We are so happy to announce our EFO Rider of the Month for December!
None other than the fabulous Isabel Dopta, nominated by one of her students. In the words of her student "she is the most deserving person, hardest working and most dedicated person". Thank you so much to Nicky Niemann for nominating this wonderful woman and amazing horse person.
Without further rambling on my part, here is what Isabel had to say...
1. How did you enter the Equestrian Industry?
When I was really young my dad used to take me by ferry to Centre Island near Toronto to ride the ponies. After that we started trail riding together and then one day on the way home we stopped in at a riding school owned by Doug Hood.
2. Were you always a dressage rider?
Or did you start in a different discipline? I started in eventing with Peter Gray as a young rider, then spent a couple years show jumping with Danny Foster and eventually found my way to dressage.
3. What does it take, in your opinion, to be successful in this field?
A love for horses and perseverance.
4. What accomplishment are you most proud of within the Equestrian Industry? (Does not have to be based on show results)
When I see a horse and rider I am involved with communicating well in training and being happy with each other.
5. What does an average day look like for you?
Running between the barn, my home office and meetings for my communications company.
6. What are the most common challenges you face?
Having enough time in the day for everything I love to do – spending time with the horses, family & friends, company work and reading – in no particular order!
7. Do you have any suggestions for young riders looking to enter this field?
Be determined, have patience and invest in yourself. By that I mean take every opportunity to learn and become informed. Always have a hungry mind – watch good riders, learn from those with more experience, go to school, get an education. Exhaust yourself with learning and doing!
8. If you weren’t in the Equestrian Industry, what do you think you would be doing instead and why?
It is a toss up between living and working near the ocean – I love the ocean - or being a bi-athlete. I think I missed my calling with that sport!
9. The most memorable horse which you have owned or ridden ___ and why?
That would be Lys, my beautiful mare who we bought in Germany as a three year old. She passed away unexpectedly last year at only ten years old. I always said she was the equine equivalent of a high-powered CEO. We had our challenges as you would expect but she gave me the most wonderful feeling in training of power and grace.
10. What is the one thing you can never go to a horse-show without?
My sense of organization! I have had so many incidents of forgetting items and being in a state of chaos I have learned that with organization comes a sense of control and calm (hopefully!).
11. Do you have any horse-show rituals? (Other than getting Tim’s at 4am).
I try to limit conversation about 30 minutes before I start warming up. I worked with a sports psychologist who encouraged me to make some personal space for myself.
12. Describe the funniest wardrobe malfunction that you have had when riding.
I was training with my coach Cindy Ishoy when the belt holding up my breeches came undone followed quickly by the zipper. We were in the middle of some serious training when I realized my wardrobe from the waist done was starting to peel away. I think it was Cindy’s laughing that clued me in!
13. What is your favourite post-horseshow thing to do?
There are always so many people involved in a horseshow – friends, family, clients – the best thing is to have a group hug, or sometimes a group cry - and then carry on happily to tackle another day.
14. What do you like to do for fun with your horse? (go for a hack, pole work, ground training?
15. Does your horse have a favourite treat?
If so, what is it? Bananas!
16. What do you like to do when you manage to get some time off and away from the barn?
I love travelling with my husband. It is always hard to get away from the farm for extended periods of time but we have a few trips on the bucket list…South Africa, Chile, Morocco…fingers crossed.
17. What is your favourite thing to do during the holidays with your horses?
Spoil them with treats.
18. Everyone has a favourite piece of tack/equipment – what is the one thing you could not do without (besides the obvious, saddle/bridle).
Sticky stuff for the inside of my boots when I am riding Eamon at a show – he is so bouncy!
19. What is the fondest holiday memory you have with horses.
Being in our barn on Christmas day surrounded by contented horses.
20. Describe your dream vacation (does not have to be horse related).
See travel dreams above!