Photo: Cealy Tetley 2023

You might call it serendipity — when everything falls into place and something extraordinary happens. Lindsay Traisnel, a life-long equestrian and member of the Canadian National Eventing Team, is the living culmination of dreams coming true.

It may seem unbelievable, but there are no mystical forces at work here. Lindsay’s years of dedication and commitment, exceptional talent, and experience competing at the top tier of equestrian sport have led to an extraordinary opportunity: the chance to attend the 2024 Olympics.

At 38 years old, the Windsor, Ontario native already boasts a team gold medal alongside Colleen Loach, Karl Slezak, and Michael Winter, and an individual bronze from the 2023 Pan American Games.

Now, Lindsay is one of a small group of contenders named to the 2024 Canadian National Team Program (NTP) as part of the Eventing High Performance Squad, and is on the road to complete her final qualifications for the 2024 Olympics in Paris, France.

Partners in Life, Business, and Sport

lindsay-traisnel-and-xavier-pan-ams-medals-october-2023 | Mad Barn USAPhoto: Lindsay Traisnel

Achieving this incredible accomplishment is a dream come true for Lindsay. What makes this dream even sweeter is sharing this success with her husband, Xavier Traisnel, who is also her business partner, coach, and most significant support.

Lindsay and Xavier have found that magical, synergistic collaboration — as equestrians and a married couple. They have not only built a thriving equestrian business at Windsor-Essex Equestrian Centre, but their combined expertise has propelled Lindsay to the top of the sport.

Blending family, personal life and equestrian pursuits are effortless for Lindsay and Xavier because they worked together for many years before becoming a couple. Lindsay beams with happiness as she reflects on training with her best friend and ally — someone she can trust unconditionally.

“Working with Xavier, I know there are no ulterior motives. I know even when we don’t agree, he’s giving me his honest opinion and wants the very best for us. It’s a huge advantage because rides at an elite level also. I have his expertise, I trust him completely, and I have an experienced set of eyes that always wants the best for me—it’s a huge asset to have him in my corner.”

The Dream Horse

As all horse enthusiasts know, the relationship between horse and rider makes equestrian competition unique. Lindsay found her perfect equine partner, a 13-year-old Selle Français, Bacyrouge, or Dreamy, as he is so aptly nicknamed.

Lindsay and Dreamy have been together for nine years now and have built an unbreakable connection, one that harnesses his “amazing spirit.” This spirit is something that Lindsay and Xavier recognized in Dreamy when they brought him into their family at the age of four.

“When you first look at a horse, you want them to have all the ability and attitude. This is a huge factor, especially for Event horses, because we ask them to do so many different things. But until you work with them, you don’t know their true potential — Dreamy has been special from the start; he’s improved immensely with age and training,” Trainsel reflects.

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A Storied Career Together

Lindsay’s bid for the Olympics rests on the pair’s continued success in the first half of 2024. Dreamy and Lindsay have their sights on two high-stakes competitions: the Defender Kentucky CCI4* in April and Bromont CCI4* in June. The combined talent between Lindsay and Dreamy is sure to keep this duo’s upward trajectory going in 2024.

Last year their consistent results launched them into the Pan Am team, but Lindsay is altruistic with her success. She gives the lion’s share of credit to her husband, the Canadian Eventing support team, and most of all, to Dreamy.

“Anything he needs, he gets. He’s done so much for me and doesn’t owe me anything. Whatever more he wants to give, we’re happy for it. He has so much ability, especially in the galloping and jumping. His least favourite thing to do is stand still! And when it comes to the dressage component, he really wants to do well. He is a fantastic Eventing horse,” Traisnel smiles.

When they’re not in competition or training for the year ahead, Lindsay takes Dreamy on relaxing hacks, gives him endless cuddles, and plenty of quality time with his pasture mate, Sneaky, a 21-year-old mare who “keeps Dreamy in check,” laughs Lindsay. “He can be annoying to the other horses because he wants to play all the time, but he’s different with Sneaky; they have a special relationship.”

Strength in Numbers

To compete successfully at the CCI4* level, among the best in the world, Lindsay and Dreamy rely on the support of the Canadian Eventing High Performance Program.

Lindsay is thriving alongside her fellow gold-medal winning teammates and the newly restructured Eventing High Performance support squad, including The Chef d’Équipe and Technical Advisor, Rebecca Howard, the Chair of High Performance, Dr. Emily Gilbert, and of course her trusted and invaluable grooms, Jade McInnes and Desire Hodges—who all play essential roles in Lindsay’s success.

