Ask any mom about maintaining a life balance, and she’ll tell you it’s elusive. Brittany Fraser-Beaulieu is no different, as she tries to prepare for the FEI World Cup Final (Sweden) and the Tokyo Olympics, teach her students, and spend time with her 19-month old son, Theo Beaulieu.
Fraser-Beaulieu, 32, devotes an extensive portion of her week to training, but she tries to take weekends off from the barn to spend time with her family when they’re at home, near Montreal. The exception happens during the winter season in Wellington, Florida.
She’s well on the way to accomplishing her goals, earning personal bests in the Grand Prix CDI-W (73.69%) and Grand Prix freestyle CDI-W (79.33%) during Adequan Global Dressage Festival 5, Feb. 10-14, with her longtime partner All In, a 16-year-old Dutch Warmblood (Tango—Leontine, Damiro).
“I’m just taking it show by show seeing how he feels, but Tokyo is the ultimate goal,” she said.
We caught up with Fraser-Beaulieu to talk about her wins and motherhood.
Congratulations! Let’s discuss your tests this past weekend.
I was ecstatic with All In. My Grand Prix, I wanted to go error-free, and through each movement, just focusing on balance and what I needed to do next and just flow it together.
For my freestyle, I have been dreaming of getting 80. I was very close! But it was my best freestyle to date. Joost Peters designed my music last year for [the Wellington] Nations Cup. This is my second time riding it. I also changed the pattern a little bit. My pattern is technically very difficult, so again I wanted to go error-free and show my horse was on the aids and how well everything flowed together.
Tell me about your new music.
Joost Peters designed the music. I decided to use a little bit of “I’m Alive” by Celine Dion because I love her. I love the beginning and the end of my freestyle, and I think it shows off All In’s gaits well, and everything seems to flow.
You had a little extra excitement in your Grand Prix test when a helicopter flew over during your ride, right?
All In can be very noise sensitive, and back in the day he could be very fresh, so at 16 he’s calmed down a bit. Still, the Trauma Hawk was flying over for at least half of the Grand Prix. It was landing in the field next door, so it was just circling and circling. All In got a little nervous, but he stayed with me. It was incredible really. I think I was more nervous about the sound and me having a mistake than he was. I guess that just shows that he’s a seasoned Grand Prix horse.
You’ve had All In since he was 5. What does it mean to you to be in this position with a horse you’ve brought along from the start?
It’s a dream. When you buy a young horse you never know what kind of outcome you’re going to have. In a dream world it takes you to the top of the sport, and you get 79% in your freestyle, but I can’t say it’s been an easy road by any means. He has just been a true champion.
He goes into that ring and tries his heart out for me every single time he goes down centerline, and if it’s a mistake it’s half of the time rider error or just a little bit of him not being focused, but it’s been an incredible experience too.
I have showed this horse every single level. It’s wild. The first show I got an 82; it was incredible. The next show, I went down centerline, [and] the next thing you know he’s doing a  headed back to the exit, and I had to turn him around. But that’s life with horses. There are going to be lots of ups and downs along the way.
How do you feel having most of last year off affected All In?
We ended off [the Florida season] with such a high last year as well. I was starting to get my personal bests again—73 in both the Grand Prix and the Special, and there was room for improvement with that. I was a little sad that it ended the way that it did just because his body was feeling great.
I didn’t give him time off, but I definitely gave him a very, very light summer. He loves the paddock, so he went out half the day, and I did a lot of stretching with him. He for sure was getting bored. He’s the type of horse [that] basically runs on the trailer when he knows that [he’s going somewhere]. When the trailer came to pick him up to go to Florida he ran on the trailer.
I had some Pixio lessons with my trainer Ashley [Holzer], and I started to pick him up back in September to get him back where he needed to be for January. And I came to Florida in November to start a full training program with Ashley and preparing for Tokyo again.
For the FEI World Cup, you need to focus on the freestyle, but for team competitions, the Special is more important. In a year where you’re hoping to attend both, how do you balance working towards personal goals and team goals?
