The 15th annual Lendon Youth Dressage Festival (LYDF), held at Hit-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, New York, brought a bright light to over 300 youth. With divisions for ages 10 and under, 11-13 years, 14-17 years, and 18-21 years, all the young riders learned practical high performance information intertwined throughout the competition to build their foundations for international dressage competitions. The three days to the weekend transitioned perfectly, Friday featured a schooling show, a day for the horse and young rider to get rid of spooks and nerves before the big competition day held on Saturday. The written test took place Friday evening and the riding competition, all day Saturday. Sunday, the youth had an option to have a fun day with their horse or pony with a choice of Prix Caprilli, Musical Freestyle and/or Dressage Trail classes. The Individual Awards took place in the centrally located awards area with a beautiful Dressage4Kids banner overhang for taking pictures.
One of the educational activities held on Friday consisted of a practice Horse Turnout Inspection and Jog for Second Level competitors and above. Nancy Later Lavoie, a US High Perfomance rider, created a fun atmosphere to help the young riders understand the steps in presenting a horse in an international competition or CDI. Everyone had a chance to learn how the Veterinarian would inspect the FEI Passport, walk around the horse, with the competitor holding their horse in a certain stance, to then watch the competitor walk to the first set of flower boxes to jog the horse or pony. The practice session was a great confidence building feature to the competition for the future FEI competitor to know the way. The other wonderful educational activity included a Horse Conformation Competition. Three horses were presented for all the youth to inspect and judge on a triangle by a handler. The youth were able to learn what the judge noticed as flaws and good points on each horse. Real learning took place as the youth attained how to look for key element in conformation from the Sport horse Judge.
The LYDF Competition consisted of three phases: the written exam, a dressage test, and an equitation class. Friday evening the three hundred competitors took the test, a multiple-choice combined with true-false test. A tent in the back of the building allowed a place for kids to have an optional reader for foreign competitors and those with learning disabilities.
The different age groups material consisted:
· Ages 10 and Under: USPC D Manual of Horsemanship,
· Ages 11-13: “Riding Through” by Debbie McDonald,
· Ages 14-17: “Down to Earth Dressage” by Carl Hester
or “40 Fundamentals of English Riding” by Hollie McNeil,
· Ages 18-21: “How Good Riders Get Good” by Denny Emerson
· plus all ages 11-21: “All About Worms” by Sonia Davidson and
· All Ages: Rules from the Prize List.
The Dressage Tests and Equitation Classes went on throughout the day on Saturday. The age groups included different dressage levels depending on the level of the horse. The Dressage Tests were judged by top level High Performance Riders the likes of: Catherine Haddad Staller, Justin Hardin, Vera Barisone, Liz Austin as well as top judges Margaret Freeman. The Equitation classes were judged by Nancy Later Lavoie, Bobbie Carleton, and Barb Fillipelli.
This year they decided all three kids could participate in one team together: Kennedy Boehning age 11 years who rides a 5 year old Weser Ems Pony, Grant Boehning age 9 who rides a 10 year old POA Pony, and Ellanor Boehning age 7 who rides an 18 yr old Welsh Pony. Mom, Ann Boehning and Dad, Stuart Boehning were able to make the most of the 18 hour drive. Ann said, “Because the ponies are so small, we were able to make three box stalls in the horse trailer for them. Every four hours we stopped and checked on them. We made the most of the opportunity in the car to study together for the written test.” The younger two kids studied the USPC D Manual of Horsemanship, and Kennedy, the older studied “Riding Through” by Debbie McDonald and “All About Worms” by Sonia Davidson. They made flash cards that they added to the pile of Pony Club Quiz Flashcards they brought for the journey. The strategy worked as they travelled across the eastern half of the United States. Ann continued, “It made for a good eighteen hour drive. It was a good strategy.” When asked what they learned during the competition, Grant age 9 piped in, “Don’t let your pony jump out of the ring. He did that yesterday. And today I learned that each day is a new day.” Because there was a schooling show day, Grant had a chance to learn that the pony would be better. Kennedy, age 11 said, “My pony is young, so it was a good experience to get him to a new place.” To conclude Ann Boehning said, “We are overwhelmed by the many hours of time and talents that have gone into organizing this incredible event. We are truly blessed to be a part of it. Words cannot describe as a mother to watch 3 of her children ages 11, 9, and 7 have such a once in a lifetime experience. Thank you so very much.”
A super group of volunteers: seven students from Nonnewaug High School in Woodbury, Connecticut along with a few friends worked as fantastic Ring Stewards. Every one of them jumped in to help from sun-up to sun-down. Their green shirts were an easy sight to ask any sort of question. Also a great group of adult volunteers, who use their vacation time to volunteer at LYDF, worked hard and have for more than ten years. The entire event clearly was pulled off by the passion of these groups for the incredible good it does for so many kids.
Sunday was Individual Awards Day, with an option to compete in two different classes; Prix Caprilli, a dressage test with three small jumps, and/or the Dressage Trail Class, with trail obstacles throughout the dressage pattern. All in great fun, the smiles and laughter could be seen as all horses and riders showed complete confidence on the final day.