Some of the newest additions to the Dreamcatcher Meadows team — both human and equine — played key roles in the latest string of strong results in dressage competition from the Pemberton stable.
The "Dream Team" assembled its biggest crew yet for back-to-back competitions two weeks ago, obtaining tremendous success at the two stateside shows that earned the local team entry into the U.S. Dressage Federation's (USDF) Northwest Regional Finals in Washington.
"We've never taken this many horses before, and we've had tons of new people to train this summer, so it was a Herculean effort," said Dreamcatcher Meadows co-owner Jill Giese.
The stable sent a total of nine horses, five of which had never been out of the stable or transported by trailer before, to the Spokane Sporthorse Spectacular and the Donida Late Bloomers Sporthorse Competition in Washington over Aug. 23 and 24. It took nearly 20 hours of driving time to make it to the two events, but they still racked up more of the impressive results that the small Spud Valley facility has become known for over the past few years.
But for all of the success Dreamcatcher Meadows horses have been able to find in their shortened 2014 competition schedule, Giese is equally thrilled by the stable's growing number of youngsters benefitting from its student program.
Kira-Lea Brandt and Madeline Boys, who both attend Pemberton Secondary School, as well as Vancouver's Sara Bowman spent their summer helping out and learning the finer points of grooming and showing from Nicole Berthelot and Kirsten Mitchell, two veterans of the program. Giese said their assistance has been vital to preparing some of Dreamcatcher Meadows' newest arrivals for their first competitions, and in making it possible for the stable to send such a large team of horses away for showing.
"This summer, the young people that have been with us have learned how to produce them — everything from feeding them up properly before, things like the grooming and the handling of them, teaching them to tie up and stand still... and to do this all safely," said Giese. "They started working with our older, experienced horses and it's been a huge learning curve, and I've been so pleased that we've been able to get two local girls involved that have just loved being here this summer, as well as three from outside the Pemberton area."
And on top of the great experience they've picked up in working with the Dream Team this summer, the students are getting educational benefits from the program as well, because some of their work at the facility can be counted towards high school credits. So, with classes yet to resume due to the ongoing strike, "it's like they've started school already, which the parents are very grateful for," said Giese.
"There's no way we could have done what we've done this summer without everybody pitching in."
Despite the many new additions, the Dream Team doesn't appear to have skipped a beat, as its results in the two Washington shows were right in line with what those in the equestrian community have come to expect from last year's USDF Sport Horse Breeder of the Year.
At the first show in Spokane, three-year-old Leopold DMV — who is the half-brother to Dreamcatcher's award-winning Ballerina DMV — won his individual class and divison, as well as Grand Champion of the Show, while making his competitive debut. Stablemate Lordsley DMV was selected as the Reserve Grand Champion.
From there, the team loaded back up for the five-hour trek to the Donida meet, where more impressive scores would come.
Among the highlights, Lordsley DMV was the Grand Champion with a tremendous score of 81.5 per cent, while Ballerina DMV retained her Mare Champion crown at 79.5 and Leopold DMV took the honour of Gelding Champion at 79.7.
"It was just amazing that John and the gang pulled off qualifying in one weekend," said Giese.
"The pressure was on because they had to win or place second, or achieve a score of 77 per cent, to get through to the final, and that's not an easy thing to do when you've got so many different divisions and ages. But they pulled it off."
The USDF Northwest Regional Finals took place Aug. 31 back at the Donida Equestrian Centre, though results had not been fully compiled by press time.
While the Dream Team awaits its rankings, the stable will prepare for its annual Hanoverian Inspection, taking place Sept. 17. A two-day Young Breeders Training Course will also kick off at Dreamcatcher Meadows the same day. Contact Giese at email@example.com for more information.