Jaimey Irwin is one of the Canadian riders competing in Florida this winter with the aim of being selected to the Canadian dressage team for the World Equestrian Games, in Tryon, NC, this September. I spoke to Jaimey, at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival, where he was competing in the Grand Prix in the CDI3* with his horse Donegal. In the series of posts I have done on Canadian riders competing in Florida this winter I have asked them all the same seven questions. Here are Jaimey’s answers.
What age were you when you started riding? I started riding at 6 years old when my parents took over my grandparents resort. They bought an adjacent farm and we got horses; two work horses that were Belgian Welsh pony cross and an Arab Quarter horse cross that was a riding horse. He came with a Western saddle, a Western and an English bridle and a sulky. We didn’t think he was trained to pull the sulky so I just rode him.
When did you decide that you wanted to be a professional rider? I always knew I wanted to be a rider and trainer. As soon as I realized that this existed as a career I knew this was what I wanted to do.
What big championships or competitions have you ridden in? I rode in the North American Young rider Championships in 1999. I rode in the World Cup in Sweden in 2013. Last year I was on the Canadian team for the Nations Cup here at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival and the Canadian team won the gold. Canada had never won gold before. As an individual I won the silver medal.
Tell me about the horse you are competing with this winter in Florida. Donegal is a 10 year old Dutch Warmblood that we imported from Holland. He is owned by a syndicate, the Team Irwin Supporters. I got him at 3 years old and started him then and have brought him up to the Grand Prix. I knew, from the start, I could feel in his body that he had all the Grand Prix work in him. He has very good rideability but he is not as calm as Tina’s horse (Jaimey’s wife Tina Busse-Irwin also competes a Grand Prix horse). He is quite special. You can’t touch him without his acceptance if he doesn’t know you. He is a very sensitive horse.
What is the most difficult thing about competing in a season like this one leading up to selection for the WEG team? Balancing the business, the farm here and the farm at home, parenting two young children, their school here and school at home. Being here in Florida is very draining financially and we are lucky that we have a great group of clients who come down here to Florida with us. We couldn’t do it without them. Tina and I have both come from a ‘normal’ background. And we are always looking for sponsors to help us… in any way….with anything. (products , financially etc)
If you had not become a professional rider what other career might you have chosen? I don’t think there is anything else I would want to do other than ride and train horses.
If you could ride any horse, of any discipline , who would it be? Cosmo….the horse of German Olympian Sönke Rothenburger.
All the best of luck to Jaimey and Donegal in their journey……to WEG and BEYOND!