Harriet Cherry Honoured For Lifetime Dedication to Officiating at 2019 Ottawa Sports Awards

Harriet Cherry of Ottawa, ON was recognized for nearly four decades of service as an equestrian official in her local area and beyond with the Special Recognition Award at the Ottawa Sports Awards on Jan. 30, 2019.
Photo Credit: ©EC

“I was so surprised to be recognized by the City of Ottawa, as opposed to an equestrian organization. I am both thrilled and humbled by this honour,” said Cherry. “I was born and raised in Ottawa. My love of horses, riding, and showing started in Ottawa. I met and married the love of my life in Ottawa, where we later raised our three daughters. Ottawa is home.”

Fellow Ottawa native and EC official, Gail Prest accepted the award on Cherry’s behalf. Speaking of Cherry’s retirement, she commented, “There’s something missing if she’s not stewarding. When she isn’t there, it feels like driving with a flat tire. She’s going to be missed so much.”

Cherry’s influence spread from her home base in Ottawa to reach across Canada and the globe through numerous EC accreditations. In 1981, she earned her first official’s card as a Dressage Steward, and later held Senior Steward status for all disciplines until 2018. Cherry was a Recorded Judge for hunter, hack and hunt seat equitation, and jumping from 1986 until 2000.

Additionally, she became one of Canada’s first FEI stewards in 1993. Working alongside Sandra Sillcox, who was FEI Steward General of Canada at the time, Cherry was one of several stewards who were instrumental in implementing the FEI steward program nationwide. During the first four years of the program, Cherry acted as steward for all FEI jumping competitions in the entire province of Quebec. At the moment of her retirement, she was ranked as an FEI Level 3 Jumper Judge.

“I just loved [officiating] for 38 years,” said Cherry, who was recognized by EC in 2011 as the Jump Canada Official of the Year for her enormous contributions in spearheading advancement for Canadian officials. “Stewarding took me to many places throughout Canada. Being asked to join the team of officials at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, AUS, was an honour. Also, I am proud of my 25 years working at The Royal Horse Show. The best memories, however, are the lifelong friends I have met along the way.”

Harriet Cherry Honoured For Lifetime Dedication to Officiating at 2019 Ottawa Sports Awards

Cherry’s many contributions to Canadian equestrian sport include officiating at the prestigious Royal Horse Show in Toronto, ON, for 25 years.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Anne Claassen

Indeed, making friends comes easily for Cherry, whose fabulous sense of humour, unwavering moral compass, and impeccable knowledge of the rules led to her presence being heavily requested at both local and international competitions.

“I love the atmosphere of a horse show,” said Cherry. “The best part of the job to me is dealing with the people involved with the sport. I thrived on solving problems and really enjoyed giving clinics for other officials. Ultimately, helping people gave me the most satisfaction.”

Prest added, “The one thing about Harriet is that she is a mentor to every official. She was very professional, fair to competitors, and knew how to diffuse situations. She can quote articles and sections of the rule book word-for-word. I would always see her watching by the rings, hovering over the whole area, checking in at the in gate to make sure everything was okay. But above all is her love for the ponies and horses.”

Harriet Cherry Honoured For Lifetime Dedication to Officiating at 2019 Ottawa Sports Awards

Harriet Cherry, pictured with Canadian Olympian Ian Millar, is a pillar of the Ontario horse show community.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Anne Claassen

At 88 years old, Cherry remains a pillar of the equestrian community not only in the Ottawa area, but across Ontario, Canada, and beyond. When asked about her plans for retirement, she remarked with her usual good humour, “I am not looking for another job.”

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