Canadian adult amateur jumper rider Sierra Mark competes her 17 year-old mare Heat Wave 3E, whom she's brought along herself, in the 1.40-1.45m grand prixs and the High Amateur Jumpers. Learn more about her, what she struggles with most as an adult amateur rider and being #AdultAmmyStrong means to her.
Mark and her mare Heat Wave 3E competing at The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair.
Photo by Cealey Tetley
What is your day job and how often are you at the barn?
I work as a Legal Assistant for a multi-area practice. I am at the barn every day, my parents own a small farm where I keep my horses.
How do you plan your horse's training and show schedule around your work schedule? How often do you show?
I ride after work. Show schedules are difficult; I try to choose shows that either take place entirely on Saturday and Sunday which means shipping in early before my classes, or for a closer show that I can ship to I will show either first thing or end of the day and either go to work before or after. I usually do 8-10 shows a year.
What do you find you struggle with most as an adult amateur? And how do you overcome that?
Definitely the cost. There is no getting around show bills unless you do well and win lots of money! To help offset it, I do all my own shipping, my fiance comes and helps with the grooming, we stay in cheap AirBnb's, make lunches to bring with me to the show, stall split with other people when I can or trailer back and forth. It is hard to compete against other amateurs who can afford to be at the shows non stop for several weeks, but it makes it all worth it when you have your success.
What's been the best advice you've received and what advice would you give other amateurs?
The best advice I've been given is to have always fun and ride like you have one more jump to do.
The advice I would give is to not be distraught by what everyone else has or how much more training or practice they've had. Trust yourself, trust your horse and have fun. At the end of the day you have to remember why we got into this sport - we all have a love for horses. If you do get overwhelmed and frustrated, just remember yourself as a young horse crazy child, think of how proud and ecstatic that they would be that you get to play with horses every day. It's really humbling.
What does being #AdultAmmyStrong mean to you?
It means that even though we may not be professionals, not able to winter in Wellington and have all the bells and whistles, that we work hard for what we have and will appreciate every win and even every fail that much more. I don't take going to the barn or even to shows for granted because we are all so privileged to be able to be involved in this sport, even if in a small way.
Mark and 17 year-old mare Heat Wave 3E bested the field to be the 2019 1.40m Junior/Amateur Jumper Champion
at The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. Photo by Cealey Tetley
It's all about balance. If the 9-5 grind is how I can afford to play with my horses on the weekend in fancy clothes, then that's okay with me. This last season, I was champion in Ontario and ended up Champion at the Royal Winter Fair; this little homegrown team doing it grassroots style as cheap as I can with a horse I brought along myself. It meant so much more that I was able to be an adult ammy and still pull it all out and be the very best.
Follow Sierra on Instagram