When Fiona was eight years old, all she wanted to do was learn to ride a horse. Being much too small for a horse, we went to stable that had lots of ponies. When she turned 16 in 1995, we gave Fiona a choice for her birthday gift - a car or a horse. Fully realizing that Mom would always drive her to the barn, Fiona opted for the horse. By this time, Fiona knew she wanted to pursue eventing (which includes three disciplines - dressage, cross-country, stadium jumping). We found a horse that had not had much experience at anything. Her name was "Shandy" (her CEF passport has her name as "Shenandoah"). Together, Fiona and Shandy learned many of the ins and outs of competitive eventing and they qualified to enter a three day event. So in June 1998, Fiona competed at Bromont in Young Riders category. This was an incredibly stressfull week as she was also writing final OAC exams (which we had had couriered to Bromont where she wrote the exams under supervision at a public school).A Three-Day Event has a vet check and a dressage competition on the first day. The second day is devoted to the strenuous cross-country phase: an initial "roads and track" phase, a "steeplechase" phase, and a second "roads and tracks" phase, then immediately following the second "roads and tracks" is a compulsory "10-minute box" where the horse is checked over by a vet before being allowed to proceed to the cross-country course .. and yes several horses were not allowed to continue. The third day starts with an early morning vet check to screen out any horses who are injured or too sore after the cross-country of the day before. More horses are screened out at this stage. The final part of the competition is the stadium jumping .. this part is like the equestrian shows you see on TV.
In the fall of 1998, Shandy was sold as Fiona entered Carleton University (Electrical Engineering - Co-Op program). Despite the handicap of competing while writing final exams, Fiona earned a full scholarship from Carleton University that pays for her tuition for the four years of studies. She also was awarded some scholarship funds from Nortel and from the union to which her father belongs.
She has made the Dean's List each year and was given additional scholarship funds after second year during which all her marks were A+.