Congratulations Marina Muir on being selected for the Canadian Dressage Youth Mentorship Program Grant


Congratulations Marina Muir on being selected for the Canadian Dressage Youth Mentorship Program Grant

Marina Muir and Bryne MacLeod have been selected to go to Florida on the youth scholarship weekend created and hosted by Jill Irving. Marina is a DBC member and DBC is excited to offer Marina $250 towards this trip! A great weekend in March at the Friday night freestyles at Global as well as being on the ground at Ashley Holzer’s farm to watch some fabulous training with the likes of Chris Von Martels, Jacqueline Brooks, Brittany Fraser-Beaulieu as well as bc's Hannah Beaulieu !

Details of the program:

New program: Canadian Dressage Youth Mentorship Program “Dressage Inspiration for Aspiring Canadian Dressage Youth”

All applications must be submitted to by no later than 5:00 pm Monday, January 23, 2017.

Canadian Dressage Youth Mentorship Program
“Dressage Inspiration for Aspiring Canadian Dressage Youth”

When: Friday March 03 – Wednesday March 08, 2017
Where: Wellington, Florida

Program Outline:
The Canadian Dressage Youth Mentorship Program is designed to inspire young, Canadian dressage riders between the ages of sixteen and twenty-one. Riders will have an opportunity to visit with some of Canada’s leading, high-performance riders, and to gain exposure to international competition by attending the Adequan Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, Florida (
Six participants will be selected to travel to Wellington, Florida the first week in March. Wellington is the epicenter of international dressage competition during the winter months, and home to the Adequan Global Dressage Festival. The six participants will have a unique opportunity to visit with some of Canada’s top dressage competitors, including Ashley Holzer, Jill Irving, Brittany Fraser, Chris Von Martels and Lindsay Kellock and to gain an “inside look” at the daily stable operations, training and competition regimes for these high performance athletes. The four day program is designed to include time visiting with the above named riders; a special evening at the FEI Grand Prix Dressage Freestyle competition; a visit to the Winter Equestrian Festival jumping competition; an introduction to Lendon Gray’s winter program for U.S. dressage youth; farm tours; and educational discussions with equine veterinarians and leading show grooms. The program does not include any riding opportunity.

Accommodation and Ground Transportation in Wellington:
While in Wellington, FL, the participants will be guests at of Canadian Equestrian Jill Irving, and shared accommodation will be provided at her private home. Daily supervision and all ground transportation will be provided by fellow Canadian, Lisa Shultz, who will be onsite specifically to provide leadership and supervision for the group.

Each participant is responsible for his/her own airfare, food and spending money.
Ground transportation and accommodation in Wellington has been generously donated by Jill Irving.
There are no costs associated with any of the activities, or attendance at any of the events planned for participants outside of the food and spending money referenced above.

Eligibility Requirements:
Participants must be between the ages of 16 and 21
Participants must be a member in good standing of Equestrian Canada and their Provincial Equestrian Association
Participants must have previously competed in a dressage competition (at any level)
Participants must provide proof of travel insurance
Participants must have a valid passport for travel into the United States

Arrival and Departure Schedules: Participants should plan to arrive in Wellington, Florida by 4:00 pm on Friday March 03 2017 and depart on Wednesday March 08 at their leisure.
Palm Beach International Airport is the closest airport
Fort Lauderdale International Airport is approximately 1 hour from Wellington, FL


All applications must be submitted to by no later than 5:00 pm Monday, January 23, 2017.
Qualifying participants will be selected via lottery and will be notified of selection via email, by Wednesday, January 25, 2017.
If a selected participant declines their invitation, another qualifying participant will be selected.
Questions and Contact:
Please direct questions to Jill Irving at

Application form


Dressage BC partners with Vetoquinol: Grant and prizes offered!


Dressage BC partners with Vetoquinol: Grant and prizes offered!

We're very pleased to announce our new partnership with Vetoquinol, one of the largest veterinary pharmaceutical companies in the world. Vetoquinol often gives back to the equine community, and has created a partnership with Dressage BC.

To start with, Vetoquinol is offering 43 prizes plus $200 in cash to fill out their survey.

Coming in 2017, a $1500 grant!

To be eligible to win, please fill out the survey. On Dressage BC's Facebook post about this subject, enter the comment "done", and share. If you're not on Facebook, fill out the survey and send an email to with the subject line "survey completed". The survey should take approximately 15 minutes to complete.

