Throughout the year, we attend over 25 shows and our websites help to spread the news on many others. As we reflect on the year gone by, there is a show which stands out, small in comparison to the great events of the year, but big in heart, community spirit, and in doing good for a great cause.
Held at the historic Keswick Hunt Club in Virginia, the annual Virginia Dressage Association’s Celebrity Freestyle Event has been held on the third Saturday every June, raises money each year for The Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation. A huge effort put on by a small but powerfully effective committee, creates an afternoon and evening of freestyle performances, delighting the crowds that fill the stands, and line the edges of the arena.
Photo: 2002 Celebrity judges Sissy Spacek with Dressage judge Libby Anderson.
This is not a recognized competition, due in part to the fact there is a tree in the middle of the arena, and also fun is the goal. It does not diminish the effort and the rides performed by the many participants, who are able to take a bit more artistic liberties in movement and dress. It is called the Celebrity Freestyle because celebrity judges are invited to judge, along with a USDF recognized judge. Many have never seen a dressage competition, but many are horse lovers and owners in the region. Their job is to judge the ride on “impact”, as they see it, for entertainment value and what they perceive to be a pleasant and fun ride to watch.
DressageDaily’s Mary Phelps-Hathaway participated again in 2005, given celebrity treatment by Show Manager for the Celebrity Freestyle, Nancy Lowey, and Tigger Montague and Marlene Eagleburger.
While this event will not be hosted in 2006, the effort has raised a considerable amount of money for the Christopher Reeve Foundation, and brought a larger awareness to the community. Consider contributing the Christopher Reeve Foundation, which recently donated over $100,000 to Hurricane Katrina victims. Christopher Reeve, the famous actor who portrayed Superman, passed away in October of 2004, but his spirit lives on in the foundation created by his vision.
Paralyzed from a riding accident, Reeve's spirit continues to raise awareness and funds for research and a cure for other paralysis victims.