Final entries are now being accepted for the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®, the unique head-to-head national championship competition for Adult Amateur and Open dressage riders at all levels of competition from Training to Grand Prix. But for many exhibitors traveling to the Kentucky Horse Park in early November, there will be much more to their visit than just riding a dressage test - they will also be enjoying the incredible atmosphere and ambiance which makes up what many call "The Finals Experience". "I am so looking forward to it," said Suzie Hallé of Englewood, Colo. who will be attending the Finals for the first time with her KWPN gelding Tennyson-ISF.
"People who went last year have told me that there's so much 'soul' there, with all the riders coming together and cheering for each other. My friends said there was such a palpable love for the horses and passion for the sport, as well as gratitude for having a venue like this for adult amateurs. So my goal is to go and try our best, but also focus on enjoying my horse no matter the outcome in what I know will be an amazing experience with my friends and family."
When not in the saddle, competitors will have a plethora of activities to enjoy which are quickly making the Finals a destination event for dressage enthusiasts from across the country. An expanded trade fair and exhibit area on the concourse of the Alltech Arena will be open each day; and one of exhibitors' first stops may be the US Dressage Finals official merchandise booth, where many of last year's souvenir items sold out long before the show had ended. A special Competitor Buffet complete with a live Bluegrass band will get the party started on Friday night, while the fantastic Saturday dinner and evening performances will feature freestyles, special presentations and ceremonies, and appearances by local dignitaries including US Dressage Technical Advisor/Chef d'Equipe Robert Dover. As part of the festivities, KYB Dressage and Half Pass Moon Productions will be giving the audience at the US Dressage Finals a sneak peak at a routine from their next "short story come to life” called "All the Kings Horsemen," which will feature Ariana Sakaris and her at liberty partner Belmont.
One of the best ways to take in all this action and entertainment will be from the lavish VIP area in the Alltech Arena. With packages available for individuals or for parties of six (click here for reservation information), these full-service tables undoubtedly provide the best seats in the house and add to the extraordinary experience of the Finals. "I have family flying in for the event and five friends competing from Colorado, and one of them is riding her freestyle on Saturday night. It will be very special for everyone to be there so we have gone ahead and booked a VIP table to share so we can take it all in," said Hallé. "We're also planning some of the other things we'd like to do while we're there - we all want to see Keeneland and some of the beautiful farms." Some of Hallé's many options include a "Horses, Hooch, & History Tour" and "Bourbon & Bluegrass Tour" organized by USDF in partnership with Bluegrass Tours, as well as other guided tours to some of central Kentucky's famous Thoroughbred breeding farms, distilleries, vineyards, and the nearby world-renowned Hagyard Equine Medical Institute (more information on these tours can be found here). Finals participants can also take a quick break from competition and enjoy something new by simply staying on-site: the Kentucky Horse Park is a 1200-acre equine theme park with a multitude of attractions, including the incredible International Museum of the Horse, the Hall of Champions, and the astounding Man O' War Memorial. Also in a limited engagement to celebrate the Chinese Year of the Horse, the International Museum of the Horse is hosting a special exhibition of ink horse paintings by Xu Qingping, a celebrated Chinese artist from Beijing.
Sounds great, doesn't it? "We also offer an open dressage competition called 'USDF Dressage in the Bluegrass' in conjunction with the Finals," explained Stephan Hienzsch, USDF Executive Director. "While many Finals exhibitors use these open classes as 'warm-ups', we would like to invite anyone who wants to be a part of this incredible atmosphere or has an extra horse they'd like to bring to enter USDF Dressage in the Bluegrass and join us." Hienzsch also noted that general spectator admission to the Finals is free, and tickets for special events as well as VIP packages are available for sale to the public.
As a reminder to all qualified competitors who received an invitation to participate, the closing date for entries is this Thursday, October 23rd. Don't wait - submit your entry today! To learn more about the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan® (to be held November 6 - 9, 2014), download competition information, submit an entry for the Finals or USDF Dressage in the Bluegrass, or order special event tickets or VIP packages, visit the official event website at www.usdressagefinals.com