Equestrian Canada (EC) would like to congratulate Jacqueline Brooks of Cedar Valley, ON, and Tina and Jaimey Irwin of Stouffville, ON for joining the ranks of Canada’s certified high performance dressage coaches.
Brooks and the Irwins recently obtained High Performance 1 (HP1) status – the most advanced level in the EC Coaching Program, designated for those teaching advanced riders at the international level. To earn the title, dressage coaches must have a proven track record, both in the saddle and at the in-gate as a coach. The title is a reflection of years of commitment and hard work, resulting in demonstrated success.
Brooks is a two-time Canadian Olympian who has trained 15 horses to the grand prix level and is renowned for the success achieved with her long-time partner, D Niro (D-Day x Napoleon 625), an 18-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding owned by Mary Brooks and Brookhaven Dressage Inc. The duo have competed in over 155 CDI-level classes with many top placings, and represented Canada at the 2012 London Olympics. Brooks and D Niro remain at the top of their game, having picked up CDI Grand Prix Freestyle wins in Ottawa and Cedar Valley in 2017.
“I believe that if you really want to be competitive in today’s world, you need to be training with someone who is still very close to that competitive environment,” said Brooks of her coaching philosophy. “My continued involvement in advanced competition ensures that I can fully prepare a student for high performance competition.”
A sought-after coach, Brooks provides support and insight to a broad range of clients, from up-and-coming young athletes to seasoned grand prix riders. Her students achieved remarkable results in 2017. Two of her up-and-coming students, Allison Youngdale and Ava MacCoubrey had a stellar season highlighted by a trip to Saugerties, NY in July to represent Canada in the 2017 Adequan/FEI North American Junior & Young Rider Championships (NAJYRC).
Jaimey and Tina Irwin are well-known as a power couple in the Canadian dressage industry. Jaimey represented Canada in the 2013 Reem Acra FEI World Cup Dressage Final in Gothenburg, SWE, earning a top-20 finish among the best dressage athletes in the world on Lindor’s Finest (Eastern Ruler x Farn), the then 16-year-old Canadian Warmblood gelding formerly owned by Sylvia Carlton and Ute Busse. During the 2017 season, Jaimey saw much success with his up-and-coming partner, Donegal V (Johnson x Gribaldi), a nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding. This included helping the Canadian Equestrian Team win its first-ever gold medal at the CDIO 3* Stillpoint Farm FEI Nations Cup in Wellington, FL in March 2017.
Tina helped the Canadian Dressage Team earn the silver medal at the 2011 Pan American Games, and broke the 2017 record for the world’s highest small tour score (78.708%), achieved in the Intermediate 1 Freestyle at the 2017 AGDF with her 10-year-old Oldenburg gelding, Laurencio (Larentio x Donnerhall). Tina and Laurencio were also members of Canada’s gold medal team at the CDIO 3* Stillpoint Farm FEI Nations Cup, where they also took first place individually in the CDIO 3* Intermediate I Freestyle.
Tina and Jaimey currently operate Team Irwin out of Stoney Lake Equestrian in Stouffville, ON, where they have a large and loyal client base. Many of their clientele compete internationally, and the Irwins routinely bring 18 or more horses with them to the prestigious AGDF circuit each winter. Their next-generation students include Alexandra Meghji, who has competed at NAJYRC multiple times, including 2017 and 2016, when she brought home the team silver medal and finished fourth individually.
When it comes to preparing to teach rising star students like Meghji, Tina feels that the demanding requirements for HP1 eligibility are a true test of the skills and knowledge developed in the ring. Jaimey agreed, elaborating on how his own competition experience helped him prepare to coach at the highest level of dressage.
“I think by having advanced competition experience, I understand what it takes to get to this level of competition,” explained Jaimey. “It also allows me to get inside my students’ minds. When I know what they are feeling and thinking, I can better aid them in providing solutions to attaining their goals.”
Even though their teaching philosophies as high performance dressage coaches may differ slightly from one another on the surface (for example, Jaimey focuses on goal-setting, while Tina promotes developing confidence and independence in the arena), they all believe strongly in the merits of coaching certification as proof of the intrinsic knowledge, experience and talent required to help students achieve high performance dreams.
“I feel it is important for coaches to be certified to ensure that our sport in Canada can continue to grow by evaluating how coaches are educating their riders,” said Tina. “We carry a great amount of responsibility to our students, the sport and ourselves, and by becoming certified we uphold this standard and educate others in the right way.”
Echoing the Irwins’ sentiments, Brooks explained, “I think that our sport in general has had less focus on fully certified coaches than others I have been involved with. I am very happy to support this program and encourage other coaches to pursue education, skill training and ultimately certification. I think it is important that students begin to be able to find certified coaches in their area and know they are properly trained and qualified to teach them.”
For more information on the EC Certified Coaching Program, click here.