During the 2014 Florida International Youth Dressage Championships in Wellington, Florida seventeen youth competed in four divisions, (FEI Pony, Junior, Young Rider, and Under 25 Grand Prix - U25) at the international arena during the Nations Cup at the Global Dressage Festival. What a great experience for youth and young riders to build confidence in preparation for the whole year. The Florida International Youth Dressage Championships are designed to expose youth—and parents—to the demands of the international level of competition while experiencing North America’s most “European” show, the Nations Cup. A number of families headed by Michael and Sarah Davis, Terri Kane and Kim Boyer, believe that the Nations Cup and the Global Dressage Festival provide a unique opportunity to benefit young athletes who are preparing for a career in the sport of dressage. The week of activities at the Championships included: a workshop for parents – “What You Need to Know If Your Child Prepares for The High Performance,” a workshop on veterinary for the high performance horse, “Training and Maintaining Soundness,” and a Youth Party at Diamante Farm – home of Grand Prix rider, Devon Kane.
Tanya Strasser Shostak, 18 years old, from Ste-Adele, Quebec, Canada coached by her mom, Evi Strasser, rode Action Tyme, a 14 yr old OLD by Aktuell and competed in the Young rider Division to win the Florida International Youth Dressage Young Rider division with scores 67.368% and 69.035%. In 2013, they were Young Rider Bronze Medalists at the North American Junior and Young Rider Championships in the Young Rider Musical Freestyle. She shared, “I’m very fortunate to have multiple horses I can train with at different levels.” Together with her mom Evi Strasser, they run their equine sales business, Good Tyme Stables in Canada in the summer and Wellington during the winter. Tanya continued, “My daily training routine on every horse focuses mainly on the basics. Before I start practicing any movements I want my horse and I to be supple and through. My rider position is so important to me as well. If I’m not completely correct in my seat, my Mom makes sure to perfect it before letting me move on to the next thing. I’ve worked really hard to try and develop a good seat and posture, and now I hope to continue maintaining it. Outside of riding, I have a few exercises I do to maintain my flexibility which allows me to remain supple. I also try to work on my cardio as often as I can. We have quite a few horses, so I help my Mom by warming some of them up for her, but after a while you kind of get used to that type of exercise and need to look outside of horses sometimes. So, running and biking helps increase my cardio. The one thing I have learned is, don’t think you’re able to train like someone running an Iron Man on the first day of training. That was a fun one to learn! Focus more on gradually build up your training regime.” And in explaining the strategy for 2014, she shared, “The Wellington, Florida shows season really builds a foundation for the rest of the year. It steps up my game.”
Barbara (Bebe) Davis, 16 years old, from Bedminster, New Jersey, coached by Cesar Parra, rode both Feivel Mousekewitz and Rotano, both 13 yr old Hanoverians owned by her father, Michael Davis, and won the Florida International Youth Dressage Championships in the Junior division with a 66.441% and a 67.588% on Fievel Mousekewitz and second place with Rotano with scores of 66.937% and 65.965%.
At the age of 13 and 14, Bebe competed two ponies to US National Titles. Last year, Bebe moved up to Juniors with Rotano and were Bronze Medalists at the North American Junior Young Rider Championships in the Junior Freestyle. Bebe and Rotano won the National Junior Title at the Festival of Champions.
Bebe works on her riding six days a week with three horses under the watchful eyes of Cesar Parra. She attends an on-line and tutoring school here in Wellington, Florida called Palm Beach International Academy. She shared, “When I started riding, I started like most kids, in the sport of Hunter-Jumpers. At an early age, I couldn’t really control the horse with my seat. It was all hands. The horse would stop and I would fall off. My Mom said, ‘This is not going in the direction it should be going.' We saw a poster in our local feed store for a rider from Brazil, looking to coach, and my Mom called her. That’s when we started lunge lessons, walk, trot, and canter, until I could sit and be comfortable on the horse. “ Bebe has been riding with Cesar Parra for almost five years on a consistent basis. She continued, “Then, when I went to Cesar’s, he built more onto that because seat and position are so important. Every day I have to make sure I’m sitting up straight.”
Bebe does Pilates three times a week and has special exercises she does for her ankles, a weak point for her. “I have feet and ankle issues. They are something I always have to work on. I do special exercises every day to make sure I get the right control needed for my riding,” she said. To conclude she said, “If you don’t have your seat, then riding becomes a lot more difficult. When it comes to pirouettes, piaffe and passage, you have to ride with your seat and your legs or it won’t happen. I am really grateful that I had a chance to really learn about position!”
Katrina Sadis, 16 years old, from Ann Arbor, Michigan coached by Andrea Landis and Lendon Gray rides Poldy 10 an 18 year old German Riding Pony. In the FEI Pony division at the Florida International Youth Dressage Championships, they won the division with a score of 66.838% and 67.154%.
Poldy 10 has loads of experience taking three riders in Europe through the Pony divisions, then helping Bebe Davis win the US National Title in the Pony division, and now helps Katrina build her foundation for a strong future in dressage.
Katrina shared, “I’ve had Poldy four months now. I’m learning everything.” Taking part in the three month - Lendon Gray Winter Intensive Training Program, she said, “Lendon is really tough on my position. I’ve never had a pony like Poldy. He’s pretty much like a mini warmblood. If I sit better Poldy goes better. We’re working a lot on half-halts and simple changes. Poldy knows the Pony tests really well, so we try to work on the basics in preparation.”
The Florida International Youth Dressage Championships will be held again next year.
For more information please go to: www.globaldressagefestival.com
For more information on Lendon Gray got to: www.dressage4kids.org