Like Mother, Like Daughter for Dressage Dynamos Diane Creech and Vanessa Creech-Terauds

Diane Creech (right) and her daughter, Vanessa Creech-Terauds (left), of Caistor Centre, ON, centre their family life around the dressage ring.
Photo Credit: ©EC

For the past few decades, Diane has been a mainstay on the Canadian dressage leaderboards. When she made her Canadian Equestrian Team debut at the 2007 Rio de Janeiro Pan American Games, riding Wiona to help Canada secure team silver, her then seven-year-old daughter stayed home on the family farm. Vanessa wouldn’t tolerate missing out on the action for long, though.

Like Mother, Like Daughter for Dressage Dynamos Diane Creech and Vanessa Creech-Terauds

From a young age, Vanessa was destined to join her mother in the dressage ring.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Vanessa Creech-Terauds

While Diane didn’t actively push her daughter to pursue dressage, Vanessa started accompanying her mom to shows and eventually began to build her own legacy in the ring. She has collected seven medals over fives years of North American Youth Championships competition and currently sits in the top 10 in the FEI Dressage World Youth Rankings for both Under 25 and Young Riders with Hallmark and Fleur de Lis L, respectively – all with her mom coaching her from the sidelines.

The exceptional relationship Diane and Vanessa have cultivated is on display whenever you catch sight of them on the show grounds, looking relaxed, smiling, standing side-by-side, and ready to work and learn from each other.

“She has been in the sport so many years, she’s constantly teaching me every day,” said Vanessa of Diane. “It hasn’t all been happy moments for her, so she has really amazing advice for when I’m feeling down on myself. My favorite lesson from her is to not take myself so seriously. I have a bit of a hard time with that sometimes – I do get a little hard on myself, as every rider does – but it is really important to be able to laugh at yourself and say it doesn’t matter. Life goes on and you grow from that.”

These life lessons flow easily between Diane and Vanessa because the pair prioritizes open and honest communication – as a tool for a positive personal relationship, of course, but also to work through any issues that may arise professionally. Mutual respect, consideration and the ability to compromise allows Diane and Vanessa to gracefully solve any problem that may arise, from horse care and transportation to training and showing.

Like Mother, Like Daughter for Dressage Dynamos Diane Creech and Vanessa Creech-Terauds

The relationship between Diane and Vanessa – as both mother-daughter and coach-student – is built on open communication and mutual respect.
Photo Credit: Annan Hepner/Phelps Media Group

Vanessa commented, “I think the horses have always brought us even closer together. I can’t imagine any other relationship with my mom because it’s how I grew up. She’s not just my mom, she’s my coach, mentor and best friend, so we’re able to go through the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.”

Coach, mentor, friend, mother – these are difficult roles to manage on their own, let alone simultaneously. But with time and practice, Diane has grown adept at the task and is also able to extract teachable moments along the way.

“You jump in and out of the different roles but, all in all, I do know where the line [between coach and mother] is,” said Diane. “If I do step a little bit over the line, Vanessa’s kind enough to just remind me that I need to back off a little bit, which is important. You have to be honest enough to set your own rules and set someone else a little bit straight.”

There is one instance, however, in which Diane finds it difficult to repress her maternal tendencies: when Vanessa enters the competition ring. “Every time I see her go down the centreline, I can barely watch her, my heart is going! I can only say I’m as proud as I can be, and that’s probably where the line of the coach stops and the mother speaks.”

Like Mother, Like Daughter for Dressage Dynamos Diane Creech and Vanessa Creech-Terauds

The only time Diane finds it hard to maintain her cool-headed coach’s attitude is when it’s Vanessa’s turn to compete – then, there’s no holding back all the feelings of motherly pride!
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Vanessa-Creech Terauds

Vanessa confirmed, “It’s exactly the same for me. I watch her go down centreline, my heart is pounding and I’m shaking while holding the camera. It’s so great that we’re able to each switch roles; I love being able to watch her ride and help with her horses. Every day is fun, at the end of the day we’re really happy to be together.”

“I couldn’t do it without Vanessa,” added Diane. “She’s 20 now and so mature, I can just walk away and leave so many things with her and know it’s going to be taken care of.”

Like Mother, Like Daughter for Dressage Dynamos Diane Creech and Vanessa Creech-Terauds

Over time, Diane and Vanessa have become an inseparable and smooth operating team.
Photo Credit: Phelps Media Group

Diane is also grateful for the help of her extended support network, which has enabled her and Vanessa to go on this incredible journey together. She explained, “It’s mostly the two of us because we are away so much, but even though you may be the one showing, there are so many other people involved. We couldn’t do it if my sister wouldn’t stay at home and take care of the horses at home. My mom, too, always has been so supportive. My whole family, they have always been very supportive of our crazy horse fever and supported us however they could.”

Diane and Vanessa can also count on Louise Leatherdale, who, along with her late husband, Doug Leatherdale, began sponsoring Diane more than a decade ago and Vanessa in 2014. Diane commented, “We’re really fortunate to have our sponsor, who makes it possible for us to do this and learn as much as we do. Doug and Louise supported me and always were such wonderful people to include me in the family, as well as Vanessa once she was old enough.”

Diane concluded, “I know how hard this sport is, having been in it so many years. I support Vanessa as much as I can, but the bottom line is she has to make her own stand. And I’m so proud of how she’s done it.”

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