According to event rider Lindsay Traisnel (Pearce), her 11-year-old Bacyrouge lives up to his barn moniker, Dreamy. She says the Selle Francais gelding has a lot of blood, likes to gallop, and “loved it” as they made their inaugural run around the Land Rover Kentucky’s four-star course earlier this spring to finish a respectable 23rd.
“I just love riding him. He is such fun,” says Traisnel, 37, who operates Windsor Equestrian Centre with husband Xavier Traisnel. With Dreamy, she aspires to represent Canada at the 2023 Pan Am Games and/or the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Lindsay grew up in Windsor-Essex, Ontario, in a non-horsey family and started riding at age nine at a local lesson barn where she was introduced to eventing. She got her first pony a couple of years later but “I spent a lot more time on the floor than on her!” she recalls.
Although the spooky mare never finished a cross-country course, it didn’t dampen young Lindsay’s enthusiasm. Her next mount, a leased 24-year-old Hackney pony she rode at entry level, “was just a saint” and helped her move to the next level, with guidance from her hometown coaches Rosemary and Julie O’Connell.
When Lindsay graduated to an off-the-track-Thoroughbred, Sexy Date, she spent her teen years training during the summer at Dreamcrest Equestrian Centre with Ian Roberts and Kelly Plitz. She and Sexy Date also competed at the North American Young Riders Championships, and finished 8th at a CCI* in Lexington in 2002.
Lindsay started studying biology at the University of Guelph while continuing to ride and compete, but her desire for a career in equestrian sport won out. She moved to England in 2010 after travelling there to shop for a mount that could take her to higher levels of competition. That’s where she found an Irish Sport Horse named Saniki, a 2003 mare by Ekstein (also the sire of the great Hickstead’s dam Jomara), and started training with three-day event rider Lucy (Wiegersma) McCarthy, a regular in the top five in the FEI World Rankings and veteran of five European Championships. That same year, Lindsay became the first Canadian to ride in the Mondial du Lion, the World Championship CCI2* for seven-year-old horses. She finished 15th.
“I got so many opportunities to ride at Lucy’s,” says Lindsay. “She had sixty horses and I got to break and compete them. At some shows I’d be riding five horses.”
As well as furthering her equestrian education, Lindsay met future husband Xavier Traisnel at Wiegersma’s stable – a native of France who graduated from the Saumur National Riding School with the highest teaching certification recognized internationally.
Two years later, Xavier took a position in France and Lindsay went with him. When that position wasn’t what they had hoped for, they bought their own farm and established Traisnel Equestrian.
They acquired Bacyrouge, a four-year-old Selle Francais by Mylord Carthago, as a resale project, but Lindsay loved the horse so much they retained him and he’s now owned by her parents. Xavier competed him as a five-year-old while Lindsay was pregnant with the couple’s second daughter, Chloé, now five. Their eldest daughter, Élise, is seven.
In 2017, they made the decision to move to Canada, close to where Lindsay grew up in Ontario.
“We had two young girls and we were seven hours from Xavier’s family and an ocean away from mine, so we didn’t have family backup support,” explains Lindsay. “It was also a business decision. We had mainly competition horses in France, but few boarders.” She says that in Ontario, more people want to board and take lessons and they decided to build a new equestrian facility from scratch – Windsor Equestrian Centre – on land her parents had owned. Xavier is a Level 2 coach and both have extensive experience competing in Europe. Her husband didn’t bring a horse for himself from France, but has recently bought one and will resume competing this year.
Their belief that the underserved Windsor area would be a good place for a business such as theirs has proven to be true.
“It’s a great community, close to the big city and we have a six-month wait list for kids wanting lessons and a waitlist for boarders,” Lindsay says. They have 36 horses at their facility, including 10 lesson ponies and horses, 20 boarders, Saniki and Bacyrouge, two of Saniki’s offspring and Xavier’s new horse. They have one fulltime employee who helps run the lesson program which is focussed mainly on children and ponies.
Their location near the Windsor-Detroit border is also ideal for travelling to U.S. shows, says Lindsay; the Kentucky Horse Park, for example, is only six hours away.
She says while Europe may have more international riders, she has found North American events to be of equal quality with really good facilities. One venue she enjoys is Bromont, where she achieved a career highlight last year, moving Dreamy up to the four-star level and placing third. She and Dreamy are planning a return trip to Bromont this year to compete in the long-format four star.
Lindsay has declared for the 2022 World Equestrian Games later this summer, but says the timing may be a little premature.
“I hope to make the team, but Dreamy’s not consistent yet and still developing at the four-star level,” she says. “He’s a great jumper and has a lot of scope. In show jumping, he tries hard but he’s built to gallop and jump cross-country and compressing his body isn’t the easiest for him.”
When she’s not competing, Lindsay and Xavier work in tandem to raise their family and run the equestrian centre. “We got to know each other as co-workers and were friends first. I like sharing our day together. It’s nice to be able to ask someone you trust for advice. He only wants what’s best for me and gives me his honest opinion.”
They’ve introduced their girls to riding, but Lindsay says they have no expectations for their daughters to follow in their parents’ footsteps.
“We don’t push them. I hope they like it, but if they want to do something else, that’s fine with us,” says Lindsay. “Elise just did her first show here in the crossrail division. I was judging so I was busy, but all the girls who ride here were helping her and walking her to the ring. We have the best kids here and it’s a great environment.”