The Annual Provincial Awards honour outstanding deserving members’ achievements within Alberta’s equine community. These awards acknowledge those who stand out and have made a positive impact.

Every year we take this opportunity to recognize hard-working individuals, facilities, athletes, and horses that have gone above and beyond to make the equestrian community a truly special place.

Nominations are submitted by peers in the fall and the selection committee reviews every submission thoroughly.

The Annual Awards would not be possible without our amazing community, members, volunteers, board, staff, and event partners Capri CMW and Purina. We sincerely thank you for your commitment and ongoing support to the Alberta Equestrian Community.

Rewatch: The Annual Awards Live Stream

The event was streamed live and can be rewatched on YouTube. Continue reading below to see all winners from 2021.

Award Categories

The categories for the 2021 Annual Provincial awards are below. Click the list to jump to each section winner.

  1. Outstanding Horse
  2. Outstanding Stable/Facility
  3. Outstanding Equine Support Personnel
  4. Outstanding Volunteer
  5. Outstanding Rider/Athlete
  6. Sportsmanship Excellence
  7. Outstanding Instructor/Coach
  8. Above and Beyond Excellence
  9. President’s Award

Outstanding Horse

Winner: San Badger’s Last, and owner Sue Anne Wearmouth.

This award is a designation given to an equine (horse, pony, donkey, or mule) regardless of age, who has accomplished an extraordinary achievement within their respective discipline/activity. This equine has made a significant impact on the community by doing something “above and beyond,” or has overcome many challenges in a particular situation. The recipient does not necessarily need to be involved in competition. It may be a school horse who has made an impact on many riders’ lives in a special way or accomplished an incredible goal, overcome incredible odds, stood out from other equines, or achieved top results in competition. The equine must reside in Alberta at the time of nomination.

The winner of the Outstanding Horse Award went to San Badger’s Last, and owner Sue Anne Wearmouth.

From the nomination

“San Badger’s Last (Tess) is a beautiful 20 year old sorrel quarter horse mare who was Sue Anne’s willing partner in every situation. In years past Tess and Sue Anne competed in Cattle Penning, Cowboy Challenge, Equitation, Polo, and Ranch Rodeos. Tess has been ridden Western, English, and Sidesaddle and has also been an excellent trail riding companion all over Alberta and in BC. However, in 2021 Tess began to tackle her most important job: to take care of her owner as she had a progressive lung disease. Tess understood the changes in her partner and provided support as required.

Tess carried saddle bags with two portable oxygen containers. They were clunky and awkward in saddle bags and Tess carried them with grace and ease. Tess carried the oxygen on numerous trails rides, a few ranch rodeos, and during the completion of Sue Anne’s Level 8 Horsemanship test. Tess and Sue Anne competed with the Cowgirl Cattle Company (CCC) ranch rodeo team and came in third at the Cochrane Ladies Ranch Rodeo! On a trail ride Sue Anne had a tack malfunction and Tess was able to easily finish the trail ride bridleless, only using the reins around her neck.

Tess’s amazing attitude ensured Sue Anne was able to safely continue riding and showed people that it was possible to continue her horsemanship in the face of adversity.”

Outstanding Stable/Facility

Winner: Eagle Hill Equine and Kim Baerg

The recipient of this award is a current stable/facility member of the AEF. They uphold the highest standard of horse care and welfare at all times in and around their property. Safety of horse and rider is always the number one priority. Maintenance and upkeep of the stable/facility is impeccable. They treat their clients with the utmost respect and communicate in a clear and appropriate manner. They employ knowledgeable staff and foster a safe and positive environment. They apply fair business ethics, ideal risk management protocols and exemplify best practices for riding and horse care. Their property is clean and safe for both horse and rider, and adheres to biosecurity protocols. The recipient of this award is being recognized for demonstrating excellence in horse welfare, and providing an outstanding environment.

The winner of Outstanding Stable/Facility of the year was Eagle Hill Equine and Kim Baerg

From the nomination 

“Eagle Hill Equine is run by Kim Baerg and her daughter Samantha Dewitt. You will not find a better run facility anywhere. Kim and Sam go the extra mile to earn your trust by providing the best care there is. They have developed Eagle Hill Equine into the premier boarding, breeding and clinic facility in Alberta, through hard work and dedication to their clients. “

Outstanding Equine Support Personnel

Winner: Rachel Friesen

This individual has consistently supported equine and human athletes alike and the care and welfare of equines in general. They are vital to the success of a stable (facility) and/or horse and rider team; they are reliable, supportive, professional, positive, and knowledgeable in their role. They display the utmost respect for keeping equines healthy and happy at all times. They are proactive and educated in the horse industry. They are a joy to have around the barn and/or competition; without this individual the facility or event(s) would not run the same. Recipients in this category may hold positions such as groom, stable-hand, farrier, massage therapist, veterinarian, etc. They are recognized for their contributions to the overall success of the community by demonstrating extraordinary horsemanship or horse industry skills.

