Christmas came early for Squamish's Kennedy Morum when she brought home ribbons for placing first and second — champion and reserve — in provincial horse jumping.
Morum and her horse Bella earned top honours in jumping at the BC Hunter Jumper Association (BCHJA) gala held at the Newlands Golf and Country Club in Langley in early December.
The young local was the overall provincial champion in the .90 category and reserve, or second, in the .85 category.
The titles are awarded to the rider who achieves the most points throughout the show jumping season.
For the non-equestrians among us, the height jumped is about two feet and nine inches for the .85 division and about three feet for the .90, Morum explained.
"I was totally surprised," she said, about how well she placed provincially.
"I didn't know that was a possibility for me, because we were travelling to California, Africa and New York … through the summer, and so I wasn't doing as many shows as I had hoped to ... but something clicked, and it just all kind of happened."
Being a competing equestrian has been challenging over the last few years.
First, there was COVID-19 which cancelled shows for a time, and then, more recently, the equine herpesvirus has been a threat to horses that has cancelled shows again.
"We were actually going to show at Thermal Desert Horse Park, and then that got cancelled because of the virus. So we went to Sacramento," Morum said.
Last fall, there was concern that Bella had been exposed to the virus, so the horse was quarantined in Seattle for one month.
"That required me staying in Seattle, coming back to Squamish for school and then going back to Seattle. It was definitely a long process," she said.
A family and community affair
Morum's passion for riding is clear. While she started out riding in Squamish, she is now based out of Langley, where she can ride year-round. This means, in addition to travelling for shows, she goes back and forth from Squamish to Langley a few times a week to ride Bella.
"It's totally worth it — just being with her. It makes me so happy that I can do that," Morum said.
Her mom, Jamie, notes that her daughter comes from a long line of relatives who rode or ride — her mom rode as did she, and her cousins were homeschooled so they could do the rodeo circuit — but Morum’s passion for horses was planted and blossomed in Squamish.
She first sat on a horse on her first birthday.
"It was sort of love at first sight," Jamie said.
"That's where all of her roots and that's where all of her passion for horses started was in Squamish."
She credits coaches Toni Kerekes, Ginny Antilla and Patsy Moloney with putting Morum on her current equestrian path.
"They all still support Kennedy. Like, if she has a big competition, they come down and cheer her on," Jamie said. "Really, the Squamish community has been so supportive and so amazing to Kennedy."
As for the future, Morum said she is "super excited" about what the new year will bring.
"I'm hoping to be moving up in height division. So I'll be trying to get to the meters and showing lots at the Thunderbird Show Park in Langley and then maybe possibly going up to California with my aunt showing there. Yeah, just trying to test out some international things," she said.