An unscripted glimpse at the Canadian Equestrian Team's athletes, supporters & fans before, during and after major games. #CanadaStrong

Posts tagged ‘Olympics’

T -7Days!

Holy Smokes it’s been a while since I’ve blogged!

I feel bad for those who have been checking back here for updates, and promise from here on in there will be regular updates.

And here goes my pledge to you: Once I land in London, I hereby pledge that I will post DAILY blog updates.

But I warn you….depending on how chaotic the day is the update may just be a few brief words and some pictures.

So since my last update in March, it’s been a whirlwind of activity. Preparing, Preparing and more preparing!
All of the support team have been incredibly busy doing our best to have everything in place, working through the list of outstanding items, and generally doing what we can so that the arrival & stay for our human and equine athletes, grooms, team vets, team farriers, and owners go as smoothly as possible.

We had an amazing & very public team announcement at Spruce Meadows on July 5. It was standing room only for the press conference, and although our Eventing and Dressage Team members were unable to attend I am hugely encouraged by the vast amount of press the event generated for Equestrian. A massive thank you to Equine Canada’s Cheryl Tataryn & Karen Hendry-Ouellette for all of their monumental organizing efforts, to the Canadian Olympic Committee who worked in partnership with Equine Canada, and to Spruce Meadows for their incredible generosity in hosting the press conference at their facilities. When I get a chance, I will post links to the various news articles and videos.  This press conference to do the official “unveiling of the team” is the first time we’ve ever done such an event, and I’m so encouraged at how successful it has been as it will mean we can plan for bigger & better announcements for future Games and hopefully have team members from all of our Disciplines able to take part in person.

Our Dressage team have been in England since mid-June. They enjoyed a great warm-up show at the Hartpury CDI3* (results here) and are now settled into their training camp location. Chef d’equipe Gina Smith and Team Manager Christine Peters leave tomorrow to join them. You can find some great pictures that Jacqueline Brooks and Diane Creech have been uploading to their Facebook pages. Aside from the soggy weather, looks like everyone has settled in splendidly and are enjoying being able to focus on themselves and their equine partners in the leadup to the Games.

Our Eventing team arrived to their training camp just a few days ago, and by all accounts they are doing brilliantly. Sadly their warm-up show (Gatcombe) was cancelled due to the incredibly heavy rains England has been experiencing these past couple of months. But Plan B is already in the works. They have also been great about posting pictures and updates so check out Phoenix Equestrian Team (Jessica Phoenix & groom Amanda Jones) and Pamela Nunn (groom extraordinaire for Shandiss Wewiora) on Facebook, and Hawley Bennett-Awad on Twitter.

Our Jumping team aren’t scheduled to arrive until July 23rd.

Myself and Tina only have 7 VERY short days until we fly out. And although I still have a million and one things to do (I’m sure Tina does as well!), I’m also very eager to get to London and ‘get on with it’. It’s been 3 years since my first site visit in 2009, and countless hours of preparation, meetings, and attending the test event last year. Now I feel like “Ok, enough with the preparation from 5,000+ km away….let’s get to London and get stuck in!”

I recently read a fantastic interview on our totally amazing Chef de Mission Mark Tewksbury, where he talks about what kind of medal performance Canadians can expect this summer. I know that is the question on most people’s minds, and certainly the #1 question the media always like to ask. I absolutely love Mark’s response because it is so true. The depth of competitiveness at an Olympic Games is always incredibly intense. While winning a World Championship or World Cup is nothing to sneeze at, there is sometime extra special & magical about an Olympic medal and forever being referred to as an “Olympian”. Every single athlete who will be competing in London will be giving their everything, laying it all out on the competition field so that when they walk away they know there was nothing more they could have given. Medals will be the difference between fractions of a second or point. Medals will be lost by the mere bat of an eyelash, slight miss-step, or millisecond of a hesitation. Imagine that being your work environment!

We will have quite a large Canadian Equestrian Team contingent in Greenwich – 72 people + 14 horses. And that is not even counting family & friends who will be making the trip over the pond to wave the maple leaf from the spectator stands.

Today the Canadian Olympic Committee announced our flagbearer. Although I’m disappointed that Ian Millar didn’t get the nod, I am really thrilled that it is triathlete multi-Olympic medalist Simon Whitfield. I’ve been a fan of his since I saw him run across the finish line in Sydney to grab the Gold medal, and follow his blog & Twitter. He is the ultimate example of Canadian pride and sportsmanship – a true role model who will lead our athletes with great style into the Olympic Stadium July 27th. Congrats Simon!

Ok – that’s it for me. It’s almost 11:30pm and I still have work to do.

If you’re reading this, I’d love for you to leave a comment. It’s amazing how much a simple few words can give an immense amount of gratification for a blogger and encourage them to post more often 🙂

Lots of Canadians looking for qualifying scores at Wellington Dressage Classic CDI3*

Taking a look at the entry list for this weekend’s Wellington Dressage Classic CDI3* shows there will be a LOT of maple leafs riding up the centre line looking to get qualifying scores.

