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#11 Canadian Dressage Star Brittany Fraser-Beaulieu

Brittany Fraser-Beaulieu is the Canadian Dressage Rider at the moment holding the Olympic High Score for Canada. Also, with her horse “All In” she is the best Canadian in the FEI world rankings. She lives by the motto: “Never give up on your dreams.”. Listen in and learn from her secrets to success.

In this episode, Brittany tells us what her childhood dreams were and how they came true. She also tells us about her experiences at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Podcast Transcript

This transcript was created by an AI and has not been proofread.

This transcript was created by AI and has not been proofread

[SPEAKER 2]Hello everyone and welcome to the Equestrian Connection podcast. My name is as always Christian Kroeber and today I’m excited to present you our latest episode with Brittany Fraser Beaulieu. She is one of the rising dressage stars competing for Canada. She has scored the best ever Olympic result in the Canadian history during the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. How she rose to the top and how important a good partnership and relationship is with your horse this is what we are going to talk about now. Nevertheless at the moment it is also super hard to talk about trivial things such as riding. We are as a company and I also personally overwhelmed by the current situation in Ukraine so it is not easy also for us to release a podcast. We are deeply deeply concerned about what’s happening there and as some of you may know we are a European based company and the impact that we feel is already tremendous for instance one of our software developers had to leave his home country and we had to evacuate him last week. So our hopes and prayers are with those that are at the moment in Ukraine and we really hope that this horrible war will stop any minute. Nevertheless, now let’s start with Brittany. Hi Brittany, welcome to the show.

[SPEAKER 1]Hi, how are you?

[SPEAKER 2]A pleasure to have you on our podcast. You are a Canadian dressage rider on the international stage, rode your first Olympics actually last summer in Tokyo. Before we talk how you actually got there, why do you love dressage?

[SPEAKER 1]Well, I love dressage for many reasons, but the main reason is to be able to work with these amazing animals that we get to work with every single day. you know, and to develop a partnership and a bond with these big animals, you know, they turn into your parts of your family. You spend most of your day every single day with these animals and to see them develop and see them struggle and then see them shine in the spotlight. It’s just it’s incredible, really. It’s we are so lucky to be able to do what we do. with these animals all in my main horse. He, um, I owned him since he was five, and the bond that I have with him, I ask myself all the time, will I ever have this bond with another horse like I have with him? It’s indescribable, really. But, um, you know, you never know. There’s lots of horses that come your way, so hopefully I will, but he’s very special to me.

[SPEAKER 2]So it’s about this bond that you form throughout the journey that you have with a horse.

[SPEAKER 1]Yes, that’s for me everything. When you go down Central Line or the day of competition, you know this animal inside and out. You know if they’re feeling like they’re on their A-game. You know if they’re feeling a little bit under the weather. To be able to read these animals, to make them perform in the best way possible, is really a unique thing that we get to experience. And the beauty of dressage, you know, when you go and you sit there, especially at the Olympics, and watch all these top riders canter down center line, it looks effortless. You know, and with the freestyles and music, it’s just such a beautiful sport. You get to dance with these huge horses and it’s really incredible, really.

[SPEAKER 2]Your horse at the last Olympics and your best horse at the moment is all in. How would you describe the relationship that you have with Olin, this bond?

[SPEAKER 1]Well, him and I, like I said, have been together, he was five, so he’s now, this year he’s 17, so it’s been a very long partnership. You know, as soon as I walk into the barn, he knows I’m there, he knows I’m gonna give him treats. any little thing, like I know when he’s not feeling his best. I know when I trot down into that big ring and he’s like, OK, let’s go for it. I can feel that vibe underneath me. And, you know, I’ve traveled all over the world with this horse. And, you know, there’s been many failures and there’s been so much success that, you know, it hasn’t just been one, you know, pretty picture through this whole career that I’ve had with this horse and basically no partnership is like that you know when you’re training horses there’s tons of ups and downs and heartache and um but he he will be with me for the rest of his life because he’s like family for us and he brought me to the top of the sport

[SPEAKER 2]And you scored the best results for the Canadians at the Olympics, and you basically rose together to the top of the sport, right?

[SPEAKER 1]Yes, at the Olympics it was feeling so great. I was a little bit worried, you know, through all the travel process, you know, getting to the Olympics. We left Canada in June, had to go to New York, then we had to go to Germany and then went to Tokyo and I was just praying to God that nothing was going to happen. You know, but the time it was competition day, but he was feeling amazing. I probably had one of my best Grand Prix’s to date at the Olympics. You know, my score wasn’t the best score I’ve ever had at the Olympics, which, you know, it was a little bit unfortunate, but I was just so happy to be there and had the ride that I had for Canada. I felt like all of Canada was behind me, so I I didn’t want to disappoint them. So it was no pressure.

