Dressage Canada High-Performance Summit Makes Plans for Future

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Members of the 1988 Olympic bronze medal team of Cindy Ishoy, Gina Smith, Ashley Holzer and Eva Maria Pracht at the Dressage Canada high performance summit.
Members of the 1988 Olympic bronze medal team of Cindy Ishoy, Gina Smith, Ashley Holzer and Eva Maria Pracht at the Dressage Canada high performance summit.

More than 50 stakeholders in Canadian dressage attended a high performance summit in Florida this week to identify strategies to grow the sport and lead to international podium-level performances.

The summit held Mar. 11-12 during winter competitions in Wellington included Olympic and Pan American team riders, up-and-coming riders, horse owners, International Equestrian Federation (FEI) officials, event organizers, committee members, coaches and staff.

“I would like to say that I found the summit to be a very positive step in an effort to improve Canada’s dressage organization and programs, which will in turn improve our international standings in the future,” said four-time Olympian Ashley Holzer. “I hope that this feedback will result in the necessary changes to put Canada back on the podium. I applaud Equine Canada and Dressage Canada for taking the initiative to organize this much-needed summit.”

Peter Davis, an expert in high-performance strategic planning, facilitated the summit that captured program, development, fundraising and leadership ideas from each stakeholder groups. Programs were ranked in order of priority and Equine Canada and Dressage Canada will review priorities and feedback to build an operational plan.

“The Summit was a great opportunity for all stakeholders to come forward with concerns and ideas on how to move forward with dressage in Canada,” said Wendy Christoff, a high performance coach and Grand Prix rider. “Canada is lucky to be able to pool our wealth of information and resources to come up with a strategic plan that will improve our world rankings. We have great resources in our riders, owners and supporters in Canada and now we need to put them to work.”

“The level of communication established over the two days left Canada looking at a very positive future with lots of potential,” said summit guest speaker Desi Dillingham, chairman of British Dressage from 1997 to 2007 who set up the organization that propelled the British team to Olympic gold in 2012.