“Besides being an incredible rider and trainer, Carmie is a gifted teacher. She tailors each lesson to give the horse and rider a sense of accomplishment – building blocks for future success.
I had a chance to see Carmie at work daily for two months. I was amazed to see the dedication and hard work that she put into every training session and lesson. She never stops ‘giving’ and nothing is too much effort. I enjoyed and learned both from my own lessons with Carmie and also from watching her ride my two young horses.”
EC Dressage Judge
ED Level 2 Coach
“Carmie is very dedicated and concentrated in her goals for her riding. She demonstrates a good feel for the horse when training, and maximizes the horses’ potential for its ability and movement.”
“I came to Carmie while my coach was in Europe competing. She helped maintain and even raise the bar of my training whilst preparing for the North American Junior Young Rider Championships. Carmie is extremely positive and patient when working with horses and riders, making it fun to achieve any goal. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Carmie and highly recommend her to anyone looking for a knowledgeable and kind coach.”
2010 North American Junior Young Rider Team Gold Medal Winner
Recipient of the Sept. 2010 Red Scarf Equestrian Athlete of the Month
“I had the wonderful opportunity of meeting Carmie years ago when she was in Kansas City, Missouri. She came to us as a working student two winters and I never had anyone before or since who had all the special qualities that she has. She had so much talent that she progressed rapidly on our advanced horses with more training. Even then she also did a good job with the green horses in our stable. As she went on in her career and her life back in Canada and around other parts of the US, I was always delighted to observe her progre
ss in training horses. When I had a need for a trainer for one of my horses, I was happy to be able to send my horse to Carmie. This horse had particular needs and was very sensitive. I always knew that he was under the best care with Carmie. Over years having used many different trainers, I know that what they say and what they will do is frequently less than what is promised. Although still in Missouri in the US I knew that my horse would receive not only the best riding and training with Carmie, but the special care that he needed. It is wonderful to not worry about your horse so far away. It was a joy to come and watch her show him. When he came home to us, he had grown in trust and suppleness and was more rideable than when he left us. Training a horse has so many levels of understanding. Carmie gave my horse more than just polished movements. She had obtained harmony with him and this to me is what the joy of riding can accomplish. Carmie has the talent, the work ethic and the knowledge to achieve this with many different kinds of horses. I do wish that she lived closer to us.”
Owner of Landers Farm, a stable in operation for more than 30 years.
Carmie has been at my barn now for seven years and I have been riding with her now for eight as a working student and as a student taking lessons. I have had numerous horses in the time I have been with Carmie, whether they are in training or I am taking lessons, I am constantly learning from her. Carmie gives lessons that are tailored to each person’s needs which is why after each lesson I always feel like myself and the horse have improved and learned so much. Carmie will never miss a day at the barn no matter the circumstances, even if I were the only student going to a horse show, she will take the time out of her busy schedule to come and help me doing anything, whether it be tacking up, getting me ready, warming us up or even calling my test . Every year I go away for work for a few months and I always leave my horses in training with Carmie because I know the horses’ health always comes first with her and she is always willing to go the extra mile to take care of any issues that might arise. I have seen Carmie bring many horses up through the levels, and being very successful with all of them. One of the things I really like about her is that she is constantly trying new things with a specific horse until she finds something that works for them. My family has also sponsored a horse for Carmie to train, ride and show and in the year and a
half that she has had him he has changed into a completely different horse and is doing so well, getting better scores each show. I would recommend her to any rider, whatever your goal might be- I know she will be able to help you.
“I’ve been riding for about 15 years when I met Carmie. I’ve always been interested in Dressage but I was trained as a jumper and pony club eventer, and Carmie was my first coach who taught me to properly ride Dressage.
I rode with Carmie for three summers, and during that time she taught me all the Dressage basics on Kazan (who was also a great teacher). I learned everything from drawing a proper circle to learning how to do my first pirouette. Carmie was patient, knowledgeable and passionate about teaching, and also with a great sense of humour. She made sure that each lesson was valuable and I learned something from them every time. I enjoyed taking lessons from her and grew alot as a mature rider over the three summers.
Carmie taught me so much as a rider and I am very thankful for all her hard and thoughtful training. I can honestly say that she is the best coach I’ve had in all of my riding career.”
