With perfect weather and over 300 entries over three days, Dressage at Lexington at the scenic Virginia Horse Center in Lexington, VA concluded Sunday. A tradition for professional and amateur alike, the show draws populations well beyond Virginia's boarders with participants driving almost eight hours. “What isn't there to like about the show?” says Jim Koford, High Performance rider, who also swept the Grand Prix classes with Touchstone Farm's Rhett and Hanna Holland Shook's Pharaoh with personal best scores of 72 and 70 percent, respectively, for each horse. “I have been coming here for 18 years, the facility is beautiful and practical, the footing is wonderful, the management is innovative and organized, and the quality of horses and riders attracted here is superb.”
The show, which boasts USEF Young Horse classes, a Dressage at Devon Breed Show Qualifier and prize money is also home to Professional Auction's Annual Sport Horse Auction for the past three years. 20 horses were represented at this year's auction, with Canaan Ranch of Texas having the majority lots for bid.
In addition to attracting High Performance riders across disciplines, Dressage at Lexington set itself apart with its heavy focus on Adult Amateurs, awarding ribbons and unique trophies through the Sporting Horse Amateur Challenge.
The concept, developed by show manager Debbie Rodriguez, is to allow amateurs to compete in open classes. The scores are then calculated for an average of the two or three rides over the weekend to determine the overall winner at each level. Adult Amateurs who sign up for the tests on consecutive days are automatically entered for the awards.
“After the Prix St. Georges Challenge became so popular we wanted something for the lower level amateur rider to feel included,” says Rodriguez. “The concept of the Sporting Horse Amateur Challenge was started. In the beginning it was just for riders at Training level and First Level. Over the years it has grown to go through Prix St Georges and I-I. This year some of the riders that started years ago at Training and First Level asked that next year include I-2 and Grand Prix as well. It has been fun to see the riders come along through the years.”
“As an amateur I was really delighted to have the opportunity to show here and be recognized. To have sponsored classes for Amateurs is a refreshing change of pace. We work our butts off to do this and to have this means a lot,” said Kelly Gage, who drove from Kentucky to compete Third level on her 14.1 hand Welsh Cob mare Bro A Bryn Siwrnai.
The show was also special for Gage, who completed out her USDF Bronze Medal on her birthday.
“All due credit goes to Siwrnai and the team behind her, if it weren't for them and her, I wouldn't be here,” says Gage. “I feel incredibly lucky to have this pony. She has this wonderful mind and work ethic. She just keeps going. Our next aim is to complete out the silver and go from there.”
“I can't say enough nice things about the management and the facility, it was worth the trip and I can't wait to be back next year.”