Survey link :


$200 cash
30 Tim Horton Gift Cards Start with $5-$10 dollars
10 boxes of Zylkene Equine (natural calming remedy)
3 pails of Nutrequin Elite 3kg (vitamin and mineral supplement)


Vetoquinol has commissioned Kynetec Animal Health to conduct the survey with performance horse owners. This is an anonymous survey; you do not need to identify yourself to participate. Your feedback will play an important part in Vetoquinol’s future planning with respect to their Equine Online Digital Strategies.

As a gesture of appreciation for your time, Vetoquinol has made the above noted prizes to Dressage BC to the winning members who fill out the survey.

Please read the instructions carefully and then complete the survey.  If you have any problems completing the survey, please email and please quote survey number: 16394

To complete the online survey, please click the URL shown above, or copy it into the address bar of your internet browser.  If you copy the link, please make sure to copy the entire link.  Once at the website please click on the “begin survey” button.

We would like you to complete this survey as soon as possible, but no later than December 20, 2016.

To help the Dressage BC receive the partnership benefits from Vetoquinol, your participation is very important!  Thank you for your time and input. It is sincerely appreciated.  

Best regards,
WJ (Noni) Hartvikson
President, Dressage BC


Thank you for your support!


Thank you for your support!

Dressage BC held a fund raising campaign for the first ever three star International CDI/CPEDI competition held at Thunderbird Show Park in Langley BC (June 9-12, 2016). With the help of individuals, buisnesses and government grants, we raised close to $40,000.

Our sincere thanks for your generous support. We can't have this level of competition without you!



Understanding Western Dressage


Understanding Western Dressage


by WJ (Noni) Hartvikson, President Dressage BC
 Photo by Steve Charles, Totem Photographics

Western Dressage is defined as the use of historically based 
dressage principles to train and develop the western rider and 
horse. The goal is to develop rhythm, relaxation, balance and 
the acceptance of the aids through the tried and true historical 
methods of traditional dressage. Western Dressage is not 
intended to build a dressage horse, nor simply put a western 
saddle on a dressage horse. It is a means by which the rider is 
able to improve the performance of a western horse.

The Horses

Western Dressage horses are generally lighter and 
handier, and don’t have the extravagant movement i.e. lift and 
ground cover observed in those commonly seen in traditional 
dressage. Of note, the western dressage horse still needs to be a 
forward moving horse, requiring impulsion, suppleness, 
engagement and a swinging back.

The Gaits

Of critical importance are three good gaits. The walk needs to 
have a pure four beat rhythm and over-track. The jog should be free 
and elastic, with some suspension. The lope should be a clear three 
beat rhythm with a level, or uphill balance. After Training Level, the 
horse is required to be adjustable in stride length within the gaits. A 
horse with these attributes in addition to a good mind will do very 
well in Western Dressage.

The Tests

The tests are very similar to traditional dressage tests with 
directives for each level and movement which should be well 
understood by the rider.

Expectation of Performance

Western Dressage is more than just riding 
a test in Western tack but it should be clearly recognizable as 
Dressage. The traditional scale of training is applied to the 
western horse. Relative to the level ridden, there should be 
contact and/or connection where the horse is clearly working 
over his back. Beginning at 1st Level, the tests call for 
lengthening of strides, therefore impulsion and ground cover are 
required. At 2nd level, the horse is expected to be reliably on 
the bit. Collection is judged relative to the level ridden, and the 
degree of difficulty of the movements increase accordingly. 
Directives are set out for each level.
A good western dressage horse should be able to a
ttain a satisfactory 
score of 60% or above, at the level of capability. The principles are the 
same, the tack is different, but the training is compatible with 
traditional dressage.


The Judges

At this time, licensed dressage judges are judging Western 
Dressage. They need to look for, and reward correct basic dressage training 
no matter what the tack is.



WJ (Noni) Hartvikson is a licensed Equine Canada Basic Dressage Judge. She was a candidate in the first USEF Western Dressage Judge Training Program and is one of fourteen judges (four in Canada) to obtain a license in 2014. 





Improve your Dressage Scores by WJ (Noni) Hartvikson Equine Canada Dressage Basic Judge


The thoughts in this article are constantly in my mind when I'm judging at a competition. Attention to achievable details is worth reviewing for everyone involved in dressage.

The use of the historical pyramid of training is a given, and the purpose of each level should be mastered before advancing.

You don't need a top horse to improve your dressage scores. Any rider and horse has the potential to get high scores in some movements of every dressage test.

