Canadian Dressage Owners and Riders Association Inc. (CADORA) was pleased to welcome FEI 5* Dressage Judge, Stephen Clarke, back to Canada in 2022 to present two Build a Better Dressage Horse clinics.  

The clinics were held September 24-25 at M2 Dressage in Millgrove, Ontario, and October 1-2 at Fairlawn Equestrian Centre in Brentwood Bay, BC. 

Thank you to Shannon Daly, BHSII, for providing this report and photos of the clinic held at Fairlawn Farm in BC.  

How wonderful to be back together with Stephen Clarke at Fairlawn Farm! 

With his positive and humorous teaching style, Clarke shared his vast knowledge with riders and auditors alike. Sixteen riders, from introductory level to Prix St. Georges, benefitted from Clarke’s clear and methodical instruction, as well as a positive atmosphere in a beautiful setting. In every lesson, Clarke took into consideration the age and training level of each horse and adapted the session accordingly.  

April Sheldrake rode the lovely Tucker (above photo), a four-year-old gelding. “Stephen was able to provide me with a good baseline where we are at for age and stage of development and confirm that we are working in the right direction with my current coach.” 

Teg Harper and Fuego

The youngest rider of the clinic was nine-year-old Rosalie with her 13-year-old pony, Buddy. CADORA asked junior riders to apply for a scholarship, which included a lesson and auditing for them and two family members. The committee chose one rider for the clinic in the east and one in the west. Rosalie did a fabulous job working on shoulder-in to improve transitions — such poise and concentration! Her turnout was excellent and included lots of glitter. She presented a homemade card to Stephen at the end of her lesson. What a tremendous experience for Rosalie and Buddy. 

Rosalie and Buddy, with Stephen Clarke

We had the opportunity to watch Kim Scott on Dominion work through her FEI Para Grade 3 team test. “It was an absolute honour to ride with someone who has such knowledge and passion for the sport. Stephen was really able to take what we were already doing and bring us to the next level,” she said. 

Kim Scott and Dominion

“What I love most about riding with Stephen is that I leave with new exercises and homework and a big boost of confidence and inspiration,” says Cecilia Porter who rode Bundy, a 16-year-old Mustang. 

Cecilia Porter and Bundy

“The clinic was a fantastic experience, and I am so appreciative that I had the opportunity to ride with Stephen Clarke,” says Dawn Folliott who rode Luc, a seven-year-old Lusitano gelding. “I have been struggling with the warm-up portion of my rides, and Stephen was able to teach me how to easily get my horse forward and reactive. The techniques he taught me have been a blessing!”  

Dawn Folliott and Luc, with Stephen Clarke

“I came away from the event with some terrific exercises, a sharper eye, and renewed passion for this wonderful sport,” says Jenn Barnes van Elk who rode Marvel, a 15-year-old Hanoverian. 

Jen Barnes van Elk and Marvel

Stephen’s Words of Wisdom 

  • Be effective when you need to be and relaxed when you can be. 
  • We don’t need to put him in a smaller box than he’s designed for. 
  • Mistakes are an opportunity to be clearer with your point/desire. 
  • Horses must be in front of your leg before you can go long and low. 
  • More active collection in the canter will improve the flying changes. 

It was a wonderful weekend for all! Big thanks to CADORA, especially Heather Cormie, Claire Vessey, and all those who contributed to a successful clinic.