MONTREAL—It didn't take Darby Delle Donne long to realize that riding a horse was something she wanted to do.

“I knew pretty much the first time I sat on the horse,” said Delle Donne, a provincial equestrian champion. “I'm really competitive.”

She’s not your typical 16-year-old; she would rather ride her horse then hang out at the mall. She's been riding for nine years and evening for eight of them.

“It starts with the dressage phase, which is based on them seeing your horse's obedience and relaxation. It's kind of like figure skating for riding,” said Delle Donne’s coach, Claudia Iannuccilli.

“Then they test you on your courage and strength because it's cross country. That's the second phase where the horse is asked to jump, whether it's a ditch or solid fence and sometimes at higher speeds. The partnership has to be really strong.”

That's where her horse Albert comes in. They've been good friends for three years and Delle Donne can't imagine doing this with anyone else.

“I just know him really well. I know when he doesn't want to do something and when he wants to and what he likes doing. I know when he's nervous or when he's confused,” said Delle Donne.

The third stage is show jumping: testing your accuracy, agility and ability to jump big fences.

“She's very aggressive,” said Delle Donne’s father, Luigi. “She loves to compete and she wants to win. She really loves to excel at what she does.”

Darby would love to end up at the provincial level. She hopes to qualify on Albert or if not, her other horse Sky.

“If you really want to do eventing it takes six days a week of riding and you have to be always on schedule with what you want to do,” said Delle Donne.