Penny Pearce with Just A Spark. Photo Supplied

It’s all eyes to the future with the appointment of Penny Pearce as the new dressage high performance manager. She comes into the role with a vast amount of experience across not only high performance, but also management, coaching, riding, support services and more, and most recently as the New Zealand based high performance eventing manager for the past two years.

Penny will lead Olympic and world championship campaigns as well as the high performance pathway and programme . The aim is to develop a clear pathway for identifying and working with athletes capable of representing New Zealand at pinnacle events.

In her role as the onshore based high performance eventing programme, the focus was very much on developing and preparing championship riders. Penny has been involved with the wider programme since 2008 which included working with the wider team of selectors, sponsors and support services.

ESNZ high performance general manager Jock Paget says Penny brings much to the table. “She is a specialist in pure dressage and a very accomplished rider, and when you combine that with her experience of high performance systems and pathways, it makes her the perfect person for this role,” says Jock. “She has proven in eventing her ability to utilise all the available resources to support athletes based on individual needs and help them improve performance.”

He feels it is an exciting time for the discipline with plenty to build on the back of the recent FEI World Championships, where New Zealand fielded a team for the first time since 1998. Melissa Galloway and Windermere J’Obei W announced themselves to the world with a personal best 70.978% in the Grand Prix.

NZL-Penny Castle rides Just A Spark. Final-1st. Bates Open Elementary Championship Round 2 – Test 3C. 2020 NZL-Bates Saddles NZ Dressage Championships. NEC Taupo. Friday 20 November 2020. Copyright Photo: Libby Law Photography

Penny is also very excited about where dressage currently sits. “The recent success at the Word Championships leads on from what has happened over the past couple of decades thanks to the many who have given so much and represented New Zealand,” she said. “We can all see just how much dressage has gone forward with breeding, training and competing.”

She felt there is a real drive to create a place where New Zealand could qualify a team for a future Olympic Games which in itself has created the opportunity for a high performance pathway. “The opportunity to develop the high performance programme is very exciting and I am looking forward to facilitating that with all the current riders to be able to present a clear pathway as we work together to plan campaigns and support and lead New Zealand teams.” Now was certainly the time to continue to drive the momentum forward.

ESNZ Dressage chair Scott McKenna agreed, adding it was important the current and future international combinations had the right support to enable them to excel. “There have been many volunteers who have run our performance programme in the past, helping it to the point we are at now,” said Scott.

While Penny’s end to end programme will come under the high performance team, she will also be working closely with the dressage board. The dressage performance committee that previously administered the performance programme will now become the development committee with a focus on initiatives to improve the standard of dressage at all levels.

Penny will start the role in January with the process to find the next New Zealand based high performance eventing manager about to get underway.

By Diana Dobson – HP Media Liaison
Photos by Libby Law/ESNZ