Selina and Julia Kromer-Anton have spent most of their lives precariously balanced atop horses.
The Nelson twins started equestrian vaulting when they were just five years old. A decade later they feel at home holding each other up — and sometimes upside down — on horseback.
“I like that it’s a combination of technique and physical and mental things,” says Selina.
But, Julia adds, the real draw is the horse. “They’re really loyal and kind. They’re cute.”
In July, Selina and Julia will compete for Canada at the FEI Junior World Championships in Flyinge, Sweden. They will be in the pairs category, naturally, after qualifying at the Canada Cup CVI in April.
As young children, the twins were exposed to other sports by their parents Petra and Wolfgang. They hated soccer, Petra recalls, but loved horses. The family doesn’t own a horse, so they reached out to Koot-Neigh equestrian club in Blewett.
Now the sisters are 15, and Petra is still amazed by how far they have come on horseback.
“I watched from the very beginning, from them doing a little flag and walk and their coach had to whisper their moves into their ears because they couldn’t remember their routine, to them now doing these elaborate, really hard moves on the horse.”
Koot-Neigh club is coached by Naomi and Korynn Weber, the later of whom previously represented Canada at the World Equestrian Games in 2018. Selina and Julia are their longest-tenured athletes.
“It’s really cool to see them grow and develop as humans and also athletes,” says Korynn. “When they started out, they were just the twins and you couldn’t tell them apart. They were very similar, and now they’re so different and have their own their own strengths within the sport and within the club.”
In order to stand out, vaulting athletes needs to combine gymnastics with what is essentially a dance routine. They also need to trust the animal beneath them.
“The more you practice, the more the horse knows what you are going to do,” says Julia. “They’re fairly well trained and a lot of people have vaulted on them before we started vaulting, so they kind of know what’s happening.”
Korynn plans to accompany the family to Sweden for the competition, which runs July 26 to 30. There’s no pressure to perform — the twins are too young for that says Korynn. For now, they can trot at their own pace.
“We’re only going in like we’re happy we qualified, we’re going to have a positive experience, we’re going to have fun, we’re going to go try vaulting somewhere else. We’re just going to do the best we can.”