Conyers, GA – Olympic athlete Lendon Gray is on a mission to interest youth in dressage while improving their riding skills and sportsmanship – a mission that Custom Saddlery has always whole-heartedly supported. At Gray’s Dressage4Kids Atlanta Youth Festival held at the Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers, Georgia this month, Custom Saddlery awarded saddle pads to the nine division winners. The winner of the Sportsmanship Matters Award also received a saddle pad, as well as a goodie bag full of Custom Saddlery items.
As the flagship event for Dressage4Kids, the Atlanta Youth Festival includes individual and team competition for riders ages 4 through 21. Division championships are based on a three-phased competition: a written test, an individual dressage test, and a group equitation ride. Dressage4Kids (D4K) offers two Youth Festivals besides the Atlanta-area event throughout the year – one in Saugerties, New York, and one in the Midwest. Dressage4Kids, Inc. is a non-profit organization with the express purpose of providing educational and competitive opportunities for youth dressage riders.
Dressage4Kids was happy to once again have Custom Saddlery as a sponsor of the festival. Custom Saddlery sponsors youth dressage events across the country, donating prizes and support to help young riders build the confidence and skills they need to succeed in the sport.
Division winners at the Dressage4Kids Atlanta Youth Festival included Caroline Garren at FEI Level, Samantha Ayoub in First and Second Level, Keri-lyn Thomas in Training Level 13 & Under, Maren Williams in Training Level 14 and Up, Ava Hess in Walk/Trot 13 and Under, Heather Roberts in Walk Trot 14 and Up, and Sabrina Carmichael for Walk/Trot/Canter. The Sportsmanship Matters award went to Emily Grace Hewitt. Although her horse went lame before the competition and she was unable to compete, Hewitt graciously participated by volunteering to help throughout the weekend.
“We had 30 rides total this year,” said show host Elizabeth Molloy, also known as Miss Liz. Molloy was pleased to see so many new faces and hopes to continue growing the event in years to come. The festival also featured a panel discussion, which included two-time Olympian Lendon Gray, several local professionals, and 1996 Olympic Team Bronze medalist Michelle Gibson. “Horses teach you something every day,” Gibson told the group. After a Saturday night dinner, she produced her Olympic Bronze Medal, which the kids tried on and Gibson posed for pictures with them.
Molloy was pleased to once again host the Festival. “What's important for me personally and why I host this event is that it’s one of the few opportunities where the grassroots riders actually interact with, and therefore can be inspired by, the top riders in our community,” she said. “Besides having two Olympians at the dinner, we had three of the four members of the NAJYRC Gold Medal Team here as well. They weren’t just seeing or passing by these riders at a show, but they were interacting with them via the Emerging Dressage Athlete program (EDAP) lectures and this dinner. That's very special and rare, I think.”
Custom Saddlery is proud to support Dressage4Kids and Lendon Gray’s mission. Custom Saddlery, the Official Saddle of the United States Dressage Team, produces innovative, expertly crafted saddles for dressage riders, jumpers, and eventers. The saddles offer a myriad of ways for customization to provide exceptional fit and comfort for both horse and rider, whether this is their first riding lesson or the Olympic show ring. Expert saddle fitters are located across the country, and there are a wide variety of aesthetic options available so that riders can create their own perfect saddles. Custom Saddlery also manufactures quality accessories, including stirrup leathers, girths, and saddle pads.
For more information about Custom Saddlery, visit www.mysaddle.com or call 1-800-235-3865.