Dressage Canada is pleased to announce that Mary and Eric Brooks of Cedar Valley, ON, and Anne and John Welch of King City, ON, have been named as the 2012 Dressage Canada Owners of the Year.

The Brooks and Welch families co-own Brookhaven Dressage Inc’s D Niro (D Day by Alitalia), a 13-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding that represented Canada at the 2012 Olympic Games with Jacqueline Brooks of Cedar Valley, ON. Jacqueline found D Niro in March 2011 and has already recorded a very impressive string of top 10 finishes in international Grand Prix competition. In 2012 alone, Jacqueline and the talented D Niro, were second in the Grand Prix Special at the WCD Spring Challenge and at CDI 3* Lexington. The pair also placed second in both the Grand Prix and Grand Prix Special at CDI 3* Burlington in May. They cemented their spot on the Canadian Team with victories in Grand Prix and Grand Prix Special Tests at the last qualifying event, the CDI 3* at Blainville. Following the Olympics, Jacqueline and D Niro debuted their new Grand Prix Freestyle to rave reviews and the top score of the evening at the prestigious Dressage at Devon CDI-W.

“Years ago, in about 1999, when Gran Gesto was purchased for Jacquie, I was honoured when she asked me to remain a part owner and I was delighted,” said Anne Welch. “In the years following, Balmoral and D Niro joined the ranks, and the best thing for John and me was being part of a superb team which is based on a growing friendship with Mary, Eric and Jacquie and the support of so many people that soon became known as Team Brooks. It is a true privilege to be able to help an athlete achieve their dreams, let alone an Olympic one and while it has not always been easy, it has been a great joy.”

Welch added, “We are pleased to be named as Owners of the Year with the Brooks and thank Dressage Canada in their effort to highlight the importance of supporting our athletes. I encourage any and all dressage enthusiasts to find out how they can help our riders achieve their goals – it is not always as difficult as it might seem and the rewards, though not monetary, are well worth it. It continues to be fun.”

“Little did we know more than 20 years ago when Jacqueline convinced us to support her Olympic dream by purchasing her first horse Finnegan, that horses and dressage were about to become a lifetime commitment,” said Mary Brooks, Jacqueline’s mother. “At that time we knew nothing about horses and even less about dressage. But we knew our daughter was a talented athlete and we wanted to help her achieve her goals.”

“Our ownership of Jacqueline’s horses has, and continues to be, quite a ride. It has taken us to a Pan Am Games, a WEG, a World Cup and two Olympics. We are very content and feel privileged to continue to share in Jacquie’s ongoing international competitive achievements. With each new horse that comes into our lives, we, share the dream that the best is yet to be. We are pleased to be named Dressage Canada Owners of the Year and thank Dressage Canada for acknowledging our 20 year participation in this beautiful sport,” added Mary Brooks.

“Owners like these make everything else possible, said the chair of Dressage Canada, Sarah Bradley. “We cannot thank them enough.”

Mary and Eric Brooks and Anne and John Welch were recognized at the Dressage Canada 2012 Celebration of Dressage held November 8th at The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto, ON.

Past winners of the Dressage Canada Owner of the Year Award include Karen Soupcoff (2003), Deryol Andrews (2004), Evi Strasser (2005), Doug Leatherdale (2006), Faith Berghuis (2007), Ian and Moreen Nicoll (2008), Robyn Eames (2009), Cindy Ishoy (2010), and Christine and Augustin Walch of W. Charlot Farms.