[SPEAKER 2]Yeah.

[SPEAKER 1]It was a magical moment, really, for us, it was.

[SPEAKER 2]You earlier described that a relationship or this relationship with Alain, your best horse at the moment, where you basically feel that this horse is part of part of family basically, a relationship usually also has ups and downs. How would you describe the journey that you had together? You mentioned he came to you when he was five. That is a real long time. These days in the sport, though, many of the top pairs, they are together for quite a while, but still, you rose together all the way.

[SPEAKER 1]Yes. Well, yeah, he flew to… I bought him in an auction at Gwanaleet, auction in Holland. You know, he was five years old. He was huge. I am not that tall of a person, but he you know, he was a fresh young horse. He was very noise sensitive. He was never, ever nasty. But, you know, he was a lot of horse for me to try to put together. And, you know, the very first time I I showed him, I think I showed him first level and I had like 84 percent. And I was like, Oh my gosh, this horse is amazing. He went down center line. He just like went for it, even though it was first level, it was still pretty exciting. So I’m like, Oh, I got that second time. I went down central line. I halted it next, next thing you know, he was doing a 360 and cantering back out of the ring. So I had to stop him, come back around. But that’s the life of young horses. You know, you have to take them to shows, you have to show them experience. And every time you can or down that center line, you’re not exactly sure what you’re going to get, especially on a young, talented, hot horse. Um, so, you know, I had great trainers along the way, helping me develop him because it was the first horse that I developed from, you know, basically walk, talk, canter to Grand Prix. I did not do it by myself. I, like I said, I had great trainers. My main trainer, Ashley Holzer, basically helped me take him from, I would say, green fourth level to Grand Prix.

[SPEAKER 2]Ashley, also an Olympian.

[SPEAKER 1]Yes, four-time Olympian. She has been a huge contribute to my success. I’ve been training with her for a long time now. She’s honestly taught me so much. trying to bring that forward to my students that I have now.

[SPEAKER 2]Have you ever imagined when you started with All In that you would eventually score a Canadian Olympic record sometime down the road?

[SPEAKER 1]No, no, I didn’t. You know, everybody asks me, you know, did you know that All In was going to take you to the Olympics? Because we knew he was going to be your horse. But like, you know, I knew he had potential, but I I didn’t want to get my hopes up thinking that this one horse was going to bring me from basically training level to Grand Prix and to break the Olympic record for Canada. You know, that was just a complete dream of mine. And, you know, I guess that’s what a real partnership shows, you know, and I’m so proud of him and he owes me nothing. So he’s going to live the best life.

[SPEAKER 2]You are originally from the province of Nova Scotia and you started very early on. When I prepared for the podcast I read that you started writing at the age of five and your first competition has been when you were seven.

[SPEAKER 1]Yes, and maybe I was told maybe even I showed younger than seven, but right from the beginning as a young child, I love to compete.

[SPEAKER 2]Six and a half, basically.

[SPEAKER 1]Yeah.

[SPEAKER 2]I hate it.

[SPEAKER 1]I was really competitive, even as a young child. I always wanted to win, which is so not reality. But, you know, I always had that, you know, drive, even as a young child.


[SPEAKER 1]Yeah, the ponies that I had, I could never get them on the bed. They were always putting me in the dirt. You know, all the things that you have to learn as a child. And, you know, if you can kind of push past that and get over that, it usually takes you out to the other side. But yeah, I once I finished high school, I moved to Ontario. Well, actually, before that, I was traveling back and forth.

[SPEAKER 2]on weekends to Ontario to ride because in Nova Scotia, the competition scene is… I just wanted to ask, Nova Scotia is not necessarily known as the epicenter of the dressage sport.

[SPEAKER 1]No, it’s not. And the horse shows are, you know, they’re not as competitive as I needed them to be. So I moved, well, I was traveling back and forth to Ottawa. And when I graduated high school, I moved to Ottawa to train with the trainer that I was training with there, Ruth Koch, and she was in partnership with Albrecht Heidemann. So I was training with them and, you know, I love living in a bigger city and I loved all of that. So I learned so much from them. I lived there for I don’t know, maybe seven years, five, seven years.

[SPEAKER 2]That was after high school, basically.

