An Ontario native currently living in Kensington, NH, where she owns and operates her own veterinary hospital, Lee turned a number of heads at ADGF, as she struck quite the picture on her tall and athletic chestnut mount.

Question (Quaterback x Le Figaro) is an 11-year-old gelding known affectionately as “Johnny” that Lee purchased remotely from the Oldenburg auction in Germany. She recalled, “A previous trainer of mine called and told me he was a big horse, that I was ready for a young horse, and that I should bid on him.” 

Dr. Lee Garrod Conquers the Centreline in FEI Para-Dressage Debut

Canadian Dr. Lee Garrod, DVM, Diplomate ACVECC, of Kensington, NH, stepped into the international para-dressage ring for the first time at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, FL.
Photo Credit: Susan J. Stickle

Lee’s bid paid off, as Johnny has proven to be her “once-in-a-lifetime horse”. However, the pair’s progression through the levels was put on hold in 2016 after Lee suffered an injury, forcing her – and, consequently, Johnny – to take two years off from showing. She returned to the saddle in October 2018, and by December was dipping her toe back into competition preparation with the Equestrian Canada Para-Dressage Video Competition Series. Lee re-entered the show ring at the national level in January 2019, where she qualified for CDI competition classified as a Grade V para-dressage athlete.

“Honestly, I was not sure I was ready. I was truly torn,” said Lee of jumping into the FEI ranks. “I had never competed in a CDI before. I knew that I would never know if we were truly ready or not until I did it, so we went for it.”

Lee didn’t just “go for it” – she dove headfirst into the deep end, choosing the ninth week of AGDF for her first international experience. The jewel of the Wellington dressage scene, AGDF boasts some of the fiercest dressage competition in North America and can be an intimidating venue for the most seasoned athletes.

“When I went to the showgrounds the day before to get my packet and number, I realized we were riding in the stadium and went to take a look,” said Lee. “That alone set up a certain level of anxiety. I went home and cleaned my house at least twice while going over each of the tests in my head.”

While the lead-up to show day may have been nerve-racking, when it came time to enter the ring, Lee was cool and collected. She and Johnny methodically tackled each test, with their best score of 65.690% coming during their winning performance in the CPEDI 3* Grade V Individual Competition on March 9.

“When I am on the horse, I am never nervous, but just focused,” explained Lee. “Anytime I get on a horse really, everything else is shut out – that is a major reason why I love riding in the first place.”

Lee continued, “During the test, it was all about keeping the poll up and nailing the transitions. The pressure to be error-free and accurate technically was present. Then, knowing this was so important, asking a lot more of the horse as far as expression was constantly on my mind. These things should be there when I compete nationally, but honestly, it was magnified [at AGDF] and so now my goal is to keep that no matter what show ring I go in!”

And there will certainly be many more show rings in Lee’s future, as she and Johnny have demonstrated their ability and willingness to fearlessly conquer the FEI centreline.

“I do not know where this will take us but I am shooting for stars – you know what they say, you just might catch one,” said Lee. “I grew from this experience and now I am looking forward to showing again. I know the horse I can have going down the centerline and I know the rider I can be, and that is what I am going for from now on. My one goal is to fear no centerline and perform each test as if it is the last time: be consistent, as technically correct as I can be, and don’t give any points away due to error or inaccuracy.”

Dr. Lee Garrod Conquers the Centreline in FEI Para-Dressage Debut

Dr. Garrod’s goal for her FEI career moving forward is “to fear no centreline” aboard her trusted horse, Question.
Photo Credit: Susan J. Stickle

While Lee zeroes in on and dissects areas of technical improvement with the clinical precision of her profession, she never loses sight of the bigger picture. She concluded, “I honestly want to be the best rider for this horse that I can be. I want us to go on a journey these next few years and go as far as our partnership can compete. As long as Johnny is okay with the journey, we will stop at nothing to show his grace and power. My job will be to do him justice while trying.”

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