Canada adds focus to Olympic dressage aspirations

Jacqueline Brooks and D Niro are ranked 18th after the opening day of Dressage competition on August 2 at the 2012 London Olympic Games.
Canadian dressage rider Jacqueline Brooks, riding D Niro at London 2012, made history by being the first in the discipline to wear a hard hat during competition at an Olympic Games. © Cealy Tetley,

Dressage Canada’s High Performance Summit in Florida is expected to welcome more than 60 stakeholders who will plan the future direction of the sport.

The summit over the weekend invited key stakeholder groups representing athletes, owners, officials, coaches, integrated support team experts, supporters and team support personnel.

Facilitating the two-day event was Peter Davis, PhD, an expert in high performance strategic planning and program development, was the director of Sport Sciences, Sports Medicine and Technology for OTP for the 2006 and 2008 Summer Games and the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. Dr Davis is the director and founder of Sport Performance Management and consults globally with national Olympic committees and national sports ministries in the Untied States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

Presenters at the Summit included former chairman of British Dressage (1997-2007) and president of the British Horse Society (2007-2011), Desi Dillingham, who continues to be the vice president of British Dressage and is a trustee for the British Equestrian Fed Fund. Also presenting was Julie Healy, the Canadian Olympic Committee’s Manager of Team Services. Healy is also the former director of Female Hockey at Hockey Canada. Healy carried out the program which resulted in Gold for Canada at the 2010 Olympic Games.

Teammates from Canada’s bronze medal winning dressage team from the 1988 Olympics discussed their international success and what it took to win an Olympic medal, while Dressage Canada Committee members Sarah Bradley, Dressage Canada chair, Michael Horgan, chair of Finance and Fundraising Committee; and Liz Steacie, the Athletes Council High Performance Committee representative were also to address the Summit attendees.

“The Dressage High Performance Summit is intended to bring together stakeholders from across the dressage high performance community, so they can discuss directions and provide substantial input in developing the future of our high performance programs,” says Bradley.

“Dr Peter Davis has been working with Dressage Canada to design two days of work, in several broad topic areas, which stakeholders have identified as areas for discussion. This summit will form the basis for our high performance program going forward, and we are very pleased that so many people are offering their time and expertise in taking part.”

The Summit discussion points will include

  • youth talent identification and team building for long-term success,
  • tours, competitions and international credibility,
  • resource acquisition and sustainability,
  • athlete management,
  • high performance targets and evaluations,
  • building relationships, and
  • leadership.

Equine Canada’s dressage manager Christine Peters said: “This intense two day program will encourage the exchange of ideas and the development of programs which will increase not only the level of knowledge and performance of our athletes, but provide them with the necessary opportunities and support to put Canada back on the podium at future Olympic Games.”

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