Heather Blitz is an American dressage rider who won the team gold and individual silver medals at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara. She was also part of the U.S. Olympic team at the 2012 games in London. A Kansas native, Blitz began competing in dressage in 1994. She rode in Grand Prix competitions in Florida on the Danish horse Rambo, then moved to Denmark for several years. While living in Denmark, she competed across Europe on another Danish Warmblood, Otto. Currently, she is based in Wellington year-round, where she is a familiar face at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival. She had a strong season in 2019, ending on a high note when Blitz and her mount Semper Fidelis kicked off the final week of competition with a win in the FEI Grand Prix CDI3*, presented by Brooke USA. The pair is back in action this season in Wellington. When not riding herself, Blitz is a well-known trainer. She has worked closely with top U.S. Paralympian Annie Peavy.
Australian native Nicholas Fyffe began his riding career as an international three-day eventer. After choosing to focus solely on dressage, he trained intensively in Germany under top international riders, gaining a wealth of information that guides his approach today. Fyffe contributed to the Australian team’s gold medal at the 2007 Tri-Nations Cup in Johannesburg, South Africa, and he has ridden on five Nations Cup Teams here in Wellington. Helping Australia make history by clinching the team bronze medal at the 2018 CDIO3* Nations Cup. Fyffe also claimed an individual bronze medal in the Intermediate I Freestyle aboard Louise Cote’s Hitchcock. Today, Fyffe is also a sought-after trainer here in the Wellington area based at Marcus Fyffe Dressage with partner David Marcus. Fyffe has qualified multiple horses for the World Young Horse Championships and has shown six horses to Grand Prix.
Canadian Jill Irving has taken top honors in some of the sport’s top competitions. In 2014, she won the Everglades Dressage Rider Achievement Award at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival. Irving, who had not previously ridden on a championship team, headed to Europe in 2017 to compete. She showed at the CDI 4* Achleiten in Austria, earning great scores and getting named Red Scarf Equestrian Dressage Athlete of the Month. This helped her secure a spot on Canada’s dressage team for the World Equestrian Games Tryon 2018. Last year, she represented Canada at the 2019 Pan American Games, helping her team win the gold medal. Aside from her work in the ring, Irving has spearheaded the Canadian Youth Equestrian Mentorship Program since 2015, which offers opportunities for young Canadian equestrians to attend training camps in Wellington. Irving is back in action in Wellington this season, kicking off the year by winning the FEI Dressage World Cup Grand Prix Freestyle aboard Degas 12 in the opening week of the AGDF.
Dong-seon Kim is a South Korean dressage rider who represented his native country at the 2014 World Equestrian Games in Normandy with his horse Bukowski. He also competed at three Asian Games in 2006, 2010 and 2014, where he altogether won three team gold medals and an individual silver medal. He later qualified for the 2014 Dressage World Cup Final in Lyon, France, where he finished in 17th position. Kim also competed with Bukowski at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016 and the 2018 World Equestrian Games in Tryon. Kim is competing this season in Wellington with his new mounts Belstaff and Bordolino. He recently placed fifth with Bellstaff in the FEI Grand Prix CDI5*, presented by CaptiveOne Advisors, during AGDF Week 7. A well-known horse owner, his mounts have also done well when paired with other riders.
Janine Little is a rider who competes in Wellington during the winter season and for the rest of the year is based just south of Brockville, near Canada’s capital of Ottawa. Raised in a “non-horsey” family, Little’s love for horses and riding inspired her to work her way up Pony Club levels. By age 16, she realized dressage was her passion. Partnered with an unconventional mount she brought along herself, she was named Canadian National Junior Champion in 2000. After studying psychology — a background that benefits her as a rider and coach — Little earned her Equine Canada coaching certification and began working professionally. She later trained in the Netherlands with three-time Olympic gold medalist Anky van Grunsven. Upon her return, Little received the ride on Dominic LHF, a horse she developed from Training Level to Grand Prix. The pair were FEI Advanced Level Champions at the 2010 Western Regionals, the Alberta Provincials and the Pacific Regionals, and declared for the 2012 Olympics. Today, she is a rider and a well-known trainer and coach.
