Pemberton's Dreamcatcher Meadows has pulled in so many accolades over the past two years that owners John Dingle and Jill Giese could be forgiven for forgetting a few of them. The stable's most recent honour is one they'll remember forever.
Giese said "a career and lifetime goal" was realized earlier this month when Dreamcatcher Meadows was named the U.S. Dressage Federation's Dressage Sport Horse Breeder of the Year, recognizing the local facility as North America's best.
"We've placed eighth and third (in the past two years) but I thought it was too much to hope to actually win, because the competition are some of the most professional, financially-backed barns that run tight operations with exceptional horses," said Giese. "It's extremely good company."
The Sport Horse Breeder of the Year is determined by a complicated scoring system that considers the competition results of each breeder's progeny. Dreamcatcher Meadows ranked first with a median score of 71. No other breeder had a score higher than 61.
The award was a tremendous way to end a 2013 season that was extremely busy and, at times, exhausting for the Dreamcatcher team as it dealt with much more than just a heavy competition schedule. Giese said it's also a testament to the efforts of all involved with the stable's success.
"That's what makes it mean so much — it's not about just any one show or any one horse," said Giese. "It's about the accomplishments of everybody over the whole season, and that's the owners, the sponsors, grooms, staff, parents of riders, riders, the vets, blacksmith — it's just a huge team effort."
Giese said there were seven horses bred at Dreamcatcher Meadows that were factored into the award scoring, including her and Dingle's own Dreammaster DMV. Ballerina DMV, a five-year-old champion mare owned by Bus and Riki Fuller, also contributed to the stable's total. Wonderful Dream DMV (owned by Whistler's Shelley Sharpe and David Evans), Lady of the Dance DMV (Debra Mitchell), Radiance DMV (Anna Scott), Lordsley DMV (co-owned by Dreamcatcher and Vancouver's Tony Mah) and Lancelot DMV were the others.
Each of the horses has a bloodline that can be traced back to Giese's own Dreamcatcher DMV, after whom the stable was named. Giese said the support her team has received from all of the horses' owners has been tremendous.
"They've just been amazing in how they've stood behind us for a number of years," said Giese.
In order to keep growing, Giese said her operation would have to find a way to market itself to the entire equestrian community. Although being named the USDF's Breeder of the Year may bring some recognition, Giese said it's tough to compete against top American barns with massive advertising budgets.
"We haven't advertised in magazines at all because on top of all the competition expenses, it's incredibly financially challenging," she said. "Most horse businesses are subsidized by some other business. We're a rarity in that we're home-based, homebred and trying to do it all ourselves."
Adding to Dreamcatcher Meadows' busy summer, the stable struck a new partnership with the RCMP to assist with breeding horses for the police service's Musical Ride group, had a foal-inspection visit from the Hanoverian Verband and some scary moments due to complications with a foal's delivery this summer.
Retired racehorse Bonnie suffered a prolapsed womb and nearly died while carrying Believe DMV. Both horses survived, but the incident forced the Dreamcatcher team to pull out of competition for most of July, then face a jam-packed schedule to appear in enough events to qualify for awards consideration.
"We had to go on the road pretty much non-stop and that was really, very tiring," said Giese. "But it was a huge team effort and to have this accolade come back is really rewarding because, quite frankly, everybody's pretty beat."
Giese and Dingle will be back in the saddle this weekend, as they've been asked to participate in the annual Mane Event taking place in Chilliwack from Oct. 25 to 27. While there, they'll be performing their pas-de-deux routine set to music while riding Dreammaster DMV and Dreamcatcher DMV.