Rhiannon started off her riding career at 14 in Red Deer with her first horse, Nansjellino. With Ninja she competed in the States and Canada up to 3rd level. After training in California for a month following high school, Rhiannon moved to Edmonton where she acquired a sponsored horse, Rockstar. Together they competed up to Prix St. Georges and attended the 2008 North American Young Rider Championships in Denver, Colorado as part of Team Canada.
Rhai, as she's known around the barn, came to train with Norma in 2009. She brought with her a 5 year old KWPN mare, Zuri; affectionately known as Diva. Having no experience with young horses, Rhai depended on Norma to help her properly develop a promising dressage prospect. Since then, Rhai and Diva have won champion at almost every show they have attended as well as many high points from training to second level.
In 2010, Norma found another amazing dressage prospect for Rhai, Don Royale, a 5 year old Hanoverian gelding. Norma once again took on the task of training a relatively green rider on a green horse. Together Norma and Rhai have trained Donny to second level, winning championships at almost every show. They have high ambitions for Don Royale and continue to train him in the hopes of achieving Grand Prix.
As a university student at U of A, Rhai has very little time during the school year to focus on her horses. Fortunately, working for Norma during the summer months makes up for missed time in the saddle. She gets ample opportunity to work with young and talented horses, furthering her dressage education. It is to this education from Norma that she owes the improvement in her riding skills, leading to many championships and an Eight pin.
Rockstar at Young Riders
I first started riding with Norma Jean in 2006, when I had a young horse and I was boarding at a stable where she was teaching. I planned to do a couple years of dressage and then try jumpimg, before deciding on the best career for my horse. I am still with Norma Jean since getting hooked on dressage and continue to learn and grow with her help. One of the first horses that I had was Hana. I started her, with the help of Norma Jean, as a three and a half year old and the following season I showed her very successfully at Training Level and the FEI Four Year Old Test. Some of our accomplishments are:
2007 Reserve Champion AA Training Level, Amberlea Meadows Dressage Show (our first show)
2007 Reserve Champion Dressage, Canadian Performance Futurity
2007 Champion AA Training Level, Edmonton Gold Rush Dressage Show
2007 3rd Adult Amateur Training Level, Alberta Provincial Championships
2007 ADA Adult Amateur Training Level Rider Award
2007 Bronze Dressage Canada Rider Award
My next horse was Takai, a very talented and striking horse, which I bought with the help of Norma Jean. I showed him for two years, with amazing results before a pasture injury ended his career. In the two years that we had him, we took him from Training Level to Second Level and he taught me so much. He helped me progress as a rider and tought me alot about feel and tact. A few of his career highlights are:
2008 Champion Adult Amateur Training Level, Amberlea Meadows Dressage Festival
2008 3rd Adult Amateur Training Level, Alberta Provincial Championships
2008 Champion Adult Amateur Training Level, Western Regional Championships
2008 Bronze Dressage Canada Rider and Horse Award
2009 Champion Adult Amateur First Level, Amberlea Meadows Dressage Festival
2009 Reserve Champion Adult Amateur All Levels, Amberlea Meadows Dressage Festival
2009 Champion Adult Amateur First Level, Gold Rush Dressage Show
2009 Champion Adult Amateur First Level, Alberta Provincial Championships
2009 Champion Adult Amateur First Level, Western Regional Championships
2009 Sunday High Score Award, Western Regional Championships
2009 Bronze Dressage Canada Rider Award
2009 Silver Dressage Canada Rider Award
2009 ADA Adult Amateur First Level Rider Award
2009 ADA Adult Amateur Second Level Rider Award
Jinx, a horse I bought with Norma Jean, as an unbroke 4 year old. He has turned into a wonderful dressage horse with great movement and a lot of talent. We went to his first show where we won all three of our classes with 70's and came home Adult Amateur Training Level Champion with a 74.3% average. The next show was Amberlea Meadows. We won Adult Amateur Trainning Level Champion with an average of 78.242%. We also did First Level 1, which we won with a 73%. A great start with lots of potential for his future career.
2012 Champion Adult Amateur Training Level, AJYR Classic Dressage Show
2012 Champion Adult Amateur Training Level, Amberlea Meadows Dressage Show
My current horse is Dante, a 2008 Dutch Warmblood by Sandreo out of a Krack C mare, that we found in California as DG Bar Ranch. He is a 17hh grey gelding with great movement and a wonderful disposition. I am looking foward to training and showing him.
Norma Jean is a demanding but fair coach. She believes strongly in the basics and makes sure all her horses and rider are solid before moving on. She has improved my seat, timing and feel and overall my skill has gone up greatly with her help. She is an excellent rider and is always looking to improve her skills through clinics. I cannot recommend her highly enough for anyone wanting to ride dressage or has a horse that needs training.
I cannot remember a time when I did not dream of riding horses. My parents, certain I would outgrow my "horsey phase", enrolled me in riding lessons at the age of 8. This experience only fed my desire for all things equine and now, 45 years later, my family is still waiting for me to outgrow my "horsey phaseŁ".
Competing with a variety of equine partners in the hunter ring, combined driving, 3-day eventing, reining, cutting and cattle penning provided me the opportunity to develop as a horsewoman. However, it wasn't until I rode a friend's upper level dressage, that I discovered my true passion.dressage. The elusive search for that serendipitous moment of harmony between horse and rider became my holy grail.
The purchase of my first dressage horse, Zenith MV, from Eileen Poole and Meadowview was the beginning of a wonderful friendship and my love affair with the beautiful Trakehner. In 2000, Eileen named a lovely little filly after my son and Zavier MV soon became my competitive partner.
As follows are a few of our career highlights:
2003 - Grand Champion Mare, American Trakehner Association Championships,
2003 - Inspection High Scoring Filly, ATA Inspection, Seattle, Washington
2004 - Material 4 year old Champion, Amberlea Meadows Dressage Show
2004 - Material 4 year old Champion, Alberta Provincial Championships
2004 - Team Trakehner, Spruce Meadows, (jumping, driving, dressage)
2005 - Champion AA Training Level, Kestrel Ridge Summer Dressage Festival
2005 - Team Trakehner, Spruce Meadows, (4th - jumping, driving, dressage)
2005 - Bronze Dressage Canada Rider and Horse Award - Training Level
2006 - Bronze Dressage Canada Rider and Horse Award - First Level
2007 - Dressage Seat Medalist, Carrots & Cocktails
Sidelined by health issues for a couple of years I returned to riding and began training with Norma Jean in 2010. I was drawn by her work ethic and commitment to developing strong basics in her students. Her meticulous attention to detail and ability to provide instruction has deepened my understanding of the principles of dressage and improved my riding.
This year I am fortunate to be riding three wonderful horses; Zenari, a talented, elegant, 10 year old German-bred schoolmaster, 4 year old Trakehner mare, Phyre and Ice MV and the Eileen Poole's Trakehner mare, Paris MV by E.H. Herzzauber.
With Norma Jean's guidance and training, we have returned to the show ring, winning championships in 3 levels at the Amberlea Summer Dressage Festival. The highlight of the season was winning not only the Training Level Championship but also the Adult Amateur High Point Award at the Western Canadian Regional Championships with a score of 76.4% on Paris MV. We are looking forward to hard work and continued learning over the winter! C U @ X in the spring!