How a newcomer on a green horse caught the eye of dressage legend Debbie McDonald.
Quinn Iverson had no clue that her life was about to change…
That day was already a dream come to life. At age 16, Quinn was participating in a clinic with dressage legend and Olympic medalist Debbie McDonald. Quinn’s partner was Black Diamond CL, aka Coal, a 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding. They were schooling First Level, one of the foundational dressage tests that helps develop harmony between horse and rider.
When Debbie saw the young rider at the clinic, she immediately sensed Quinn’s natural talent as a horsewoman even though, at the time, neither Quinn nor Coal had much experience in the dressage ring.
“The horse was very green,” Debbie remembers. “But there was something about the way Quinn handled the situation when Coal wasn’t being so polite.”
So Debbie offered Quinn a once-in-a-lifetime chance — to come work for Debbie at her farm in Idaho. Of course, Quinn jumped at the opportunity.
“I was only supposed to be there for a week,” says Quinn. “But here I am, four years later. I went out there and never looked back.”
Now settled into her routine as a working student for Debbie in Wellington, Florida, Quinn spends her days feeding the horses, getting them prepped for training, and riding. It’s not always glamorous, but she still loves it. “I help out wherever they need me,” she says. “I clean tack. I do all the normal ‘working student’ things.”
Quinn, like her mentor Debbie, started out as a jumper rider. “We have four jumpers here so I usually start in the mornings riding the jumpers. It’s pretty cool for me to get to go back to my background and ride the jumpers a little bit.”
Quinn also has Coal stabled at Debbie’s barn. And since their first promising outing in front of Debbie, the duo has come a long way.
No one had believed Coal would be capable of competing on the international stage due to various health issues. No one except Quinn, that is. And thanks to their strong partnership, the two of them went on to win their very first international competition: a very competitive Young Rider Team class at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival in February.
“He’s my heart horse,” Quinn beams. “I love him so much.”
When she’s not in the show ring, Quinn enjoys outdoor adventures. “I love anything outside,” she says. “Hiking, waterskiing, wakeboarding, all those kinds of things.”
As for her career goals, Quinn is taking it day by day and enjoying every minute of the ride. “I’m very lucky,” she says. She plans to continue working for Debbie and learning as much as she can from the best in the business.
One day, you might even see Quinn representing your Team. Through your support of the United States Equestrian Team Foundation, you can help Quinn work her way to the very top of the dressage podium.
With such a promising start, there’s no question Quinn will leave her mark in the dressage ring in the coming years.