It’s time to make some room in Natalie Alves’s trophy case.
The Mission resident received the Horse Council of BC’s 2015 Junior Athlete of the Year Award at the All Arabian Horse Association of BC’s annual club banquet at Thunderbird Show Park in Langley on May 6.
Horse Council BC’s annual awards serve to honour outstanding achievement within BC’s equestrian community.
These awards acknowledge those who have stood out from the crowd over the past year and who have made a positive impact on the community as a whole. Each award recipient was nominated by two or more other Horse Council BC members for an award.
The HCBC Junior Athlete of the Year Award recognizes outstanding athletic performance by an athlete 17 years of age or younger, competing in a recognized equestrian discipline taking part on a team or as an individual representing BC at either the provincial, national and/or international level during the year.
“I’m really excited because Horse Council BC has never recognized an Arabian competitor before,” Alves told The Record after the win was announced in March.
“This has never been awarded to someone from my circuit before so to be recognized provincially and to be able to represent the Arabian community is a big deal.”
Alves competes in equestrian locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.
In 2015, she attended shows in Langley; Scottsdale, Arizona; and Manitoba.
Alves and her equine partner Shake It Up Baby, also known as Stella, competed in multiple disciplines, including Half Arabian English Show Hack and Ladies Side Saddle.
The past year was an exceptionally challenging and ultimately rewarding journey for Alves and her horse.
In March 2015, Stella suffered from severe colic and underwent surgery to save her life.
Alves cared for her daily during the 90 days of stall rest.
Alves and Stella began to ride together again in June with the guidance of her vets and, in August, Stella was given the clear to compete.
Together, Alves and Stella brought home five national championships.
In addition to these accomplishments, Alves spent much of 2015 riding and showing horses owned by others, both in hand and under saddle, in over 20 different classes, including sport horse, hunter pleasure and halter.
Alves is known in the equestrian community as an active volunteer, having performed many jobs, including ring stewarding, ribbons/gates, year-end banquet, fundraising initiatives and youth volunteer recruitment.
In the past, she received the All Arabian Horse Association of BC’s Outstanding Youth Volunteer Service Award, and is a regional vice director for Region 17.
She was recently recognized by the Arabian House Youth Association as the second runner-up for Youth of the Year for North America, after being short-listed from over 3,000 youth members.
She has also represented Canada, performing as the official flag bearer at many shows, including the nationals this year.
Alves is also a four-year Horse Council BC high school program participant recognized for equestrian, academic and volunteer excellence.
She graduated from Heritage Park Secondary in 2015 with five years of honour status and has completed her first semester at the University of the Fraser Valley.