June 18th, 2024

Soldier wants to ride at 2020 Olympics

By Justin Seward on August 14, 2018.

Phil Brunelle hopes to make Canada's equestrian show jumping team for the 2020 Olympics.

Alberta Newspaper Group


It’s a rare feat that CFB Suffield Cpl. Phil Brunelle is trying to accomplish, but it’s a task he is up for.

Brunelle is trying to qualify for Canada’s equestrian show jumping team at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. He believes no soldier has been on the team in nearly 100 years.

Show jumping is a riding event that involves going through a course jumping over a fence mechanism with a horse which leads to a qualification round, then a jump-off before reaching the finals.

Eventing is the other event and also known as a three-day horse trial, where a single horse and rider compete over a three-day period in dressage, cross country and show jumping.

Brunelle walked into the sport naturally at a young age as both of his parents were horse trainers.

“I think I was put on a horse before I was walking which was kind of dangerous being from my mom,” said Brunelle.

“I’ve been in and around the horse business all my life. I would say I’ve been involved in professional riding (for) 15 years now.”

He competes on a professional circuit, which includes jumping at Calgary’s Spruce Meadows, where riders compete and have to have two clear rounds at the national level before the international level can be reached and ultimately the Olympics.

“It’s a lot of training,” he said of the Olympic path.

“You need to keep in mind we need to train at least three hours a day, seven days a week with the horses. That’s the reason we own 14 horses. You’ve got to changes a lot of horses. You can’t use the same horse all the time.

“As for us, a lot of training like that, it’s really important. A lot of hours in the gym too and a lot of support by the funding from the base. If everything goes good and the plans working and the horses are good and I’m good and build the partnership between me and the horse, that’s pretty much it.”

Brunelle has kept tabs on the Olympics and the games have changed a lot. “Show jumpers are more complicated now than 20 to 30 years ago, (and it’s) not the same sport at all,” he said.

He added now the sport is taking the precautions to improving safety with the appreciation from the riders.

“The Olympics in 2020, it’s going to be my high feature career point,” said the Quebec native.

Another goal of his after the Olmypic summer games will be the Nations Cup, the highest point that can reached the sport.

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