People With a Passion for Dressage

Glenda Mc Elroy – Cornerstone Event Management

For Glenda McElroy, dressage event manager, her greatest joy can be summed up in one sentence. “I love to walk out to the dressage rings, when the show is underway. The horses look so beautiful and everything is running smoothly”

Since 1986 Glenda McElroy has been managing dressage shows and events from her home base in California, but that does not mean her company is limited to one state. With over 22 dressage shows a year, she manages 16 herself, and shares responsibilities with her able associates Jennifer Killinger and Meghan Anderson. In California, McElroy has seen the number of entries climb, and the quality of horses and riders soar.

The California Dressage Society has 5000 members in 40 chapters CDS has set high standards. For example to qualify for the CDS Finals, at training level a rider need 5 qualifying score of 67% or better, with four different judges. This year at the 2004 CDS Show there were 350 horses, all qualified, requiring 6 rings, and 10 judges, making it the biggest championship ever. McElroy who has seen the championship grow considers the show a statement of the impact California has on Amerocan dressage. “It was a fabulous championship, with so many wonderful horses.”

Cornerstone managed the 2004 Olympic Dressage Selection Trials in San Juan Capistrano, California attracting spectators 4000 from across the country, proving that indeed California can be a successful host for a National Dressage Competition of world class caliber. California has also hosted the United States League Finals for World Cup, twice, drawing a huge turnout both times. “I want dressage to acquire a foothold in the public consciousness,” continues McElroy. “To attract the public, this is where we are going to grow as a sport.”

And then there are the parties! California is the entertainment capitol of the world and it is not just limited to Hollywood! Coming to California means spectators, guests, sponsors, and table holders are wined, dined, and charmed by the hospitality of a plethora of hosts throughout the week. Dick and Jane Brown hosted “Celebrate with the Champions” fund raiser. This elaborate affair boasted a outstanding silent auction with the grand prize being a one month training session with Debbie McDonald at Rivergrove Farm in Idaho. The bidding was a three way tie at $82,000. Thanks to Debbie, Parry and Peggy Thomas for offering to give each bidder a month training they raised $250,000 in one sweep.

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The World Cup was first held in the United States in 1995 when McElroy and Patricia Doennig hosted the first World Cup Dressage competition held outside of Europe. Again In 2005, McElroy heads up the Dressage competition for the World Cup. This is the first time Dressage and Show Jumping will be held during within the same event, in Las Vegas, NV, April 20-24. To no one's surprise it is Dressage which sells out first and fast. The Dressage World Cup Finals in Las Vegas will host the top dressage horse and rider combinations in the world which will perform their Freestyle test to music, the most entertaining and crowd pleasing discipline of equestrian sport.

The dressage world is divided into leagues with no more the 2 horse and rider combinations representing a league. The World Cup title which is currently held by Olympic Gold medallist Anky VanGrunsven and Salinero from the Netherlands, will feature only 2 American riders for the home-country crowd.

Opportunity For American Grand Prix Riders to Compete in Las Vegas

But McElroy created a unique opportunity for top American horse and rider combinations to compete in Las Vegas, Grand Prix Invitational Class will be offered during the World Cup competition.

The Show Jumping and Dressage Competition will be sharing an arena, which creates a tight schedule for the 4 days of competition in Las Vegas. McElroy managed to add a $25,000 Grand Prix Invitational class to be held Friday afternoon giving top US Riders not competing in the World Cup Final the opportunity to compete in a international competition and to experience the World Cup atmosphere. This is a valuable opportunity for horse and rider combinations with their eye on the 2006 World Equestrian Games Selection Trials. The class is limited to 8 horse and rider combinations, which McElroy will invite based on their placing at the US League Finals April 1-3, 2005 and the rider ranking. She is hoping to attract riders from across the country.

Sponsorship Adds Credibility – Markel Steps up to the Plate

While the horse show management depends on the income produced by the competitors, it is sponsorship which adds to the pot, with prize money, and most important credibility. "In order to make a sponsorship valid,’ explains McElroy, “a manager has to be more creative.” It also is a bonus when a major sponsor gets involved, attends the events, and helps management with ideas and the execution of ideas.

Together with John Seger of Markel Insurance Company, McElroy created a Markel/Cornerstone High Point Series, with coolers and ribbons presented to the High Point Winners of designated Cornerstone Events. The winners of each cooler at each event were happy to get the extra bonus for their achievements. Markel has come on board to continue the High Point Series, in addition to now being a National sponsor of the Markel/USEF Young Horse Dressage Championships, where at Flintridge, the Western division of the Young Horse selection Trials will be held May 27-29 in 2005.

"Markel Insurance appreciates its association with Cornerstone Management and, for me, working with Glenda has been great. The icing on the cake has been my opportunity to observe Dressage at its best this year in California. Next year our plan is to continue with the Markel/Cornerstone High Point Award Series, and to add the Markel/Adashi Adult Amateur Cornerstone Spring Championships, and the USEF/Markel Young Horse Dressage Selection Trials at Flintridge"

In 2005 will be “On the Scene” at several Cornerstone events, and will also be adding to its coverage press releases and results for many Cornerstone shows.

Search the Phelpsphoto Database for the "Markel/Cornerstone High Point Champions" of the 2004

McElroy admits, instead of getting easier it is getting harder to run shows. While the number of entries continues to climb, so does the expense and logistics of running competitions. In fact in order to do the bigger events, which create a whole new dynamic, it is often necessary to cancel smaller “bread and butter” competitions, allowing her staff to focus on the huge responsibilities of managing a world class event.

It is her passion for the sport and her business which keeps her doing what she really enjoys. “I believe in Dressage, I like the horses and I like seeing them happy.” This is her greatest reward, but it is her goal is to continue to establish the foothold into the public consciousness which drives her.

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Search the Phelpsphoto Database for the "Markel/Cornerstone High Point Champions" of the 2004