"Shannon Sluser on Monaco"

"Shannon Sluser on Lepanto"

Gateway Dressage has evolved over the years from a mother-daughter team. The love of horses and a thirst to develop mounts that excel at the art of dressage has been an exciting as well as satisfying endeavor and has culminated in our joined partnership.

Shawna Camphaug fell in love with horses and started riding dressage as a young girl. Marriage, work and children never dimmed her interest. Having a daughter who shared this passion added fuel to the flames. Pony Club and local shows filled the summers for both and a true appreciation of the requirements of horse and riders were always evaluated. The Andalusians became a dream for Shawna as she saw them under saddle and came to realize their special talents and traits. With encouragement from all family members she went in search of a foundation stallion with top bloodlines and potential for the art of dressage. Lepanto entered our lives and has changed it forever.

Shannon was almost born in the saddle, so to speak. At an early age she was always trying to get on any horse out in the pasture. Pony Club allowed her to actually learn to ride and care for horses and she was deeply involved in the Canadian program. Jumping did not satisfy her and dressage became a central focus. In 1996 she took her 17 hh jumper and taught him dressage and in the Sask, Summer Games she won individual and team bronze.

A summer holiday to British Columbia in 1999 for lessons with Henk Glijn was a turning point for Shannons passion. Henk encouraged her and mother and daughter moved to BC to continue her training with Henk and finish her grade 12. Upon graduation she commenced working with Henk at Shushwap International at White Lake, BC for Sayoko Nakatani. For a year she was immersed in training and handling of top mounts from Holland. She had the opportunity to ride Grand Prix trained horses and train our stallion Lepanto.

In 2002, Shannon stepped up to the plate to help her father by being a stem-cell donor. The ordeal was much more involved than anticipated by her family and she was ill on and off all year. The fall of 2002 Lepanto fell on ice and tore a major tendon. Surgery was performed by the Western Canadian Vet College, however the prognosis was not optimistic. Shannon believed in Lepanto's heart and with each dismal follow-up visit to the College she refused to accept their diagnosis and continued to hand walk and exercise the stallion. Slowly, to everyone's amazement he started to improve.

In the spring of 2003, with no coach, she felt that the window of opportunity to become a young rider had passed her by. She was so proud of Lepanto's achievements she wanted to ride the Young Rider tests to prove to everyone, and mostly herself, that she had accomplished the required movements. It was to be one show with personal satisfaction the gold cup. Thanks to the judge at that show, who talked to Shannon and took it upon herself to guide her through the process of qualification, her dreams of becoming a young rider sprung alive. Betty Wells entered our lives at this point and became a integral part of the team. She unselfishly helped Shannon with her expertise and support. Her coaching was instrumental in Lepanto qualifying and becoming a member of the Western Canadian Young Rider Team, in Bromont, Quebec. Lepanto soundness was confirmed by the team of vets at the jog prior to competition, which, due to his history, was a miracle in its own right. Lepanto became the first PRE Stallion to qualify and compete in the North American Young Riders Competition.

Sayoko Nakatani entered her life with Shannon's employment at Shushwap Meadows and since then has supported and encouraged Shannon to follow her dreams. Sayoko sent her Dutch Warmblood gelding, Monaco, to Shannon in the spring of 2003. A close bond between the two developed and they began showing in 2004. Their accomplishments include Saskatchewan and Alberta Third level Championship in 2004. The Alberta Fourth level Championship in 2005 and in 2006 is competing Prix St.George and I1 scoring consistently in the high 60's and 70's with the support of Sayoko. A special horse from a special lady! Clinics with Neil Ishoy, Olypian Charlotte Bredahl Baker in California and Olypian Cindy Ishoy have added to Shannon's learning curve. The team was chosen to participate in the "Anky" clinic in Spruce Meadows September 2006. Sights set on International competition on a National team, they both continue to improve.

In 2006 Shannon graduated from the University of Saskatchewan with distinction. In February of this year she married Lee Sluser and with his encouragement has continued with her dedication to the sport of dressage and producing world class dressage mounts.

So many wonderful people have entered our lives and touched us both. Laura Williams and Debbie Freeman in the "Pony Club Days". Connie Argue, our judge from Young Riders testing. Betty Wells and Holly Wells for the wonderful people they are. Sayoko for the special friend and supporter always. The list just keeps growing and each is so special to us both. Our story is theirs.

ShannonLepanto2"Shannon and Lepanto"