“I took my horse to Carmie with the hope of riding and competing at the FEI Young Rider level (Prix St. Georges). Through much patience, knowledge, and effort she helped us achieve that goal. When I started with her I was still relatively new to dressage and it’s theories, and she was able to not only help me understand what needed to be done in order to accomplish our goal, she helped us achieve it. My partner and I, an older, CWB gelding, were somewhat of an unlikely pair but through Carmie’s coaching both in and out of the ring we ended our competitive career, and met our original goal, competing two seasons at the Young Rider level and were one of three horse/rider combinations who represented B.C. at the FEI Young Rider National Championships, ultimately claiming FEI Young Rider Technical and Freestyle Champions. It always seemed to me that Carmie had my horse’s mental and physical wellbeing in the forefront of her training regimen, and we were never asked to do more than what she thought we were both capable of. She was also able to push us to our fullest potential and challenged my horse and I physically and mentally in such a positive way that I’ll always be grateful for her work with us. When the time comes to start working with another horse partnership, Carmie is who I‘ll look to for guidance. She completed the circle of horse/rider/coach for us, in a way few people can and I consider her not only my coach but also a role model in riding and outside the barn. She’s dedicated to her students and horses and always works hard in any endeavour she undertakes.”
“I have known Carmie since 2004, when she began coaching my daughter, Claire, in her quest to learn dressage and compete at Young Riders with her horse, Legacy. Claire became a working student, and Carmie became her riding coach and a good friend. As fairly new horse owners, Carmie helped us gain confidence in the many decisions and responsibilities that come with horse ownership, and her calm manner and lifetime of experience with horses was a great resource for us.”
“Carmie is patient and methodical, and her training is grounded in the basics of dressage. She is kind, calm, and encouraging and sensitive to her students’ personalities and needs. She mapped out a training plan for Claire and Legacy that took them from First Level to Young Riders (Prix St. Georges) in three seasons, taking into account their abilities, fitness, temperament, and all the other factors that can influence progress and success. She absolutely helped Claire and Legacy set and achieve their goals, and in 2007 they became Canadian National Youth Champions – Technical and Freestyle, at the Dressage Canada Youth Championships held in Red Deer, Alberta. Carmie was with them every step of the way.”
“Additionally, I took lessons from Carmie, too, on a leased horse, for about a year. As a completely novice adult rider, Carmie patiently helped me overcome my fears and learn the basics for safe riding, and fun. I loved it! Thanks, Carmie!”
OUR FAVORITE COACH
“We came to Carmie in 2005 with Zoiy, a mare that had shut down, refused to work and was becoming increasingly alarming in her refusal, a stubborn pony, Duke and two girls who loved horses, worked hard and wanted to move on in dressage and their horsemanship skills. The girls had been riding since 1988 with various dressage coaches in the area.”
“Carmie never told us we needed to, “buy a new horse/pony” to achieve our goals, she always took what we had and worked with it. Encouraging the girls to try hard, know where their mounts strengths and weakness are and how they could improve on their techniques to improve their showing riding.) Carmie has an amazing ability to see the horse and rider in synergy and figuring out how to teach the rider to bring their mount to the fullest potential. Both Spencer and Michaela did better than we ever would have imagined with their mounts in the show ring and at the barn. I watched Carmie push the girls to be better with a sense of humor that always took the edge off when things got hard. Our mare had basically shut down and refused to work when we started with Carmie and we honestly thought we might have to quit with her because she was so hard to reach and stubborn.”
“I remember Michaela’s first lesson with Carmie and Carmie telling her, “you have to ride this horse between her ears” (her brain). This was the first time a coach had talked about taking the horses mind into account, I was ecstatic because I really loved this mare and was worried we would have to retire here due to her attitude. Michaela went on to win many championships with Zoiy, and Carmie’s excellent coaching and insight. They took the Provincial Championship at training then 1st Level, and took High Point Freestyle at the Rising Stars show in Chilliwack. quite a leap from the “dangerous mare” that looked like she may be a right off. Our previous coach actually told us we HAD to sell her for Michaela to move on. We still own Zoiy today and she continues to learn new dressage moves under Carmie’s coaching. Michaela does not show any more due to her University studies but is happy to be training Zoiy and still moving up in her dressage levels.”
“Spencer always rode with a crooked seat and was always told to, “sit up straight” by her previous coaches without much success. Carmie and her amazing eye actually taught Spencer how to sit properly using her hips, shoulders, seat bones and head position; I was amazed watching the transformation. Spencer and Duke took many a championship against a lot of beautiful horses; they surprised a lot of people in the show circuit under Carmie’s watchful eye. They made the Summer Games in 2006 being the highest scoring rider/horse (pony) combination in our Zone and the competition was stiff!”
