High praise and accolades from competitors are coming in after the GAIG/USDF Region 9 Championships and Southwest Dressage Championships and Houston Dressage Society (HDS) Autumn Classic. The show, held Oct. 9-12 at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center in Katy, Texas, is a favorite for USDF Region 9 members from Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas. “We always look forward to attending the regional championships in Katy,” said 18-year-old Anna Campbell who won five championship classes on Kevin Campbell's Leibling as well as trainer Kai Handt’s Haflinger pony Lola. “Although we are from Dallas – about five hours away - the people with the Houston Dressage Society (HDS) are like family to us."
"They put on great shows and their shows are always well organized with great vendors and fun activities for the competitors. The show committee at HDS is very conscious of providing a competitor friendly environment and always keeps the needs and well-being of the horses as their top priority.”
Audrey Steinbach, a Grand Prix rider from Plano, Texas, who won Saturday’s Prix St. Georges open aboard her own Presidio, said the Great Southwest Equestrian Center is one of her favorite venues.
“Once again, the Region 9 finals were a highlight of the show year,” Steinbach said. “This show is always incredibly well run by the team from Showsecretary.com. Everything ran smoothly from start to finish and everyone, from the show manager, show office saints, and the masses of amazing volunteers, made the show such a pleasure to attend as a competitor and trainer. The five rings ran like clockwork.”
“It was a good show,” he said. “It was a blast. I had quite a few horses going. They were all really just on top of their games. My two mares won all their classes except in one, and in that one, they took first and second. They’ve been really consistent all year long. It was a lot of fun.
Fran Dearing-Kehr, a trainer and judge from Magnolia, Texas, said although this year she didn’t win her classes as she did last year, the show was phenomenal and every year she is more proud of the job the Houston Dressage Society does.
“The quality of the horses keeps improving and the scores were really tight,” she said.
Dearing-Kehr qualified to compete in the Prix St. Georges on Beth Butler’s Accentuate at the US Dressage Finals to be held Nov. 6-9 in Lexington, Kentucky. She is hoping that she will also qualify to show in the Intermediaire-I.
“If it trickles down to me in the I-I, I will show there,” she said. “It’s a thrill to be able to be a part of that.”
Dearing-Kehr was also awarded the USDF Region 9 Teaching Excellence Award from the Dressage Foundation at the show. This award is unique to Region 9, awarded to a USDF Region 9 member who is also a dressage teacher who adheres to sound principles with a reputation for honesty, integrity and community service. The $5,000 grant will help defray expenses for the trainer to travel to South Florida during the winter show season to train with Pam Goodrich.
She said it’s refreshing that Region 9 puts so much emphasis on excellence in teaching to award a grant.
Also traveling to Kentucky is John Mason, who will be taking all three horses he competed on at the Region 9 championships: Joan Enrich’s McKensey, Christine Renne’s Faye and Kathy Jones’ Rondo del Rey.
“McKensey will be competing in First and Second level, Faye in Second and Third level and Rondo will be doing Intermediaire I Freestyle—all championship classes,” Mason said, proudly adding that he helps train all three horses three times a week and their owners also each train them three times a week.
Mason, an Austin, Texas, native traveled to Germany to train, then came from Germany in 2013 to Tex-Over Farms in Conroe, Texas, where he is now head dressage trainer. He said that the Region 9 championship show rivals any he has seen.
“First and foremost, HDS puts on the most friendly and well–run shows I have been to either here or in Germany,” he said. “Really, they like everybody to feel like they are part of the club. Leslie Rohrer, the President, goes above and beyond to make sure we’re happy. The Great Southwest Equestrian Center is a beautiful facility. It is big enough to not only hold our regionals, but hopefully in the future we’ll have even more shows there. It’s a really well run, clean facility. Good vendors, good food. All the things you look for in a big competition.”
In fact, the Great Southwest Equestrian Center and Houston Dressage Society have bid on future US Dressage Finals and the venue’s central location and rave reviews would make it an ideal location.
Anna Campbell, who has competed at the Festival of Champions and the North American Junior and Young Rider Championships every year since 2011, is also a fan of the HDS shows at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center. The high school senior will move up to Young Riders in 2015 and trains with Kai Handt at North Texas Equestrian Center in Wylie, Texas, which is about 40 minutes from downtown Dallas.
“My favorite dressage shows to go to are those hosted by the Houston Dressage Society,” she said. “The show organizers are always thinking about the needs of the competitors and the horses. They hire fantastic show managers and show secretaries. Everything is run efficiently and things go according to the schedule. It is a very experienced group. We like the facility in Katy, which is just west of Houston, very much too. It is roomy with plenty of parking for cars and trailers. The stabling is nice and the staff is very accommodating.”
After winning five championship classes last weekend, the GAIG Prix St Georges (junior), the GAIG Fourth Level (junior), the Southwest Dressage Club (SWDC) Prix St Georges (junior), the SWDC Fourth Level (junior), and the SWDC Pony Training Level (open), she is hoping to make the Region 9 Young Rider Team next year. She was especially proud of Lola, her trainer’s Haflinger pony she rode in the Southwest Dressage Club (SWDC) Pony Training and First Level classes.
“My trainer, Kai, gave me the pony in August to work with and compete with the goal of auctioning her off at championships to benefit the region’s FEI Junior and Young Rider Fund,” Campbell said. “All the proceeds of her sale would go to help with the teams’ expenses at NAJYRC. This is the second year that he has donated a pony to auction.”
The pony was purchased by the Academy of the Sacred Heart in Grand Coteau, Louisiana, for their equestrian program.
“Lola did a super job in the training level class,” Campbell said. “We had a successful auction and Lola now has a new home in Louisiana, with little girls who adore her.”
To see all the show results from the GAIG/USDF Region 9 Championships and Southwest Dressage Championships and Houston Dressage Society (HDS) Autumn Classic, click here.