“This is our first season competing together as a squad and the partnership between all of us is working really well,” explained van der Sluijs, who represented Canada at the 2014 FEI World Equestrian Games in France. “We still have a ways to go, but I am happy with where we’re at this early in the season.”
Van der Sluijs continued, “The CVI Pacific Cup is a big competition and an important event for all athletes in North America. It’s the first international event for all of us each year, and we truly enjoy competing at this venue. A highlight for us was that all the squad members really came together and showed their character to tell the story of the routine. It was a great experience in general for the squad to compete at this high of a level, and we continue to feel stronger as a squad each time we compete.”
The squad was partnered with She’s All That, a 12-year-old Canadian Sport Horse mare owned and lunged by van der Sluijs’s sister, Angelique. Together they earned top marks, emerging victorious in both Round 1 and Round 2 with scores of 5.894 and 6.307, respectively.
Van der Sluijs also impressed in the 3* Female Individual Senior, where she partnered with Oliver, her 18-year-old warmblood gelding sired by Beaujat. Once again lunged by her sister Angelique, van der Sluijs earned 6.567 to finish second in Round 1, just behind America’s Elizabeth Osborn. Fellow Canadian, Jessica Bentzen claimed third on her score of 6.425. The Parksville, BC native worked with Hugo, a 12-year-old gelding owned and lunged by her mother, Debbie.
In Round 2 of the 3* Female Individual Senior, van der Sluijs once again finished second behind Osborn, but improved on her earlier score, finishing with 7.443.
“This year I’ve been training lots of new skills and this was the first time I was competing my new routine internationally,” noted van der Sluijs. “Both my technical and freestyle routines are still a work in progress. I am working on really defining each character and continuing to play around with little twists to the music and costumes. The general idea of the freestyle routine is a dark and mysterious, queen of spiders feel. It is very different from what I have done in previous years. My technical routine is a lot softer and has more of a classic and elegant side to it.”
In the 2* Female Individual Senior, Korynn Weber of Nelson, BC, rode to a third-place finish in Round 1. She scored 6.031 with Azrael, a 12-year-old mare lunged by Bentzen and owned by Naomi Weber. She then went from performing atop Azrael, to lunging her for Talmage Conrad of Cardston, AB in Round 1 of the 2* Male Individual Junior and Round 1 of the 1* Male Individual . Conrad scored 5.655 to bring home fourth in the 2* and 6.288 to win the 1*.
Fellow Cardston competitors, Rielynn Conrad and Maicee Williams, brought home the win in the first round of the 2* Pas-de-Deux Junior. Lunged and owned by Patti Skipton of Santa Cruz, CA, Vidar, a nine-year-old Shire/Thoroughbred-cross gelding, carried the duo to victory with a score of 5.488.
Once again returning to the role of lunger, Bentzen helped Errington, BC native Pearl Holmquist vault to victory in Round 1 of the 1* Female Individual Senior aboard Matisse, a 13-year-old Shire/Paint-cross gelding owned by Debbie Bentzen. Holmquist earned 6.436 to take the win over Brooke Boyd of Olds, AB, who finished with a 6.261. Boyd partnered with Lincolm (Lauries Crusader XX x Abhang III), a 22-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Devon Maitozo and lunged by Talesia Dobin.
One of the youngest Canadians competing also had some of the biggest success. Averill Saunders of Sundre, AB, brought home second in the 1* Female Individual Children with a score of 6.328. She vaulted with Wagner PR (Justice x Flemmingh), a 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned and lunged by Angelique van der Sluijs.
For more information and results, visit www.pacificcupcvi.com.