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Riding horses helps overcome ADD, launches career for area horse trainer

24-year-old Cameron Edwards is fast becoming a household name on the local equestrian circuit

These days, Cameron Edwards can usually be found on the back of a horse. That’s because she currently has four horses qualified for the Ontario Hunter Jumper Trillium Championships; more horses than any other rider on the Georgian Bay Show Circuit.

“Horse shows are very busy for me,” smiles Edwards. “I am always getting off one client's horse and on another to head back into the show ring.”  

The 24-year-old is fast becoming a household name on the local equestrian circuit.

Edwards accepted the position as the junior professional trainer at Top of the Hill Farm in Coldwater in May.

“I have known Cam for many years and watched her grow as a rider,” explains Erin Amos, owner of Top of the Hill Farm. “So as soon as the position became available at my farm, I immediately called her with a job offer.”

Edwards is tasked with breaking, training and showing horses for Amos and her clients. 

The equestrian athlete’s ride to the top hasn’t been without challenges. When she was a young child, she was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder. Doctors told her parents she would need medication.

“Not wanting to put me on anything, my mother started looking for alternative ways to help me handle the disorder. She was told to try horseback riding,” recalls Edwards. 

She says she always wanted to ride a pony, so just after her sixth birthday, her parents enrolled her in a program at a therapeutic riding centre in Stouffville.

“It worked! When you are riding a horse you have to focus on the animal, what you are doing with them. It really helped me learn how to control my attention,” said Edwards.

Attention deficit disorder is defined as a neurological disorder that causes a range of behavioural issues, such as the inability to focus for extended periods of time. 

Today, Edwards has outgrown the disorder, but that initial ride kicked off a career she never thought would be possible. 

“Once I got old enough, I moved from the therapeutic riding centre to a hunter/jumper barn. I spent many years practising and working on my attention span, but it wasn’t until 2012 that I started showing horses," said Edwards.

That is when she met Shirley Heatherington from Blue Star Farm in Mount Albert, who recognized the budding equestrian’s talent.

“Shirley started giving me more and more horses to ride and I started competing with them. I would go from riding in the children’s hunter ring to the big 1.10 meter jumpers,” recalled Edwards. 

She decided to study equine science and is currently doing her masters degree.

“I don’t really know what I want to do for the rest of my life, but I do know it will be with horses. They have given so much to me, and I want to give back to them," Edwards said with a smile. 

While studying, she also rides six or more horses almost every day at Top of the Hill Farm and shows clients horses on the weekend. 

Her hard work is paying off; with only two horse shows to go in the series, Edwards is in the top overall spot in the Hack Division with Amos’ talented young mare, Wanabi Famous. 

She is also top seven overall on Daniella McLean’s horses, Eighth Wonder of the World in the Development Hunter, and Ultimate Legend in the Meter Jumpers.  She is tied for seventh overall on Joni Marinich’s gelding Callado in the Low Hunters.

To qualify for the provincial finals, the horse/rider must finish top seven overall in their respective division. 

The championship competition will be held during the Labour Day long weekend at the Caledon Equestrian Park.

Edwards said at the moment, she is just focusing on the next horse show, which is this weekend at Butler Show Horses in Coldwater.