34th Annual International Youngsters Strut Their Stuff at Dressage at Devon Horse Show

DressageDaily On the Scene - Dressage at Devon 2008

The first ever Leadline Class takes place for children six and under on Sunday, September 28th

Horse-crazy kids dreaming of silk top hats and tails will now have a chance to take a turn around the venerable Dixon Oval. For the first time, Dressage at Devon is offering a Leadline Class for young equestrians six and under. The class will take place on Sunday, September 28th.

While leadline classes, where a parent or trainer leads a child around a horse show competition ring, is not a new concept, it is just gaining ground in the dressage world, and Dressage at Devon is the first major international show in the northeast to offer the class.

The Leadline Class will be judged by Olympic dressage team veteran Lendon Gray. “This class is a wonderful way to introduce kids to the fun of horses and competition,” says Gray. “Want to bet that one of these little ones will be on an Olympic Team in twenty years?”

Jim Hall, Chair of Dressage at Devon, agrees with Gray. “We are really excited to be offering this class. Dressage at Devon is one of the nation's most highly thought of dressage shows, drawing top international riders and judges from around the world. We are all aware that young people are the future of dressage and this class offers us one way to tangibly recognize those beginning riders."

Each of the children will earn a rosette for participating in the class, while winners will receive a placement ribbon as well. All will be judged as to suitability of mount to rider, position and general horsemanship. Children four and under will be judged at the walk; children five and six at the walk and trot.

Dressage is an ancient equestrian discipline, and the fastest growing equestrian sport in the USA today. Dressage, a French word meaning “training,” describes the sequential development of the horse’s suppleness, obedience and strength. The result is a breathtaking blend of power and artistry. Dressage at Devon offers one of the highest-rated international dressage competitions and the most complete breed show outside of Europe. Olympic medalist Robert Dover calls Dressage at Devon “the standard by which all American horse shows should be judged.”

This year, the 34th annual Dressage at Devon Horse Show will be held September 23rd through 28th at the Devon Horse Show grounds in Devon, Pennsylvania. More than 700 horses are expected to compete with an anticipated 35,000 spectators. The weekend offers Kids Corral, providing activities for youngsters, and exhibitions are geared towards family fun. Says Hall, "Sunday is Family Day at Dressage at Devon, so placing the Leadline Class on Sunday's schedule is a perfect fit."

Dressage at Devon takes place at the Devon Horse Show Grounds, Route 30, in Devon, Pennsylvania and benefits Thorncroft Therapeutic Horseback Riding, Inc., one of the oldest and largest therapeutic riding facilities in the nation. Thorncroft helps the disabled to improve balance, circulation, muscle tone, and concentration, while enhancing self-esteem. Since 1991, Dressage at Devon has raised more than $1,070,000 for Thorncroft.

General admission is $8; children under 12 are admitted at no charge. On Sunday, Family Day, each adult that arrives at the gate with a child will be admitted at no charge. Reserved and box seats are available. For information go to www.dressageatdevon.org.