Hi! My name is Shannon Dueck, and I am an international dressage rider and Proud Team SmartPak member!
I am from Vancouver, Canada, I spent many years outside of Boston, and now I teach and train in Loxahatchee, Florida year round. Yes, it’s really hot and humid in the summer! We survive by drinking a ton of water and sweating just as much. I have trained lots of horses to Grand Prix, my best known horse was a Dutch gelding I bought as a 3 year old, with the name “K” on his registration papers. I renamed him “Korona” (Kees is his barn name) and we had a great run together: We won the Individual Silver at the Pan Am Games, we were the top Canadians at WEG in 2002, and got to represent Canada at the World Cup in Sweden in 2003. I haven’t travelled much without a horse, but I got to see a lot of Europe with Kees in a horse van.
I have to mention my husband: Lorne is a long suffering and much sacrificing horse-husband. He fixes everything the horses break on a daily basis – much as we love them they are such destructive creatures! He stays behind when I go traveling – someone has to keep paying the mortgage! He also has to care for all the dogs and cats when I am off to exotic places. Somehow he still manages to be cheery about it all, and he is my biggest cheerleader when things are bright as well as supporter when things are a little dark in the world.
I have a great barn with 12 stalls in Florida (well actually the bank probably owns 10 of the stalls, but that’s a whole ‘nuther subject). They are usually full of horses and riders in training, and I also train out of Tuny Page’s beautiful Stillpoint Farm in Wellington. So, I have pretty busy days riding and teaching. I regularly do clinics up in Lincoln, MA, and love getting up there and away from the heat in the summer, and I adore the fall colors. Winter, however, is a different thing altogether, and thankfully the clinic organizers are very aware how “Floridified” I now am – lots of electric blankets and battery powered heat thingy’s for my fingers and toes….
SmartPak has asked me to blog about my experiences leading up to (hopefully) competing in Kentucky at the World Championships this fall. I am just thrilled to do this, as this whole journey is pretty exciting. You see, I am the very lucky owner of a super talented young mare named “Ayscha”. I bought her in the summer of her 6 year old year, and she was pretty green still, training 2nd level in Germany. I thought I would buy her as a re-sale project. She was very funny looking - she had big floppy ears, was 17.3 hh, and as long as a canoe (a long canoe, that is), without any muscle or fat to speak of. Almost three years later, she has put on about 400 pounds of sleek muscle and she is gorgeous. The ears are now charming instead of alarming!
Anyhow, with the help of Robert Dover (our new Canadian Team Coach) – Ayscha and I started competing at Grand Prix this January in Wellington. I did not think this was possible, as we did our very first Prix St. George in January of 2009. For the first three times down the centerline I really felt like a fraud – but somehow we just kept getting better, and each time we got better scores. So by the middle of February we did our first CDI*** and placed really well with over 66%. Two more CDI’s later, and we are on the list to compete in Europe this summer with the Canadians. This is a dream come true, especially since we are to compete at Aachen. Now I have competed in some big venues, but never Aachen – I am so totally psyched about this!
So, this blog will be a weekly update on what is going on, my trials and tribulations, as well as hopefully lots of successful news to relate! I will let you in on my thoughts (well not ALL of them) as I go through this summer and early fall, hoping for that spot on the Canadian team for WEG.
So please come along for the journey – hope it’s not too bumpy a ride!