The FEI has confirmed that dressage athlete Esther Mortimer’s sport nationality has been changed from Guatemala to Canada.

Mortimer was born in Canada and is based in Millgrove, Ontario, where she owns and operates M2 Dressage with her husband and trainer Harper MacKenzie. However, with dual Canadian/Guatemalan citizenship, she has competed internationally under the Guatemalan flag since her CDI debut. Career highlights include representing Guatemala in the 1994 North American Young Riders Championships, 2002 Copa de las Americas, 2003, 2011 and 2015 Pan American Games, as well as the Central American & Caribbean Games, where most recently she earned both team and individual bronze medals at the 2018 event.

The change of sport nationality comes at a critical time, with Equestrian Canada’s qualifying period for the 2023 Pan American Games set to begin on January 1. A first- or second-place finish at the Pan Ams would qualify a Canadian dressage team for the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

Due to an unresolved internal dispute between the National Olympic Committee of Guatemala (NOC) and relevant Guatemalan authorities, the International Olympic Committee has suspended the NOC. The IOC suspension means Guatemala’s athletes cannot represent their country at the Olympic Games and the NOC is blocked from any IOC funding.

“Guatemala gave me so many opportunities and I am so very grateful,” says Mortimer. “I’ve been proud to represent the country since I was a young rider and it has been the most incredible experience. However, I’m also a proud Canadian. My business is here, my clients are here, and I’ve chosen to raise my family here, so the idea of competing for Canada has crossed my mind over the years. With this unfortunate situation, Guatemalan athletes will be missing two Olympic cycles, so the timing seemed right to switch sport nationalities now. Guatemala will always be a part of me but I’m looking forward to this new chapter and the opportunity to represent Canada on the international stage.”

Mortimer’s Pan Am and Olympic hopeful mount is Hernando, a 2012 KWPN gelding by Bretton Woods out of a Welt Hit II mare. Mortimer’s long-time sponsor Sue Schramayr purchased Hernando in 2021 for Mortimer to compete. The pair made a successful CDI debut in 2022, winning two Grand Prix classes at the Rockwood, Ontario CDI2*.

“I’ve had so many horses that had strengths in certain areas, but Hernando seems to be strong in them all,” says Mortimer. “I believe he has the heart and the will to go all the way. It’s absolutely incredible how much we have achieved together just in the past year and a half. I couldn’t have done it without the amazing support from my family, clients, and sponsors, and I’m very excited to see what the coming season will bring.”

Like many of her fellow Canadian team hopefuls, Mortimer will spend the winter in Wellington, Florida, competing at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival.