"Riding was always been such an important part of my life when I was growing up," says new M2 Dressage client Ember. "It was my 'happy place' and truth be told, that hasn’t changed 30+ years later.
Here is the thing... There are different stages in life that sometimes force a break (work, babies, health, finances etc.). It’s sad when you have to put your passion on 'pause', but so incredibly exciting when you finally get to experience it again.
After a recent break, I had the pleasure of getting back in the saddle with some incredible schoolmasters at M2 Dressage with Esther Mortimer, Harper Mackenzie, and Ralph Mortimer.
In the beginning, I really dreaded sitting trot so we really worked on how to relax and connect. Now I am riding Fourth Level on Wills (Windermere). Wills has helped me learn so much in the last few months. I have so much more to discover but I’m so proud of how far I’ve come and am so thankful for this opportunity. "
We're proud of you too Ember! Your hard work and positive attitude are as much responsible for your success as your riding skills. You've achieved so much in just a few months of dressage training and we can't wait to see how far you'll go.
Our annual Christmas party sure looked different this year, but even a global pandemic can't stop the M2 Dressage crew from dressing up with their ponies! Each rider or group was given their own time slot to perform their festive freestyles and we videoed them all for everyone to enjoy safely at home. Click the riders' names to see each video.
Ember, Patti, Vivian, and Helena.
At M2 Dressage we are so proud of the hard work our clients put in, and the incredible results they achieve. Several of our students have created before and after videos to showcase their remarkable transformations, and we will be sharing them over the next few weeks.
First up is Kaylea and Dancer, who came to M2 less than two years ago as low level eventers. "It's pretty hilarious to watch the before video," Kaylea says. "After a year and 9 months of training this is the after and I couldn’t be more proud of Dancer! Thank you to our amazing trainers Esther and Harper for making this transformation possible for both Dancer and me. Who would have thought we would come this far in such a short amount of time?"
M2’s annual holiday extravaganza takes place this Saturday, December 12th and Sunday December 13th! Our riders have been working hard on their crazy costumes, Christmas quadrilles and festive freestyles. And, for a very special treat, we’re thrilled to announce our virtual guest judge will be internationally-acclaimed FEI 4* judge Cesar Torrente!
To keep everyone safe the event is closed to the public this year, but don’t worry, we’ll get it all on video for everyone to enjoy!
Seeing the amazing transformation in our students at M2 Dressage always makes us smile. Sherry first came to us with her draft cross mare Dee, and they worked hard to learn the basics of rhythm, relaxation and connection. We were so proud when Sherry achieved her goal of competing at Training Level at Palgrave.
Now just a few years later, Sherry is confidently schooling all of Third Level on her lovely new mare Burana, purchased from M2 Dressage.
"What could be better than progress? What better way to motivate yourself than to take a glimpse back at where you’ve been? " says Sherry of her before and after video. "I'm so grateful for my M2 family and all of the support I’ve received to help me achieve my goals. Thank you Harper Mackenzie and Esther Mortimer. Special thanks to both my partners; I’ve been blessed with incredible mares."
It was another fun and fabulous fall clinic weekend at M2 with guest judge Karis Van Essen joining us for the day on Saturday, October 24th. Congratulations to everyone who rode such lovely tests and worked so hard in your lessons. Your dedication is paying off and we're seeing so much progress from month to month at each clinic.
Mark Saturday, November 14th in your calendars, when Nancy Maclachlan returns for our next test clinic.
The calendar may have said September 26 but we had a glorious summer-like day for our monthly schooling show / test clinic. Eleven horse and rider pairs took advantage of the opportunity to either ride a test and get expert feedback, or simply to have a lesson with our clinician Nancy MacLachlan.
We were honoured to have Nancy here for the day; she is a former national team member who has represented Canada at the FEI World Cup and two World Equestrian Games. With her keen eye for detail and focus on correct dressage foundations, Nancy helped every horse and rider pair focus on small changes that lead to big improvements. Thank you Nancy!
Watch our Facebook page for the date and details of our next test clinic coming up on October 24th.
M2 Dressage stable near Millgrove hosted a special event September 20 to recognize a milestone – the 70th birthday of local resident and well-known dressage trainer Ralph Mortimer. Ralph has trained many top horses and riders over the years, was the dressage coach for the Canadian Olympic eventing team, and served as the team trainer for Guatemala’s national dressage team for more than a decade.
Ralph now divides his time between Guatemala and M2 Dressage which is co-owned by his daughter Esther Mortimer and her husband Harper MacKenzie. Under Esther and Harper’s direction, the talented M2 riders prepared a special treat to celebrate Ralph’s big day – a musical quadrille performed in the dark.
Dressage is usually an individual sport. Often compared to figure skating, it requires a horse and rider to perform a pattern of required movements, with each movement being scored by a judge. In a quadrille, teams of four, six, eight or even more riders perform a choreographed set of complex movements to music, with the end result looking like ballet on horseback. For added dramatic effect, the M2 riders adorned their mounts in twinkling lights, and navigated the riding arena in the dark – no easy feat!
“It was so much fun to mark my dad’s birthday in this very special way,” said Esther Mortimer, an accomplished rider and trainer in her own right who has competed at three Pan American Games. “Our riders all worked so hard to learn the choreography and practice together over the past few weeks. We haven’t been able to compete this year due to Covid, and of course we couldn’t have the large party we would have planned for Ralph in a normal year, because we want to keep everyone safe. It was really fun to have this goal for everyone to work towards and to pull off a fantastic performance. The horses enjoyed it as much as the people did!”
Meet the riders and horses
Catherine Andrews & Westeross
I joined the M2 barn family in 2017. I came to Esther and Harper as a kid from Niagara with an OTTB and big ambitions! With their guidance, I’ve been able to develop my skills as a rider and gotten a lot of amazing opportunities to move forward in my riding career. Over the last year I was extremely lucky to get the chance to ride Westeross, a horse that was trained to the highest levels by Harper and Esther. Riding and competing on Wes was a big help to learn the ins and outs of riding the upper levels, and I am excited to apply that new knowledge to my own horse as we train up the levels together towards our goal of Grand Prix.
Isabella Bender & Diamond Geezer
I’m 14 years old and a student at Burlington Central High School in the ALP (Accelerated Learning Program). We recently moved to the area and I’ve been at M2 Dressage for just over two months. Being coached by Esther and Harper and learning on Esther’s Grand Prix horse Diamond Geezer (aka Gerry) is an amazing opportunity. My goal is to make the Canadian Young Riders team and compete in the North American Youth Championships.
David Haddock & Velora
I’m a retired electrical engineer and I’ve been a boarder at M2 for three years with my 12-year-old Hanoverian mare Velora. Harper and Esther complement each other in their training and instruction. They place a high priority on the care of the horses and make training a fun, enjoyable and social experience. My personal objective is to improve my riding skills and continue to advance Velora’s training so that we can successfully compete at the Prix St. George level of dressage. I own Velora’s baby as well and some day I’d love to ride mother and daughter at the same competition, perhaps one day even competing against each other. And most of all, my goal is to continue to enjoy my horses and have fun.
Megan Kinsella & Finnick
I have been riding since the age 7 had a show jumper thoroughbred as a kid. I bought Finnick in 2014 when he was 6 years old. Since Finnick showed so much potential I wanted to put him into full training and in February 2018 I moved him to M2 Dressaage. It was only supposed to be for 4 months of training but I never left. In 2019 we were the year end Third Level champions of the Caledon Dressage show series. We were hoping to compete at Prix St. George this summer and hopefully will meet that goal next year.
Helena Kvarnström & Bing
I came to M2 eight years ago. Esther helped me find my first horse, Valor, who was the most wonderful teacher. After he retired, Esther and I travelled to Florida in search of my next partner and we came home with Bing, a 10-year-old Hanoverian and former eventer. He's just a lovely horse. I hope we can be ready to compete at the Prix St. George level next summer.
Vivian Lee & Mobali
I feel incredibly lucky that for the last 5 years Janet McNally has given me the opportunity to learn on and ride her Hanoverian schoolmaster, Mobali. Momo, as he is affectionately called, is wonderful and steady, tall and handsome, and together we have shown to Third Level and play with PSG movements at home. I enjoy my partnership with this lovely horse, but of course, hope to find another partner to dance with when Mo retires.
Sherry Mcguire & Burana
As an adult amateur looking to learn more about dressage, I feel fortunate to be a part of the M2 team with my horse Burana, a 13-year-old Dutch warmblood. We’re lucky to have a safe activity we can enjoy in spite of the COVID pandemic and I appreciate all of the safety measures M2 has put in place so we can continue to learn and exercise.
Yvette Penno & Windermere
I first came to M2 when my then coach closed his barn for the winter season to compete in Florida. I’ve never looked back! My goal was to make it to Prix St. George by my 50th birthday. I achieved that goal and with the wonderful support and coaching from Esther and Harper continue to improve. I’m so happy to be part of the M2 team!
Jane Sikorski & Adajio
I started with M2 in January, 2020 after moving from New York the prior August. I had a couple of months at M2 before the pandemic put a pause on everything. I’ve ridden several of the horses at the barn, including Adajio in the quadrille last weekend. I think the fact that I’ve always ridden many different horses has allowed me the versatility and confidence to get on most horses. However, it’s time now for me to look at getting my own. It’s a fantastic barn - the most social I’ve ever experienced. The quadrilles they organize as well as the schooling shows are wonderful goals and challenges to work towards. I’ll be riding my first ever Prix St. George test this weekend.
Kaylea Smith & Linosso
I began my journey at M2 about a year and a half ago. I didn’t know the first thing about dressage! When I began, I never thought I would be able to do half the movements I am able to perform today. On this special night I rode one of Esther’s horses, Linosso. I feel incredibly lucky to be given the opportunity to choreograph this quadrille and ride such an incredible horse. I look forward to the future with this incredible team of horses and riders.
Dust off your show clothes, polish up your boots and join us at M2 Dressage for a test riding clinic on Saturday, September 26 starting at 10am. Judge to be announced. A limited number of stalls are available for ship in riders. To confirm your spot please email Esther at email@example.com. See you there!
M2 Dressage is hiring! Our superstar barn manager is leaving for university in August and we are looking for someone to fill her very big shoes at our busy boarding and training facility near Waterdown, Ontario.
This is a full-time, 5 day a week position. Duties include feeding, mucking, turn in / out, as well as grooming, tacking / untacking, and riding. The position is ideal for a highly motivated individual who wants to further their dressage knowledge under the direction of two FEI level trainers. Compensation includes competitive salary plus daily riding lesson. Option to bring your own horse.
The ideal candidate will be a confident rider who is experienced in horse care, handling and basic equine first aid. Dressage experience is not required but is a definite asset. Candidate must have their own accommodations and transportation. On-site accommodations are not available.
To apply, please forward a detailed resume and references to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than Monday, July 13.