Cochrane horseback rider Austin Seelhof and his horse Lipstick Jungle have qualified with Team Canada for the 2018 World Equestrian Games which will take place Sept. 11 to 23 in Mill Spring, North Carolina.
The Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) Equestrian Games are held every four years in the middle of the Olympic cycle, is one of the biggest events on the global sporting calendar, combining eight equestrian World Championship calibre events in a per-determined location. The FEI disciplines – jumping, dressage and para-equestrian dressage, eventing, driving, endurance, vaulting and reining – are all included on the competition schedule, while equestrian-focused demonstrations and exhibitions will also be hosted throughout the duration of the event.
Seelhof, who officially qualified for the Games with a stellar performance at the Reining Alberta Spring Classic on June 7 to 10 in Red Deer, said he was ecstatic when he heard the news about making the Canadian team and qualifying for the World’s.
“I was really excited. I remember watching the World Equestrian Games as a kid and all my idols have been. It’s a pretty surreal feeling to get the opportunity to do it myself now,” Seelhof said.
“I grew up on a cattle ranch so I’ve been riding my entire life. That is how I grew up … so I’ve been part of this lifestyle and riding since I was a child. I started reining when I was 14 years old, and I started training 10 years ago. It’s been a really awesome 10 years for sure and I’ve really enjoyed my time doing it.”
“As for qualifications, I actually started (to qualify) back in July of last year. There were two qualifiers here in Cochrane at our own arena and I had two good scores. The first day was the first time I’d ever shown the horse so I wasn’t sure how it was going to go but we got a qualifying score and then the second day we won it and we did a lot better.”
“This year, same thing … I hadn’t shown Lipstick Jungle in a year and she was really good the first day, we cruised through and then the second day I pushed her a little harder and I had a rider error but we already had our qualifying scores so it didn’t really matter. It’s been good to see the hard work pay off.”
Seelhof said he doesn’t have any set goals or expectations for the Equestrian Games, but said he does expect to do well and hopes to help Canada get on the podium.
“The mindset I have going in is that I obviously want to do the best I can. With that being said, I have a really nice horse and she’s very consistent,” Seelhof said.
“So if I were to set a goal, it would be to help Team Canada get on the podium and if we can do that and make it back to the individual finals … that would be my ultimate goal.”
“The Games are kind of like the Olympics. The first round is the team competition where we go in and compete and the judges will take the top portion of the scores from the team competition and then a few days later we have the individual medal round as well. The first day is team effort and then individual … but you have to do good enough in the team round in order to make it to the individual portion of the Games.”
Seelhof and his wife Sara own their own horse training stable here in town called Seelhof Performance Horses. While Seelhof said owning a stable hasn’t really been a tool to help him prepare for the Games, but it does have some perks and advantages.
“I don’t know how much it’s helped us preparing for the Worlds but it’s definitely nice for business to work from home and to be my own boss,” Seelhof said.
“The business is going really well, we’re happy, busy and we’re enjoying it. It’s nice to work from home because my kids are always down here and my wife rides as well. I grew up on a cattle ranch since it was a family operation ours has become a family operation as well. It’s really nice to be able to work with my wife and kids and be able to pass on my love for this lifestyle onto them.”
For more information on the Games can visit www.tryon2018.com.