For the third time, Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank, California will host the US League Finals this weekend--and Glenda McElroy will organize the event, as well as the Festival of the Horse, the CDI-W that 'surrounds' the Finals.
This will be the last League Finals- - next year, the FEI has decreed that there will be one league for all North America (including Canada) and riders will qualify in the European system, by accumulating points throughout the year at designated shows.
Glenda says, "Yes, we will be holding more CDI-Ws in the future--that's how to create world cup riders." She considers the Freestyle Championship "always, important, always exciting", and points out that this year, the competition might be the best ever. WEG and Olympic team riders Leslie Morse, Steffen Peters and Guenter Seidel are joined by top East Coast riders: World Cup competitor Arlene 'Tuny' Page, as well as Michael Barisone, and new shooting star Courtney King. Much of the West Coast will see the East Coast horses, Wild One, Neruda and Idocus for the first time.
Talking about this show and CDI-Ws in general, Glenda feels that "sponsorship and sponsors for the sport are really just starting to get off the ground. It is all driven by how much money is available and what can be done for the riders."
Judges' Panel to Feature Three "O" Judges
Planning for this event began about one year ago, says Glenda, with choosing the judges panel--Gary Rockwell (O) , Cara Whitham(O), Jane Weatherwax (S)and Evi Eisenhardt (O) and Gustav Svalling(I).
"I try to find judges that are actively judging other major events. I try always to find one top judge that might be new to the competitors," says Glenda. Svalling, for example, judged last year's World Cup Finals. The three O judges have judged nearly every top dressage competition in the world. Weatherwax is one of the U.S.A.'s top younger judges.
Asked about decorations, Glenda laughs, pointing out that there has to be a balance between pleasing the audience with the floral decorations (handled,as usual by Brett Starn) and pleasing the riders--who would probably be happiest with an absolutely bare arena, so no distractions for the horses. "But", she promises, "this year will be spectacular." Further, she smiles, "this will level the playing field--the arena will be unfamiliar looking to the West Coast horses just as much as those from the East Coast."
League Finals A Concept Which Originated in the USA
Thinking about the League Finals, she says that the event has really helped the sport to grow, giving spectators a chance to meet some of the horses and riders that represent the United States in international competition. For the riders, she says, there is something planned every morning and evening, more of a European feel.
Glenda is, of course, also organizer of the dressage portion of World Cup -Las Vegas, as she was in 2005. More to the point, she helped create and facilitate the idea that the two Finals--show jumping and dressage--could be held at the same venue..
"In the back of my mind," she says, "I really thought putting dressage with the jumping and having both finals would enhance each other. We all started talking about it, and contacted Las Vegas Events and we were all very happy with the results."
Now, of course, the FEI has agreed to accept bids to hold the Finals together in Europe. "For a change something came from here first!" says Glenda.