LIVING THE DREAM: Evan Phinney thriving in riding ring, classroom

John Decoste
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By John DeCoste

Not all the student-athletes attending Acadia are part of a varsity team.

Take 19-year-old Evan Phinney, a second-year student making a name for herself as an equestrienne.

The show-jumping business student recently received Horse-Canada Horse-Sport Young Riders Scholarship, valued at $5,000. 

This wasn’t the first award she has received for her riding. “I received a Jump Canada bursary in 2011, and a Nova Scotia Equestrian Federation (NSEF) bursary in 2012” - the year she graduated from Sacred Heart School in Halifax.

The Halifax woman has been riding almost as long as she can remember.

She attended riding camps as a small girl, but her career began in earnest at age seven when she joined the Halifax Junior Bengal Lancers.

“My cousin gave me a ‘Barbie horse’,” Phinney said.  Since then, I always wanted to ride horses, but Lancers was where I started getting serious about it.”

As a member of the Lancers, she learned to ride, acquired horse experience, worked in the stables and competed in hunter/jumper classes.

She also participated in the Junior Musical Ride, where she spent seven years and eventually became one of four ride formation leaders.

Evan’s competitive show-jumping career began while she was still with the Lancers. “I had the honour to train and show the Lancer horse Wonderland.”

The partnership “evolved from barely being able to canter or halt at in-barn training shows” to competing at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Florida, where they placed sixth out of 59 entries.

Over the past three years, Phinney has competed extensively in provincial, regional, national and even international events and enjoying her share of success.

 “I like the adrenalin rush you get in competition. I like spending time with the horses, and learning to keep and maintain them is an added bonus,” she said about the sport. Show jumping, she added, “is like any other team sport, except your teammate is a horse.”

Phinney was a member of the Nova Scotia team at the Canadian Interprovincial Equestrian Championship the past two years. In 2012, the team was second at nationals, and she placed second individually. This past year, her team placed third.

After leasing or renting horses for several years, Phinney recently purchased her own horse, Bling.  The pair train at Medford Meadows near Canning under the coaching of Jennifer Sarsfield.

After high school, Evan applied to a number of college programs in the United States and received a number of offers from NCAA equestrian teams. However, she decided to stay in Nova Scotia and chose Acadia.

She follows in her father’s footsteps with the choice. Bruce Phinney grew up in Kentville, attended Acadia, is a former president of the Acadia Alumni Association and a current member of the Acadia Board of Governors. Evan’s grandfather, the late Wendell Phinney, was a well-known Kentville businessman for many years as well as Mayor of the town from 1973 to 1988.

 “It was a tough decision, but the fact that my horse was 20 minutes away helped make up my mind,” she said of choosing the Wolfville university.

Managing riding and studying is busy, she said. “But because I love it, it motivates me to ride even on full days. I try to get out a minimum of four days a week.

“I don’t think I’m Olympic material, though that would be nice. I would like to step up my game, and solidify my technique to become a better competitor.”

She plans to keep up her juggling act, including with the Acadia Equestrian Team club and her hobby of sports photography as Phinney Photography - contributing to Acadia Athletics and campus publications - while working on her riding.

“I’m having fun,” Phinney said, “and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It makes it entertaining, for sure, never a dull moment.”

Organizations: Nova Scotia Equestrian Federation, Horse-Canada Horse-Sport Young Riders Scholarship, Sacred Heart School Halifax Junior Bengal Lancers NCAA Acadia Alumni Association Acadia Board of Governors Wolfville university Acadia Equestrian Team

Geographic location: Halifax, Nova Scotia, Florida Kentville United States

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Recent comments

  • Patricia Kay
    December 09, 2013 - 20:19

    I know this young woman who besides all the amazing and true things about her in this article, has also travelled a great deal around the world. While in Kenya she embraced a giraffe just as she would her horse,Bling. She is sensitive, gracious and friendly. BRAVO