Thursday, Jul. 25, 2024

Canadian Mother-Daughter Duo Aiming For Pan Ams Together

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If you ask Evi Strasser, there’s only one thing that could beat standing on a podium at an international championship: standing there next to your daughter. That’s just what she and Tanya Strasser-Shostak are hoping to do at this fall’s Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile.  

“Most Grand Prix riders are retired by the time their children are old enough to ride together in this level, [and] besides this you need Grand Prix horses, which take a long time to train,” said Strasser. “For me it was a dream to ride together with my daughter at the big shows, and we are striving forward to it.”

And at the Caledon Dressage At Angelstone CDI, held July 21-23 in Rockwood, Ontario, they took another step toward qualifying for the Pan American Games. In the Grand Prix CDI3* Strasser claimed first place aboard Deja Vu Tyme, while Strasser-Shostak finished fourth with Fidelis Tyme. Strasser finished second in the Grand Prix freestyle CDI3* with Disney Tyme, and in the Grand Prix special CDI3* Strasser took third with Deja Vu Tyme and Strasser-Shostak took fourth with Fidelis Tyme.

Those results are part of a strong month of competitions for the family, following a great showing at the Caledon Dressage In The Park CDI3* (Ontario), held June 16-18, where Strasser earned first (Deja Vu Tyme) and third (Disney Tyme) in the Grand Prix, and Strasser-Shostak slotted into second (Fidelis Tyme); and at the Dressage at Rhythm & Blues CDI3* (Pennsylvania), held June 23-25, where Strasser finished second (Disney Tyme) in the Grand Prix freestyle and fourth (Deja Vu Tyme) in the Grand Prix, and daughter and mother took fourth (Fidelis Tyme) and fifth (Deja Vu Tyme) in the Grand Prix Special.

This year’s Pan American Games hold special importance for Canada, as the country must finish first or second (not counting the United States, which is already qualified) in order to earn a spot at the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. Teams at the Pan Ams can be all small tour or a mix of small tour and big tour, but only those with at least two Grand Prix combinations will be eligible for Olympic qualification. Big tour Canadian Pan Am hopefuls need to earn scores in at least four Grand Prix classes, three Grand Prix Special classes and one Grand Prix freestyle at a CDI3* or higher during the qualifying period for consideration. 

Evi Strasser and Disney Tyme took second place on a score of 70.49 at the Rhythm & Blues CDI3* (Pa.) in June, part of a month of podiums for the pair. Meg McGuire Photography Photo

Strasser and Strasser-Shostak are hoping that their experience training and working together over the years will earn both of them an invitation to Chile. 

“[Our working and family relationship is like] an old shoe,” said Strasser-Shostak. “We know what works.”

Good Tymes In Quebec

Based out of Good Tyme Stables in Sainte-Adèle, Quebec, Strasser, 59, has ridden for the flag for decades, including at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, the 2006 FEI World Equestrian Games (Germany), at four FEI World Cup Finals, and at the Santo Domingo Pan American Games, where she earned team silver. She’s trained numerous horses to Grand Prix throughout her career, including Richard Davison’s 2012 Olympic mount, Artemis; Andiamo Tyme, who campaigned internationally with Kyra Kyrklund; and Patrik Kittel’s international mount Santana. 

Tanya Strasser-Shostak (left) and Evi Strasser, here with Quantum Tyme at the 2010 Hickstead CDI5* (Great Britain), are both family and colleagues. Photo Courtesy Of Evi Strasser

While Tanya Strasser-Shostak, 28, is a five-time North American Youth Championships veteran, earning an individual bronze medal and a team silver and bronze, the Pan American Games would be her senior championship debut. 

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Strasser has two Grand Prix horses in the running for Santiago, Disney Tyme and Deja Vu Tyme. She’s had “Disney” since the Oldenburg gelding (Diamond Hit—Welleria, Weltmeyer) was 3. 

“What I love about Disney is he is super forward and so light,” she said. “What is amazing is that even though he is so on and reactive, he goes in the biggest stadiums and shows. He makes me happy every day.” 

