Devon, PA - More than 35,000 spectators enjoyed the equine entertainment and education provided by more than 700 horses (and their riders) at this year’s Dressage at Devon. Tuesday through Thursday featured the breed division in which young horses, from weanlings to six-year olds, shown both in-hand and under saddle, had their day in the sun (or in the rain depending on the time of day). Friskiness dominated the younger classes as their handlers worked hard to show off their charges. The open breed class – the largest in the world – featured many of the horses that are likely to become the dressage stars of the future.
Stunning young horses that wowed the crowd included Radiance HVBH, a Hanoverian by Rotspon out of EM Whitney claimed the USDF/GAIG Mare Championships; Innverness, by Parabol out of Parelex who won the Stallions 4 Years and Older and Felix, a 4-year-old Oldenburg who won the Materiale Championship after coming in second in the USEF Materiale 4 and 5 Year Old Stallions and Gelding class. EM Rheporter, by Shakespeare RSF, meeting stiff competition, earned first place in both the Mare Championship and the Mature Horse Championship.
It goes without saying that the people at Dressage at Devon love horses. But then there are breeders who have chosen to specialize in a particular breed. Each has their own reasons for their choice and each is passionate. The individual classes showed off the beauty of 20 breeds including the Warmblood Horse of Trakehner Origin, the German Oldenburg Verband, Morgan, Rheinland Pfalz-Saar International, Haflinger and Cleveland Bay.
Spectators had the chance to listen to step by step commentary provided by dressage experts on Dressage at Devon Radio. This year’s listeners benefitted from an expanded field of notable experts who were willing to share an insider’s perspective, adding engagement and enhancing interest for all levels.
Those who attended Friday, Saturday and Sunday were also treated to the incredible performances of Guy McLean, Australian cowboy who enjoys a truly amazing relationship with his equine partners – Hope, Seuel, Pride, and Spinnaby. Together, they have performed all over the world, winning the hearts and minds of thousands of equestrian fans including those at Dressage at Devon.
And, of course, there was the Ladies Hat Contest featuring a colorful, creative array of hats and fascinators adorning the heads of more than 30 ladies - and one gentleman. Popular radio personality John DeBella of 102.9 FM/WMGK and Michele Bell owner and designer of the Mad Hatter judged the competitors whose entries featured scarecrows, butterflies, flowers, feathers, and more.
The Thorncroft Mainstreamers exhibition rounded out Saturday morning’s performances. These ambassadors of the Thorncroft therapeutic riding program are a unique team of riders with wonderful talents. The team has been honing its skills in preparation for this day by working and riding together since February. At Thorncroft, the young riders learn to truly partner with their horses – many of which have been donated to Thorncroft. For more information on the Thorncroft programs visit www.throncroft.org.
Young riders were a highlight on Saturday with classes that included the FEI Young Rider Individual Test won by Chase Hickok from Jupiter, Florida, riding Palermo by Zeoliet out of Arona. The FEI Junior Individual Test was won by Nicola Torres Rodriguez, originally from Columbia and who claimed a blue ribbon on Silve Label, a 14- year old Swedish Warmblood. Professionals also had their turn. These classes included the FEI Prix St. Georges O CDI I won by Patrick Tigchelaar on Supertimes by Goodtimes out of Draniki and the FEI Intermediaire I CDI won by Heather Mason riding Warsteiner by Riverman out of Welona.
Piaffes, passages, and pirouettes marked the performance division. In two great performances, Adrienne Lyle, who hails from Ketchum, Idaho, won both Friday’s Grand Prix and Saturday’s Grand Prix Freestyle on Wizard by Weltmeyer out of Pica. “It feels awesome,” said rider Adrienne Lyle who hails from Ketchum, Idaho. The excitement and enthusiasm of the Devon crowd were a surprise to both Adrienne and Wizard but they rode through it – and through the rain – like the professionals they are. They were not alone. Amazing performances by Catherine Haddad Staller (last year’s winner) on Winyamaro and James Koford on Pharaoh made the audience forget the rain.
Sunday featured a great combination of fun and exceptional dressage. The morning featured the FEI Intermediaire I CDI 1*, Fourth Level tests, junior riders and young riders. And then, of course, there was the ever-popular Lead Line class, open to children who have not yet reached their 7th birthday – truly a class where everyone is a champion.
The afternoon classes were characterized by great, high level riding. The FEI Olympic Grand Prix Special was won by Jacqueline Brooks on D-Niro, a 12-year-old Swedish Warmblood by D-Day out of Alitalia with a score of 67.222. The FEI Intermediaire I Freestyle CDIW, was won by Heather Mason on Warsteiner, by Riverman out of Welona,with a score of 72.850.
As the afternoon closed, the crowd strolled out, in no hurry to leave the charged atmosphere of Dressage at Devon and, as we all are, looking forward to next year. So mark your calendars now for the 2012 Dressage at Devon, beginning Tuesday, September 24 through September 30, 2012.
Complete results are available at www.dressage.org.