March 2020 - Dressage News & Views
Written by by Kim F Miller (filling in for resident DQ, Nan Meek, this month.)
Monday, 02 March 2020 20:51
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dressage news

San Marcos facility is emerging as a West Coast hub of education, training and support.

by Kim F Miller (filling in for resident DQ, Nan Meek, this month.)

The unusual opportunity to clinic with 22-year-old Spanish dressage star, Juan Matute Guimón, at Peridot Equestrian Center last month hints at a bright future for the facility in San Diego County’s San Marcos. Led by dressage enthusiast Jessica Eaves Mathews, the Eaves family purchased the former show jumping training location in the fall of 2018 with big plans. “My vision is to create a center for world class education on the West Coast,” explains Jessica.


Kate Mathews, Juan, Jr., Verena Mahin, Jessica Mathews.

Despite his young age, Juan, Jr. delivered exactly that while giving seven young riders a weekend’s worth of wisdom gleaned from growing up under the coaching of his father, three-time Spanish Olympic dressage rider Juan Matute, Sr. A member of Spain’s World Equestrian Games team in 2018, Juan, Jr. was ranked #9 in the Western European World Cup rankings at presstime, assuring him a berth at the April Finals in Las Vegas if the standings hold.


Peridot’s first big educational event was a clinic with Dressage4Kids founder Lendon Gray last September. On April 11-12, British Olympian Carl Hester will present a Through The Levels Masterclass, with VIP and general admission options for auditors. (A portion of the proceeds will benefit the USDF Region 7 Young Riders.) A European-model dressage horse auction is set for May 2. European-bred horses will be accepted but Jessica says a big goal of this event is promoting domestic-breds.

Ava Dingley & Sir Fursetenhanz.

Alison Burt Jacobs & Ava Dingley.

In addition to a steady schedule of visiting clinicians, Peridot is now home to three top local dressage trainers. Steffen and Shannon Peters’ longtime protegé and assistant Dawn White O’Connor relocated to the San Marcos facility in mid-February. She joins Niki Clarke and Verena Sonstenes-Mahin as resident FEI trainers. (Verena’s long-time connection with the Matute family was the conduit for Juan, Jr., coming to Peridot.)

Previously owned by jumping trainer and rider Sarah Baldwin, the nine-acre facility was already in good shape when it was purchased. Upgrades added new stabling built around a grass courtyard on a lower portion of the property, bringing capacity to 36 horses. Grass paddock turn-outs are a highlight along with a new covered arena where the jumping field once stood. Premier Equestrian footing over Otto Sport arena base mats is ideal for the full-size dressage court.

Erin Nichols & Handsome Rob.

Of all its many amenities, Jessica says attitude may be Peridot’s most important. “We have a positive, supportive culture and we guard that. There’s no toxic nonsense.  l live here and want it to be a positive place. We foster that every day.”

Jessica and her daughter, 16-year-old Kate Mathews are dressage riders themselves. Kate rode two horses in the session with Juan Matute, Jr., along with fellow USDF Region 7 young stars: Hunter Chancellor, Ave Dingley, Maggie Evans, Breanna Kenney, Erin Nichols and Miki Yang.

Follow Peridot Equestrian on Facebook for the latest news and frequent livestreams.

Hunter Chancellor & Farruco LXXXIX.

Katherine Mathews & Rosandrin.

It’s Young Riders Season!

This year’s North American Youth Championships for dressage (and jumping) will be held in Traverse City, Michigan, in early August. USDF Region 7 chef d’equipe Alison Burt Jacobs and coordinator Ann Boehning gave an impromptu informational talk during the Juan Matute Guimón clinic, which included riders who excelled there in recent years and/or aspire to. Ava Dingley spoke about the great atmosphere that surrounds the competition and the experience of riding on a team. She and others also praised being a team groom as one of many ways to enjoy, support and benefit from the program.

Alison and Ann encouraged all eligible riders to consider going out for the team. Although the competition level is high, Alison said there is a misperception that an “amazing” horse is required. “You need to be a good rider and have a horse with three good gaits,” she said. “It’s really not out of the realm of possibilities for a lot of people.”

Miki Yang, Juan, Jr., Dawn White O’Connor and Akiko Yamazaki.

Miki Yang & Bailarino.

Fundraising is critical to making the experience widely possible. And it’s tricky because riders don’t find out until late in the season whether they’ve earned a team spot, and they can’t promote that news until the USEF formally announces it. The solution, Ann stressed, is to fundraise as a region and support the team regardless of who winds up on it.

Follow “USDF Region 7 Junior & Young Riders” on Facebook to stay abreast of news.