In the May/June issue of Western Horse Review, we searched out some of the most accomplished and influential youth in the western horse industry and compiled our first-ever Young Guns – Top 25 Youth Under 25. We came up with six categories: Ambassadors, Artisans, Entertainers, Competitive, Entrepreneurs and Science. From self-discipline to unwavering focus, we were reminded that the dreams often fostered in young minds and hearts can translate to adulthood, and that good old fashioned determination can still achieve what many think is impossible. We loved the true western code of ethic each of our top 25 exude.
It evolved into such an inspiring piece we decided to recreate it online, with the fuller interviews and stories of each of our deserving Top 25. Look for them here at Screen Doors & Saddles over the next six months, as I\’ll reveal one every week or so!
Hayley Stradling(Nominated for Competitive) Age: 16 Aldergrove, British Columbia
You don’t have to be very old to think that sixteen seems so young. But for an Aldergrove, British Columbia equestrienne, the years have been plenty to secure her place as one of the top competitors in the country.
Guiding her are the words of Stan Smith: Experience tells you what to do; confidence allows you to do it. She is well on her way with the confidence and experience, but possibly the element that sets Haley Stradling apart from her competition is diversity.
“I have been riding horses my entire life. I love riding both cutting horses and hunter jumpers and competing on them. I also have been in Pony Club since I was 6-years-old, and currently have my C1 Level.”
She has carved out a training regime that helps her to excel. On her cutters, she rides with Dr. Denton Moffat of Armstrong, BC and with her hunter jumpers, she trains with Brent and Laura Balisky and Laura Jane Tidball. No lackluster list of coaches on this girls resume, and it shows.
In 2012 alone, Stradling won an AQHA World Cutting championship and won two gold medals for Team Canada at the AQHA Youth World Cup in Kreuth, Germany. Closer to home, she was reserve champion in the youth cutting at the Calgary Stampede and won awards with the British Columbia Cutting Horse Association and the British Columbia Ranch Cutting Horse Association. On her hunter jumper, she was 2nd overall at the Canadian Equestrian Team Medal Regional Finals in Langley, BC and went on to finish 3rd overall at the Canadian Equestrian Team Medal National finals in Toronto, Ontario. It is no small feat for a rider to ride multiple disciplines, let alone excel in both.
On top of her awards inside the arena, Stradling was nominated by the Horse Council of BC for Junior Female Sport BC Athlete of the year and came third overall.
“My parents are my main supporters and are incredible,” raves Stradling.
During the rare moments that she is not homing her skills, Stradling helps with her local pony club by teaching stable management to the younger kids. She volunteers at her school building theater sets and likes archery and snowboarding. A diverse set of interests has gone a long way to form an exceptional young lady.
~ Dainya Sapergia