[SPEAKER 1]That was after high school, yes. And then I got the opportunity to train with Ashley Holzer, and she was based out of New York City. So when she told me I could come and train with her, I packed my bags like literally the next week and I moved there. I had just met my my boyfriend who is now my husband. I met him maybe like a month before and I was like, sorry, I’m going to NYC now. So we packed our bags and we we moved there and it was it was the best decision I made for my career because well, actually helped me with all of the records that I broke and everything that I wanted to achieve as a rider, she led the path for me.

[SPEAKER 2]How did you get in touch with Dressage in the first place? I also read that you have been the first rider ever from Nova Scotia to compete on an FEI pony level. Why Dressage?

[SPEAKER 1]My dad’s wife at the time was a dressage writer, and she coached dressage and she wrote dressage, so that’s how I got into dressage. And through Ulrich Heidemann, he was involved in a program within Canada where he would travel around to each province and scout scout out talent. And he would try to, you know, bring out the talent in that rider by giving them opportunities or, you know, you know, getting them educated to be a better rider. So he actually said, Well, there’s this pony in Ottawa, at Ruth cautious stable, if you want to, you know, come and learn to ride it and show in Blainville that was actually in Quebec and do FBI ponies for the, you know, because I think it was the very first time that that class was offered. And, you know, I couldn’t even get the pony on the bit. You know, they used to take you know, like the big roller down central line and roll at the central line. And at X, the pony wanted to jump because it was actually a jumping pony. But anyways, that’s how it was.

[SPEAKER 2]A complete mess, basically.

[SPEAKER 1]It was. It was a disaster. Like the pony said was like straight near, I think, from the start of the test to the finish. But that’s how you get stronger and that’s how you learn to be better, right?

[SPEAKER 2]Exactly. Exactly. And until today, probably you don’t regret that you have taken the turn into dressage.

[SPEAKER 1]No, I don’t. You know, I don’t know if I did a couple of jumping shows when I was younger. And I liked it. And I’m not a nervous rider, but I don’t think I have the guts to be. a top showjumper. I just don’t think that’s and I definitely don’t have the guts to cross country.

[SPEAKER 2]Now you’re competing on the international stage and probably it hasn’t been your only Olympics. Maybe not with all in but maybe with also younger horses. How have you perceived being on this superstar level now at the Olympics? You’re competing against the Dutch riders, against the Germans, against the British riders. Has that been a feeling you have been adapting to over the years and also adjusting to, or has that been just completely new?

[SPEAKER 1]Um, well, I have gone to Europe a few times to compete already. And I also, um, competed in central park where, uh, Charlotte was, um, so yeah, it was an amazing show. So I wouldn’t say that it’s not like I’m with the top riders every weekend by any means, like if I was living in Europe, but, you know, being in Florida, you’re against a lot of very nice horses and talented riders in Wellington, too. Like the Americans are really strong. So I think that I was, you know, I was I felt prepared. I felt I didn’t feel like I was in the warm up. I was like, oh, my gosh, everybody’s around me. You know, I didn’t feel nervous being in the same warm up as, you know, most of the really the top, top riders. I felt confident. So I think that I showed in Aachen before, I showed in Fritzens, I did Central Park.

[SPEAKER 2]Two big shows in Europe, Fritzens in Austria and Aachen, of course, the biggest horse show in the world.

[SPEAKER 1]That’s it. I had a training grant and I trained with Patrick Kittel for three months.

[SPEAKER 2]Swedish Nation Cup rider, yeah.

[SPEAKER 1]A few years ago. I knew a lot of the riders already, so I think that helped my nerves.

[SPEAKER 2]But do you also then sit at the sidelines and also see how they manage things in the warm-up, preparing for the test itself? Is that something you do a lot?

[SPEAKER 1]Oh, for sure, yes. Watching, you know, it was especially when we were in the training camp, you know, we got to see everybody train and what their daily routines were.

[SPEAKER 2]Pre-Tokyo, you mean?

[SPEAKER 1]Pre-Tokyo, yes.

[SPEAKER 2]Maybe for everyone that is not familiar with what happened before the Olympics, basically all dressage riders or most dressage riders had to bring their horses to Aachen, Germany for quarantine, right?

[SPEAKER 1]Yes, for pre-quarantine. So we were all there together under strict quarantine rules. So there was not much else to do. We sat at the ring and watched everybody train. And it was a huge learning experience. Watching the top riders train before we were going to Tokyo, it was like a whole educational aspect of itself. And seeing what other people do and what their routines are. was pretty incredible, really. I don’t think very many games you get to experience that for that length of time. There’s a couple of days usually here and there, but not for that length of time.

