Trainer Bio

Trainer Bio

Trainer Bio: Lisa Whatman

Lisa is an EC Level 2 Dressage coach and has been involved with horses for some 35 years as a student, competitor and more recently, a trainer of young Canadian Warmblood competitive prospects. Lisa has competed with horses from Training level through to FEI levels in Dressage receiving several championships at all levels along the way.

Our focus at Fiddle River Farm revolves around the starting and training of young CWB prospects for both Hunter/Jumper and Dressage. In a discipline where buyers can find unstarted youngsters and older mounts already campaigning on the show trail, Fiddle River specializes in the middle ground where through concentrated effort, we produce expertly startedand show-ring ready, 3-4 year olds emphasizing a classical approach to flat work and a progressive gymnastic start to work over fences.

Coaching and Mentoring

Within her limited coaching schedule, Lisa does accept a very limited number of students throughout a given year for instruction and/or mentoring. Please contact us regarding coaching availability.

A man of kindness to his beast is kind.
Brutal actions show a brutal mind.
Remember. HE who made the brute, Who gave thee speech and reason, formed him mute;
He can’t complain; but God’s omniscient eye Beholds thy cruelty.
HE hears his cry. He was destined thy servant and thy drudge,
But know this: His Creator Is Thy Judge.
— Author: A Shaker Admonition…

I have always felt that my degree in Physical Education from the U. of Calgary in ’87 has played an integral role in my career as a coach and trainer of horses. The synergistic relationship that exists between the development of the equine athlete and a background in the study of athletics forms a logical connection for the development of both horse and rider.

My philosophy has been that if we are to call the art of training and riding horses a sport then we, as the rider, must also focus on ourselves as athletes as well. Riding as an end in itself is simply not enough exercise for many riders and therefore a daily routine of physical fitness, separate from and in addition to riding, should be a part of every rider’s regime if he or she is to then demand peak performance from his or her horse.

A regular routine of fitness allows the rider increased strength, balance and endurance, the very things that we demand of our horses.

In essence, we have a moral obligation to our horses to at least require of ourselves what we ask of them thus establishing the very roots of patience, empathy and forgiveness towards our equine partners allowing us to reach higher in our pursuit of excellence within our chosen discipline.

Dressage: The Art Form

I have always held a profound admiration for those who possess the skill and or the talent to communicate and to express a sense of self through the medium of art and the performing arts. For myself then, and for many of those equestrians who practice the art of dressage, this sport can and does have the ability to transcend its own highly technical aspects; to rise above and enter the realm of art.

Centuries ago dressage training was borne out of the need for skilled military mounts to carry their soldiers into battle. Today our modern day equines do not toil as their ancestors once did, rather, their association to mankind through dressage training in particular, has become an expression of the beauty and power, the happiness and harmony of the horse itself. The art of dressage has the ability to demonstrate that in the hands of a capable mentor, the horses’ enduring relationship to his omni-present human counterpart has now become a performance of the artful dance to be realized between the two; a very advanced form of communication between the mind and body of one entity superimposed and working in concert with the mind and body of another.

The performing dressage horse and his rider then become to their arena as the classical artist is to his canvass, or the dancer is to her stage and the musician to his instrument; passionately expressive, technically precise and relentlessly devoted to each his own craft.

It is to this end that I strive to take my own journey in dressage and to continue my part of this ancient alliance with this truly extraordinary animal in the hopes of joining the ranks of a very unique art form.


When you are talking all the time, issuing orders, you cannot hear.
Never did I just listen. Never did I just sit and feel for myself what was going on.
Hear the horse.
In the absence of language and words, the natural world speaks in whispered feelings.
I had to go back to the beginning.
In the mind of the beginner, all things are possible. In the mind of the expert, few.”
— Author: Excerpt from Paul Belasik's book, "Riding Towards the Light