“Coaches have a huge responsibility for the promotion of all kinds of virtues in their athletes and their love and passion and lifelong pursuit of success both in their sport and in their lives,” said Erin McCormick in her acceptance of a recognition award on January 27, 2022, at the annual Excellence Awards in Saskatchewan.

Since 1984, the awards have acknowledged top performances and results for athletes, coaches and teams in the province. The Recognition Awards honour long-time service as a volunteer or coach, as well as share stories of courage and determination.

It’s McCormick’s determination and dedication that made her a perfect recipient of the award this year. She was presented with the 2021 Saskatchewan Sport Award for Coach Dedication during a virtual ceremony and honoured for her commitment to the sport of para-dressage and helping her athletes – and the sport, flourish in Saskatchewan.

McCormick of Osler, SK. a para-dressage coach and owner of Equilibrium Therapeutic Riding Inc., has spent over two decades helping hundreds of people through therapeutic horseback riding. McCormick earned her coaching certification in her role, where she uses riding to assist people with intellectual and physical disabilities with their therapy.

Para-dressage Coach Erin McCormick Awarded Saskatchewan Sport Award

McCormick with student Tanya Shevchenko, Apollo and clinician Mr. Stephen Clarke at the Equilibrium Therapeutic Riding Inc.,
Photo Credit: Jasmine Gerein

“I love my job, staying motivated is not hard for me, it’s what makes my blood pump,” said McCormick, who officially became a coach in 2001. She noticed that “providing riders with the opportunity to be independent while on horseback was a new level of challenge for them so there was therapeutic gain to it and sport gave them the opportunity to display their independence.”

McCormick coaches about 100 people each week and says her students have been able to sit or stand independently as a result of therapeutic riding. Her students have different degrees of physical and cognitive challenges — from people who have suffered a brain injury, to those with cerebral palsy. “Acknowledgment by an athlete that they feel they’ve made some gains is the most positive reward possible,” she relayed.

In 2015, she coached Saskatchewan’s first athlete in para-dressage and has continued to help grow the sport since. Eleven participants of the riding centre competed in events in 2021, including 2024 Paralympic Games hopeful Tanya Shevchenko. “Dedication is probably the ultimate word to describe her,” said Shevchenko. “She’s dedicated to every single participant from morning until night.”

Aside from her dedication, Equestrian Canada (EC) licenced coach McCormick continues to take part in workshops and learning to grow and find new ways to instruct others on para-dressage in an effort to grow the sport. “There are so many different ways that you see the benefits just outside of the riding arena. I think improving a person’s function in everyday life is really a huge achievement,” said McCormick. 

Para-dressage Coach Erin McCormick Awarded Saskatchewan Sport Award

McCormick providing instruction to Lauren Rempel on school horse Cutter
Photo Credit: Melanie Rempel

Shevchenko appreciates not only her coaching but “she’s a dear friend and I can’t thank her enough for everything that she has given me. On behalf of all of our equilibrium riders, the para riders, the therapeutic riders, we thank you and you are so deserving of this recognition.”

McCormick is congratulated for her dedication and continued promotion of the sport of para-dressage in the province of Saskatchewan as well as for inspiring Canadians across the nation.

Acceptance speech can be found here: https://youtu.be/NOlYWFsasw0 

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