compete in the Games for a while. But because her horse had some problems throughout the winter, they didn’t train during those months.
“I thought my chances were gone, and then I got the email (from B.C. Games) and it was so exciting,” she says. “It was quite surprising but I was very happy.”
Wakefield and Orlando had about two months to “get back into shape” and prepare for the Games. She usually trains six days a week.
“Jumping, I love because it’s exciting and kind of a rush. And it’s a challenge because every course is different.”
A big part of competing is being able to bond with your horse, she says, and learning to work together.
“Orlando and I get along well, and he really trusts me.”
Although Wakefield is preparing to part with Orlando – he’s up for sale – she says it’s because she’s ready for the next step and looking to reach new heights.
Different horses are needed for each height level, she explains, adding she’s had Orlando for more than two years.
“He’s been good up to the height I’m at now (more than three metres),” she says.
Wakefield’s plan is to take her experience from the Games and learn from her mistakes. Her goal now is to see what she can work on to get better for next time.
“(I’m) trying to move up and ride lots of different horses,” she says. “And get different experiences, and (set) new goals.”