Shawna has ridden all of her life and was given her first horse when she was only three years old. As a child she gained a lifetime of experience in the show ring riding many different breeds in many different disciplines, both English and Western. As a teen she discovered her special affinity for working with young horses and under the tutelage of Olympian John Winnett began focusing on the sport of dressage.
Young adulthood led Shawna to Germany to improve her dressage skills and learn the German language and culture. She spent the first six months of her 7-year-stay in Europe at Danish trainer Palle Thompsen’s well known sales barn in Mulheim, Germany where she rode countless young dressage prospects.
The next two years were without a doubt the most influential in Shawna’s dressage career. She had the opportunity to work directly for Dr. Reiner Klimke and was responsible for the daily warm-up of his competition horses. In addition, Shawna was taught all the upper level movements by the Master himself on his former World Championship horse, Pascal. So impressed was Dr. Klimke with Shawna’s ability, that he paid her the ultimate compliment of allowing her to take on the daily schooling of two of his young horses.
Another influential German in Shawna’s career was the former national trainer for the Dutch Dressage Team, and current national trainer for the Swiss Dressage Team, Jurgen Koschel. Shawna was based with Koschel for six months and was responsible for the daily training of a clients’ two Grand Prix horses and one Prix St. Georges horse.
Shawna’s last four years in Germany were spent working with Irish Olympian, Anna Merveldt at her barn outside of Munich. The years with Merveldt exposed her to the teachings of the renowned Jo Hinneman, former trainer of the German Dressage Team.
During this period, now fluent in the German language, Shawna won the South German Young Horse Championships for 6-year-olds with the stallion Welt Adle. She qualified 3 different horses for the National Young Horse Championships, held every year in Warendorf. She also competed with a variety of horses to the Intermediaire I Level, and because of her success in the show ring was invited to participate as a member of the Southern German Regional Dressage Team and was licensed Class 2. These were particularly gratifying achievements, and very unusual for an American.
In the late ’90s Shawna moved back to the States, settled in Kentucky and began to build her career as a dressage rider, trainer and coach in the U.S. She was based out of Shirley McQuillan’s Touchstone Farm in Versailles, Kentucky and, among others horses, took on the ride of McQuillan’s Dutch bred six-year-old gelding Kestrel and took him from First Level to winning the Third Level Region 2 Championships.
By 2002 Kestrel ranked in the Top Ten at Prix St. Georges in the USDF national standings. Shawna also successfully campaigned Alistair, a 14-year-old Trakehner gelding at PSG/INT for amateur rider/owner Lisa Gonzalez.
Shawna attracted the attention of the judges in Wellington during the 2003 season where she competed in the Open and CDI classes aboard her two FEI mounts. She had six wins, two seconds and was always in the top ten.
Shawna returned to Florida for the 2004 show season, where she campaigned a number of quality imported sales horses. She kicked off the season winning the Third Level division with a 76% on Sitni. She was not only successful in the show ring but also found happy new owners for all of her young charges. Another Wellington highlight for Shawna was competing in the Winsome Cup Dressage/Jumper Spectacular where she was able to revive her jumping skills, and demonstrate her cool, during the “Hit and Hurry.” Shawna also competed in polo and show jumping during the Sidelines/Outback Triathlon, where equestrians switch disciplines to raise money for charity.
The summer of 2004 found Shawna back in Europe where she trained and competed at the National and International Grand Prix level until her return to the U.S. in October of 2005.
This trip afforded her the chance of a lifetime – the privilege of riding and competing at the Grand Prix level on Jan Brink’s former Olympic and World Championship mount, the Swedish-bred stallion, Fontana. One of the highlights of competing on this amazing stallion was winning the prestigious Stig Claesson Award at a large CDN in Sweden. This is an award given to the FEI level dressage rider in the Intermediaire II exhibiting the best position, effectiveness and lightness of the aids . . . what an incredible honor!
In addition to Fontana, Shawna had the good fortune to ride some very talented young horses and the opportunity to train on a regular basis with Fin Grave, Danish FEI trainer for the renowned Blue Hors Stud.
One of the young horses she was asked to train and sell for his owners/breeders, Dr. Morgens & Birgitte Klove-Morgensen from Hobro, Denmark, was Come On III by Come Back II. It didn’t take long for her to realize that Come On had that “special something” every rider looks for in a top dressage horse. Long story short, she purchased the now 9-year-old, handsome 17.2hh bay gelding, and brought him back to the States. They’ve been a team for a little more than 3 years now, and Come On continues to demonstrate that he has the talent, personality and work ethic to become a formidable Grand Prix competitor someday. Shawna feels so lucky to have found this wonderful horse, and considers it a privilege to have him as her dressage partner.
Shawna focused her 2006 season on competing Come On III, and her efforts paid off with 17 wins in 18 starts. This impressive season spanned the Fourth Level, Fourth Level Freestyle and Prix St. Georges tests and included wins in all three of these USDF Region 3 Championships classes.
In 2007, Shawna continued her winning ways aboard Come On III. She also took on the training and competition of two client horses, Rigo at First level and Mozart at Third and Fourth level.
Shawna and Come On III captured two CDI Championships at the Intermediare I in Wellington and the Prix St. Georges in Raleigh. They were Reserve Champions at the US Equestrian Federation Developing Horse Championships for 7-9 year olds. At the USDF Region 3 Championships, the pair won the Intermediare I class and took home Reserve Champion in the Intermediare I Freestyle.
Aboard Mozart, Shawna aced the season with 14 wins in 14 events at Third and Fourth levels with an average score of 69.4%. They also won the Third and Fourth level classes at the USDF Region 3 Championships.
With Rigo, Shawna won 7 of his 10 events at First level in the young horses first competitive season with an average score of 71.5%. These wins included the First Level USDF Region 3 Championship. This was Shawna’s seventh USDF Regional Championship win in two years.
Shawna now calls the charming equestrian community of Aiken, South Carolina home, and is based at the Black Forest Equestrian Center. She trains several client horses at various levels of ability each day, and when she isn’t traveling to shows or clinics, gives lessons to a small number of competitively-oriented riders.