For the second year in a row, several of the top sport horses on the continent came from just northwest of Pemberton.
Dreamcatcher Meadows, owned by Jill Giese and John Dingle, was awarded the United States Dressage Federation's DSHB Breeder of the Year Award in an announcement made last month. The awards will be presented as part of the 2014 Adequan/USDF Annual Convention in Cambridge, Mass. from Dec. 3 to 6.
Dreamcatcher Meadows was able to improve on its 2013 median score of 71, posting a 79 this time around, dead even with Laurie McLaughlin of Tower Lane Farm in Washington state.
Scores take each breeder's top five horses into consideration whether it's still owned by the breeder or not. This year, three of the horses used to make Dreamcatcher Meadows' score (Westminster DMV, Wikipedia DMV and Leopold DMV) were new to the stable's top five from last year. Ballerina DMV and Lordsley DMV helped make up the scores in both years.
"The top five horses that we showed had more awards at higher standings," Giese said. "What you're trying to do with each generation of horses that you're breeding is improve upon the last, and that sort of result indicates that you're being consistent and the quality is really high."
Giese stressed the award is a representation of all the hard work put in by everyone at the stable.
"It's the result of everybody from the (horse) owners to the young people that help groom, the blacksmith (Dave Gilmour), the vets, everybody, and John (Dingle), my partner, rode all the horses and presented them," she said. "He managed to take 10 horses and all these young people on the road (to the final), so it wasn't expected."
Giese explained the high score came as part of a challenging year for the stable. Dreamcatcher Meadows attended only two shows this summer — the bare minimum to qualify for the final — when it would usually attend eight or nine.
Giese explained it was difficult finding qualified staff to work with the younger horses, while the provincial teachers' strike nixed the opportunity to have young people live in residence and attend school.
"This summer, we were very late in the game getting going," she said.
Giese added some sales were disrupted after events in the area limited access to the stable.
She said even with the pair of USDF awards now on the mantle amid a slew of others, Dreamcatcher Meadows hasn't necessarily received attention on par with its pedigree. Giese said the stable must battle several challenges associated with the perception buyers must go to Europe to find a suitable horse, but has a limited marketing budget with which to work. As well, because of its relatively remote location, Giese said it's challenging to get on the radar.
"It's not like we'll get a ton of publicity in the U.S. because we're Canadian," she said. "In Canada, we're competing in the United States, so it's not something that people pick up on at this end. Really, so much of the attention is based in Eastern Canada, anyway.
"We've got these amazing results, but it's getting the word out there (that's difficult)."
Even with the challenges, Giese said she loves the valley and the people in the area.
Giese spent over a dozen years in Germany and England learning the intricacies of breeding, and embarked across the pond once again on Nov. 4 to continue her professional development.
"One of the reasons for going back to Europe is to stay current," she said. "In North America, we tend to be about a decade behind in modern breeding."