Where it all began...
Lipstick, cowgirl hat, and a pretty pony named Painted Peppy Lena! Years ago, my first horse show was far from where I am today - a 1998 Western lead line class and the Canadian National Exhibition (we were pretty darn cute!) From the the second my feet touched the stirrups I was bitten by the horse bug and ever since I just can't seem to get enough! In 1999, my family moved to our farm Vernadee, in the beautiful Campbellville, Ontario with our horses. At the age of four I began regularly riding my pony, Chloe, a naughty a little thing who I affectionately named '50% Devil' in the show ring due to her clever antics and habit of leaving me in the dirt! By the age of six, I had already tagged along to several of my mother's dressage shows and had successfully competed in the walk/trot division and had even earned reserve champion a few times. We continued on to compete hunters in local fall fairs and together, Chloe and I learned many lessons and won many ribbons!
When I was ten years old, I became a member of the Mount Nemo Pony Club where I continued to mature as an equestrian, coach, and horsewoman. Chloe and I competed at the training level in dressage and 2'3"-2'6" jumpers and equitation, including the D-Rally. As the years passed, I was able to coach a quadrille team and was often given leadership tasks to mentor younger members. I represented my region, the Western Ontario Region (WOR) at the Canadian Pony Club National Dressage three years in a row, winning champion of my division each time.
At Vernadee, we have done a small amount of breeding utilizing mostly Hanoverians. At the age of twelve I moved up from Chloe to a home-bred hanoverian who I trained myself, Walkin' Shoes (known as Shoey in the barn). Shoey competed with me in Pony Club and other regional competitions, showing 2'9" hunter/jumpers and up to second level dressage. I spent a summer taking lessons with Kevin Maxie and showed 2'9" jumper shows at Twinholm. By 2010 I was showing first level on Equine Canada's Gold Dressage circuit and starting training with and working for Canadian Olympian, David Marcus. It was then that I began my focus on dressage rather than jumping and eventing.
With David I had a strong focus on the essentials of dressage and perfected my first level, scoring up to 75% at the Cornerstone Summer Classic. That fall, Shoey and I travelled to Bromont, Quebec to represent Ontario at the Canadian Interprovincial Equestrian Championships (CIEC). The CIEC is a unique show that permits riders of all all levels of jumper, dressage, and reining to represent their province in a national competition. Through these years I also gained experience volunteering as a scribe at some of the area's top shows run by Equivents. The next year we set our sights higher, hoping to compete at the FEI Juniors level, and trained with David Marcus in the summer and fall and international judge Cara Whitham throughout the winter. In 2013, we campaigned to make it to the North American Junior & Young Riders Competition (NAJYRC), and although we didn't make it on the team, ended up champion at the Angelstone Summer Tournament in the FEI Juniors division. Upon graduating from Milton District High School in June 2013, I was awarded the Gerrit's Foundation Award for Excellence in Education and Pursuit of Olympic Sport.
That fall, I was offered the opportunity of a lifetime as an assistant-rider at the Acres Dressage Farm. Shoey and I moved out to Moorpark, California to further our training under the tutelage of American Olympian, Jan Ebeling. There I was given the opportunity to work with many talented horses, ranging from school masters to young horses who had been barely started covering everything in between. In May 2014, Shoey and I made the jump to the Prix St. Georges level (PSG) winning our first class in California with a 63%. A month later, I had the amazing opportunity to travel with Jan and Rafalca to Gladstone, NJ for the Festival of Champions, and then onwards to Belgium. There I groomed for Jan and travelled to Austria before returning to California.
It was hard to say good-bye, but I returned to Canada to begin my post-secondary education at Wilfrid Laurier University. During my first year of university, I lived at home and continued to pursue my passion for dressage and resumed training with David Marcus, working towards the goal of making the Young Riders team for Ontario and ultimately competing at NAJYRC. During this time I dabbled in equitation, competing as a Laurier Golden Hawk at the Ontario University Equestrian Association shows in the Open (3') division. In May 2015, Shoey and I competed at our first CDI at the Young Rider Level, placing first in both tests. We then competed at the Kawartha Lakes Dressage Association (KLDA) Spring Classic 1 & 2, winning Reserve Champion and solidifying our spot on the Ontario Team for NAJYRC. At the beginning of July, we made the trek down to the Kentucky Horse Park and represented Ontario to the 8th place spot.
In 2016, it's been quite exciting. I took my riding to Portugal for a week of intensive training with Dutch Grand Prix rider Diana Joosten on talented Lusitano horses. Reddik was Cornerstone Summer Festival Open First Level Champion with multiple scores over 70%! Four year old Frisian Sport Horse Victorious owned by Tony and Tracey Pignatiello made his debut to the show ring scoring over 80% at training level at Cornerstone Summer Classic and I am very excited to see where he goes in the future.
I have a few exciting young horses coming up in addition to some exciting students! I can't wait to see what the future holds!