When ridden correctly, any horse can produce a few 7's, maybe an 8 or 9 or even a 10 in some movements. Although the average horse may receive lower marks on Gaits, there are a lot of other important components to the tests.

Every dressage test contains many simple movements which all horses have the ability to perform accurately. These movements include halts, rein backs, turns on the haunches, and corners. If you're able to ride them well, you'll get higher scores.

Beginning with Training Level, there are 2 halts in every test. The halts are an opportunity to earn the highest marks possible, perhaps a 9 and why not a 10? Practice your halts every time you ride. Make them straight and square and pay attention to the required 3 seconds of immobility and the quality of the transitions in and out. At Second Level, the rein backs are introduced. In the rein back, learn to count accurately, and be sure that your horse is straight. To perform turns on the haunches, focus on correct bend, balance and keep the horse marching.

Ride your corners! Well ridden corners are essential because they set up the next movement. At First Level you are required to ride 10 metre circles so ride your corners as one quarter of a 10 metre circle, and use the same principle as you progress through the levels.

Circles are very important and highly visible to the judge. On a circle, no matter its size, the horse should be correctly bent on a curved line and the circle needs to be round, not square or oval. Remember, there are no straight lines in a circle.

Ride the test accurately from letter to letter.  Make sure that your geometry is correct and your transitions are clear and smooth. Learn the dimensions, distances and exactly where the letters are in the arena. Drawing a diagram of your test will help you with correct geometry. This will also help you ride each movement accurately. Each movement has a beginning and an ending. Even if you go off course, you can resume your focus with the next movement.

All horses are stiffer to one side. Marks will increase when the horse demonstrates equal suppleness in both directions.

Analyze your tests. Take a look at your three weakest areas and formulate a plan to improve them in your daily training. This will be helpful as you work to improve your scores.

Lastly, keep in mind that dressage tests are a simply measure of your training not a goal in themselves.

"The secret in riding is to do only a few things but to do them right." -Nuno Oliveira-




Anky van Grunsven Clinic Review

It was the biggest and best dressage event ever hosted in BC. Anky was a huge success as a Clinician and Educator. Her depth of knowledge balanced with a wry self effacing wit made everyone comfortable.

The dressage world knows Anky. Her highlights include the world record for the most Olympic medals won by any equestrian athlete, the only rider with three successive Olympic wins in the same event, numerous medals at the World Equestrian Games, and the sole rider to have competed at every WEG since they began in 1990.

The three day Clinic attracted many horse/rider combinations and a huge number of spectators, all thirsty for learning. The message delivered was classical, systematic and consistent.

Anky's approach is a simplified system of training. She is able to reduce multiple aids to a select few.
Leg for forward, reins for back. Steady hands. Stay focussed on the movement.
If it doesn't feel right, do something about it, don't just hope.

A big part of her system is speed control. She explained “if you have speed control
and the horse is on your aids, then all the movements become easier. 
She stressed that she doesn't like
the term "half halt" because it often results in "half of nothing" or the horse "half listening". After the first day,
no rider would admit to ever doing half halts and this was greeted with hoots of laughter from the auditors. Truth be known, "speed control" requires half halts. It is simply a more productive way of thinking about it. She also is not fond of the counter canter, stating that horses become so skilled at it, they no longer see the point of learning the flying change. Her take is that horses should learn the flying change long before the counter canter is perfected.

In the warming up, she asked that the horses go really forward and the riders get off their back both in trot and canter. Acknowledging the possibilities of being bucked off, she laughed “it wouldn’t be the first time”. Then as the horses were warmed up, she often asked for quicker smaller steps for improved balance and engagement.

With her approach, you could really see the horses become looser with more elastic gaits. When asked for the “competition frame”, an honest connection and steadiness of the frame could be achieved. She also stressed speed control and positioning within the pirouettes and passage stressing the ability to speed up and slow down
without affecting the balance.

Anky is a stickler for corners, stressing that the correctly ridden corner sets up the next movement. In response to rider observations about the multiple aids they gave to ride corners, she responded "keep it simple, just ride into the corner and then turn.” She also suggested that we be inventive, using the whole arena for training otherwise the horse gets bored. Practise lines on the quarter lines or second track not the diagonal 
because it helps you feel if they are straight.

