Sold-out event at Caledon Equestrian Park treats spectators to “a tremendous learning experience.”
Canadian dressage enthusiasts from coast to coast gathered at the Caledon Equestrian Park Sunday to enjoy the second day of a masterclass with British Olympic gold medallist Carl Hester.
With a rider roster that included two Canadian Olympians and five Pan Am Games medallists, as well as a selection of stunning horses from the FEI Four-Year-Old level to Grand Prix, it’s no wonder that spectators travelled from as far away as British Columbia and Nova Scotia for the opportunity to learn from one of the world’s top riders and trainers.
The morning session focused on the development and training of the young horse, with Hester sharing his tips and personal philosophy on young horse training and care in between teaching sessions. First in the ring were Andrea Bresee of Uxbridge, ON, and Erin MacQuarrie of Norton, NB, with their four-year-old mounts Ismeaux and Iron Butterfly. Hester noted improvements in both horses from the day before, particularly with MacQuarrie’s young mare who was overwhelmed by the atmosphere on Saturday but gave a lovely, relaxed performance today.
2011 Pan Am Games silver medallist Tina Irwin of Stouffville, ON, represented the five-year-olds with Simsalabim, while Jane Fraser of Halifax, NS, and her horse Banjo GCF represented the six-year-olds. Hester was impressed with both young horses, joking several times that he’d like to take them back to England with him.
Two-time Canadian Olympian Jacqueline Brooks of Newmarket, ON, shared the ring with Hamilton-based young professional Kahla Ishoy again on Day 2 to work on Third and Fourth Level requirements with their talented young geldings Emmett and Sakima. Hester built on the exercises from the previous day and pushed both riders to perfect the basics to improve their higher-level movements.
Rising British star Rebecca Edwards closed out the morning session with a demonstration ride on Cosima, a 2005 Holsteiner mare owned by Canadian junior rider Allison Youngdale. Edwards, who trains with Hester, was a member of the British Young Rider team at the 2017 European Championships and earned the Under 25s Star of the Future Award in 2016.
“This mare was completely different from the mare we asked Becky to ride yesterday,” said Hester. “I think it’s a really valuable exercise for the audience to see her dealing with the same kind of issues they all likely struggle with too, only we can hide it better on our own horses. Becky had to figure out what works for this particular horse and by the end was showing a completely different picture than the beginning. It was very well done.”
The afternoon schedule read like a “who’s who” of Canadian dressage, beginning with 2007 PanAm Games silver medallist Tom Dvorak of Hillsburgh, ON, and Cyrus, a Prix St. Georges-level horse owned by Carla Bahr. Next in the ring was Megan Lane of Deer Ridge Equestrian in Loretto, ON. We’re used to seeing Lane aboard her 2016 Olympic partner Caravella, but for this clinic she chose to bring Denver, a spectacular nine-year-old KWPN gelding whom she plans to debut at the Grand Prix level next season.
Brittany Fraser of New Glasgow, NS, was the final rider of the day aboard her impressive Dutch gelding All In. Hester was wowed by the horse the minute he walked in the ring, commenting on his size, presence and talent, and opining that he was better than several of the horses currently ranked in the world top 10. Truly an exciting pair for Canada’s future! Hester helped Fraser – currently the top-ranked Canadian on the FEI world dressage standings – perfect several of the Grand Prix movements including pirouettes, passage, and piaffe.
“What a spectacular way to end our Canadian clinic,” Hester enthused at a press conference following the event. “All In is a very special horse, a real rarity. It was wonderful that Brittany could come and share him with the audience.”
“I thought today was brilliant,” he continued. “It’s always lovely to go through all the levels right from the youngest horses to the top. At all levels we saw some wonderful horses and had a great bunch of riders who were very receptive to learning. They made my job easy.”
Jane Fraser, who travelled to Caledon with her horse all the way from Nova Scotia just for the opportunity to ride in the masterclass, was delighted with the weekend.
“The clinic was a tremendous learning experience,” Fraser said. “An opportunity to test my knowledge and ability and to learn from a master who has proven the depth of his knowledge with horse after horse after horse. Watching the progression of the dressage horse through all the levels is a powerful learning tool and seeing how every movement connects and moves the horse to the next level is like getting to peek behind the wizard’s curtain. It was magical.”
Read about day one here.