California Riding Magazine • August, 2013

Nicole Perry Dressage
Helping the sport grow is the next challenge for trainer with an already long resume.

Nicole Perry has already accomplished a lot in the dressage world, yet, in her view, she's only just begun. Her business at the Portola Valley Training Center is thriving, the 5-year-old she's brought along, D'Artagnan, is earning 70s at First and Second Level and on track for a planned-for Pan Am Games bid, and her status as a great source to buy or sell a quality dressage horse is well-established.

She is determined to help lead the sport of dressage to new heights. More competitors, more sponsors, more fans and, above all, more fun, says this talented rider and ambitious sport advocate. "I have repositioned my business to help promote horses in this area," she explains. Toward that end, she has a number of irons in the fire.

Firstly, Nicole is working with Wendell Chambers on the development of the San Benito County Equestrian, Event and Cultural Center. She knows the Chambers well because they own and operate the Portola Valley Training Center, where Nicole has based her business for the last nine years. It's a superbly run facility and that's what inspired her to help them develop a first-rate show and event venue. The location is Gilroy, about 40 miles south of San Jose, in a corridor that is constantly growing thanks in part to the area's tech industry.

Intended for a site next to the new Gilroy Gaits boarding and training facility, the Center has plans that include an indoor stadium for international caliber equestrian competition, in dressage, show jumping and western disciplines. The stadium can also accommodate ice skating, concerts and many other forms of entertainment. The ideal plan includes on-site hotel accommodations, shopping and other amenities to make the destination and the events equally appealing.

Photo ©2013 Mark Muntean

Nicole grew up in San Diego and with the Del Mar Fair Horse Show back when its main attraction was nighttime performances showcasing many different disciplines. The format was popular with the general public and Nicole thinks there is a market for that today. "It's about bringing back some of the fun to horse shows," she notes. A small-scale trial run was a big hit recently when Nicole worked with Glenda McElroy and the San Francisco CDS Chapter to stage a Saturday night of dressage Freestyles at one of the show manager's Woodside Horse Park competitions. The audience was about triple that of a normal dressage performance and a good time was had
by all, Nicole reports.

Along similar lines of presenting horse sports at their best and to the widest possible audience, Nicole has launched High Performance Equestrian, an online magazine created on a mobile application called Flipboard. "We are promoting horse events all over the world and emphasizing what's great about horses," she explains. There's never a shortage of mainstream media reports about the costs and physical risks associated with horses. Nicole wants to balance that with examples of how horses contribute positives on many levels, from instilling confidence and life lessons in young riders to helping wounded warriors make successful re-entries to civilian life.
To subscribe to High Performance Equestrian, download the free Flipboard app on an iPad, iPhone, Android or another mobile device. Once you have completed the easy first-time set up, use the search feature to find it by name and tap the "subscribe" ribbon to add it to your Flipboard.

Continuing An Impressive Career

Along with these efforts to help the sport as a whole, Nicole continues to be dedicated to her own students and her own riding career. "I have a wonderful barn of great clients," she notes. Many of them came to her without knowing very much about dressage and they are now enjoying the sport and fulfilling various horsemanship and/or competitive goals.

As a rider, Nicole has achieved some of the country's highest awards, both as a young rider and a professional. She won three Team Gold Medals, Individual Silver and Bronze at the Junior Olympics aboard two different horses: Masterpiece and Batido. As a professional, she took both Batido and Masterpiece to the Grand Prix level. In 2004, she was third at the US Championships on the Stallion Rubino Bellissimo and, in 2005, she rode the stallion Contester to win the FEI 6-Year-Old Young Horse finals. Nicole was long-listed and trained with the USET team from 1996-2008. All tolled, she has trained over 50 horses to the FEI level, she's campaigned young horses, breeding stallions and for-sale horses to effective results and, with connections worldwide, she's helped many clients find their dream horse.

Photo ©2013 Mark Muntean

Nicole first came to prominence as a working student for Steffen Peters in San Diego. She worked with him for several years before accepting a post with Akiko Yamazaki, when the eventual owner of Steffen's World Cup Final champ Ravel, bought her first horse from him. After three-and-a-half years working privately for Akiko, Nicole stepped out on her own as a trainer.

While competing herself and training remain her main focus, Nicole welcomes the chance to help the sport grow. "I'm working on a lot of side projects that I hope will all come together to help build a better, bigger equestrian community," she concludes.

For more information on Nicole Perry Dressage and/or any of the projects she is involved with, reach her at 650-704-4764 or by e-mail at