“Spencer sadly physically out grew Duke and Carmie generously helped us sell Duke always keeping Spencer’s tender heart in mind. She also helped us find another mount keeping our tight budget in mind. Carmie knows how to work with her client’s pocket books! With Carmie’s guidance we leased a beautiful, out of shape mare, Halla, who had not really been ridden for 2 years and was 13 yrs old. Spencer did very well with Halla under Carmie’s amazing coaching, with this out of shape mare. The vet actually insisted that we do a pregnancy check on the mare to see if she was in foal when he first came out to see her. Carmie put Spencer and Halla on a training program that worked for both the rider’s ability and the mare’s condition. In two years, Spencer went from training level to 2nd level and was the Provincial Champion, 1st then 2nd Level on Halla. Spencer went on to be voted as the “Most Improved Rider” in the BC Young Riders Program in 2008, a huge achievement. Carmie by the way submitted Spencer’s letter of recommendation for the award to the BC young Riders Association, something she did on her own time.”
“Both Michaela and then Spencer worked for Carmie as her working student and had an unbelievable opportunity to learn from one of the most talented and humble coaches I have ever met. Carmie taught them so much in their time being working students on how to care for, ride and figure out horses but she was not only a horse coach she was also a life coach to them leading by example. I was never concerned for their well being while with Carmie and was thrilled that they could learn from such a talented, sensitive and intuitive coach. I highly recommend Carmie as a coach and equally importantly as a person.”
“Carmie has been coming to our area for several years to coach myself, other local trainers, and our students. From the very first clinic with Carmie, her enthusiasm and experience has brought every rider she teaches to a new level.”
“I thoroughly enjoy learning from someone who is constantly improving themselves; each clinic brings new information and techniques, often from top trainers that Carmie herself has recently worked with.”
“Her professionalism, drive and positive outlook are also traits that I highly prize in someone that I look upon as a mentor, and who is playing a key role in affecting my students. Carmie is truly a great asset to the mid-Island riding community.”
Owner & Head Coach
G.P. Cottonwood Stables
“As a breeder and competitor of quality dressage horses, I am very excited to have found the instructor of my dreams in Carmie Flaherty. She is one of the most dedicated, truthful, hard working person I have had the pleasure of knowing. She goes above and beyond the 45 minutes of coaching and is there for every person or horse 24/7, no matter what. (She will even teach 12 or more lessons a day when she comes for clinics and insists we turn no one away, we call her the work horse.)”
“I have sent 3 of my best horses for training with Carmie during the winter months and knowing that they were with her, was the only reason I was happy to do so. Knowing nothing would be overlooked with the horses training and care as well as 100% honest updates is very reassuring.”
“I can’t say enough about how happy I am to have her as a coach and mentor, it has made me a better rider and competitor.”
Deep Creek Warmbloods
“Carmie is a knowledgeable and skilled coach with the ability to work with varying types of horses and riders. She is energetic, honest, patient and creative enabling her to get her point across affectively. She has a deep love and respect for the horse and tailors her instruction to each particular horses’ needs ensuring the foundation is solid before moving on.”
“Carmie’s positive and calm energy are very refreshing and she is a pleasure to work with for both horse and rider!”
“I admire your knowledge and skill, but what I appreciate the most about you is the grace, courtesy and respect you show each of your students, no matter what level they ride.”
“I appreciate your knowledge, professionalism and friendship.”
“I am very grateful to be a student of Carmie Flaherty. Her considerable knowledge of horsemanship combined with her perceptive eyes, precise words and calm manner provide a unique opportunity to learn the intricacies for dressage riding from a true professional. Carmie understands and has the patience for the process involved for both the horse and rider to learn the necessary skills and vuild confidence with each other. Carmie is respectful, honest, punctual, and conducts all aspects for her business with integrity. Carmie shares her knowledge and love of horses with both novice and accomplished riders with equal dedication. Thank you Carmie, for teaching this middle-aged lady to ride. You have brought many smiles to my face and a wonderful feeling of pride and accomplishment to my life.”
“I started riding with Carmie because I was looking for someone who would push
me to improve but not yell at or insult me but I got so much more. Carmie
is a phenomenal coach and an exceptionally nice person! My lessons are always
very productive and fun. She pushes me for more and gets results without harsh
words or yelling. My mare and I would not be where we are now without her
and I look forward eagerly to our lessons!”
