A young horseback rider from Yellowknife is travelling to Alberta this summer to compete with some of the best show jumpers in the country.

Sydney Turner, 14, has been training with Jawa, one of local veterinarian Tom Pisz's horses, for three years.

Tanice Turner, Sydney's mother, says horseback riding is something her daughter always wanted to do.

"Ever since she could talk, she said, 'I want to ride a horse.' We said, 'When you're five.' And her fifth birthday came, and we were out here," she says of North Country Stables. 

This will be Sydney's second summer competing at Spruce Meadows in Alberta, one of the top show-jumping venues in the world. Her family and the Aurora Horse Association have been fundraising to cover the cost of boarding and competing.

"I think it's very significant," says Pisz. "This is the first time ever we've got somebody competing against southerners with their quality horses at high-level shows."

Sydney says her quality comes from the connection she has with Jawa, as they jump hurdles close to one-and-a-half metres high.

"We understand each other," she says. "She's like my best friend." 

'Talented' rider and horse

Sydney is at the stables every night after school, helping with barn work and riding. Pisz coaches her three times a week.

"If you've got a talented horse, you need a talented rider," he says. "I couldn't get a rider for that horse for many years. That horse is 14, same age as the rider." 

Sydney Turner at Spruce Meadows

Sydney Turner of Yellowknife rides Jawa at Spruce Meadows. This will be Turner's second summer training and competing in Alberta. (courtesy of Turner family)

Turner says she isn't fazed by the prospect of a stadium of spectators, unfamiliar turf or riders with years more experience.

"She just gets out there and she goes," says her mother. "She blocks everything when she gets in that ride and does what she has to do." 

Pisz agrees.

"She's very consistent, very focused," he says. "She doesn't get nervous and if something goes wrong, she doesn't really show it."

Sydney will be spending the next three months in Alberta, returning in the fall.