The concept of "low and deep" was put into perspective when Anky discussed the difficulties of certain horses that are blocked or don't reach for the contact. In those cases, the rider takes contact, asks for forward until the horse gives the feeling that he really wants to stretch out and stay over the back. When the back is up and they accept the contact, then the rider gives. It was instructive to watch this technique work with horses who needed it, but an appreciation was gained for the knowledge and abilities necessary to apply it. More often than asking for "low and deep" Anky pursued an uphill balance allowing an engaged hind leg.

It was interesting to see how Anky defined rider problems and offered simple, effective solutions. The audience could see the changes and it was exciting.

When it came to the Grand Prix movements like Piaffe and Passage, Anky said don't over think” it, just make sure that the horse is sharp on the aids and if he needs a little help, use a little “tick tick” with the leg, or the voice, but always keep everything in a forward way of going.

Thunderbird Showpark is a world class venue. The footing, tents, jumbotron and food were proof positive of its reputation.

Congratulations to Scott Hayes Productions for having the vision and courage to make this happen!


                                                               Scott Hayes with Anky     To all of the sponsors and volunteers, know that your help was invaluable. Thank you Asmar Equestrian, The Dog and Pony Shop, Bates Tack Shop, Coin Perdue Ecurie, and the BC Young Riders Program!     Oh, did I happen to mention the weather?

                                                               Scott Hayes with Anky

To all of the sponsors and volunteers, know that your help was invaluable. Thank you Asmar Equestrian, The Dog and Pony Shop, Bates Tack Shop, Coin Perdue Ecurie, and the BC Young Riders Program!

Oh, did I happen to mention the weather?

                   Olympian Leslie Reid and Fine and Smart escaping to the hospitality tent during a short hail storm!                                                                                      Photos by Courtenay Fraser                                                                                           WJH Dressage BC

                 Olympian Leslie Reid and Fine and Smart escaping to the hospitality tent during a short hail storm! 

                                                                               Photos by Courtenay Fraser

                                                                                     WJH Dressage BC



Thoughts on "Dressage Through the Levels" Symposium

The 2014 HCBC “Dressage Through the Levels”  Symposium was another fantastic event at Thunderbird Show Park.  After living in the northern part of this province for 12 years, not being able to regularly attend these training events, I appreciate the opportunity to learn, and grow my understanding of dressage through these clinics.  If you were unable to attend, here are a few training tips and highlights I took away from the weekend.

Ellen’s common thread is that whether we are in the warm up, or in the test, we must ride each step, ensuring our horse is round, connection is established, and forward.  Most of the riders had a bit better warm up then actual test.  It’s why dressage is difficult.  Transitions come easily when our horse is round, connected and paying attention, but what do we do when we are in extended canter,  M is approaching and our horse is mentally in left field?  We ride. Create what is needed for that transition to be a success. Passengers need not apply. 

Ellen repeated the notion of not spurring the horse each step.  The spur is a refining aid, used for correction.  If we use it every step, we dull our horse to the result the spur is intended to have.

Bending exercises were performed, and riders were often instructed to have their leg at the girth.  Many of us “think” our leg is at the girth, until we actually see that it’s actually farther back on the horse’s barrel.  The inside leg has to be at the girth, so that the horse understands the difference between a bending aid and a forward driving aid.  So, grab the video camera folks, and take a look at your leg position during a serpentine.  See how your horse responds to having that inside leg clearly forward at the girth, with you sitting on that inside seatbone.

For those more advanced riders, Ellen gave a great tip on riding the change of direction in the half pass.   She wanted the riders to 1) change the flexion to the new direction 2) and in the next step start the half pass in the new direction.  What this does is that it already puts the shoulders ahead of the haunches when you initiate the change of direction.    The first step in the exercise is to introduce the change of flexion during the half pass without a change of direction.  Some horses found this difficult esp at the canter, as they associated the exercise with a flying change.  It taught those horses to wait on their riders aids, and aided in loosening a tight neck, which is often associated with anticipation of the flying change.

I give the riders credit for allowing themselves to be judged in a public setting, and allow us as bench warmers the chance to learn and enhance our riding skills.  I love watching the audience, esp at times when something may not be going right.  Everyone is half halting in their seats, and shifting seat bones to help the flying changes.  Classic.  I should video tape the audience next time!

  I think we have an awesome dressage community here in BC, and look forward to creating a very unique club where we can all learn, grow,develop, and support each other  as riders. 

Be sure to sign up for our blog posts.  Our goal is to have a blog 2x per month, featuring training tips, advice, and stories from our riders across the province. 

Have a great day!