My passion for dressage began in 1988 when I went to the Volvo World Cup Freestyle Exhibition in Vancouver and watched Cindy Ishoy on Dynasty. That was the most beautiful piece of art I had ever seen. That was what I wanted to do!!! As a life long rider and competitor, I had tremendous experience riding, training and competing in all disciplines but I wanted to experience the polish, style, and art of classical dressage.
In 1996, I started to train with Patricia Ripenberg, nee Deptford at Canterbury Farms. I had the opportunity to ride many different horses under Patricia’s guidance, all of very good quality. I was very lucky. I rode and competed offspring from Olympic Ferro, May Sherif, Hurricane and many others including young horses sired by Patricia’s wonderful German stallion “Lynx”.
While still at Canterbury, I started to travel to Holland in 2000, to train and work at the dressage stables of Coby van Baalen. I gained valuable experience year after year, in the months that I rode in Holland. My first job was to groom for “Olympic Ferro” when he came home from the Sydney Olympics and went into quarantine -- talk about hitting the ground running! I could dedicate a whole chapter just to that wonderful stallion. He was my good friend, my dependent, student and my teacher. When Ferro passed away on Feb 18th 2005 at age 18, it was a sad blow to the dressage world, but I know he is quiet, calm, and at peace now.
Coby and Marlies van Baalen have been amazing teachers and supporters for me. And the horses: Olympic Ferro, Welcome, Welt Hit II, Olympic Idocus, Roman Nature, Fidermark, Relevant… the list of the great horses I worked with and cared for in Holland and Germany goes on. From the indoor circuit and the clinics to the World Cup qualifiers, I can’t begin to relate the importance of my travels to Europe for my education.
From 1996 to 2005 in Canada, I had regular clinics with Col. Christian Carde. I am honoured to count Christian as one of my true friends and mentors in the dressage world. Spending a week with Christian and his family in France in 2003 was a personal and career highlight for me. Christian taught me the art of working a horse in hand and to have confidence in myself and trust in my horse. He is a true master with a horse. I can still hear him saying “soft, permanent contact” is the basis for riding your horse through the back and on the bit.
The other important move I made was to begin training with Karen Pavicic in 2002 and continuing that training into 2008. Karen is an extraordinary rider and trainer of dressage horses. Karen taught me total throughness and the importance of alignment and balance in the dressage horse. I’ve learned so much from Karen and I’m very grateful for the opportunity to train with her.
Since 2009 I have been training with Cindy Ishoy, my inspiration. Cindy brings absolute classical training from German master Willi Schultheis. Cindy's experience at international level motivates me to bring the brilliance out in my horses. Cindy is patient and so dedicated to the horses well being. Cindy is a very important part of my training program and I am gateful to Cindy for sharing her expertise with me.