OpenRoad Driver Volume 13 Issue 1 - Page 82

82 » OpenRoad Driver passing through Lonesome Dove again on their way to Mexico. He stands in their way and the men are killed in a gunfight. But legend has it that there were gun shots coming from a side alley. No one doubts that they were fired by the woman, who protected herself from losing another family member. exactly the opposite. When we reach her by telephone in Florida, she radiates a relentlessly positive, uncomplicated and zen-like approach to her sport and to her life. There are no guns and we’re not on the plains of Texas, but like the woman in the song lyrics, Foster is a bit of a pioneer who has persevered in a maledominated environment. She has shown herself to be a fighter, overcoming major adversity, including a broken back in 2008 and what most people saw as an unfair disqualification of her horse, Victor, during her first appearance at the Olympics in London 2012. Yes. He’s a great horse. Artisan Farms purchased him two years ago in 2014. He’s got a lot of personality and he’s a real fighter in the ring. He’s just a great, great horse. He has the right personality to compete and he always seems to know if it’s a big class or a big day. Horses either rise up or not and he’s definitely one that rises up for high-pressure scenarios. Foster is returning to the Olympics four years later, riding Tripple X III, who carried Ben Maher and Britain to team jumping gold at the London 2012 Games. She is excited to be riding an Olympic champion, affectionately nicknamed Hugo, and she is hungry for a better Olympic outcome this time around in 2016. The team recently won gold and glory at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games. Away from the ring, Foster is almost finished reading a book that her mother gave to her when she was just twelve years old. She is engrossed in Denison’s Ice Road about her maternal grandfather’s engineering feats around the sub-Arctic world of the 1950s through 70s. Her grandfather Denison perfected the art of constructing ice roads through the most isolated parts of the Northwest Territories fifty to sixty years ago. He was eventually awarded the Order of Canada for his pioneer work. Given her trailblazing lineage, it wouldn’t be surprising if the addition of adversity and athletic competition had created a tough-as-nails personality, but Foster is The horse you ride - Tripple X III is his nickname Hugo? What’s your personality like when you’re competing? Are you zen or intense? I would say I’d be more on the zen side of things. I’m pretty relaxed and I don’t get very nervous. We always want to do a good job and do our best but I’m definitely more on the zen side. I guess you’re born a certain way, so I don’t really need to wrangle much. You’ve had some adversity, and in 2008 you had a really bad injury. I was training a young horse at home in 2008. I fell off and broke my back. I had a pretty bad fracture on my T6 vertebra. I had to have surgery and a lot of hardware: titanium rods and screws in place and all sorts of crazy things in my back. It was quite a long recovery, so I had to start all over again in 2009. I think whenever you’re faced with any kind of adversity you either get down or rise above it. Obviously it wasn’t a great thing but it was just something I had to deal with. I never really let myself get sad about it. Eventually I knew I would look back and it would be a bad thing that happened, and that’s all it is now. In London 2012, tell me about your experience at your first Olympics. It seemed the cut on your horse Victor’s leg didn’t seem that bad. Did it seem like an overreaction to you when you were barred from riding? Obviously for someone at the Olympics for the first time you’re pretty devastated just because there’s something pretty special about the Olympics. So not to even get the chance to perform, it’s hard to get your head around why. But looking back at it now, the rules are there to protect the welfare of the horse and to stop people from cheating. I was not cheating but the way the rule is written, the officials had to react. It’s a black-and-white rule, but the whole thing was a grey area because obviously my horse was totally fit to compete and totally fine. Looking back if maybe I had to be punished unjustly, and that helps someone later down the road to not be treated poorly, then my being punished could become the silver lining. Fast forward to the 2016 Rio Olympics. Are you worried about the water and Zika virus? What are you going to do about that? I know. It makes me a little nervous. What next? E. coli and Salmonella? (laughing) I don’t know what I’ll do. I’m hoping someone else will sort all that out! You’re in a male-dominated sport. Do you feel like a Martian sometimes or is it just par for the course? It’s an old guys team! (laughing) I’m a pretty strong girl so I don’t get too fazed by the razzing, but overall they treat you pretty equally. You feel just as much pressure as if you were a guy. Maybe I get a little bit of favouritism sometimes. They might be a little bit nicer to me than normal. I’ll take that.