In no particular order:

Evi Strasser & Action Tyme
Shannon Dueck & Ayscha
Joni Lynn Peters & Travolta
Ashley Holzer & Breaking Dawn
Tom Dvorak & Corrigan
Victoria Winter & Proton
Ute Busse & Lindor’s Finest
Gary Vander Ploeg & Cezanne
Jacqueline Brooks & D Niro
David Marcus & Chrevi’s Capital
Nancy Maclachlan & Deniros Tyme
Ashley Holzer & Pop Art
David Marcus & Don Kontes

It will be the first time that Ashley puts Pop Art & Breaking Dawn in head to head competition, so it should be interesting to see how the judges directly compare the 2 horses.
2 of the judges this weekend (Evi Eisenhardt and Gary Rockwell) will also be part of the Olympic judging panel this summer.

The leaderboard as of March 12th has Ashley & Pop Art and Jacquie & D Niro as the only 2 combinations with 4 qualifying scores….but that will likely change to be 3 combinations if Breaking Dawn keeps up his string of terrific scores.

Good luck to everyone this weekend!


Check out the Global Dressage Festival website for results




Canadian Paralympians Busy Preparing for 2012 Paralympics

Lauren Barwick & MailleAlthough my role as Team Leader is for the Olympic Games, I do want to give a shout out & support our fiercely competition Paralympic athletes who are also taking the opportunity over the winter months to hone their skills in preparation for the 2012 Paralympics.

There are a number of Canadian Para athletes who can be found in the dressage ring this weekend at the Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, Florida, and many were in the show ring today.

Multiple Olympic medallist Lauren Barwick and Equine Canada’s Off to Paris rode to victory with a 75.833% (Grade II Team), with Ashley Gowanlock and Maille not far behind with 72.045% (Grade 1B). Also competing was Jody Schloss (70.588% in Grade 1A) and Robyn Andrews (68.088% Grade 1A).

If you recognized the name of Ashley’s horse, that’s because it is the one & only Gold & Silver Paralympic horse of Lauren.
Lauren very graciously gave the ride to Ashley to help her in her Paralympic dream pursuits.
Talk about being a team player!

Canada qualified a team spot for the 2012 Paralympics by putting in some stellar performances at the CPEDI3* in Portugal last December.
Their strong performances (winning 8 out of 9 classes and taking the Team Gold by a sizeable margin)

Watch out London!


Lamborghinis & Grand Prixs

Chris Pratt & Cruise

Chris Pratt & Cruise

I don’t know what would be more exciting…. winning a Grand Prix over a competitive field of 43 and having a pay-day of $60,000… or being surrounded by Lamborghinis!

Not only did Chris Pratt & Cruise win the Grand Prix, but fellow Canadian John Pearce & Chianto (part of the 2010 WEG Team) was just over a 1/2 s. away to take 2nd place honours and Jill Henselwood & George (part of the 2011 Pan American Games team) claimed 4th.

Click here for the full story

Even more impressive is that Chris & Cruise won the previou weekend in the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix.

All 3 are declared for the 2012 Olympic Showjumping team (full declaration list here).

Between the results of riders doing the California circuit, and those who are based in Wellington doing the Florida circuit, it makes for some exciting showjumping action!


Sticks & Stones may break my bones, but it won’t stand in my way for the Olympics!

Pia Fortmuller & Orion

Pia Fortmuller & Orion

For those of you who don’t know Pia Fortmuller, she hails from Alberta and rode to tremendous success in the Young Rider ranks earning gold medals.

Pia has been in Germany for the last couple of years training with Olympic German medalist Heiki Kemmer. One of her top horses is Orion (who some of you may remember as Leslie Reid’s mount for the 2008 Olympic Games), her declared mount for the 2012 Olympic Games.

If you’ve never met Pia, she is absolutely one of the nicest, most gracious and wonderful people you ever could meet. Not to mention a terrific rider!

Pia recently broke her wrist while riding a rambunctious youngster, but being ever the competitor, she didn’t let that slow her down and instead created an ingenious plan to keep her training on track. Read all about it here:

Pia also didn’t let the cast stop her from taking Orion into the CDI Bremen, where she earned some fantastic results! In Pia’s words:

“The summary of the show is as follows : Orion was a Star 🙂 On the saturday we scored a 65.66% in the Grand Prix which qualified us on to the Special on Sunday. In the Special Orion and I performed our best test yet and scored a 67.24%, placing us 11th in a field of tough competitors and giving us another qualifying score for London 2012!
So basically the moral of the story is: If life gives you lemons… make lemonade out of it!”


During the Olympic Excellence Series hosted by the Canadian Olympic Committee last fall, we were asked what 5 words best describe how we want the Canadian Olympic Team to be seen as we walk into the Opening Ceremonies in London, and into our sports venues.
The words chosen were: Proud ~ Unbreakable ~ World Class ~ Fierce ~ Relentless

Pia – you are definitely the epitome of being Fierce & Relentless!!

Best of success to you in your Olympic journey.

Check out the list of 38 horse/rider combinations declared for the 2012 Canadian Olympic team:

And keep track of who is on top of the leaderboard here:
(right now it’s Ashley Holzer with Pop Art)

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