Canadian dressage rider Naima Moreira Laliberté has a lot of stamps in her passport. Along with her well-travelled partner Statesman, the pair have competed in Canada, the US, South America and at some prestigious European venues. They are veterans of the 2019 Pan Am Games in Peru, 2020 Tokyo Olympics and 2022 World Championships in Herning. And they can now include a Middle Eastern destination on their resumé.
Horse Sport spoke with Naima at the Commercial Bank CHI Al Shaqab presented by Longines, which ran February 23-25 in Doha, Qatar. This was the 26-year-old’s first trip to Al Shaqab and like most first-timers here, she was extremely impressed with the facilities. “I’m amazed with the country and the city. The show installation is incredible. The hospitality is amazing. I’m really happy and grateful to be here.” The pair placed 14th in the Grand Prix (67.609%) and 4th in the Grand Prix Special (66.255%).
Originally from Outremont, QC, the daughter of Cirque du Soleil co-founder Guy Laliberté was initially a show jumping competitor before switching to dressage. She is currently based in Barcelona, Spain. “I have some horses there at the moment and I’m training with Jordi Domingo,” she said, referring to the Spanish trainer responsible for pairing her with Statesman (Sandro Hit x Brentano II) back in 2018, after he had shown the handsome dark bay through the young horse ranks up to the Grand Prix level. Naima trains with Ashley Holzer when she is in North America.
Statesman is now 16 and like all professional riders, Naima is looking down the road a ways to make sure she remains well-mounted. Her ‘new’ horse currently coming up in the Small Tour, a nine-year-old bay KWPN gelding (Vitalis x Johnson TN) sporting the motivating name of Inspire, is actually not all that new. “I’ve had him since he was three years old,” she explained. “I’m bringing him along in my own time. I’ve shown him in first level, second, third, fourth, all the way up to Small Tour.” The striking bay has been winning and placing well in some large PSG/Intermediate I classes in Europe and Florida since the start of 2022, and is poised to become an exceptional Big Tour mount.
Naima plans to stay on in Europe for a while, perhaps doing some shows close to Spain “because everything from Barcelona is a very long trip.” But she is laser-focused on making the Canadian Olympic team for Paris 2024. “It would be a dream to be able to participate.”
Her freestyle may need a bit of a refresh in the interim, though. “I still have the same freestyle as the Pan Ams 2019, which was the first time I rode it. I’m planning to change it. I think it’s been long enough – but it was a very beautiful freestyle.”