“My name is Rhonda Pleacas. I live on the east coast of Vancouver Island. I have traveled the path to Dressage for the past 50 years. I have strived to pursue instructors and coaches who promote the best interest of the horse and rider partnership.”
“I found Carmie in February 2006 after contacting an experienced rider/judge in Langley BC. She sent me a list of clinicians with Carmie’s name on the top. I sent out an email to Carmie asking if she would be interested to come to the Island to work with some enthusiastic riders. She came back with a positive reply. We had our first clinic in April of that year. Since that time Carmie has been travelling to us approximately every 6 to 8 weeks. Our riders have improved significantly many of which have been steadily moving up the levels. Carmie is happy to work with every level of horse and rider and always keeps safety her first priority. Many times she fits in extra lessons to accommodate everyone, often working through her breaks. She has an excellent eye and a wealth of experience in training both horse and rider. As a coach this is an excellent combination. On a personal level I have found Carmie to be very professional in all aspects of her trade.”
“I have been riding with Carmie since I was 15 years old. Through the years I have ridden many different horses, of varying types, breeds, and personalities. With Carmie’s guidance, I have been able to learn and enjoy each. Carmie has an honest, caring, and compassionate approach to training, and this shines through during her lessons. She has an innate ability to sense how a rider is feeling, and structures a lesson accordingly. She instils confidence, and I always walk away from a lesson feeling like ‘I CAN’.
Over the years, Carmie has been many things to me – a Coach, a Mentor, and Inspiration, and most importantly, a Friend. Thank you Carmie.”
“Being a self taught fun/trail rider my first memory of Carmie was her riding past our place on her big beautiful chestnut and looking so elegant. Things changed for me and I found myself paying board and the park not accessible so I decided to change direction and learn how to ride correctly. Carmie did not hesitate to take me on as a student. She always gave me encouragement and never lost faith in me in my struggles of re learning and correcting my bad habits. After all taking an older lady with a ‘Cowboys and Indians’ style changing it into something educated and elegant isn’t a small feat. Not to mention that I trained my horses myself. Carmie was amazing in getting me to do something correctly and then feel it so I could then work on it on my own and re teach my horses. I now know how important it is to learn on school masters! Carmie has an unbelievable knowledge and if you don’t understand she will describe it in a different way until something works. She is very calm and relaxed. She works with you and your horse to be the best you both can and makes sure you can take it away and use it on your own with never any pressure to enter a show. Like most of us that ride, we have a budget and mine is spending it on lessons but if a show is in the cards, Carmie is there to support and coach you.”
“Carmie Flaherty is a third level coach with whom I have taken clinics. She has also assisted me in the purchase of a P.R.E. horse from Spain. She is very patient, knowledgeable, kind, and understanding. She works very hard training horses, and students, and she shows and does clinics throughout the year. She is honest and dependable. If someone doesn’t understand how to do something she will show them and explain what needs to be done to achieve the correct results. She will encourage her students and will push them to do things properly but in a positive way. She is the ultimate coach, and I only wish that I had her every time I took a lesson, but being that I am on Vancouver Island and she is in Langley I eagerly wait to participate in her clinics.”
Amateur Adult Dressage Student
Salt Spring Island
“I am a dressage rider in a remote community with a horse I started myself who proved to be quite complicated technically. After years of struggling with inconsistent help and many different opinions as to how to proceed (often “buy a new horse”) we were finally privileged to have Carmie as a regular coach. She has been unbelievably patient spending many hours talking me through the mental aspects of dealing with my horse’s shortcomings, the baggage I have created and how to deal with all of my own frustrations. Being a person lacking inner confidence, some of my experiences in the past with coaches who seem to want to get the point across by humiliation were not helping me to learn. It has been so refreshing to have a coach who has such a positive way or trying to make her points. She doesn’t sugar coat but she always looks at the upside of what’s going on and tries to get the most out of any situation. As well, she is always coming with new insights and ways to explain things. Carmie has been the best thing that has happened for me and my horse and I only wish she had come along sooner.”
I have been taking clinics with Carmie since April 2006, her professionalism and drive to make you and your horse a better partner is very inspiring, she is always updating herself in attending clinics with well-known dressage clinicians such as Markus Gribbe and Lesley Reid to name a few.
I have always enjoyed learning from Carmie and always look forward to each time she comes to the island. I have found that my riding has improved greatly with Carmie’s instruction
She always throws in the odd cartoon character voices that make you laugh to make it more fun in the lessons. It’s a real treat!
I would highly recommend anyone to take instruction under Carmie!
Cheryl Ann Butler & BG Butler