Jane Savoie Passed Away

Tue, 01/05/2021 - 21:02
Jane Savoie on her Friesian Grand Prix stallion Menno, joined by dog Indy :: Photo © Rhett Savoie

American dressage rider, trainer, clinician and author Jane Savoie passed away in the morning of 4 January 2021 at Central Vermont Medical Center in Berlin, Vermont, after a 5-year brave battle against the blood cancer multiple myeloma. She was 71 years old.


Jane was born 15 April 1949 in Worcester, MA,  the daughter of Benjamin & Lorraine (Tushman) Elkind.  She was raised in Natick, MA and studied at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where she achieved a Bachelor Degree in Animal Science (Animal).

Jane started riding at the age of 9, first on ponies and then hunters. She evented through college and finally found her niche in dressage in 1976 when she relocated to Vermont and ran the riding program at the Vershire School Stable from 1976 – 1980.

When Jane began her dressage career, she started with a broken down racehorse with a bowed tendon from Linda Zang's barn, which the owner had abandoned.

"He cost me a whopping $500, my life savings at the time," Jane said. "It took me a year and a half to be able to canter this horse without him running away with me. I was so broke; my training consisted of only 2 things: The book Complete Training of Horse and Rider by Alois Podhajsky and one clinic a year with Cindy Sydnor. That’s 2 lessons/year."

Since 1980, Jane has been a motivational and keynote speaker, author and co-collaborator, dressage instructor, competitor and trainer, travelling clinician, and had home bases in Berlin, Vermont and Wellington, Florida.


Savoie on Zapatero in 1992
Over the years, Jane competed many horses, but the one who brought her international acclaim was the bay gelding Zapatero.

Jane and Zapatero (by Nimmerdor x Watteau xx x Floregon) were nominated as team reserve for the US Bronze medal winning team at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain.

She was also long listed by the USET on Genaldon and Jolicoeur. She briefly trained with Herbert Rehbein in Germany and competed in Canada, Holland, Belgium, France and Germany.

She has won 9 Horse of the Year Awards and 3 National Freestyle Championships.


Jane was the dressage coach for the Canadian eventing team at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. In 2000 she went to Australia, where she coached several eventing riders from the US, Canada and Belgium in preparation for the Olympics.

At the 2004 Athens Olympics, Jane again coached the Canadian eventing team, and was an integral part in several of the riders achieving their personal best dressage scores, with an overall result of tenth as a team.

Jane competing in the USA
Under Jane’s expert tuition, Susan Blinks and Flim Flam won team bronze at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. Other prominent students of Savoie are Ruth Hogan-Poulson, Lynn Palm, xxx, and many others.

Jane was the lead instructor of the USDF Adult Clinic Series in 2007-2008, as well as serving as instructor for numerous USDF University events and convention education sessions. Through her experience, knowledge, and motivational speaking, Jane continued to resonate with dressage riders in the USA.

Baroque Horses

Savoie developed a particular interest in Baroque horses after seeing a demonstration by Sabine Schut-Kery on Proud Meadow Friesians at Equitana Kentucky more than two decades ago. 

Jane's own Grand Prix Friesian gelding Menno (aka Moshi) became highly popular on the American dressage scene with his own blog, writing to his readers to share his view on life as a dressage horse with Jane. She competed him on the Florida show circuit in the 2000s.


Jane and Menno
Savoie was a celebrated author of six equitation books,  publisher of four videos, and a collaborator on eight additional titles.

She penned her first in 1992 titled "That Winning Feeling" and "Dressage 101", "Dressage Between the Jumps", "It's Not Just About the Ribbons: It's About Enriching Riding (and Life) with a Winning Attitude" followed.

She also produced a series of training DVD's "Riding Mind's Eye", "Freedom from Fear", "Learning the Half Halt", "Program Your Position", and many more.

On 30 December 2020, five days before her untimely passing, Savoie published her first dressage inspired fiction novel "Second Chances"

Brave Battle

Jane bravely battled cancer for years, but never stopped living large and happy.

Ever brave and happy, Jane celebrating Christmas 2020
She even took up ballroom dancing of which she said, "never be afraid to suck at trying something new. That's how I felt starting ballroom dancing in my early 60s."

In 2019 she was inducted into the Roemer Foundation/USDF Hall of Fame for her lifetime achievements. Ruth Hogan-Poulson accepted the accolade in her behalf at the USDF Gala Dinner.

Jane passed on Monday morning 4 January 2021 leaving behind her husband of 46 years, Rhett, whom she had met at the University of Massachusetts and married on 24 March 1974 at Martha-Mary Chapel in Sudbury, MA. The couple had no children. She also leaves behind her sister Rhonda.

A private family gathering and burial in Massachusetts will be held at the convenience of the family. 

Photos © Rhett Savoie - Mary Phelps

Related Links
Flim Flam Passed Away
Second Annual "Solid Gold" USET Foundation Benefit Dinner on 15 March 2014
4 Ways to Improve Your Riding Without Riding