Moreover, the team collaborates with Mad Barn’s veterinarians and nutritionists to optimize their horses’ health and wellness.

Mad Barn’s experts bring the latest in equine nutrition and performance research to provide individually tailored feeding recommendations to Team Canada’s High Performance athletes.

“When we don’t completely understand why they are making recommendations, Mad Barn’s experts are so effective at explaining the science behind it so we know our horses are getting everything they need to support them in elite sport.” Lindsay explains

Nutrition and Recovery to Make an Olympian

Lindsay Traisnel 2023 Pan Am Games Team Canada Eventing Gold Medal | Mad Barn USA
Photo: Cealy Tetley 2023

Lindsay’s intrinsic talent, her hard-earned skills, and Mad Barn’s cutting-edge nutrition and performance science program are a formula for athletic success.

For Lindsay, the nutrition and wellness support she receives is critical as “Dreamy doesn’t lack energy and stamina, so for him, it’s making sure that he is getting all the vitamins and minerals he needs.”

“He’s good at eating his grain, but a bit fussy with added supplements, so Mad Barn is helpful with tips on including them in his feed, while keeping the information easy to digest — pun intended!”

Moreover, Lindsay is impressed by the customized nutrition program that each horse on the team receives:

“They take hay samples and do regular analyses to see if anything is missing or can be optimized in the horse’s diet. If there are any issues, we can always contact someone at Mad Barn.”

Science, Training, and Talent

In addition to providing expert nutritional science for high performance horses, Mad Barn has supplied equine heart rate monitors (HRMs) to the team as a tool to enhance and inform fitness training for optimal performance.

The integration of the HRMs into training has provided critical and highly valuable metrics for Lindsay to assess Dreamy’s fitness, which helps her adjust training as needed. “We use the HRM to assess heart rate variability during training—knowing when it peaks and how quickly he recovers.”

Since integrating HRMs into their training program, Lindsay has seen increased output from Dreamy, “There are things that I thought were getting his heart rate up, but with the data, I see what exercises are working him harder than others, so we can adjust the training to push him more in some areas and pull back in others. For example, running alone won’t push him as much as we expected, but adding jumps pushes his heart rate. It’s great to see the numbers match the feeling we’re having with how Dreamy performs.”

The Canadian Eventing Team, along with Mad Barn’s high-performance experts, will utilize the HRM data to optimize horse fitness and output during training and pre-Olympic competitions — a first for the Canadian Eventing crew.

With heart rate monitor data, I see what exercises are working him harder than others, so we can adjust the training to push him more in some areas and pull back in others. For example, running alone won't push him as much as we expected, but adding jumps pushes his heart rate.
- Lindsay Traisnel, Team Canada Eventing Athlete

The Road to the Olympics

Over the next few months — until the final Olympic team is announced in late June — Lindsay is focused on optimizing her training, fostering Dreamy’s talents and performance, and genuinely enjoying all facets of her equestrian training and business ventures.

“When you’re younger, you’ve got tunnel vision and [the Olympics] is really what you want. But as you get older, you start to enjoy the whole process. I’m very motivated to go to the Olympics, but I love my day-to-day work with different horses and seeing their growth and skill development,” Trainsel explains.

Lindsay’s dream of competing in the upcoming Olympics is fueled by Dreamy. “He can jump us out of any problems. I wouldn’t trust just any horse, but I’m so confident in Dreamy’s abilities and fitness, and I know he can do what I ask.”

And, when she does make it to Paris, will her two daughters be there to cheer her on? “They are seven and eight years old, so they’ll stay home with my sister. But they won’t watch me live! My sister thinks it’s bad luck to watch it live, so she records competitions and watches them back with the kids afterwards.”

There is no doubt what Lindsay and Dreamy have accomplished together seems like a serendipitous meeting of the minds. But make no mistake: although this dream team makes it look easy, in addition to her parents and co-owners, Patricia and Craig Pearce, there are countless extraordinary contributors, consultants, team mates, coaches, business partners, and more working together to bring forward the best in equestrian sport.

These people (and their horses) don’t come together by chance. Traisnel’s talent and acumen have given her the right to stand as an elite equestrian before Canada and the World.