Lima Lowdown | July 30, 2019

Welcome to the Lima Lowdown! To introduce myself, I’m Jessie Christie, the Media Attaché for the Canadian Equestrian Team in Lima. I’m proud and honoured to be part of the ‘team behind the team’ – and each day of the Games, I’ll be bringing you exclusive stories and photos from our Canadian athletes, grooms, owners, and team personnel here in Lima.


As you may have heard… the Canadian Dressage Team won gold for the first time in 28 years yesterday!

Even though a full news release was distributed, I realized last night just how much content had to be left out to keep the article a reasonable length. Therefore, today I’ll be using the Lima Lowdown to provide extra insight, interviews and photos on the Canadian Dressage Team’s incredible, *golden* experience!

Over the past few days, I’ve had numerous media – whether onsite or calling/emailing in from afar – mention what a pleasure it has been to cover this story. And they don’t just mean because of the outstanding accomplishment. The media have gotten to know first-hand what a well-spoken, open and personable group our Canadian Dressage Team is.

Keep reading for additional Q&A interview content from the Lima 2019 Mixed Zone and Dressage Medalist Press Conference, and to see more photos of the Dressage Dream Team!

CET on the Go | A Glimpse Behind the Gold Medal

L to R: Jill Irving, Lindsay Kellock, Chef d’Équipe Christine Peters, Tina Irwin, Naima Moreira Laliberté
Photo Credit: Cealy Tetley

JILL IRVING

CET on the Go | A Glimpse Behind the Gold Medal

First time seeing their name in Pan Am lights during the main stadium familiarization.
Photo Credit: Cealy Tetley

You have two top horses, how did you choose between them for these Games?

Age before beauty. I’ve had Degas longer and he was ahead in the Pan Am selection standings. I also felt that since this is a team event, I wanted to go with my most consistent horse. Arthur is amazing though, it was a tough choice. But, Degas and I know each other very well and I think the team needs consistency.

CET on the Go | A Glimpse Behind the Gold Medal

Jill Irving training with long-time coach, Ashley Holzer overseeing in the background, and piped into Jill’s ear via wireless headsets.
Photo Credit: Cealy Tetley

Who is your coach?

I wouldn’t be here without my coach, Ashley Holzer, and without her 33 years of advice – longer than a marriage! Before I went today, she told me, ‘Have fun. You’re at the Pan American Games and you’re an unbelievable partnership. Go enjoy it.’ They were good words of wisdom.

How has your overall experience in Lima been?

It’s amazing to be here with so many different countries. I love South America. I love Peru.

We went to the Opening Ceremony and that was exciting, because it made us feel like we were part of a Games. If we didn’t do that, you would just think, ‘Oh, another big horse show.’ I love the other countries. I’m learning a little Spanish. I just think it’s fantastic for the sport too, to present it in South America. So, it’s exciting, I’m thrilled to be here.

CET on the Go | A Glimpse Behind the Gold Medal

Jill was a hit on the mike during the press conference!
Photo Credit: Cealy Tetley

We have noticed that your horse is twice the age of the other horses on the team…

So is his owner! (Editor’s Note – Jill is the owner, and her quick-witted, good-humoured response charmed the entire room during the post-medal ceremony press conference!) Let’s call a spade a spade.

He was spicy yesterday, and really spicy today and it cost me mistakes. I think I was protecting him on his age and I will not be doing that going forward. He was not even puffing when I came out. I probably should have gotten on him this morning or lunged him, but I was feeling sorry for him because of his age. But he clearly is not acting his age. He’s in great form.

TINA IRWIN

CET on the Go | A Glimpse Behind the Gold Medal

How did you feel about your performance (in the team final)?

My horse felt great. He felt the same as yesterday, solid. He’s like, ‘Okay, you want more? I’ll go more.’ We just had a little miscommunication into the half-pass. Looking back at yesterday, it was very safe. And I thought, ‘I’ve got to bring it if we want to win and do well!’

With him, you can go full on, and then you can walk, and literally, I could put a child on him and he could probably take them for a hack. Then pick up the reins, and he’s like, ‘I’m ready.’ So he’s really a fun horse.

CET on the Go | A Glimpse Behind the Gold Medal

Tina gives as much credit for her gold medal to her husband, coach and number one supporter, Jaimey Irwin, than to herself and Laurencio.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Stoney Lake Equestrian

What does it take to be successful at the Games?

It takes a huge support team and my husband, Jaimey is my coach, and we’ve been married for 14 years now. We have a very good relationship, and like Laurencio and I, we can anticipate each other, so he can tell right away what frame of mind I’m in. And I think that’s very important in a coach, to know the rider really well and know when to push and when not to push.

CET on the Go | A Glimpse Behind the Gold Medal

What has your Games experience been like?

I think everything about (the venue) is amazing. The stabling, the footing, the atmosphere.

