This week I’m chatting with Canadian FEI dressage rider Katherine Page. Based in Canada and Florida, Katherine is currently competing at Intermediere I, Prix St George and is working towards Grand Prix. This talented rider is certainly one to watch . Read on to discover more about Katherine, her ambitions, and top tips for success
Tell us a little about you and your horses
My name is Katherine Page, I am twenty two years old and I am from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. I am currently based in Calgary, Alberta with three horses (all mares!), my Small Tour horse Cimmiek, my mare Chick-G, and a home bred three year old named Flirtation. I also have several back home, including a home bred Elite Hanoverian broodmare, her mother, and her 2022 filly, Sonata. My two very special geldings are enjoying slower paced lives teaching the next generation of riders.
How did horses come into your life?
My mum has been riding since she was a teenager, so I am lucky enough to have been born into it. The first horse I ever sat on was her Small Tour mare named Die Dubarry, who ended up being the foundation of our small but successful breeding program.
How long have you been riding?
The first time I sat on my mum’s horse, I was two weeks old. I started taking lessons on my pony Bubbles when I was about four. I started Pony Club when I was eight, and decided I wanted to be serious at around thirteen.
When and where do you ride?
I ride at Pia Fortmüller’s Dancing Feet Dressage in Priddis, Alberta. I was lucky enough to begin training with Pia last summer (August, 2021) and it has been the best experience of my life, not only have I grown so much as a rider, but as a horsewoman and person as well. I travelled to Wellington, Florida with Pia this past winter and hope to again this winter.
How did you start riding?
I can’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t riding. I had a pony before I was even born. I decided I wanted to be serious when I was about thirteen. I tried my hand at everything through Pony Club with my wonderful draft cross, Chaos, but decided I wanted to focus on dressage when I was fifteen. Chaos made it clear he did not want to be a dressage horse, so when I was sixteen, my parents bought my beautiful black mare Chick-G, as well as my amazing FEI Jr partner, Trinity Mariner.
What you and your horses currently working on?
My horses and I are always working on improving the basics, as that is where you can improve the test movements. Currently, my Cimmiek and I are working to improve our general impression in the Small Tour tests, as well as starting to work on some of the Grand Prix. Her favourite thing to do is the one tempis, so we have to get everything else in the I2/GP as good so she can show that off. Chick-G is just coming back into work after a couple of years off in which we unsuccessfully tried to get her in foal, so at the moment just fitness (maybe both of us) and Flirtation is just being started. She is the first horse I am starting myself, so I am very lucky to have the support and help here that I do, so I can give her and future young horses the best start possible.
What do you love about riding?
I love the horses. I love using the sport of dressage to help them be the best and strongest athletes they can be. I love spending time with them on the ground just as much as in the saddle, my time at the barn is probably 40% riding and 60% just being around my horses, brushing them, walking them, or just hanging out with them. I love getting to know each horse I work with on a deeper level, what candies they like, where their favourite scratching spot is, their favourite patch of grass. Of course, I love the power and the partnership and the trust I put in them, and they put in me.
What you would you like to be doing in the future and do you have any goals?
In the future I would like to start and train my own horses, as well as client’s horses. I would like to go back to school and finish my Animal Science degree as well. I have two big goals in my riding career, to ride a Grand Prix on a horse I started myself, and to ride for Canada on a team.
Have you ever had to deal with nerves in riding?
I used to deal with competition nerves a lot, and then I would get so nervous I would freeze in the ring and stop riding and forget my test.
How do you deal with them?
The most important thing I learnt to deal with my nerves was to learn my test so well that I don’t even have to think about it in the ring. I learn it every way possible, I watch videos, I read the test, I draw out the test, I ride it in my head, including every half halt or leg aid, and try to imagine exactly what every step will feel like and picture myself in the ring I will be riding it in. If the test is so ingrained in my mind that I don’t have to think, then I can focus 110% on riding. The other thing that helped me was to realise that every movement is completely individual, and that if you mess up one movement, don’t keep thinking about it and let it ruin the next. Everyone tells you that, but I don’t think it stuck for me until I got a 3 on one movement, and an 8 on the next. I always try to take a deep breath and lock myself into my job right before I enter the ring.
Your Top Tip
My top tip is to not get too focused on one goal, and to not compare your journey to anyone else’s. Both in riding and in life. My biggest goal for as long as I can remember was to compete at NAYC, but between horses being horses (and a pandemic because just my luck) I qualified twice, but never got to go. When NAYC was cancelled due to Covid, I had no other goal, and I thought I had nothing else to look forward to because everyone I looked up to had gone to it. It took me a while to realise there was so much more than NAYC and that just because I hadn’t gone didn’t mean I was any less of a rider. My journey to get to where I am now ended up being so different from what I had pictured, yet I am so proud of the rider and person this journey has made me.
Down the Centre Line
Who would be your dream horse to ride?
Dalera! I love a mare and the way she dances in the ring is just so magical.
Who is your equestrian hero?
It sounds cheesy, but my trainer, Pia Fortmüller. It is so inspiring to watch her train every day, and how much care she puts into each horse every day.
If you could have 5 people to dinner who would they be?
Jessica Von Bredow-Werndl
Dr. Ken Johnson (my veterinary inspiration)
Favourite colour horse?
Grey, but definitely not my favourite to keep clean! So probably bay with chrome, or chestnut with chrome
Favourite horse event?
The CDI I did at the World Equestrian Centre Ocala this spring. It is such an impressive venue, and I had some really big moments with my mare there, and our whole crew got to have one last week together after such a busy Florida season and before we all headed home.
Brie baked with honey on toasted baguette
Favourite way to relax?
Long drives with an audiobook, or a great road trip playlist
At the moment it is Top Gun: Maverick
If you enjoyed meeting Katherine, you might like to view more dressage rider “chatting with” interviews here You can keep up with Katherine’s progress and check out her instagram page here