Dreaming to win
At school, I never stopped dreaming about horses. I drew them all over my books. I had pictures of ponies, of horses jumping. It was innate, the love of horses and of the sport. I dreamed of it all the time”.
This talented rider and trainer goes by the name of Lucie Corbeil. Open, at ease and very sympathetic, Lucie has since 1993 risen up among the best show jumping riders in Canada. At this level, within this restricted milieu, each competitor has but one goal: to secure a spot on the prestigious Canadian Team and represent our country on the international scene.
Right from her first lessons over obstacles, she has dreamed of “someday finding myself on the competition grounds with the best riders, such as Ian Millar and many others”. An impossible dream? At first glance yes… unless you know how determined Lucie is.
Originally from Rouyn Noranda where her father had a sporting goods store, her whole family was into sports. She competed in downhill skiing, basketball, badminton, swimming and a bit of western riding. One day, at the age of 14, a friend told her that she was taking jumping lessons at a local classical riding stable. She went immediately and from that moment on, she was hooked. “In the region of Noranda, at this time, we were only a handful of oddballs practicing classical equitation at Mr. Guy Carle’s farm. The more I rode, the more I wanted to ride, even when conditions were less than ideal…”
Despite her young age, Lucie was strong-willed. Not even the rough Abitibi winters could stop her. Upon arriving at the stables, she and her friends had to shovel figures in the snow, diagonals and circles, since they had no indoor arena! “At first we had no obstacles, so we iced and painted snow banks in red and green to have something to jump. Actually, my first jump ever was the paddock fence! We didn’t know our distances and we were pretty reckless, but we learned to stay on our horses and have fun. After our lessons, we’d take off the saddle, harness the horses and go out on trail. I spent so much time outdoors with the horses that I’d sleep in the car on my way home”.
Ingenious and independent, Lucie was able to pay many riding lessons thanks to an idea she had of renting out her new 10 speed bicycle, a rare item in her area. She placed a sign in front of the garage “Bicycle rides – 50 cents” that brought her clients all summer and raised money for her to practice her sport. So as an adolescent, she already had a taste for horses and open spaces. On the other hand, she also had a talent for drawing. When she wasn’t riding, she would draw. She dreamed that one day she would make it to Walt Disney’s studios… She wondered which way she should go.
One day, she saw an ad for the Yorkshire Riding Centre recruiting riders from all countries to train and become certified trainers in England. At that moment, she had to decide between La Pocatière and England. Lucie is sixteen and a half years old and challenges don’t scare her, so she opts for Europe. It’s there that she began to follow great riders like Nick Skelton, the Whitaker brothers, and Harvey Smith, as well as the wonderful riding competitions. She was immediately immersed in what she wanted to do. For a young 17 year old from Abitibi, seeing foxhunts go by at dawn on foggy Sunday mornings, with the hounds and the English ladies riding sidesaddle, it was quite a sight. She trained six days per week over fences and improved her dressage on excellent horses, as well as following management courses.
Confirmed in her decision and confident of the possibilities open to her, she left Abitibi for good and moved to the Montreal area, where she got her first job as a coach at Lacasse Stables in Terrebonne. In 1982, she became the first trainer in Quebec to be certified Level II by the CEF. With better and better results from her students as the years pass, Lucie Corbeil is increasingly well known and sought out. Little by little, Lucie the dreamer who used to hang around the warm-up areas to listen to the advice of the greats is forging a path in the industry. Ian Millar remains one of her favourites, accessible and very present in her life as since 1992 she trains regularly at Millar Brooke Farms and with Ian at shows. In September 2014 she went for three months training with Olympian Jill Henselwood at Juniper Farms.
Lucie became in 1997 the first female athlete from Quebec to be a member of the Canadian Equestrian Team in showjumping with Diorella, and got to wear the famous red jacket. On top of having been named Showjumping Trainer and Athlete of the year in Quebec, she possesses her Instructor’s levels from England and now her Level III (High Performance Coach) from the Canadian Equestrian Federation (EC). Since Abitibi, the childhood dreams, wonderful voyages and many paths travelled, today a wealth of solid experience resides under Lucie’s saddle and she is always very accessible to those who have need of her experience and precious advice.
As well as performing in her own right, she is equally able to bring her students along successfully at every level. She loves teaching beginners, juniors and adults up to advanced levels and to pass along her knowledge to riders who show a willingness to learn.
Text by : Jocelyne Lortie “Pas de deux communications”
Biography of Lucie Corbeil “RÊVER POUR GAGNER” Courrier Hippique FEQ.
Winner of the Prix de la Presse.
Many thanks to Nancy Smythe for the English version.