Keean White is an international rider on the Canadian team and president of Angelstone Tournaments in Erin, Ontario, a show park launched in 2010 that runs five jumping events a year.
Karen Sparks is also a Canadian Grand Prix rider. She heads up Wesley Clover Parks and hosts the Ottawa Equestrian Events, a three event show jumping series that was rebooted in 2015.
Technically, White and Sparks are direct competitors—both in the ring and for entries in their respective rings. But that’s not the way White sees it.
“When Karen Sparks and her family took over the park, I thought they were doing something really special,” said the two-time World Cup Finalist of Wesley Clover Parks.
“I think it’s really good for the sport here in Canada. I’m trying to make a big effort as a Canadian athlete to support the best Canadian shows, and Ottawa is one that we really put on our calendar. What Karen is doing here is amazing. It’s a place where we all want to be and that we all want to support.”
And with that he won “The Nicest Quote of the Day.” So Canadian.
It probably didn’t hurt that White also won the $20,000 Open Welcome at the Ottawa National Horse Show at Wesley Clover Parks on Thursday.
Of the 31 entries to contest course designer Michel Vaillancourt’s track on Thursday, seven advanced to the tie-breaking jump-off. Third to return for the short course, White and Leilani set the time to beat with a clear round in a time of 42.85 seconds.
Canada’s Hugh Graham, 69, and the home-bred Knock Out 3E came close to bumping them from the top spot, stopping the clock in 41.92 seconds. But a rail at the last dropped them to fifth.
It’s the second international win of the year for White and the eight-year-old grey Oldenburg mare he purchased from USA’s Andy Kocher last year. In May, they captured a 1.45m Table A class at the Caledon Equestrian Park in Ontario.
“She’s really light, she’s really delicate, and she’s really, really careful,” said White. “She doesn’t have much experience but for sure she has all of the traits to be one of my top horses in the future.”
For what it’s worth, Sparks just missed qualifying for the jump-off after incurring one time fault for exceeding the 76-second time allowed with Calvin Klein, thereby eliminating her chance to say nice things about her fellow Canadian rider/show organizer in the press release.
Australia’s Kirk Webby and Brando du Rouet took second. Canada’s Ian Millar and Ericson, third.
Horse Network is broadcasting live from the Ottawa International next week! Tune in on Horse Network Live!