Dressage at Devon 2003 will be one of the first large dressage competitions in the United States to offer FEI, or international-level, competition classes for ponies. The classes are open to junior riders between the ages of 12 and 16. Dressage classes for ponies have a strong tradition of popularity at European competitions and have only recently begun to attract attention in North America. The first FEI Pony Division Class in North America was held at the FEI Dressage Championship of the Americas, at Blainville, Quebec, in August 2002.
“In Europe,” says Lendon Gray, who is well known for riding 14.3 hand Connemara/thoroughbred Seldom Seen to several national championships, “the ponies are humongous.” The classes are so important, she explains, because they may encourage children to get into dressage, have fun with it and become better riders, at a younger age. She points out that the quality and numbers of riders has increased tremendously since juniors have been encouraged to participate in dressage. Pony classes will, she hopes, help younger riders find their niche and give them an opportunity to compete against their peers.
Dressage at Devon will offer the Team Championship Test-Ponies and the Individual Championship Test-Ponies. According to Gray, these classes are similar to the old third level I, with collected and extended gaits, and half passes, but no flying changes. “As with all FEI youth classes,” she says, “they are very intricate, really throwing you at it with lots of transitions in rapid succession. It’s a real challenge.”
Dressage at Devon is the highest rated international dressage competition and most complete breed show outside of Europe. Olympic medallist Robert Dover calls Dressage at Devon “the standard by which all American horse shows should be judged.” 2003 Dressage at Devon is a United States Equestrian Team Qualifying Competition for the 2004 USET Grand Prix Championship/Olympic Selection Trials, and the 2004 Intermediaire I Championship. Dressage at Devon takes place at the Devon Horse Show Grounds, Route 30, in Devon, Pennsylvania. For information, call 610-358-5785 or go to www.dressageatdevon.org.
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