At the stables where Katharine Morel kept her horse, a memorial grew Monday as friends paid tribute to the Fort Saskatchewan equestrian killed during a competition in Florida on Saturday.
Cards, photographs and bouquets of flowers adorned a wall decorated with the words, “In memory of Kerry and Kat.”
Morel, the 33-year-old head bartender at a Keg restaurant in Sherwood Park, died along with her horse Kerry On after a rotational fall during competition at the Rocking Horse Winter III Horse Trials in Altoona, Fla.
“It was a bad shock for everybody,” Evan Dahms, co-owner of Sandridge Stables in Strathcona County, told CBC News on Monday.
“She was on the right track to get to her dream of riding for Canada in international events,” he said. “She was almost there but didn’t quite make it. It’s a tragedy.”
Dahms and his wife Tricia own Sandridge Stables together. They knew Morel for about eight years. They watched her develop her skills as an equestrian who dreamed of one day representing her country.
Morel was in Florida with Tricia Dahms and other equestrians from the same stables, “to get some riding in before the Alberta season started,” Evan Dahms said. He said Morel’s husband Scott Linklater was also on the trip.
“My wife was with her, and she said Kat was warmed up and she was happy, they were warming up for cross-country and she started out. My wife saw her go on the first three or four jumps, and then lost track of her on the cross-country course.
“But when Kat got to jump No. 8, her horse hit the jump and did a rotational fall, and … fell on top of Kat.
“It was a bad fall. It happens,” he said, fighting back tears.
“And back home … back home, the people just started a little memorial for Kat. And that memorial is a sign of what Kat was like.
“Everybody liked her. The horse world is a small community. Our barn and stables is a close-knit group.”
The next few weeks will be difficult, Dahms said.
“But people will have some happy memories of Kat, and I’m sure there will be lots of stories told, and people will reminisce a lot. And Kat, well, she’ll be gone, but she’ll still bring lots of happiness to people, you know?”
Tracey Leach, general manager of the Keg in Sherwood Park, described Morel as her best friend.
Morel had worked five days a week at the restaurant since it opened in May 2017, Leach said.
“She will be dearly missed,” Leach said. “She was an integral part of our Keg family.”