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Tributes paid to iconic trainer who championed dressage for all

Tributes have been paid to the US dressage rider, trainer and author Jane Savoie, who died on 4 January, following a long illness with blood cancer.

Born in 1949, Jane was a former member of the US dressage team, representing her country in Canada, Holland, Belgium, France and Germany. She was selected as a reserve rider for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics with Zapatero. Jane was also a US Dressage Federation (USDF) bronze, silver and gold medallist, won nine US Horse of the Year awards, and three national freestyle championships.

In 1996 Jane provided dressage coaching to the Canadian eventing team for the Atlanta Olympic Games. She also coached event riders from the US, Canada and Belgium in preparation for the 2000 Sydney Olympics. In 2004 Jane accompanied the Canadian eventing team to the Athens Olympics, where several of the team riders achieved personal best dressage scores.

Jane was a renowned speaker and author. Her first book That Winning Feeling: Program Your Mind for Peak Performance was published in 1992. Her other titles included Jane Savoie’s Dressage 101, and It’s Not Just About the Ribbons.

In 2019 Jane was inducted into the USDF Hall of Fame, which represents the most influential and dedicated individuals within the sport. The organisation stated at the time Jane was a “perfect candidate” for induction.

“With Jane’s competitive experience, dedication to education, and her overall support of the sport and organisation, she embodies the criteria for this prestigious induction,“ said a USDF spokesman.

The spokesman said the organisation was “saddened” by her passing.

“A gifted motivational speaker, writer, and teacher, Savoie endeared herself to legions of riders, especially adult amateurs, with her unflagging encouragement and cheerful enthusiasm. She recognised and appreciated adult amateurs’ dedication and struggles to master the sitting trot, deal with spooky horses and show nerves, and other dressage dilemmas,” he said.

“She never condescended to adult amateurs and they loved her for it, flocking to her clinics, buying her books, and subscribing to her online dressage mentor program, where they felt they had found a friend in Savoie and her tales of life with her Friesian, Moshi, and her dog, Indy.”

The spokesman added that Jane was one of the first to bring the science of sport psychology to the equestrian world.

“She also championed dressage as useful training for every horse, as evidenced by such books as Cross-Train Your Horse and her final nonfiction work, Dressage Between the Jumps: The Secret to Improving Your Horse’s Performance,” he said.

“Always up for a challenge, Savoie took up several new endeavours later in life. She began ballroom dancing at the age of 63. Her first attempt at writing fiction, the romance novel Second Chances, set in the world of dressage, was published less than one month before her death.”

A spokesman for US Equestrian told H&H Jane’s contributions to dressage over the years are “truly immeasurable”.

“Her commitment to education and coaching has shaped the lives of many of our athletes across the United States,” he said.

“Jane not only continuously shared her knowledge with the dressage community as an established author, mentor, and trainer for all levels, but was a dedicated supporter of future generations of talent. She will be dearly missed.”

Six-time Olympian Robert Dover, who sourced Jane’s top horses Sacramento and Zapatero, described his friend of more than 40 years as “family”.

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“Jane rooted for me as much through our lives and careers together as I rooted for her,” he said.

“Her incredible positivity and zest for life were evident in all things she undertook and an incredibly strong magnet that drew everyone who met her into loving her.”

Jane is survived by her husband Rhett.

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