By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: March. 10, 2012
Ailsa Antilla, 15, wants to go to the Olympics.
And her Olympic dreams are riding on hard work and on Wilhemina, a horse that was recently imported to Canada for her.
A ‘lot of money’ was spent on bringing Wilhemina to Squamish from Holland, says Jinny Antilla, Ailsa’s mother.
“You could say it’s the ultimate machine,” Jinny said.
For Ailsa, Wilhemina is more than a machine: She is a partner, a crucial member of Team Antilla.
Ailsa, a show jump equestrian with big awards under her saddle, can’t stop praising the work ethics of her new partner.
“She’s so focussed, and she is so keen on doing her job well, and she listens to me,” Ailsa says.
“She is a sweet horse.”
This would be the tenth horse that will help give wings to Ailsa’s dreams.
At 17 and two hands high, Wilhelmina is an imposing presence; it’s the tallest horse Ailsa has ever ridden.
When it came to Squamish in October last year, Ailsa said she was initially nervous riding it, but that is over.
“I was nervous a little bit at first, but after a couple of rides, I fell in love with her,” she said.
Ailsa has been an equestrian since she was nine months old, her mother says.
“When she was nine months old, she grabbed our old pony and just wouldn’t let it,” Jinny Antilla said.
Ailsa recently won the silver and gold medal at BC Summer games in Langley. She has also won medals at Grand Prix and at the John Anderson Rocky Mountain Show Jumping Classic tournament.
With Wilhemina, she is now preparing to compete at the CN International Grand Prix at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, AB.
She rides the horse for a few hours every day, and spends as much time brushing and handling it.
“I’m bonding with her,” she said.