The top prize at the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair’s penultimate jumping competition went to a rider not only new to the fair, but new to Canada.
Marion Ostmeyer, originally from northwest Germany, moved to Alberta in October to ride at Calgary’s Creekside Farms equestrian facility.
And all of her horses went along for the intercontinental trip, including 13-year-old Roulett, the horse that helped her nab the top placing in the RBC Cup last night.
Ostmeyer had long known a fellow rider in Calgary, Linda Ackermann, who convinced her to make the move to train in Canada.
"And I thought, why not? I thought it was a good idea to do something new in life and I always wanted to come to Canada and see how life is here, so I cleaned up a bit at home and made the move," Ostmeyer said moments after exiting the course at the Keystone Centre and putting her steed away, already with a celebratory glass of wine in her hand.
Aside from riding in a fair in the Toronto area in 2001, she had never been to Canada before she moved last fall.
"It’s been wonderful, the people in Canada have just taken me in," she said. "When you come, you don’t know many people, but it was so easy to get connected and life is great. I love it.
"Everyone warned me about the winter, but even that was fine!"
Her winning horse had her own challenges getting to Canada from overseas. The trip included two weeks in quarantine in Germany before Roulett was flown to Calgary, where she remained in quarantine again for another month.
"The good thing was we could do the quarantine at our barn, so there was a chance to ride the horse, so she wasn’t totally out of training," Ostmeyer said.
She started training Roulett at five years old and the horse has been by Ostmeyer’s side ever since.
"That horse is my friend," Ostmeyer said.
After he was unable to place during Thursday night’s Atco Cup event, Oakbank’s Eric Martin — the only Manitoban in last night’s event — took home fourth place.
Martin rode two horses last night and each time he took to the course, he drew a huge roar of applause from the fair crowd — adding to the pressure to perform.
"There’s a lot of pressure, but the crowd is really quite supportive and the community is really good," he said, "Everybody watches you."
On Thursday and last night, Martin was up against riders mostly from Alberta he hopes to best at the final event this evening.
"I hate losing, even today I’d rather be first than fourth," he joked. "I’m happy for them, but it’s great to steal money from Alberta and everywhere else."
D’artagnan, the eight-year-old Czech warm blood that carried Martin to his prize, is "an ADD kid," Martin said, and is one of the youngest horses in competition.
The MTS Grand Prix is tonight — the final showdown for the jumper class of the fair.
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