A lifetime of involvement with horses has become a passion for Nancy Pugh Lavoie, who is breathing new life into a very old training tradition.
Nancy Lavoie has been around horses her entire life. She has competed at the Grand Prix level in the United States and Europe and is a Bronze, Silver and Gold Medalist with the United States Dressage Federation (USDF).
Nancy started her riding before she could walk. Both parents, Mickey and David Pugh, were horsemen. At six months old Nancy was already competing in the prestigious Devon Horse Show lead line class with her pony Chief Snooks. Throughout her childhood Nancy had the opportunity to ride and compete many different horses in all aspects of horse sports. Nancy's parents are avid horse enthusiasts and all spare time while Nancy was growing up was spent exposing Nancy and her siblings to top competitions on the East Coast, including jumping, eventing, hunting, competitive trail riding and dressage. From early on Nancy decided to pursue a career with horses, during high school she fell in love with dressage.
After High School Nancy went to work for and train with Lendon Gray and was also introduced to the professional barn management skills she now knows are very important part of a top competition stable. Nancy went on to work with Belinda Nairn (Wertman) and Jessica Ransehausen. It was during this time she qualified and competed on the Region 1 Young Rider team in the NAYRC, where her team earned a silver medal. By the age of twenty four she already had many awards and was competing at the Grand Prix level. From the young rider years through her twenties Nancy taught and managed her parents farm in Rhode Island. During this time receiving training with top Olympic riders such as Robert Dover and continuing with Lendon Gray. Her enthusiasm for the sport was still growing strong and desperately wanting to know more Nancy decided to go back to a learning environment and joined Oded Shimoni in Centreville, MD.
Nancy started out with Oded managing his business and learning his training system, as time progressed she started training and teaching again. Nancy and Oded were partners for eleven years. During this time she had the good fortune to travel to Europe, where she continued her training and made acquaintances with many top people in the sport. Nancy also had several very successful competition horses and made the United States Equestrian Team's developing horse list. Being on this list created the situation that she could participate in training clinics with top European and American dressage trainers. In addition Ms. Lavoie was able to train in Europe as well as manage Oded's horses while he was on the European circuit. The time Nancy spent in Europe gave her extensive exposure to top dressage, which has fueled her desire to excel in the sport.
"Being behind the scenes at the big shows is fantastic!" Nancy tells us, "getting to know the best riders in the world and watching the schooling and competing of these Olympic level horses is so exciting for me! I really want to be part of it."
In 2002 Ms. Lavoie went out on her own and developed Nancy Lavoie Dressage Horses. Her business strives to provide top training, care and management for Dressage Sport Horses. In 2002 Nancy returned to Europe for training and to compete. With Alexis-D she was able to compete successfully in such prestigious horse shows as Saumer, Hickstead and Mondorf Les Baines. After spending the winter in Florida to catch up on business, Nancy returned to Germany to train with Ellen Bontje and Conrad Schumacher. The summer of 2003 Alexis-D moved into the Grand Prix and Nancy spent the summer and fall competing and training.
Presently Nancy Lavoie Dressage Horses is evolving into Carousel Dressage Horses. Nancy's recent marriage to Matthew Lavoie has prompted a name change! As well as encouraging Nancy to settle into a steady routine of Florida winters and Massachusetts summers. In 2004 Nancy's parents sold their Rhode Island Farm and bought Heartwood Farm South in Loxahatchee Groves, Florida. For the summer months Carousel Dressage Horses migrates to "Ashby Stock Farm" owned by Jeanne and Charlie Parlee, in Ashby, MA. At both locations nancy hosts clinics with her two amazing trainers Conrad Schumacher and Tristan Tucker.
"So far everything I've done is with my own resources-and my parents, who have been great. I am looking to move up to another level, and I may need some financial help to ride the horse that will take me into the Olympic ring." Nancy can take horses from lower levels into the FEI (International) ranks, she has had success in the FEI Young Horse classes, training JR/YR's as well as creating winning partnerships with difficult horses. "I enjoy working with horses that are talented of course, sometimes I get a super opportunity because I will get a horse that has a lot of talent, but was previously misunderstood. Truly naughty horses are not for me, I get real satisfaction out of horses that enjoy doing this sport" Nancy says.
Ms. Lavoie conducts clinics in Virginia, Wisconsin, New York and Massachusetts. She also has appeared in and written articles for The Chronicle of the Horse. Horseman's Yankee Pedlar, Practical Horseman, The Northeast Equine Journal and Dressage Today. Nancy is a feature Trainer on www.dressagetrainingonline.com. In addition to her own competition goals, she is excited about the growth of Dressage in America. Nancy has committed herself to dressage in the northeast by volunteering as USDF Region 8 Jr/YR coordinator, Chef d'Equiipe for NAJYRC and New England Dressage Association Jr./YR Liaison. The horse shows in Europe are really geared toward spectators. It's Nancy's dream to bring dressage into the mainstream and create a more entertaining dressage show in America.
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