Canadian Young Riders Enjoy Whirlwind Tour of Wellington

By Marina Muir

Over the course of the first week of March, the Canadian Dressage Youth Mentorship Program brought a group of six young riders from across Canada together to take in the sights of Wellington, Florida. For the second consecutive year, Canadian rider Jill Irving organized this initiative and generously provided accommodation for the participants. BC based riding coach and volunteer chaperone Lisa Schultz accompanied the six girls, all of whom were selected for the program by lottery after applying online a month prior.

Their four day schedule was packed with an exciting variety of activities ranging from barn tours to lectures, as well as plenty of time spent at the Adequan Global Dressage festival. Dressage4Kids instructor Lendon Grey welcomed the Canadian group to join her students in the Winter Intensive Training (WIT) program for a day, which included a fitness session, lesson auditing, and afternoon lectures at Hampton Green Farm. Lendon’s WIT participants are all in a similar age range to the Canadian riders and the girls enjoyed spending time with them and their horses over the course of the trip.

Opportunities to speak to international trainers were also abundant; the girls went on several educational visits to the stables of top professionals. Chris von Martels (Halcyon Farms) and Mikala Munter Gundersen (Bell Tower Farm) allowed the group to tour their respective stables and watch training in progress, both taking the time to explain their process and answer any questions. Similarly, the group joined Ashley Holzer at Ecurie Ecosse to listen to her speak about her years of Dressage experience both in North America and in Europe. Jill even hosted a special meet and greet dinner with the WIT students and numerous accomplished young professionals based out of Wellington, including Brittany Fraser, Anna Buffini, Nicholas Hansen and Juan Matute Jr. Other activities included a tour of Palm Beach Equine Clinic, an educational session with Judge Joan McCartney and Saturday Night Freestyles at AGDF.

All 6 participants enjoyed their time in Wellington tremendously and would like to say a heartfelt thank you to Jill and her team for making this all possible. It is truly a fantastic opportunity for young Canadian riders to experience first hand the international dressage scene and all the hard work that goes into these horses outside of the show arena. Next year the size of the group will potentially be doubled to include one more volunteer chaperone and 6 young Canadian jumper riders in addition to the dressage riders. Anyone interested in applying for the 2018 trip can contact their provincial equestrian organization later this year for application details.

Brynne MacLeod (Langley) and Marina Muir (Ladysmith) would like to say a special thank you to Dressage BC for providing financial assistance for this trip in the form of a $250 travel grant.

© 2022 – Jill Irving Youth Equine Mentor Program