[SPEAKER 2]Is that also something where you can establish new connections and also get to know other writers from other continents better? Because probably it’s an unusual situation. No one knows if this will ever happen again because it has been a COVID phenomenon. I know.

[SPEAKER 1]We did meet new riders and we did speak to new riders, but everybody was really strict to stay in their own bubble. We had very strict orders to stay in our own bubbles.

[SPEAKER 2]So every nation had their own bubble, basically.

[SPEAKER 1]Basically, yeah.


[SPEAKER 1]Yeah. And people didn’t want, you know, us going like as Canadians going into another barn because that’s their, you know, kind of quarantine section. So everybody really stayed within their country, which was a little bit of a shame because you couldn’t interact with as many riders as you wanted to. But all countries did that. So it wasn’t just a Canadian thing.

[SPEAKER 2]On the international stage, maybe not only those that are still actively competing, but also beyond, what are riders you admire, you look up to also as a younger rider, though you’re already on this particularly high level, but who do you look up to, who are riders you admire and role models also?

[SPEAKER 1]There’s so many great riders, but You know, Jessica put in such an incredible performance at the Olympics. It was just absolutely beautiful to watch. Isabelle is a complete master. She’s incredible.

[SPEAKER 2]For years and years.

[SPEAKER 1]For years, and horse after horse, Charlotte, Desjardins, like, wow, what a rider. You know, I know I got to spend a few months at Patrick’s, like I said before, and him and his wife were such amazing people, and I had an amazing time there. He’s also an incredible rider, brought horse after horse up. I think those are my top riders.

[SPEAKER 2]Brittany, at the end of every podcast, we have the four ultimate WeHorse questions. They are now also waiting for you. I hope you are ready. Question number one is, do you have a motto in life?

[SPEAKER 1]Work hard and never give up. I would say that’s my motto because as a junior and young rider, I had many horses that never worked out. There was always a health problem or right before a championship, They went lame or something happened. And I never gave up because my coaches just kept saying, one day you will shine and one day everything will work out. And it did. But in that moment as a young rider, you feel, oh, my gosh, like, why should I keep doing this? Because everything that I’m doing is just in all the hours that I’m putting in at the end of the day, I don’t even get to go to the competition because the horse broke, you know, so. That’s really my saying because in the end it did work out for me and that’s what I try to tell all of my students. I know it might be really hard right now but one day it will work out.

[SPEAKER 2]Important takeaway also for all young writers. Keep working and there will be a payoff down the road.

[SPEAKER 1]That’s it.

[SPEAKER 2]Question number two, who has been the most influential person in your equestrian life?

[SPEAKER 1]Well, for sure my trainer Ashley Holzer. Like I said before in the podcast, I would not be where I am without her. She has shaped my career from basically the bottom to the top. She got me on every senior team, every Nations Cup team. She’s been there for me through the bad moments and the good moments. She has taught me how to be a better rider, trainer. She’s my mentor. I couldn’t really have done it without her.

[SPEAKER 2]Great. Question number three. If you could give equestrians one piece of advice, only one, What is it?

[SPEAKER 1]Be patient. Be patient when you’re training your horses. You know, when you see a talented horse, a lot of times riders get really excited and push the horse sometimes too far because the horse keeps giving and giving. You know, Ashley really taught me that as well, like as a trainer to just, you know, take a step back and they will get stronger, but, you know, make it a really positive environment when you’re training, give lots of treats, don’t ride them for too long. If they’re really good, just get off and end the ride. You know, things like that, that I really learned from her to make the horses really, you know, enjoy their work and enjoy coming into the rink.

[SPEAKER 2]And then. please complete this sentence for me horses are the love of my life besides your husband he’s listening to the podcast brittany it has been it has been a blast thank you so much for being on the podcast um we keep fingers crossed for all future endeavors olympics 2020 You live in Quebec, by then you may be already fluent in French.

[SPEAKER 1]I hope so. I got a long way to go, so I’m not going to lie.

[SPEAKER 2]We will follow it very closely. Thanks so much and thank you for being on the podcast, Brittany Fraser-Bouliot. Thanks for listening to the Equestrian Connection podcast. Today I will not ask you for reviews, but for donations. The United Nations has put up a crisis relief fund, the United Nations Ukraine Humanitarian Fund, And we will put also the details and the link into the show notes. So if you can, please, please donate to the United Nations Humanitarian Fund for Ukraine to reduce the suffering of those that are affected by the war at the moment. Hear you next time at the Equestrian Connection.

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