The place to be this week is the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington where the action kicked off on Tuesday with dressage test events for the upcoming 2010 Alltech/FEI World Equestrian Games. The prestigious Rolex Kentucky Three-Day, a four-star competition, opened on Wednesday and runs through Sunday. The back-to-back equestrian competitions this week is giving the Horse Park a chance to test out its preparations for the WEG, scheduled for September 25 through October 10. In addition to the dressage test events and Rolex, the Horse Park this week is also hosting show jumping test events. Although much of this week's action is in Kentucky, a lot is also happening in the dressage world in other regions of the U.S.
On the schedule for this week is the Houston Dressage Society Spring Classic (www.houstondressagesociety.org) in Katy, Texas; Dressage and Arabians for the Cure at the Peak (www.csdressage.org) in Colorado Springs, Colo.; Dressage at Fence (www.fence.org) in Tyron, North Carolina; Mystic Valley Hunt Club (www.mysticvalleyhuntclub.com) in Gales Ferry, Conn.; DCT Dressage (www.dctdressage.com) in Somis, Calif.; SNC Spring Dressage (www.snc-cds.com) in Reno, Nevada; CDS East Bay Chapter Summer Show I (www.cdseastbay.org) in Pleasanton, Calif.; Majestic Farm Dressage (www.majesticfarm.net) in Batavia, Ohio; and Fidler Run Dressage (www.fidlerrunfarm.com) in Woodbine, New Jersey.
And speaking of Rolex, the cloud of volcanic ash that has spread across Europe and paralyzed European airports has had its impacts on this prestigious event. Officials and riders have faced multiple challenges getting to the competition and in fact, several officials had to be replaced at the last minute. According to news reports, Marilyn Payne, of New Jersey, replaced Anne-Mette Binder of Denmark, and Christian Landholt of Switzerland replaced Sue Baxter of Great Britain. Gretchen Butts, of Maryland, replaced Tom Ryckewaert of Belgium as technical delegate. Ryckewaert is still trying to make it later in the week. Numerous officials for the dressage and show jumping test events also had to be replaced. In the dressage competition, Joan Macartney of Canada replaced Stephen Clarke of Great Britain as the president of the five-member ground jury, and Charlotte Bredahl, of California, replaced Wojtek Markoski of Poland.
Among Rolex competitors, the first hurdle that faced British riders Oliver Townend and William Fox-Pitt was getting to Rolex. Townend is aiming to become only the second rider to win the $350,000 Rolex Grand Slam by winning Rolex, the Badminton Horse Trials and Burghley Horse Trials. To make it to Rolex, he took a train to Paris and then paid $3,000 to ride in a taxi from Paris to Madrid in order to catch a flight to Miami. Fox-Pitt made his trip to Rolex by getting a neighbor to fly him in a private plane to Madrid where he caught a flight to the U.S. Fortunately for riders, the horses were shipped ahead.
Elsewhere, Horse and Hound reported this week that dressage riders Andrew Gould and Katie Price also got stuck due to the volcano in Iceland. Price trains with Gould and both took vacations in Egypt with their families. The two were to return to Britain early this week but that's been delayed and neither Gould nor Price could say when they'll be able to get back home to their horses. As of this writing, they were looking into options, including hiring a private charter with other stranded tourists.
The New York State Horse Council and State Farm Bureau sent out a warning this week that New York-based horse operations are at risk of losing their rights under the state's right-to-farm laws. Legislation was introduced in the state that would list horses as companion animals rather than livestock. Many equestrians might not realize this, but in most states, right-to-farm legislation also applies to horse operations, including commercial boarding stables, breeding farms and training barns. Such legislation helps protect horse operations from overly-restrictive local zoning, often gives horse operations reduced property tax rates because they are assessed for their farm value and not development or housing value, and, in the case of New York, horse operations even get sales taxes breaks.
It may be that most equestrians consider their horses to be companions and not livestock, but the national American Horse Council has long fought to prevent the federal government or any state government from passing legislation that refers to horses as companion animals. The argument given is if governments come to view horses as companion animals, similar to dogs and cats, rather than as livestock, horses could then lose their designation as farm animals under right-to-farm laws. The American Horse Council says this could open the door to those who argue that horse operations should not have the same legal protections as other farms. You can read more about this at www.nyshc.org or at www.horsecouncil.org.
Riders around the world are jockeying for a spot at the 2010 Alltech/FEI World Equestrian Games, and that includes para-equestrian riders. The upcoming WEG will also include para-equestrian competition in dressage. Two California-based riders aiming to compete in the para-equestrian competition at the WEG were featured in their local media this past week. Susan Treabess is a rider from Monterey County, California – in the northern part of the state. Adria di Maria lives around Fallbrook, in Southern California.
Treabess's partner in dressage is Moneypenny. Treabess was born without a left hand and has used prosthesis since the age of three months. She began riding at the age of five, did her first horse show at six and got her own first horse at 12. She has competed successfully against able-bodied riders for many years, but this year, she's aiming for the WEG. Knowing that she wanted to compete at a higher level, Treabess went hunting for a good horse a couple years ago. What she found was Moneypenny, a Dutch Warmblood bred in the U.S. by Kay and Dan Peterson. "We just clicked immediately," Treabess said of her meeting with Moneypenny.
Treabess rides for several hours every day and said people often ask her what it's like having only one hand. Her answer is, "What's it like having two? I have no idea. I've had five fingers and one hand all my life and used a prosthesis from such an early age that this really is my second, left hand." Treabess is raising funds to help pay for her WEG run and on May 16, a Team Moneypenny fundraising event will be held at the Carmel Valley Trail and Saddle Club in California to help pay for the costs for Treabess and Moneypenny to compete.
Also working to raise funds to support her goal of competing in para-equestrian events at this year's WEG, is Southern California resident Adria Di Maria. She recently got a boost in her effort by receiving a grant from the Challenged Athlete Foundation. Di Maria has battled polio all her life, but has held fast to her dream of becoming a successful equestrian paralympian and to ultimately represent the United States internationally. Her favorite saying is "it is the ability that counts...not the disability."
The Challenged Athlete Foundation provides opportunities and support to people with physical disabilities so they can pursue an active lifestyle through competitive athletics. It is CAF’s vision to be recognized as a leader in the movement through which physically challenged athletes are accepted and respected at the same level as able body athletes.
If you would like to help support Di Maria in her quest to compete at the WEG, the Challenged Athletes Foundation invites you to send a tax deductible donation to: Scholarship Fund for Adria Di Maria, REINS P.O. Box 1283 Bonsall, CA 92003.