1200+ spectators learn from Olympic dressage gold medallist at Caledon Equestrian Park

Caledon, ON – October 21, 2017 – When Carl Hester comes to town, the dressage community takes notice. More than 1,200 eager spectators packed the Caledon Equestrian Park today for the first of a two-day masterclass hosted by the British Olympic gold medallist.

Nine Canadian horse/rider combinations ranging from the FEI Four-Year-Old level to Grand Prix enjoyed the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have a lesson from one of the world’s leading competitors and trainers. The day began with a pair of four-year-olds: Iron Butterfly, ridden by Erin MacQuarrie of Norton, NB, and Ismeaux ridden by Andrea Bresee of Uxbridge, ON. Maya Markowski was next in the ring aboard Something Royal, a five-year-old mare owned by Fiona McLellan. The FEI Six-Year-Old level was capably demonstrated by Cecile von Martels on her stallion Captain, My Captain.

Two-time Canadian Olympian Jacqueline Brooks shared the ring with Kahla Ishoy to work on Third and Fourth Level requirements with their young horses. Instead of her popular Grand Prix partner D Niro, Jacqueline opted to bring her young horse Emmett Top to the clinic, a half-brother to the world-famous Valegro. Kahla rode Sakima, an 8-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by her mother, Canadian Olympic dressage medallist Cindy Ishoy.

Though one of the four-year-olds was understandably overwhelmed by the large crowds and electric atmosphere, the young horses all handed the unusual environment extremely well. Hester was able to hone in on one or two specific areas needing attention with each rider, and the audience saw a clear improvement in every horse by the end of each session.

Before breaking for lunch, spectators enjoyed a demonstration ride by British young rider Rebecca Edwards. 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. For this clinic she was offered the choice between two horses owned by Canadian FEI Junior rider Allison Youngdale, and today chose to ride Ramiro, a 2007 Danish Warmblood gelding.

“We wanted to put Becky on a horse she’d never ridden before, and demonstrate to the audience what it’s like when you go to try a horse for sale that you’ve never ridden,” said Hester. “Becky is used to hotter horses, so today we chose a less hot horse. It’s an interesting test for the audience to see how she handles a horse that she doesn’t know at all and who is not her usual type. She did a lovely job and by the end of the ride had the horse going very nicely indeed.”

Upper-level horses took over the ring in the afternoon, beginning with Young Rider Vanessa Creech-Terauds of Hagersville, Ont., riding Fleur de Lys owned by Louise Leatherdale. Next up was Toronto area rider Karis van Essen and Camistry J, a horse she has trained herself to the Intermediare II level. The final rider of the day was Jaimey Irwin of Stoney Lake Equestrian aboard Donegal V. The pair wowed the crowd with their ease in the Grand Prix movements as they worked on transitions from piaffe to passage.

Judging from the thunderous applause at the end of the clinic, the spectators judged Day 1 to be a great success. Carl Hester agreed.

“We had a great day with some lovely horses, talented riders, and a superb facility for this clinic,” said Hester. “The horses and riders were each able to demonstrate what we wanted to see at each level, but we weren’t looking for perfection. My job is to find areas where I can help them improve, but not completely change the way they ride, otherwise they’d be in trouble when I go home on Sunday night. I was particularly impressed with the way the two young riders – Vanessa and Becky – performed. It’s very exciting to have that kind of talent developing for the future.”

The riders praised the clinic as well, from the organization and facilities offered by Caledon Equestrian Park to the expert advice they received from Hester.

“It’s so amazing to learn from someone who is so good at what they do, that they can be incredibly clear in their teaching,” says Jacqueline Brooks. “Carl goes right to the root of the problem, provides a solution, and gives us exercises to work on at home so we can continue to improve in the days to come. He is simply brilliant. I also can’t thank Craig Collins, Helen Dillon and the entire team at Caledon Equestrian Park enough for organizing and hosting the clinic at their amazing facility.”

Day 2 of the clinic resumes on Sunday with nine rider sessions and another demonstration from Rebecca Edwards on tap.