Pan Am silver medalist coaches student on to London 0
Godmanchester resident Roberta Byng-Morris, sitting with her daughter Tia Mizener, has been coaching eventing rider Peter Barry, who was recently selected to the Canadian Olympic Team for the London Games.
Godmanchester resident and recent silver medalist with the Canadian Dressage Team at the 2011 Pan Am Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, Roberta Byng-Morris can now add Olympian coach to her host of accomplishments within the riding world. Her student, Peter Barry, and his horse Kilrodan Abbott, were just selected to represent Canada at the London Summer Olympic Games as a member of the Eventing Team.
Barry, who sought out Ms. Byng-Morris’ help in dressage on the counsel of a friend, owns and operates Maplehill Farm in Dunham, Quebec. His appearance at the Olympics this July will be his first major games experience with the Canadian team.
“It’s been quite an experience,” says Byng-Morris, who has been working with Barry for a year and a half to improve his performance in the dressage. “He has been working really hard at it. He’s already had a lot of success with the horse, but the dressage was always the phase that was causing him problems,” she says.
The discipline of eventing is like an extreme triathlon for riders in that it comprises one round each of dressage, show jumping and cross-country. The competition at the London Games will take place over three days at Greenwich Park, starting on July 28.
“It was exciting to get the news,” she says, noting how the selection process for eventing is quite different than in dressage in that the decision is based on the soundness of the rider/horse partnership at the time rather than any kind of points system.
Coming off of her silver medal win in Mexico, and with her busy coaching and teaching schedule, Byng-Morris decided this year to focus on her students. “I was so focused on [Barry] that I did not feel that I was putting enough into my competitive season,” she says. “It was a big year for him, and I wanted him to make the team,” she adds, explaining her decision.
When asked if it meant giving up her own chance at making the Olympic team, she shakes her head. “It would be a dream to go to the Olympics,” she suggests but acknowledges she would need a sponsor and new horse to get to that level. The Grand Prix, or Olympic level competition are a level above what is necessary to compete at the Pan Am Games, and her horse, a Hannoverian gelding named Reiki Tyme, is not performing at that level yet.
Of course, “there are lots of possibilites,” she says of the future, including a possible slot on the Canadian team at the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto. In the meantime, she will be watching as the London Games unfold in the coming weeks.