Claire Doty can make a safety helmet look good.The 17 year old Grand Prix rider is the youngest in the top level class at the Royal West, the elite international equestrian event on right now in the heart of Calgary. Even though the California to Alberta transplant is dressed in classic show jumping style, with the required white breeches for competition, black is her go-to for a party or night out on the town. As much on-the-towning that this Federation Equestre Internationale rider can do at age 17.Before she walks the course, Claire tells me she’s not anti-ponytail for casual days, even though she’s around horses all the time. “I’m in Grade 12,” says Claire. “I wear ponytails a lot!”“I get nervous, but I don’t get scared,” says Claire. The height of these jumps seems totally crazy to me, but Claire has no problemo cruising Cordonos over a mere 1.45 in the practice ring. Especially since she’s maxed out at 1.7 meters. But then it got real. Waiting to enter the official ring at the Agrium Western Event Centre, Cordonos becomes antsy. It couldn’t have been because of Mister Loyal, up on the balcony in the pink coat. The renowned ringmaster may dress wild, but his vibe wouldn’t upset anyone, whether they have two or four legs.On this night, the first Saturday evening at the Royal West, the rails kept clattering down under Claire and Cordonos. But look at that form! I wish I could stay so upright on Simon during challenging moments.
Claire will have more chances to win this week. The first-ever Royal West continues through November 1st at the Stampede Grounds in downtown Calgary.