Born to Canadian parents in Nigeria, Yvonne Losos de Muńiz rides for the Dominican Republic, which has been her home since 1990. She became the first Dominican rider to participate in the Olympics when competing in the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Games. Her career began at an early age with support from her parents before formal training in Germany. Listed among the best riders in all of Latin America, Losos de Muńiz has many awards under her belt. She won a bronze medal at the 2007 Pan-American Games in Rio, repeating the feat of the 2003 Pan-American Games in Santo Domingo. Prior to her Pan-American medals, Losos de Muńiz won individual gold and bronze as a team in the Central American Games 2002 in El Salvador, and she has won several medals since at the Central American Games. Competing locally, she secured several big wins at the 2018 AGDF, qualifying for the FEI World Cup that year in Paris. She is back in action this year at the AGDF riding Aquamarijn to third place in the FEI Grand Prix CDI5* during Week 7.
Adrienne Lyle was raised on a small cattle farm in Whidbey Island, Washington and has always spent time around horses. She originally rode western, then switched to English at age seven. She tried eventing before dressage became her calling. Lyle began competing at age 13. She was a member of the silver medal team at the 2002 Cosequin Junior Dressage Championships and the bronze medal Region 6 team at the 2004 North American Young Rider Championships. Career highlights include competing in the 2012 Olympic Games in London and contributing to a fourth-place team finish at the 2014 World Equestrian Games in France. Lyle and her mount Salvino had a string of wins at the 2018 AGDF. The pair qualified for the World Equestrian Games Tryon 2018, where they helped the U.S. team win the silver medal. Lyle had a great 2019 season in Wellington, including riding Harmony’s Duval to victory in the FEI Grand Prix Special CDI3* during Week 10. The pair followed that up with impressive wins later in the season at Tryon and in Europe.
Juan Matute Guimon has emerged as one of dressage’s top young talents. Dressage runs in the family. He is the son of Juan Matute Sr., who won six Spanish National Dressage Championships and had three Olympic appearances for Spain. The family moved to Wellington in 2008, and Matute Jr. spent his formative years here just as dressage was growing by leaps and bounds. He credits the AGDF with launching his career as an international competitor. Currently, he is living in Spain where he’s competing in dressage and attending Madrid’s Universidad Camilo Jose Cela. In 2018, Matute Jr. won a bronze medal with Quantico at the senior Spanish National Championships and participated with the Spanish national team at the World Equestrian Games in Tryon. This season, Matute Jr. has returned to Wellington with his mount Don Diego. They placed second in the Grand Prix Freestyle CDI-W during AGDF Week 3. As the season moves on, he has his eye on the World Cup Final in Las Vegas and perhaps a spot on the Spanish team in Tokyo.
Jennifer Schrader-Williams is an international Grand Prix dressage rider and trainer with more than 20 years of experience developing horses. She has trained and ridden several horses to the Grand Prix level and hopes to one day represent the U.S. at the Olympics or the World Equestrian Games. Based at Summervale Premier Dressage near Roy, Washington, her current competition horse is Millione, a 17-year-old Danish warmblood gelding. Millione is currently competing at the international Grand Prix level with scores to 71%. They debuted their new freestyle set to Vikings music by Karen Robinson this year at 73.9% at the AGDF in Wellington. Millione and Schrader-Williams were the recipient of the PNW High Performance Dressage training grant for 2017 and returned from competing at the 2018 Festival of Champions in Chicago finishing second in the Grand Prix Special and third in the overall final. Schrader-Williams and Millione started this season strong, placing fourth in the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDI-W, presented by the US P.R.E. Association.
Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfvén of Sweden is one of the greatest dressage riders of all time. Vilhelmson-Silfvén began riding at age seven and became interested in dressage after her mother taught her about the sport. The seven-time Olympian is a master of training young horses. Vilhelmson-Silfvén has also competed at six World Equestrian Games and 11 European Dressage Championships. She has won three bronze medals in team competitions at the European championships, and also competed at seven editions of the Dressage World Cup finals. Riding with Adequan Global Dressage Festival major sponsor Lövsta, Vilhelmson-Silfvén has been spending winters in Wellington for more than a decade and continues to shine at the AGDF. After placing eighth individually with Don Auriello at the 2016 Olympics in Rio and competing at the World Equestrian Games Tryon 2018, she is now focused on qualifying for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.