Jane Savoie–USA Dressage Team Rider, Educator Extraordinaire, Accomplished Ballroom Dancer. 1949-2021

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Jane Savoie. © SusanJStickle.com

Jan. 5, 2021

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

Jane Savoie, who pursued her passion for dressage with waitressing tips to become an American team reserve Olympic rider and Olympic coach that led her into a successful career as the author of nine coaching books and numerous digital products, has died at the age of 71.

Admired and beloved around the world, Jane’s passing came shortly after publication of her first novel, “Second Chances,” following years of battling cancer while continuing to produce a printed and digital library of dressage coaching materials.

With a philosophy to “train your mind and shape your attitudes to achieve higher levels of skill than ever imagined,” Jane’s books, CDs/DVDs, videos, and professional mentoring programs were translated into several languages for sale around the world.

As well as competing at the top levels of the sport to be named reserve on Zapatero for the U.S. bronze medal team at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, Jane was coach of the Canadian 3-Day Event team at the Atlanta 1996 and Athens 2004 Games.

She coached a number of dressage and event riders at the Sydney 2000 Olympics, including her friend Sue Blinks who rode Flim Flam on the U.S. bronze medal dressage team.

Jane Savoie. Courtesy Rhett Savoie

Jane was born and raised in a non-horsey family in Natick, Massachusetts, a western suburb of Boston.

She began her equestrian life riding ponies at the age of nine, mostly eventing and jumping

Jane studied veterinary and animal sciences at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, one of the five-college consortium in the west of the state and rode on the college team.

Amherst was where she met Rhett Savoie, who had returned from the Vietnam War with a Purple Heart and was studying for a masters degree in forestry. They were married for 47 years.

“When I began my dressage career,” she has explained, “I started with a broken down racehorse with a bowed tendon. He cost me a whopping $500 (my life savings at the time). It took me a year and a half to be able to canter this horse without him running away with me!

“I was so broke; my training consisted of only two things: the book ‘Complete Training of Horse and Rider’ by Alois Podhajsky and one clinic a year with Cindy Sydnor–two lessons/year!

“I didn’t own a truck or trailer so I had to borrow them to drive to Massachusetts for my lessons with Cindy. Cindy was gracious enough to let me pay her with the spare change from my waitressing tips.

“I struggled with show nerves and insecurity. Lots of sleepless nights before a show and LOTS of time spent in the Port-O-Let.”

The horse that started her on the journey to dressage had been abandoned at the barn of team rider and later international 5* judge Linda Zang. The purchase price covered the back board at Linda’s farm.

From those experiences and the success she had as a top rider and coach, Jane created her teaching products whose understanding and empathy touched a nerve with riders going through the same issues.

She was writing her first book, typing on an old-fashioned manual typewriter, while training at the stable of Herbert Rehbein in Germany. That book, “That Winning Feeling: Program Your Mind for Peak Performance,” was first published in 1992 and has had eight editions.

Jane Savoie had also been an accomplished ballroom dancer since the 1960s.

Pursuit of her passions while struggling with serious health issues for years endeared Jane even more to those who knew her and fans around the world.

She lived in Wellington, Florida and Berlin, Vermont.

She was admitted to the United States Dressage Federation Hall of Fame in 2019 with the description “dressage icon.”

(Our Internet name, DRESSAGE-NEWS.COM, was acquired from Jane in 2008.)