Fourteen-year-old Zara tragically lost her life on September 21st of last year, while saving her beloved horse, Monkey, who had become trapped in a marshy bog. Zara is remembered for her kindness, drive for excellence, passionate love of animals and dedication to her horse and the sport of eventing.
The Zara Buren Memorial Foundation was established with the focus on helping youth with the desire, talent, and work ethic to pursue their passion. The Memorial Foundation will support the Zara Buren Memorial Award to be given annually through the Ontario Eventing Association to a junior rider who exhibits a passion for eventing, sportsmanship and a commitment to their horse. Zara was a talented rider with an intense dedication to training and learning, always putting her horse first.
A total of 18 applicants applied for this award. The selection committee was comprised of members of the Ontario Eventing Association Board of Directors as well as Zara’s family.
Said Zara’s parents, Sabrina Haque and Robert Buren, “Sabrina and I were impressed by the number and strength of applications received for the first Zara Buren Memorial Award. The kindness, dedication, discipline, and work ethic exhibited by all of the young riders reminds us of our dear Zara and gives us confidence that the sport of eventing in Ontario has a strong future.
This year, in addition to the primary award and in response to the number of strong candidates, the Zara Buren Memorial Foundation is proud to support four additional athletes with Grants of Distinction. We are excited to watch you all flourish as you continue your eventing journey.
Thank you to the Ontario Eventing Association for creating the Zara Buren Memorial Award and for leading the process, and to all the applicants and their coaches, parents, and references. We hope that the traits that this award recognizes will continue to grow amongst all riders, and the memories of Zara will carry on for everyone who was lucky enough to know her, and those who continue to #rideforzara.”
The Ontario Eventing Association is pleased to announce Avery Brennan, an eventer from the Ottawa area, as the recipient of the inaugural award, a $6,000 dollar grant as well as a cooler and bonnet in burgundy, Zara’s show colours.
Said Olympian and Pan AM Medalist, WEG Medalist Selena O’Hanlon, Canadian Equestrian Team member in Eventing, who coaches Avery, “I am thrilled for Avery and for the eventing community with this choice: Avery shows excellent sportsmanship in every aspect of this sport. He’s a very kind and thoughtful person, a dedicated horseman and animal lover, all super attributes in such a talented young rider. Knowing Zara, I think she would be proud of Avery. Thank you so much to everyone involved. Her memory will live on and we will strive to be ‘more like Zara’ in every aspect of life.”
The four Grants of Distinction recipients are, whom each will receive a grant of $1,000 dollars, in alphabetical order:
- Matthew Heinzle
- Olivia MacLeod
- Ava Lema Nilsson
- Alexandra Wickett
Congratulations once again to all applicants and grant recipients.