Saugerties, New York – Days of rain at the New England Dressage Association’s Fall Dressage Festival didn’t dampen the spirits of Arlene “Tuny” Page and Wild One, winners of both the FEI Grand Prix and FEI Grand Prix Freestyle in the CDI competition.
The five-day show may have started off wet and dreary but the final two days were dry and bright, which meant the competition rings dried out beautifully just in time for Sunday afternoon’s Grand Prix Freestyle competition and that meant Page had the perfect footing she wanted to let loose with Wild One. She admitted she held him back a bit in Saturday’s FEI Grand Prix because the footing was still a bit mucky in places. v“On another day I could have pushed a bit more and he probably would have gone over 70 percent,” she said after Saturday’s ride in which the pair earned a 67.96 percent.
And on Sunday, with excellent footing beneath them, she did push and she and the 10-year-old Wild One earned a 73.95 percent.
Wild One only returned to the U.S. from Europe on Aug. 18 but he looked more than ready for Grand Prix competition. He was so ready, in fact, that Page dumped her initial plan of giving him a break after his European trip. Once she saw how well he had weathered the trip home, she decided to put him right back in the show ring. And so, the pair headed off to NEDA, a show Page said she is particularly proud to support.
“I’m a die-hard NEDA supporter. I like coming here and all my friends are here,” she said.
She’s not alone. NEDA clearly has a strong base of competitors for its annual fall show. Nearly 500 horses competed in the popular show that featured a breed show and both a CDI competition and the USDF Region 8 Championships. The event was held at the HITS-on-the-Hudson show grounds and what a crowded show grounds it was. Along with the NEDA show, HITS played host to the Marshall & Sterling League Finals, which meant that in addition to the dressage crowd a large hunter/jumper contingent was on the grounds.
This was not always a good thing. While dressage fans traditionally remain silent through competition, hunter/jumper fans are more like cheerleaders who yell and scream in an effort to verbally push their favorite riders and horses through the course and over the jumps. Courtney King and Idocus, winners of the Region 8 Grand Prix championship class, experienced the downside of cheering hunter/jumper fans during their ride in Saturday’s CDI/FEI Grand Prix competition.
Both dressage and hunter/jumper fans gathered under the VIP pavillion. On one side of the pavillion was the Grand Prix dressage ring and on the other, the Grand Prix ring for the hunter/jumper competition. During King’s ride, bursts of yelling and clapping as hunter/jumper fans cheered on their riders was a bit more than Idocus could handle and he had several explosive moments during his test. To her credit, King dealt with it all rather graciously and considered enthusiastic spectators to be just another thing that show horses must learn to handle.
It’s a big compliment to the HITS ground crew that FEI-level competitors, known for their frequent criticism about footing, had nothing but praise for the work the crews did to keep the rings going. Granted, the rings for lower-level competition were much more mucky as they didn’t have the better footing, but FEI competitors said the footing in their competition ring was as good as they could have expected under the circumstances. As Lars Petersen said it, “How many places could even have that good of footing with all this rain?"