The winner of Outstanding Equine Support Personnel of the year was Rachel Friesen

From the nomination

Rachel is a genuinely happy person, making her approachable and easy to ask questions or to lend a hand. She has a gentle way with the horses and they all seem to respect and love her. As do the dogs, chickens, cats and sometimes even the cows. She has taken on the role of substitute coach when required, paints jumps, sets courses, rakes, sweeps, and is truly a Jackie-of-all-trades. She rides up to six horses a day and still makes time to chat with clients.

She keeps the school string well behaved and responsive, makes sure they’re warm in the winter and bug sprayed in the summer. She encourages all the riders, from beginner to advanced, celebrates their wins and mourns their losses. She’s a sounding board for both horse and human ailments, offering suggestions or just an ear. 

Outstanding Volunteer

Winner: Senga Swain

This award is designed to honour an individual who has contributed selflessly at an extraordinary level of dedication to benefit the equine industry. This individual is incredible to work with as they exude energy and approach tasks with enthusiasm, professionalism and commitment. They are reliable, positive, honest, and flexible. This individual is a team player and can breathe life into even the most mundane of tasks. They bring value to their volunteer position. The recipient does not necessarily need to be involved with equines on a regular basis, but rather may have contributed a significant impact to the equestrian community.

The winner of the Outstanding Volunteer award was Senga Swain.

From the nomination

Senga Swain has been a member of the Eastgate Saddle Club for 50 years and has been a dedicated volunteer and advocate for the club throughout the years. For the last several years, Senga has held the position of club President. She is committed to the integrity, growth, and reputation of the club.

As with many clubs, the membership ebbs and flows over time. Senga is encouraging, welcoming and willing to work alongside the various board members and volunteers as they come and go. She provides insight and consistency regardless of circumstances. Not only does she hold the position of President, she also heads up the Social Committee, the cook shack, is the Recording Secretary and shows up to every grounds clean up day. She is willing to pick up the microphone and announce if nobody else is available.

She will step into the arena and judge a horse show or trail challenge event if need be. She checks timers, diffuses disputes, holds horses, explains rules and events, buys prizes, arranges sponsorships and showers encouragement on all of the participants, regardless of their level of accomplishment. She treats everyone with respect and kindness. 

And who even knows the extent of the work she does behind closed doors!?!?

Outstanding Rider/Athlete

Winner: Sydney Usipiuk

This individual exhibits an unwavering ambition, positive attitude and determination toward their activity. They set personal goals and strive hard to achieve them, taking setbacks in stride. They dedicate time with their equine partners and show a well-rounded interest in the daily care and responsibility of riding and/or owning a horse. They treat others, including their equine partner, with the utmost respect and love. This individual not only enjoys, but takes great pride in their activity. They exhibit a high level of commitment to both practice and competition schedule. This award recognizes outstanding athletic performance by an athlete involved in competition.

The winner of the Outstanding Rider/Athlete award was Sydney Usipiuk!

From the nomination

While at horse shows, Sydney is the picture of sportsmanship. She is always at the ring to cheer on her teammates, is quick with encouragement and kindness, and is around all day, every day, to facilitate a positive team dynamic. Sydney is the first person to offer help to anyone and everyone on the team from walking horses to offering moral support for her fellow teammates. Even when she suffers personal setbacks, she takes them in stride, never blaming or focusing on the negative, only on where improvements can be made. Anyone who sees Sydney interact with her horse can tell that she takes great pride in every aspect of the sport and all it entails.

She is committed to all practice and competition schedules, she has not missed a horse show or lesson this year, while maintaining employment and cross training in the gym to ensure she can keep up with her athletic partner. However, Sydney does not limit herself to the riding component of horse ownership. Sydney never hires a groom: from mucking out stalls to cleaning her own tack she is a hands-on horse owner both at the barn and at horse shows. Moreover, Sydney takes great pride in her horse’s turnout; from conditioned/polished hooves to perfect grooming her horse looks ready to compete on a daily basis. It’s no wonder she has recently obtained her FEI passport.

Sportsmanship Excellence

Winner: Cyndie Crook

This individual’s character best exemplifies the definition of sportsmanship. Their conduct and attitude benefit all participants in sport. They value fair play, exhibit courteous behaviour, put the horse’s welfare first, and show a determined spirit and graciousness in victory or defeat. The individual maintains a positive attitude while showing support for fellow riders. They treat officials and competitors with respect, even when faced with challenging outcomes. They demonstrate cooperation and respect in dealing with their instructor/coach. This recipient is committed to “doing what is right”. They are selfless and committed to positive overall performance whether individually or as part of a team.

