When the United States Dressage Federation handed out its prestigious Adequan/USDF Sporthorse Breeders of the Year award in Las Vegas, NV, in December, you might assume it went to a major American sport horse breeder. You would be wrong.
For the third year in a row, Dreamcatcher Meadows Ventures Ltd. (dreamcatchermeadows.com), a breeding and training centre owned by Jill Giese and John Dingle and nestled in the Pemberton Valley near Whistler, BC, captured the title. This was a result of the impressive scores of their stallions’ offspring and individual Horse of the Year titles earned by their homebred and trained horses Leopold DMV, Lordsley DMV, D-Trix DMV, Ballerina DMV, and Dreammaster DMV.
A further surprise honour bestowed on the farm was presented by Dr. Ludwig Christmann, international director of the Hannoveraner Verband, who traveled from Verden, GER, to present Dreamcatcher Meadows’ owners and primary sponsors with state society certificates of recognition. These “Ehrenurkunde,” signed by the president of the Verband, recognized the farm’s exceptional contribution to sport horse breeding and competition.
Jill Giese, an Albertan and lawyer who had been practising in New York and London, fell in love with the Pemberton region while on a skiing holiday. She and partner John Dingle, a dairy farmer from England, had become enamoured with dressage competition and sport horse breeding; they bought the 40-acre farm in 2003 and moved onto it in 2004.
They brought four Hanoverians with them from England: Dreamcatcher DMV, Giese’s champion dressage mare (after whom they named the farm), and her “triplets” – Dreaming DMV, Dreammaster DMV, and Dreammaker DMV – yearlings conceived by embryo transfer. Now 20, Dreamcatcher DMV is the only mare to win a five-star rating from the American Warmblood Society. A few years back, the mare won a lifetime achievement award based on her own performance and that of her progeny.
Back in the early days, the couple did whatever they had to do so that the fledgling breeding operation could survive, including growing hay (they lease an additional 450 acres to produce organic varieties), running a B&B, teaching clinics, and developing and selling horses. “We quietly started our breeding dream,” says Giese. “Any breeder knows it takes decades to see the fruits of what seems like endless work.”
Dreammaster DMV (Dimaggio x Dream of Glory) is a 2003 licensed Hanoverian stallion who was called “the epitome of the modern sport horse” by a Verband committee spokesman. Dingle and Dreammaster DMV trained in California with Olympian Charlotte Bredahl, who competed him up to PSG/Intermediare 1 with high-70% wins. His progeny are excelling in the hunter/jumper ring and dressage arena.
Windfall CB, a 1995 black Hanoverian stallion by Weltmeyer, caught the attention of the RCMP back in 2013 thanks to Dr. Ludwig Christmann. Of the dozen foals born at RCMP breeding farm in 2015, manager John Phillips enthuses that the best are the two exceptional jet-black Windfall CB daughters. Windfall CB was the first non-RCMP-owned stallion used by the RCMP; his progeny are known for having steady temperaments and talent in the show ring.
The six-year-old Lordsley DMV, by Lokomotion, is licensed by the American Warmblood Society and was crowned their 2013 Stallion of the Year. He continues to dominate USDF sport horse and dressage competitions. Lordsley DMV’s pedigree features international superstars in dressage and jumping; grandsire Lordanos is a European favourite, and his dam, the late Dreaming DMV, carries the bloodlines of Donnerhall, Dream of Glory, and Don Primero. Active breeding to him commences this year.
Leroy ‘Bus’ Fuller, 87, the founder of three major restaurant chains in the west – Earls, Joeys, and the Cactus Club – purchased Ballerina DMV as a foal from Giese and Dingle. “I convinced him that I’d pick the best I’d bred and that he may well enjoy being involved in raising and competing a show horse,” explains Giese. Bus and his wife, Ricki, knew little about dressage at the time, but quickly became fans, as Ballerina (so named because of the incredible movement she displayed from her first time out in the field) turned out to be a stunning competitor under the guidance of Dingle. Now an eight-year-old, the dark bay mare set historical records for USDF young horse scores, with a current average of 88.5 points out of 100, the highest median score in US dressage out of literally thousands of horses since they started keeping records in 1976.
Another more recent investor, Tony Ma, president of the Vancouver Bullion & Currency Exchange, bought the Dreamcatcher stallion Lordsley DMV four years ago. With Dingle, the handsome bay with four white socks has been logging scores in the 80s in US competitions. “Our dream is to one day have at least one of our homebred talent represent Canada with a Canadian astride,” says Giese.
With a herd of over 50 horses on the farm, and about 25 foals being born both on and off-property each year, the team at Dreamcatcher want Canadian mare owners to know that they are open for business. “Despite all the accolades – mostly south of the border, because this type of sport horse competition is not available here – surprisingly few know of our breeding programs,” laments Giese. “Even the RCMP breed to one of our stallions and the Hannoveraner Verband is on record as placing us as ‘one of the best breeders in the world.’
“It is a struggle to sell in Canada. Everyone still seems to think you have to go to Europe,” she continues. “It’s pretty demoralizing, but it is our passion, so on we go!” With these attractive performance bloodlines, the appeal of fresh semen at your doorstep (yes, fresh, not frozen!), a little luck, and some good publicity, Dreamcatcher Meadows will hopefully get the recognition it deserves right here in Canada.