I think Canada this year is stronger than ever, which is very exciting for our country. We have a few horses capable of scoring a 73 in my opinion. When I go out there I always want to beat my best and to strive to be better for myself, but I also love competing on a team and doing my best for our country and my other teammates. I separate it in one way: Every time I go out I want to do it for myself, but when I’m on a team it’s for everybody.
I’ve been working on the Special, and I was not totally working on my freestyle, but then I looked at things, and I thought, “Wow I might have a shot at doing World Cup.” As a Canadian, it’s extremely hard to go to World Cup because there are only two spots in the North American League. My horse was feeling great, so I was like I guess I’m going to try. And then I went out and got a 79 percent, and he went even better than ever.
I know my horse so well. I’m just going to take it week by week and see what he wants to give me, and if he feels tired he will have a break. I don’t need to warm him up very long at the horse show, which also helps. I take him out in the morning, and a 15-minute warm-up for a class in the afternoon is more than enough for him, and I figured that out last year. Ashley and I were a little bit stressed at the beginning because 15 minutes after walking and warming up is not long, but he’s a huge horse, has so much power, that I need to take that power into the show ring not wear the power out in the warm-up.
Do you have any other horses in your barn that you’re excited about?
I have a few nice horses at the moment. One is 5 years old, owned by Jill Irving. His name is Leeghwater. We purchased him in the summer. He’s also another big horse with lovely gaits, unbelievable character. I brought him out to his first show two weeks ago, and he got 75 percent at training level. So I’m just starting the process all over again, getting him used to the horse shows and everything.
And I also just recently got in a 6-year-old owned by Nadia Moretto. His name is Downing Street. He just came over a few weeks ago, also a very lovely horse, lots of scope.
I’ve been showing one of my student’s horses Prix St. Georges. He’s owned by Johanne Dube and Mathilde Duma. His name is Harmonium. He’s 9 years old and scoring between 70 and 72 percent in the Prix St. Georges, beautiful type, very expressive flying changes, just an overall real superstar for the future. I am getting him some experience in the Prix St. Georges before his rider will take him over.
But I do have to brag because I do have very, very great students who all want to do this as a career, and Canada is so fortunate to have such a lovely and ambitious group of girls that represent the country so well. So that’s very exciting. I love teaching the youth and will try to do anything for them to help them succeed. I was involved in such a great program when I was younger, and I want to create something like that for Canada in the future so we have a pipeline.
What’s been the most memorable moment of your career so far?
All In has given me more than I can ever imagine, but I really think being at the Pan Am Games in Toronto [in 2015 where she won team and individual silver], when I finished all three days, the crowd just erupted. I will never forget that because it was such an amazing feeling having the whole country behind you at a sporting event. I don’t think I could ever beat that feeling, ever.
What have you learned from 2020?
You look back on how lucky you are to be healthy. To be able to do what we do every day, to work with these animals and work with people we love is a blessing. This summer, I got to spend time with my family and not travel and realize how lucky I am to have an incredibly supportive family and to spend time with my son because he’s still just a little baby. I would say out of all this sadness, because people have lost so much and it’s devastating, just to really sit back and be thankful for what you have.
Did you find it easy to get back in the tack following your pregnancy?
I did actually. One of my student’s horses really helped me get fit again because he is very easy on the body. I found my own horse was harder on my body than I felt on my student’s horses.
I felt like I was ready to get back on a horse like a week and a half after I gave birth, but my husband [Marc-Andre Beaulieu] wouldn’t let me. I had to wait 2 ½ weeks. My pregnancy went very well; the labor went very well. I was fortunate to have no complications. But when I look back on it now it probably took me a good eight months to get my strength back to where it really needed to be. There were days where I was sitting trot telling my students my abs were on fire!
Have you put Theo on a horse yet?
I have, but just sitting on bareback with me holding. We’re hoping he’s going to be a hockey player not a rider. He loves the horses though in the barn. He loves giving them treats, and he loves playing around the barn.