The winner of Outstanding Rider/Athlete of the year was Cyndie Crook!

From the nomination

Cyndie is a dedicated top competitor in the driving community. She takes her competitions very seriously. You will find her out in the dressage ring, the cones course, and marathon course numerous times throughout the weekend. BUT, she will ALWAYS take the time to help anyone out who desires her opinion and expertise.

This does not matter if you are competing with her or if you just want tips, she is always willing to help a fellow competitor out. On top of that, she will be the first to congratulate you and even go further out of her way to see how you are making out. You could not ask for a better person than Cyndie.

Outstanding Instructor/Coach

Winner: Wendy Martin

The recipient of this award is a current Equestrian Canada National Certified Coach (NCCP) or instructor. This individual demonstrates exceptional ability to mentor students, leading by example and teaching in a positive and informative light. They embrace continuing education with great importance and empower others to learn and grow in a safe manner. This individual is ethical and prioritizes equine welfare and the humane treatment of horses. They continuously strive for what is best for horse and rider and value the feedback of others. They focus on the complete development of their athletes (both horse and rider) at all times. Nominees are recognized for their contribution to equine sport and activity as an instructor/coach, whether their students are recreational or competitive.

The winner of the Outstanding Instructor/Coach award was Wendy Martin!

From the nomination

We – Kelly, Angel, and Erin, wish to nominate our coach, Wendy Martin. Wendy conducts herself with assurance and clarity, dresses the part for western showmanship and is punctual. With her lesson plans in hand, Wendy is very organized and articulates each point/maneuver clearly. With safety being at the top of the agenda, we always look forward to an impactful, fun-filled and very educational lesson. Wendy keeps us up to date with the most current information, supplying us with additional handouts, websites and supplemental exercises.

She also encourages us to source out our own reputable resources. In delivering her lessons, Wendy is creative, respectful and accommodating. Much effort is put into setting up a safe, yet challenging and stimulating lesson. Outside of lesson times, if riders require additional help, Wendy is very accommodating making herself and any additional resources readily available. She is always respectful and actively listens to any questions or concerns, taking into account our varied backgrounds. She is so positive and encouraging in our abilities, giving us the confidence to do our very best.

Above and Beyond Excellence

Winner: Tina Watkins

This individual demonstrates outstanding performance and has made a significant contribution to benefit the industry. They are considered an exceptional member of the equine community and demonstrate a high level of commitment, initiative, cooperation, and dedication that reinforces the values of the AEF. The recipient of this award demonstrates excellence and teamwork, and goes above and beyond expectations. The recipient does not necessarily need to be involved with horses on a regular basis, but may have contributed a significant impact to the equestrian community in Alberta.

The winner of the Above and Beyond Excellence award was Tina Watkins!

From the nomination

As the president of the DeWinton Pony Club, Tina tirelessly volunteers her time in planning and running workshops and shows that go far above and beyond the basic expectations. She is a tremendous source of expertise in all matters equestrian and she generously shares that knowledge with the community at large, encouraging both new and young riders and experienced adults alike to continue learning best practices for both stable management and riding, providing significant contribution to benefit the industry, riders, and horses alike.

Tina is held in the highest regard by her peers in the equine community and works hard to pull this community together to help educate the up and coming young rider community. Tina has been a teacher of bodywork for over a decade and has owned and operated her company In-Hand Equine Therapy for the last 25 years, working in soft tissue modalities.  She has also done free online workshops for AEF from In-Hand Equine therapy. Tina embodies excellence and teamwork, and goes far above and beyond.

President’s Award

Winner: Norm Spencer

The President’s Award celebrates those who make an outstanding contribution to the Alberta equestrian community, a contribution that supports or advances the vision and mission of the AEF. They may be hidden heroes as they dedicate their time and talents in service to equestrians and equines. If they are employed in the sector or a related sector, they may have made extraordinary contributions beyond what may be expected in their jobs.  The President’s Award recipient makes a significant and enduring difference, and inspires others to take action. 

We are extremely proud to present this award for the first time ever to Norm Spencer. 

Norm has dedicated much of his time to the equine community. Over the years, he has held positions assisting many advisory boards to enhance and benefit the equine community. He has worked with the Alberta Government on master trail plans and, most recently, on the Castle Provincial Park. He was able to bring much value to this project because of his equestrian knowledge base and vision for equine-specific facilities.

Norm is a long-term supporter of the AEF and serves on the AEF Recreation Committee. He led the work of the committee on the South Syncline Equestrian Campground in Castle Provincial Park. This important new facility will open in June 2022 and will be available to benefit all Alberta equestrians.

Thank you Norm for your commitment to supporting the mission of the AEF and for all you do for the equine community. 

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