It really was feeling exciting when I was riding in the stadium. I love the music, I took note of that, how it changed, with the trot, canter and walk.

It’s beautiful. I feel very honoured to be here. It’s my first time to South America. Peru is a wonderful country, the food is amazing. And the people; I cannot get over how friendly everyone is. So it’s been a lot of fun, we’ve had a really great time. I’m thrilled to be here.

LINDSAY KELLOCK

CET on the Go | A Glimpse Behind the Gold Medal

From intended schoolmaster to Pan Am Games Gold Medalist, Floratina blew away all expectations of her owner, rider and coach. Here, she leads the pack into the main stadium for the medal ceremony.
Photo Credit: Cealy Tetley

Tell us about Floratina.

Lindsay – The best thing about the horse is her character. I take her into a new environment and she’s doesn’t bat an eye at anything. She’s always willing to work, ears perked forward, she’s amazing.

She’s hefty; she is a solid mare. That’s good for me, because she’s actually not tall. She’s about 16.1hh, but she’s nice and wide so my long legs can wrap around the belly. She likes apples and she really likes those Nature Valley bars.

I haven’t had her long. Chloe Gasiorowski bought her in December for herself as a schoolmaster. She has four young children, so she’s not able to make it down to Florida as much as she would like. So, she offered, ‘Do you want to compete the horse a little bit?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I’d love to’. We went in our first show, and she got a really high score. And then we both were like, ‘Well, maybe we should declare her for the Pan Ams’, and I think Ashley Holzer was the one that pushed me to do it. And it really wasn’t meant to happen this way, but Chloe was so generous to share her with me and we ended up getting the scores, so now we’re here.

CET on the Go | A Glimpse Behind the Gold Medal

Lindsay gives Flora all the love in the medal ceremony!
Photo Credit: Cealy Tetley

Chloe also joined Lindsay in the Mixed Zone, and added:

Lindsay found Flora. She spotted her. She’d been looking for a schoolmaster for me, and she tried her a couple of times, I flew down for the day and tried her in Florida, and then Ashley Holzer tried her too.

I’ve never owned a horse anything close to this. It’s all Lindsay. It’s been amazing. I’ve trained with her for two years now. I’ve been riding since I was nine years old, and I think I’ve improved more in these two years than I have my entire life. So the ability to actually be able to ride the test and then to teach somebody how to ride the test is amazing.

CET on the Go | A Glimpse Behind the Gold Medal

While this was Lindsay’s first time competing at a Games herself (with a pretty impressive debut record, to say the least!), it’s not her first time attending a major games.
Photo Credit: Cealy Tetley

What do you think of the equestrian venue?

I have nothing but good things to say about it. I think the venue is amazing. The footing is great. The stadium has enough atmosphere, but it’s not too big that you feel kind of alone in there. You can really feel the crowd. In Peru, the people have been incredible, so friendly and so nice. I really think it’s one of the best venues I’ve seen for sure.

I groomed at the London Olympics and the Beijing Olympics and the FEI World Cup Final. So I’ve seen venues, which made it easier for me in a way to come and be in a major games because I’ve had the privilege of being able to go with Ashley Holzer and Jacqueline Brooks to see other venues so I knew what to expect and this is right on par with those other venues, so I’m thrilled.

NAIMA MOREIRA LALIBERTÉ

CET on the Go | A Glimpse Behind the Gold Medal

How would you describe Statesman?

His barn name is Starman. He is a really friendly horse. He wants attention from everyone and he looks in everyone’s pockets for treats constantly – we train him badly. I’ve been riding him for two years. He’s amazing to ride. I think he’s one of a kind for sure. He felt amazing here and he really showed up for me.

CET on the Go | A Glimpse Behind the Gold Medal

Stateman’s extended canter is always epic in photographs – it’s no wonder the movement is Naima’s favourite part of any test!
Photo Credit: Cealy Tetley

What did you like most about your tests?

The extended canter is always my favourite part, it’s like, ‘Charge!’

I’m really happy with how he performed. A lot of good things happened in there. Sometimes he was a bit stressed and there were some misunderstandings, but just little ones and I’m really happy that overall it was good.

This is my first year of grand prix, my sixth grand prix competition, and first major games.

We love your accent, can you tell us where you are from?

My mom is Brazilian. My father is Canadian from Quebec.

CET on the Go | A Glimpse Behind the Gold Medal

First year of grand prix, first major games, first Pan Am Gold Medal. It will be pretty hard to top 2019, but then again, 2020 could be the best yet for this rising star!
Photo Credit: Cealy Tetley

Now that Canada is qualified for the Olympics, what happens next?

This was step one, qualifying the country for Tokyo and then next year we go through the qualification criteria, starting in January, so we start all over again. I think a lot of strong horse-rider combinations are coming up for Canada, so it’s going to be exciting.

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