If the Kamsack area is to have an Olympic athlete to cheer in the next few summer games, that person could very well be Kassidy Petruk.
A woman who has been riding horses since the age of six, and has been a competitive show jumper for about eight years, Petruk placed well at a hunter/jumper competition at Willow Ridge Stables south of Saskatoon June 27 and 28, which resulted in a second-place in the three-foot jumps as well as having completed the “clear round” in the two-foot, nine-inch competition.
Last month Petruk graduated from a two-year equine science course she was taking at Olds College in Olds, Alta. Along with the equine science diploma, she received a business certificate, having also majored in business and event management.
“I just love it,” Petruk said last week when asked why she is involved with horses.
A 2012 graduate from the Kamsack Comprehensive Institute, Kassidy is the daughter of Byron and Kim Petruk, who operate a farm and Assiniboine Valley Transfer trucking company about 17 miles southeast of Kamsack.
As a show jumper Petruk has been competing mostly in Manitoba because after having been in the Kamsack light horse 4-H Club for about a year when she was 10, when Kira Paluck was her teacher, she joined the MacNutt 4-H Light Horse Club in Manitoba and stayed with that group for 11 years.
While with the MacNutt club, Petruk was involved in two young horse development projects, training the horses from foals, and those two, Critical Decision (a.k.a. Tucker) and Miss Molly (a.k.a. Molly), are the horses she now rides. Tucker and Molly are Canadian Warmblood horses, known for English sport riding.
Over the past eight years, she has ridden one or the other at several competitions including the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair in Brandon, at Birds Hill Park in Winnipeg and at the Saskatchewan Youth Equine tournament in Moose Jaw.
Prior to entering Olds College, she spent seven months receiving work experience at a stable in London, Ont., which gave her the prerequisite experience, allowing her to be one of the 10 students to be admitted into the equine science course at Olds College in 2013.
“I have six horses,” she said. Four stay on her parents’ farm, the other two are with her at her work near Saskatoon. She works as a barn staff member at Ebon Stable east of Saskatoon.
In addition to her salary, Petruk is able to stable her horses for free and receives lessons about twice a week from Judy Hunter, her coach.
“I ride every day,” she said, explaining that the Ebon Stable looks after about 60 horses for riders who live in and around Saskatoon.
“Being an equestrian, you must have a bond with the animal in order for it to willingly do what it is you want it to do,” she said.
Although she says she is still at the lowest level of her sport, Petruk is on the right trajectory for success in national and international competition.
“I’d like to get to the grand prix level,” she said, explaining that the way to do that is to prepare, practice and compete a lot.
Tucker is seven years old and should not be hitting his peak for a couple more years, she said.
Her next competition will be hosted by the Ebon Stable. It is the Mid-Summer Masters competition, known as one of the biggest such events in Saskatchewan.
To prepare for that competition, Petruk will continue riding Tucker, attempting to get ever more “in-sync” with the horse so that both, horse and rider, will be able to “flow more smoothly.”
“My Mom is my number one fan,” she said, explaining that her mother usually attends her competitions, records her performances, grooms Tucker, helps with the tack and provides lots of enthusiastic support.
“I used to be afraid of horses, and had tried to discourage Kassidy from riding,” Kim said, adding that now she enjoys the sport and encourages her daughter.
“In future competitions I’m hoping to be able to do bigger classes,” Kassidy said, referring to the heights of the jumps that the horse and rider make on a course during a competition.