When Allegra Holm began university, she decided to stop riding to focus on her studies. It didn’t last long. She found herself at the barn often and arowanlooking at horses to purchase. In the spring of 2008, she found herself at Mandala du Lac in Sherwood Park speaking with horse breeder Laurie James.

Rowan was a 5 year old Swedish Warmblood dressage prospect and exactly what Allegra was looking for. Ever since beginning riding at Whitemud Equestrian Centre and purchasing her first horse, Bullwinkle, at the age of 11, Allegra was terrified of jumping anything over knee-height. But dressage appealed to her and she was able to progress up the levels to FEI Juniors on various horses before entering university.

So, in 2008, after giving up the idea of putting off riding while in university, she purchased Rowan. “When I first went to look at him I was impressed not only by the caliber of his breeding, but also the wonderful and talented horse that stood before me,” says Allegra.

Born in 2003 in Sherwood Park, Rowan is sired by the Hanoverian stallion Rotspon and out of a mare by Come Back II. “He was so talented so I was trying to find someone to help me take him up the levels, and we luckily stumbled upon Bonny Bonnello. The rest is history!” says Allegra.

Of course, the “history” includes a lot of hard work from the rider and the mount. “I've had to work a lot on myself and improving my riding and training techniques to learn how to work with a horse with such a strong personality,” says Allegra.

“Rowan is a very particular horse, he definitely knows what he likes and dislikes and is not afraid to let you know! He is a very steady horse as well; he will go past or over any scary object, and in the show ring and schooling at home he is very dependable and always shows up with a good work ethic and lots of focus.”

In 2010, Rowan and Allegra earned a national level award for excellent results in third level freestyle. They were also invited twice to ride in high performance clinics with national technical advisers Robert Dover and Markus Gribbe. That year we were also selected to ride in a demonstration with Jan Ebeling.

2011 saw Rowan and Allegra making the jump to the FEI levels, competing at FEI Prix St. Georges.

Allegra comments, “This past year has however been the most wonderful with him!” They moved up to include FEI Intermediare I and the FEI Intermediare I Freestyle competitions. This summer, Allegra and Rowan rode in their first international competition.

aRowan_ribbonThe Calgary and Area Alberta Dressage Association (CAADA) CDI2* took place on June 29th to July 1st at Rocky Mountain Show Jumping at Anderson Ranch. “Rowan, of course, was typical Rowan and more concerned about when his next meal and walk was than the riding stuff,” Allegra says. “By the point of the competition actually beginning I had resigned myself to the fact that I was actually crazy enough to pay money in order to ride in front of a bunch of judges and spectators and have my scores posted up for the world to see.

“So I was actually less nervous than I had been a few weeks prior. However I did just have my toenail ripped off and had fractured my toe so the bandage fitting in my boot without cutting off circulation was a bit of a stressor,” she says laughing.

They rode to first place in the FEI Prix St. Georges class, fourth place in the FEI Intermediare I class and second in the FEI Intermediare I Freestyle. Rowan was the youngest horse in the CDI2* and Allegra was the youngest rider.

“Overall I was quite happy with how we did and, like I do after every show, wonder why I got so stressed over a $10 ribbon, but I think I am getting better. Rowan was very happy to go home and eat grass in his field but was overall not to perturbed about the whole thing,” Allegra says laughing. “I guess I need to learn to be more like my horse!”

Allegra is planning to continue her success with Rowan at the FEI levels next year and would like to be able to represent Canada again in a CDI competition. And, yes, she is still in university and is now working on a Master’s of Science degree in Mining Engineering.