For someone who has just recently entered the world of reigning and competition, Delaney Michelson of Three Hills, Alta. proved her skills by competing on an international scale.
July 9 to 13, Michelson alongside Chalyce Head of Grand Prairie and Alex Hibberd of Calgary made up Team Canada and attended the FEI Reining World and European Championships in Givrins, Switzerland.
They connected with horse trainer and coach Reno Pommier in France who supplied horses for the athletes.
The team arrived four days early to get a feel for how the horses operate by riding them and getting some coaching.
Overall, Team Canada placed sixth out of eight in the Young Riders category made up from ages 17 to 21.
The two teams they beat for sixth place came to the competition with their own horses as well. Michelson was grateful for the experience and found they did well for using different horses as it is costly to fly their own overseas.
The horse she rode in the competition was a 12-year-old quarter horse named ‘A Chick in Hollywood’.
“I gained more experience than I have in a year of riding in about a week,” said Michelson.
“From riding the horse I got and being coached on that horse to riding other horses in [our coaches] barn I learned so many things from my coach about training your horses different with different drills and different things to do, what kind of mindset to have to prepare your horses and to prepare yourself for a show – things I have already taken back here and put into my program and have seen results with already with two weeks of being home.”
The atmosphere of the show in Givrins, Switzerland and the CS Ranch was also light and supportive.
“Just everybody at the show was really supportive and would go out of their way to help you which was really nice. I learned so much about riding,” she said.
To get to the competition was no small feat either.
Paperwork registration with national horse associations on top of training preparations, veterinary screening, fundraising and arrange a qualifying show to determine who would make up the Canadian team.
“We were the only team riding horses that weren’t ours so we did pretty good. I’m pretty happy with it.”
Many skilled riders from all over the world attended.
“The competition was insane, the calibre of horses and riders over there was so much more than I thought it was going to be. Some of the people in our category, I’d say a third of them are professional trainers that do this for a living and they’re under 21 so they are already training as a business so you can imagine how good they are.”
Some of her competitors have even competed at the World Equestrian Games which Michelson referred to as “the Olympics of Reining”.
“The calibre of horses and riders was just the highest level for sure but still fun and people weren’t rude,” said Michelson.
Showing and riding at the CS Ranch was one of her biggest highlights of the trip.
“The facilities are the best I have ever been in. Everything about the arena is amazing; the size, the sand, just how pretty it is.
“One end of the arena is the lake and the mountains and it is so so pretty there.
“Just to get to show there and compete against everybody was so much fun. That was definitely the best time I’ve had in the show pen,” Michelson concluded.