‘I was so nervous – I felt everyone was watching’: Erynn Ballard wins WEF leading lady rider award

  • Canada’s Erynn Ballard rounded out a great opening week at the 2021 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) when winning the Martha Jolicoeur Leading Lady Rider award on Sunday, January 10 in Wellington, FL.

    Ballard accumulated the highest number of points among her fellow female riders in Thursday’s $35,000 Adequan® WEF Challenge Premiere Round and the $75,000 Bainbridge Companies Grand Prix held on Sunday, January 10. She claimed victory on Thursday riding Walter White, a 10-year-old Belgian Sport Horse gelding (Baloubet du Rouet x Bon Ami) owned by Ilan Ferder, before securing the Leading Lady Rider title with a second-place finish in Sunday’s Grand Prix aboard Kamilla D, a 10-year-old Luxembourg mare (Kashmir von Schuttershof x Canturo) that she owns in partnership with Ferder.

    “It’s an honor to win Martha’s Leading Lady Rider Award, especially because Martha is a family friend,” said Ballard, 40, who operates Looking Back Stable with her parents, David and Sandi Ballard. “I think it’s so nice that she offers this award in the sport. Even if I didn’t win the Grand Prix, I still won something! It gives me something to talk about.”

    Talking about Sunday’s Grand Prix, Ballard said: “I felt so nervous today, more nervous than any other day this week because I felt like everyone was watching and I had to be good.

    “My room for error was very small but she made the first round so easy for me. In the jump-off when you’re following McLain [Ward], you have to try.”

    Of her Grand Prix ride, Kamilla D, Ballard explained: “This is her first big grand prix and my third horse show on her. She certainly rises to the occasion.

    “She’s green, I’m going fast, and fast and one down kept me second. So, there’s really nothing more I could ask of her this week.”

    “I’ve never had a week like this before,” added Ballard of her success during the opening week of competition at the 2021 Winter Equestrian Festival. “You never forget weeks like this, and you know you’re not going to have them every time, so you can’t take them for granted. You have to take it jump-by-jump and class-by-class.”

    Ballard was presented with a bottle of champagne, a bouquet of flowers and a gift certificate for a shopping spree at Hunt, Ltd. by Martha W. Jolicoeur and her husband, Dr. Stephen Norton.

    A sponsor and dedicated supporter of horse sport at WEF for many years, 2021 marks Jolicoeur’s 11th season presenting the Leading Lady Rider Award. A former competitor herself, Jolicoeur enjoyed a successful international show jumping career before becoming Florida’s number one Douglas Elliman real estate broker.

    “This award is a testament to consistent top performances, and it was always the title that I would set my sights on winning when I was competing,” said Jolicoeur, who began presenting the award in 2010 as a way of recognizing female accomplishments in an Olympic sport where men and women compete as equals. “Wellington is the winter equestrian capital of the world and attracts some of the best riders in horse sport. To be a part of that is an honor for me, and to experience how horses have brought us all together and made a place like Wellington possible is really special.”

    Throughout WEF, the Martha Jolicoeur Leading Lady Rider Award, given in memory of fellow realtor and horseman Dale Lawler, is presented weekly to the high-score female rider based on performances in the weekly WEF Challenge Cup Series and grand prix events. During the final week of WEF, the Martha Jolicoeur Overall Leading Lady Rider Award will be presented to the female rider who accumulates the most points throughout the season.

    You may like...