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Josie DeChaine dressage
American Grand Prix dressage rider Josie DeChaine, based in Massachusetts is a rapidly rising star competing at U25 and senior Grand Prix shows. Josie combines her role as assistant manager at Bear Spot Farm in Concorde MA which is home to 26 horses, the facility provides state-of-the-art care and structured dressage training programs for horse and rider, where she also receives training and support from Jane Karol and Hope Cooper. Twenty-year-old Josie’s story is an inspiration for anyone wanting to find a way forward in equestrian sport and we think that Josie’s combination of ability and sheer determination will make her one to keep an eye on as she progresses.

Tell us about you and your horse

Josie DeChaine dressage
Josie and Hot Chocolate W showing off their passage during an I2 Test at Global. Image courtesy of Sue Stickle
  My name is Josie DeChaine, I am twenty years old, and I live in Massachusetts. I began my dressage journey at the age of thirteen as a working student at a local barn. The horse that I am lucky enough to currently be riding is a 19-year-old Oldenburg gelding named Hot Chocolate W, affectionately known as Chocolate, owned by Mary Mansfield. Chocolate is the definition of a schoolmaster. I had previously shown through the Prix Saint George and now just 6 months in to our partnership, Chocolate has taken me down the centre line in the U25 and Senior Grand Prix.


How did horses come into your life?

Josie in 2017 at her first show in an Introductory Level class, riding Gus owned by one of her first trainers, Karry Brothers
I do not come from a family of equestrians, or wealth to support the demands of the sport. Riding was something I always wanted to do. After years and years of begging my parents, they finally told me if I could find a way to make it free, I could start taking lessons. I sat down that night and emailed every farm within 30 minutes of my house, trying to find someone to take on a thirteen year old who wanted to work off lessons. I got a single response, and the rest is history. I was with that barn for 2 years until I had the chance to do a winter season in Wellington, Florida in 2020. I returned to Massachusetts with a new barn in 2021, whom I stayed with for another year and a half. After my 2022-2023 season in Florida, I joined the barn I am currently with.


When and where do you ride?

  I ride at Bear Spot Farm in Concord, MA. I am also the Assistant Manager in the barn, so I am there almost daily.  


Who do you train with?

Josie hugging Roxanne Bok’s pony named Kijony after completing her first Prix Saint Georges test in 2023
  Jane Karol and her daughter Hope Cooper are the trainers at Bear Spot Farm. I have been working with them since January of 2023. I have gained so much experience since joining their team and it has opened a lot of doors for me, like the opportunity to ride Chocolate. Hope and Jane have gone above and beyond to push me out of my comfort zone and make things I had only ever dreamed of become reality.  


What you and your horses currently working on?

  There is no such thing as perfect, but we are working hard at “perfecting” the Under-25 Grand Prix tests in hopes of qualifying for National Championships this summer. I am also riding a Grand Prix Freestyle in a few weeks. I have never done a freestyle, so it has been challenging yet so exciting to iron out the final details of that.  


What do you love about riding?

Bear Spot Farm dressage
Some of the Bear Spot Farm team following Hope Cooper on Jane Karol’s Flynn
  I of course love everything about riding, even the not so good days. I love being able to reflect on where I started and see how everything has progressed. Thinking about movements or concepts that were once difficult and now feel easier reminds me that whatever struggle I am currently having will someday be old news. I also love how you never, ever stop learning – every horse and person has something new to give you.  


What would you like to be doing in the future and do you have any goals?

  As someone who does not own a horse, setting goals and envisioning the future can sometimes be hard. For now, I am making the most of my time with Chocolate and as mentioned I hope to be invited to the USEF Festival Of Champions this August. Chocolate is 19, and although he feels great, we will let him continue to tell us what comes next. I am so fortunate to have Grand Prix experience at my age and ultimately would love to continue to grow at the level. I also eventually want to begin to teach and share the incredible knowledge and resources I have gained.

It takes a team to do dressage, who is in your support team?

Josie DeChaine US Grand Prix dressage rider
Josie in 2017 at her first show in an Introductory Level class, riding Gus owned by one of her first trainers, Karry Brothers
  My family is my number one support system. They have always cheered me on and encouraged me to do whatever it is I have to do to continue making things happen. And of course, my trainers and entire team at Bear Spot Farm.  


Have you ever had to deal with nerves in riding?

  One of the first horses I was serious about dressage with had occasionally quite severe behavioural issues under saddle, which led me to a few bad falls. I became a nervous rider for the year or two that followed. I have been fortunate to ride very safe horses since then, but the trauma of that experience stuck with me. As far as show nerves, I think everyone who competes does to some extent.  


How do you deal with them?

Josie and Hot Chocolate W performing a pirouette in a U25 Class at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival. image courtesy of Emma Claire
  As far as the general nerves went, it took the patience of myself and several wonderful trainers who built me back up again. For showing, I always remind myself that being nervous means something important is about to happen.

Do you have any rituals before competing?

  If I have a good show, I will try to wear the same breeches/shirt/sock/belt combination the next time I show in case one of those items were my good luck. I have yet to find my outfit. I also do a lot of visualising.


Your Top Tip

Josie and Hot Chocolate W at their most recent Grand Prix where Josie earned her USDF Gold Medal. photo by SageFire Photography
  Look back at where you started often. I love coming across old photos and videos of myself and reminiscing on the rollercoaster I have been on. It is easy to get caught up in what is to come, but reminding yourself that you once dreamed of being where you are now, is important.


What is the best piece of advice that you have ever been given?

Josie and Hot Chocolate W showing off their flying changes at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival. image courtesy of Sue Stickle
  A client at the barn I worked in my first season in Florida used to tell me something very simple, yet I still find myself repeating it, “One foot in front of the other”. I often get stuck in the moment or on what is negative, rather than reflecting on how each time in the past I have felt as if my journey is coming to an end, the next opportunity always comes along – I just have to put one foot in front of the other.  


Down the Centre Line


Who would be your dream horse to ride?

  This is forever changing, but I have loved watching Cathrine Dufour’s MSJ Freestyle  


Who is your equestrian hero?

  I have always admired USA’s Laura Graves – she was the first and only American to be at the top of the FEI World Rankings, all on a self-made horse she got as a colt when she was a teenager. The story of dedication and hard work getting her to the top is touching and inspiring.


If you could have 5 people to dinner, who would they be?

  Also, a forever changing list!

Favourite colour horse?

  Black – all saddle pad colours match


Favourite horse event?

  I had a lot of fun at the Traverse City Horse Show while grooming at the North American Youth Championships last year.


Favourite food?

  Anything involving pasta  


Favourite way to relax?



Favourite film?

  I am not a big movie person but I do watch many different TV shows, most recently I have been sucked in to watching Grey’s Anatomy  


Want More?

If you enjoyed meeting Josie you might like to view more dressage rider “chatting with” interviews here .  You can keep up with Josie’s progress and check out her instagram page here       

Sharon Howe

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Hi! I am Sharon Howe

Country & Equestrian Blogger

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