New Bern, NC - For NAYRC Individual Gold medalist, two-time USEF Festival of Champions Young Rider national champion, and mom Mary-Haskins Gurganus, life in and out of a saddle has always been about balance. Now, it's the competitive scales of the international dressage arena that she's ready to tip in her favor. “Riding, before and after kids, is my passion and a huge part of who I am. Without it I am not complete. It has been my dream since I was a girl to ride for a U.S. team. That drives me every day. I know,” says the mother of two, “that I have taken a different path if you will, but I know it will be that much sweeter in the end and I'll have the sweetest little family standing behind me! As far as family is concerned, I feel like the luckiest rider in the world. I have the best and most supportive family and that means so much.”
She began her dressage career at age seven, rising to the top of local, regional and national ranks and earning, along the way, USDF Silver and Bronze medals, three consecutive Bengt Ljungquist Memorial Championships, USDF Horse of the Year (Prix St Georges), was ranked top in the country in the Developing Horse Prix St Georges in 2013, placed 3rd in the Young Rider World Championships in 2003, and on current partner, Richmond, the 2013 Wellington Cup and FEI High Score at Williamston Spring Dressage.
Among those who have noted this 'mother load' of talent's strong return to the competitive circuit has been U.S. Young Horse coach, Scott Hassler. “For the last several years I have been training Mary-Haskins in periodic clinics and coaching at competitions. I enjoy working with her, she produces results, and I highly recommend her for promoting and developing competition horses."
In addition to her top mount, Richmond, whom she started as a five year-old, she has two young aces in her back pocket: a Charmeur colt and Sir Donnherhall filly. “Making my own horses is hard work but worth it,” said Gurganus.
She has recently relocated her horses and training program to Rollover Downs, a respected equestrian facility in New Bern, NC, owned and operated by Pan American Games team veteran Bethanna Perry. “She delivers top of the line management and care, and it's refreshing to be around someone on my same page: a hard-working rider and mom. It's also cool that my kids have a family-oriented place to ride with lots of ponies.”
Instilling a love for horses in her family is easy. She's led by example: “I have hopes of 'making a statement' on the small tour this season in Florida.” She will campaign Richmond this autumn at Prix St Georges and Intermediaire-I at the NCDCTA Harvest Moon Dressage Championships (she has won NCDCTA Horse of the Year titles with five different horses), GAIG/USDF Region 1 Championships and Region 1 Bengt Ljungquist Memorial Championships.
“I'm always looking for top horses to campaign and people interested in syndicate or sponsor partnerships. I have the talent. With the right horse, I can make great things happen.”
Learn more about Mary-Haskins Gurganus and her training and coaching services at www.maryhaskinsdressage.com.