Delta Dawn


About Us

Centaur Riding School and Breeding Farm has been in operation since 1970 and is situated just outside the village of Navan (east of Ottawa and south of Orleans) in Ontario, Canada. Facilities include a 30-stall stable, well-maintained indoor and outdoor rings with ideal sand footing, a hunter ring, and large turn-out areas. Groomed riding trails run through 25 acres of woods. The indoor arena is heated during winter and has a large, comfortable lounge, with kitchenette, attached for viewing comfort.


Centaur has always been a family affair. The Riding School had its actual beginnings in 1970 when Claire and Jean-Louis (Johnny) Guertin and their daughter Shirley returned from a five-year stay in Germany deciding to settle in the Ottawa area. The school started informally when word spread that Claire was a certified instructor from Germany. People would simply drop by whenever they wanted a lesson ($5/hour for a private lesson!!). Qualified instructors in those days were rare.

The riding school was officially formed in 1973 when Shirley decided to pursue riding as a career and the indoor arena was built. Since the beginning, thousands of riders have ridden at Centaur and hundreds of horse shows have been held!

During the 1980’s Centaur distinguished itself with its breeding programme. Centaur was one of the first places in the area to breed mares with Hanoverian and Trakehner bloodlines. Two Centaur-bred horses, SOLOMON and his son ABSALOM were awarded the National Dressage Achievement Award by the Canadian Sport Horse Association. This cross-Canada recognition is given to the most successful dressage Canadian Sport Horse in Canada in a given year. Solomon sired many horses that became successful in the dressage arena.

In 1989 Shirley bought the business from her parents.


School: Centaur Riding School is a professional riding school with approximately 100 students who are coached in the dressage and hunter disciplines. We have earned a first-class reputation for the quality of our coaches and riding school programs. Essential to the development of riders are well-trained horses ... and Centaur is proud of its school horses, some having competed successfully at national and provincial championships, each with something special to teach.

Centaur also holds 10 competitions per year. Horse shows range from competitions for the new rider to National Dressage Competitions.

Breeding: The present breeding program has been in effect since 2001 with the acquisition of our first stallion and broodmares. This was the brain-child of Mike Cook, who takes pride in breeding top-notch horses for the Canadian market. Since, CBF has expanded to several top-quality CSHA broodmares with European bloodlines and our top-notch Hanoverian black stallion DON RICO. Don Rico is a son from the first crop of Don Frederico, famous Celle stallion. Don Rico gives his get great temperaments, lots of bone, and beautiful movement.

This is our recipe for raising strong healthy horses. Our horses are raised in large pastures with 24/7 turn-out. They are fed top-quality hay and have free-choice minerals. They always have access to heated water and a large shelter. The professional handling as well as the interaction between the horses make for well-adjusted behaviour. They are wormed and vaccinated as needed. Much of the "veterinary care" is done with homeopathic remedies.

Dr Hilary Clayton, foremost researcher in all things equine, states "good management in the first 6 to 12 months of a foal's life substantially affects tendon structure and hence resistance to injury later on in life". After 2 years of age the ability of tendons to adapt and strengthen is limited. "Build the strongest tendons possible before maturity". The exercise that our young stock receives is key to the development of strong limbs and soft tissues.

Our goal is to continue the tradition of producing superior quality horses for the North American market.



Shirley Guertin
Owner / Coach
Shirley is a certified EC (Equine Canada) Level 3 dressage coach. On two occasions she received recognition as Ontario's Female Dressage Coach of the Year. She is also an active EC Medium Dressage Judge, having judged across Canada. She was involved as a Master Coach in a Coaching Apprentice project run by Cadora-Ontario to help in the development of coaches. She is a skilled rider and trainer, having competed on homebred horses to the FEI levels.


Danika Guertin-Pierson
Trainer / Coach
Danika, Shirley’s daughter, is an accomplished rider who is bringing along the young horses we breed. In 2010 she competed with the Centaur-bred “Dark Velvet” at Dressage-4-Kids in Saugerties winning her division and helping her team come in second place out of 63 teams. In 2012 she competed with both Dark Velvet and Desiree, receiving very good scores.
2013 marked the year where Danika showed three Rico babies - all with scores in 60's and 70's - Dark Velvet at Second Level, Dunbar at Training and First Level and Dasahi at First Level.
2014 saw Danika and her Velvet become Ontario Champions at Second Level, Open division. They were also champions at the Ottawa Dressage Festival.