With the success of the 2005 FEI World Cup Dressage Finals, Offield Farms continues to look for ways to promote dressage and horses not only to serious equestrians, but horse lovers everywhere. As part of her mission to identify successful equestrian promotions and create strategic partnerships, Karin Reid Offield recently traveled to Canada, the home of three new CDI shows managed by Cara Whitham’s Equivents, as well as the Royal Canadian Mounted Patrol (RCMP) Musical Ride that is part of the Sunset Ceremonies.
“There is a lot of potential for Canada and the Northern U.S. to partner to create successful competitions and events,” said Offield, whose home base in Harbor Springs, Michigan is approximately 500 miles from the CDIs in Toronto and Ottawa. She continued, “These new CDIs offer a lot of opportunities for dressage riders from the Midwest. Having this quality of competition available without having to trailer for days offers a serious boost for international dressage in this area.” In addition to the new CDI competitions, a series of shows hosted by Horse Sports by the Bay, including Dressage by the Bay, are available in Northern Michigan, completing the Northern show circuit. “This area offers a lot of amenities for competitors and spectators to take par in international competition,” Offield stated. (Visit www.equivents.com and www.horseshowsbythebay.com for more information.)
Offield’s Canadian trip was prompted by an invitation from Donald Murphy, the Director Emeritus of the Mounted Police Foundation, to witness the opening night of the Sunset Ceremonies, which includes the Musical Ride, a performance by the Royal Canadian Mounted Patrol (RCMP.) The Musical Ride is an exhibition that features 32 RCMP horses and riders performing intricate figures and cavalry drills choreographed to music. “The Musical Ride is really something special,” said Offield. During the Sunset Ceremonies, as the last horse moves and the last musical note finishes, the sun sets in the distance.
Like high-level dressage, the Musical Ride involves intense training that demands finesse, control and coordination. The performances have become favorites that are sold out each year. “The connection that the people have with the Royal Canadian Mounted Patrol is really buoyed by the Musical Ride Performances. I think that this is something that promoters of all types of equestrian events can learn from,” Offield continued. “In addition to the performances, the horses also participate in parades and special events, as well as generously submit to endless petting and photographs. It’s the consistent idea of performances and participation in local events that appeals to me.”
“This is a way for the RCMP to allow the community a chance to see what the members of the Musical Ride do on a daily basis,” explained Monique Beauchamp, Corporal at the RCMP. “This event exposes [the audience] to the figures and cavalry drills that are practiced everyday.”
The RCMP Musical Ride performs at approximately 40-50 locations throughout Canada and internationally. Thirty-six riders, thirty-six horses, a farrier, a technical production manager and three NCOs travel with the Musical Ride, which performs between May and October. “The travel and flight schedule alone is inspiring to me,” commented Offield.
This year the Sunset Ceremonies place special emphasis on Canadian veterans. Not only did Offield enjoy the Musical Ride performance, but also learned about the RCMP breeding program. The RCMP has specifically bred horses for the program since 1939. Today, the horses are primarily Thoroughbred/Hanoverian crosses bred for size, conformation, temperament, and of course, to be black in color. To help support the RCMP and the Mounted Police Foundation, the horses that do not meet the black color requirement are auctioned to the public. (For more information on this visit www.mountedpolicefnd.org)
The success of the Musical Ride indicates that the human interest in equine events can be piqued. “This gives me a lot of hope for our own special event dressage performances,” said Offield. “Although dressage in America does not have the allure of the red-uniformed Mounties, the elegance and beauty of horse and rider and our traditional dress I believe is as appealing,” Offield said. “The beauty and pageantry of horses performing to music obviously has found an audience in Canada that dovetails with the Mounties duties and Canada’s national pride.”
Offield Farms is a FEI-level breeding, showing and training facility catering to the needs of discerning horse owners and riders. The farm’s mission is to serve as a significant catalyst for the advancement and promotion of the sport of dressage. Visit www.OffieldFarms.com.
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