Unlike her other rides, Deja Vu Tyme (Dauphin—Werbelline, Werbellin) came to Strasser later in life, as an 8-year-old whom Strasser described as “very green and spoiled” at the time. A turning point in their relationship came after a three-month stint with horsemanship guru Tristan Tucker in the Netherlands focused on groundwork. 

These days “Deja” has mostly been Strasser’s ride, but Strasser-Shostak has ridden him at Grand Prix as well, most recently at Dressage at Devon (Pennsylvania) in 2021 when she had an accidental catch ride on him when Strasser was turned away at the U.S. border due to COVID-19 restrictions. Deja, 16, and Strasser have competed on Nations Cup teams, helping Canada onto the podium at the Wellington CDIO3* (Florida) in 2022.

Strasser-Shostak’s Grand Prix mount, Fidelis Tyme (Fit For Fun—Kaimana, Moosbachhof’s Peron), 13, is relatively new to the level, having competed in one national Grand Prix before she took over the ride for the 2023 season. This past winter Strasser-Shostak took her time to develop and confirm him at Grand Prix while working with Frederic Wandres in Florida, competing once at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival (Florida). While Strasser-Shostak normally trains primarily with her mom, Ashley Holzer, a longtime friend and former teammate of Strasser’s, has also been a keen eye to help over the years.

“[Fidelis Tyme] is very willing, and I already have such trust in our partnership even though it is new,” Strasser-Shostak said. “I am so proud that he never lets me down, and that makes me ride better.” 

‘We Have Some Good Laughs’

Strasser grew up in Inzell, Germany, and at 5 she persuaded her parents to let her take lessons at a riding school about 12 miles from her home. While her parents balked at the cost of the sport, once a week she and her grandfather would bike through the mountains for her lesson. 

“At the age of 11, friends of my parents bought a Haflinger for me, which I went for training to Mr. Maier’s riding school,” she said. “I was worked there on Saturdays and Sundays and during school vacations to pay for my lessons. To get there I walked two hours each way by foot with my horse. After feeding and mucking 25 stalls, I got my lesson. We had a lot of super results and were so successful that we were invited to do a freestyle for Princess Diana and Prince Charles beside the Bavarian minister-president for his private birthday party. Dagi, my pony, could do all the Grand Prix [movements], and for that we were very unique.” 

Following much classical dressage training and competition in Europe, Strasser immigrated to Montreal, where her then-boyfriend lived, in 1988. There, she worked for Knight and Dawn Stables.

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“I got my [Canadian] citizenship because I won in Gladstone at Grand Prix and small tour level, and I was approached if I would ride for Canada, which I for sure wanted,” she said.

In 1994, Strasser opened her own farm, Good Tyme Stables. There her daughter Strasser-Shostak learned to ride on her first pony, English Muffin.

“My favorite memory with ‘Muffin’ was following my mom and her Grand Prix horse, Quantum Tyme, around the arena,” Strasser-Shostak said. “Muffin had a rocking horse canter, and our lessons would be to follow the leader.” 

Evi Strasser and daughter Tanya with Tanya’s first pony, English Muffin. Photo courtesy Of Evi Strasser.

Strasser-Shostak had a string of excellent ponies after that, winning the FEI Pony Team Test at Dressage at Devon (Pennsylvania) in 2011 with Cappuccino Tyme. She went on to a successful young rider career, winning junior, young rider and U25 titles, many aboard Action Tyme. 

Now the two show against each other in Grand Prix competition.

“We have a good understanding of each other, and for sure we have some good laughs about it when one or the other has some thoughts or opinions how things will go that day,” said Strasser.

The duo has a busy summer and fall ahead as they try and earn several more scores before the Pan Ams selection in mid-September. They will both ride in in the Bromont CDI3* (Quebec) in early September. In between, Strasser-Shostak will also make her way to the Netherlands, having qualified for the Longines FEI WBFSH World Breeding Championships in Ermelo with Mr. Morrison, a 6-year-old stallion by Morricone owned be Gestüt Bonhomme and Strasser. 

Strasser says that being on same team with her daughter was “always in my mind, but you never know what life is bringing you, and we are lucky that we can do it.”

“We believe in each other. We know each other. We want what is best for the other,” said Strasser-Shostak.

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