The big event this weekend is certainly the kickoff to the Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Dressage Festival of Champions, which is serving not only as the national dressage championships, but also the selection trials to choose the members of the U.S. dressage team for the 2010 Alltech/FEI World Equestrian Games. It’s all taking place this weekend and next weekend at the U.S. Equestrian Team headquarters in Gladstone, New Jersey. To learn more and see a schedule for the event, visiting the USEF website (www.usef.org).
Meanwhile, a number of other competitions are going on around the U.S. The California Dressage Society is holding its northern division of the CDS Junior Championships in Rancho Murieta, California. Middletown, New York is the site for the Fall Breed and Dressage Show at Maplewood Warmbloods (www.maplewoodwarmbloods.com). Cheyenne Dressage and Eventing Club Open Dressage will be happening in beautiful Cheyenne, Wyoming. And in Manhattan, Kansas will be the Summer Fest Breed Show (www.midamericasporthorse.com). For a complete list of this weekend’s shows, visit the calendar section of www.usef.org.
Dressage has long struggled to gain the interest of the general public, but the sport seems to be gaining ground one small step at a time. This summer, a number of local newspapers around the U.S. have run feature articles on dressage riders, competitions and barns. This past week, Southern California’s Inland Daily Bulletin joined the list with a feature story on W Farms, a dressage barn in Chino Hills owned by David and Alisa Wilson. David is a USDF Bronze, Silver and Gold medalist who is quoted in the story as saying he is “one of the luckiest guys in the world. I’m dealing with fantastic people and animals. I’m outside every day. I set my own hours. It’s a very fun job.” The article gave readers an overview of the sport of dressage and closed with a plug for the barn. You can read the story at http://www.dailybulletin.com/ci_15630616?source=most_emailed.
And, east of Chino Hills, in the desert of Southern California, the Hi-Desert Star in Morongo Valley ran an article on White Rock Horse Rescue, which runs summer horse camps using rescued horses. The ranch was created by Isabel Megli who gathers horses suffering from physical and psychological injury. Her partner in the venture is dressage rider Garrett Gustafson, a Minnesota native whose passion for horses was first ignited when he saw a performance by horses with the Spanish Riding School. The idea of the camps is to help the horses by reintroducing them to human care and affection, while helping the young campers learn about the responsibilities of ownership and basic skills of horsemanship. You can read all about the camp at http://hidesertstar.com/articles/2010/08/02/sports/doc4c53c5f3ed72f262064363.txt.
With the 2010 Alltech/FEI World Equestrian Games just a month away, Kentucky news is filled with WEG articles. It’s already been reported that ticket sales are not what organizers had hoped, a clear sign to many that the recession is taking its toll on the travel plans of equestrian fans. It might not have helped that hotels jacked up their rates to double, sometimes quadruple, their normal rates, making hotel stays beyond the reach of many would-be WEG attendees. This past week, Kentucky media reported that hotels didn’t get the bookings they had hoped and some are now dropping their rates. The Herald-Leader in Kentucky reported that overall hotel bookings during the WEG period around Lexington are only about 60-65 percent full. Many hotels had expected 100 percent occupancy rates. Get the full story, as well as hints on affordable places to stay, at http://www.kentucky.com/2010/08/03/1374054/hotels-not-full-for-weg-may-lower.html.
And in other WEG news from Kentucky, the Times Leader reported this week on costs of producing this year’s WEG. According to the article, WEG organizers have said it will take upwards of $70 million in private money to run the WEG. The newspaper, however, was interested in the public cost of the event and its estimate is that more than $107 million in government money – that is, tax dollars – has been spent on improvements to the Kentucky Horse Park and infrastructure projects to prepare for the WEG. Economists say it’s too soon to know if all the money spent on the WEG will result in a big economic boost for Kentucky. You can read the whole article and the newspaper’s economic impact analysis at http://www.timesleader.net/articles/stories/public/201008/02/0004PPmm_news.html.
And one final bit of WEG news this week, news reports are that the WEG is still in need of volunteers – as many as 1,000. About 5,000 volunteers have already signed up but more are needed to serve as competition judges, ushers, parking attendants and general information guides. This could be your chance to get into the WEG for free. Volunteers must commit to at least six shifts of eight-hours each and must be 18 or older. To volunteer, visit http://www.alltechfeigames.com/volunteer/default.aspx?id=258.
From Russia comes news that the first federal center for the development of equestrian sports is on the way to being created. A memorandum agreement was recently signed by the FEI, the Russian Sports Ministry and the Russian Equestrian Federation. Signatories to the agreement were FEI President Princess Haya Bint al Hussein, Russian Minister of Sports Vitaly Mutko and REF President Dmitry Titov. In signing the memorandum, Princess Haya said that “Russia made a major contribution to the development of equestrian sports. I am very pleased that we have reached full mutual understanding with the REF and the ministry…This day is a really happy one for our federation and for equestrian sports in general.”
From the New Jersey Herald came an uplifting story this past week of a gifted 12-year-old equestrian named Lizzy Traband. Lizzy was born with one hand but that hasn’t stopped her from becoming an equestrian performer, competitor and trainer. For the past five years, she’s been on tour with Tommie Turvey’s show called “The Night of Amazing Horses” as an equine entertainer. She saw Turvey perform years ago and managed to convince her parents to let her train with him. She had already started her own trick riding with her pony, Toby. The feature article notes that Lizzy is now “expanding her repertoire of tricks, challenging herself to progress as a horsewoman. She dabbles in dressage, adores bridleless riding, and has even trained one of her horses to jump fire.”
Young Lizzy has now branched out and created her own clinics in Taiji Horsemanship. Taiji Horsemanship is an eastern philosophy where a rider’s “supreme ultimate” can be achieved through perfect balance and harmony. You can catch Lizzy in action this year at the New Jersey State Fair/Sussex County Farm and Horse Show. And, you can read more about her at http://www.njherald.com/story/news/01Horse.
From KFYR TV in Bismarck, North Dakota comes the story this past week of Reggae Drummer. Reggae has one heck of a record. The 30-year-old Quarter Horse has been competing in the North Dakota State Fair for a quarter century and with that has come 28 state fair championship titles. “Reggae is a pretty special horse,” said former rider Lori Heim who won 14 state fair titles with him. “He`s taught all of us to ride." Her aunt showed the Quarter Horse in dressage, but he’s also been a winner in Western competition as well. You can read more about this remarkable horse at http://www.kfyrtv.com/News_Stories.asp?news=41962.