This Week's Dressage News Notes Brought to You by Back On Track

Dressage shows are taking place everywhere this week, even in Alaska and Hawaii. Courtney King Dye sends a new message to supporters. And another rider injured in a bad fall two years ago is now well on the road to representing her home country of Canada in the upcoming WEG para-dressage competition. Anky van Grunsven bows out of the 2010 WEG. Despite years of war, horse racing continues to thrive in Baghdad, Iraq. And, the benefit of using horses for therapy makes the news in one of Chicago’s leading newspapers.

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There will be dressage show action from coast to coast and even outside the contiguous 48 states this weekend.  Way up north, the Alaska Dressage Association will be holding the ADA Spring Festival I in Anchorage ( and across the water in Hawaii, the Aloha State Dressage Society will be holding ASDS III in Waimanalo, Hawaii ( For a complete listing of all this week’s dressage shows, visit the U.S. Equestrian Federation calendar at

Courtney King Dye continues to make progress and this past week posted another message on her website ( that updates supporters on her progress. It’s clear that she’s very busy with her rehabilitation and is gaining ground in her recovery. Courtney is clearly keeping a positive attitude and expresses sincere thanks for all the support she is receiving so, keep the support coming.

And speaking of riders working on a comeback after a fall, this past week, the Toronto Star ran a feature article on a 16-year-old rider who was badly injured in a riding accident and is back riding and winning. Canadian Madison Lawson got her first horse when she was nine and was winning ribbon after ribbon at the young age of 11. Even then, she already had dreams of representing Canada in international competition and odds are looking good that she’ll achieve that dream by representing her country at the Para-Dressage competition at this year’s Alltech/FEI World Equestrian Games.
When she was 13, Madison was exercising a friend’s horse when it reared up and fell back on her, breaking her back. She underwent a 13-hour surgery and doctors were just hoping she’d be able to walk again, riding was even less likely. But within weeks, her toes began to twitch and not long after, she began to take a few assisted steps. Seven months after her riding accident, Madison was back in the saddle and she hasn’t stopped riding since. She recently won a bronze medal in the first international Para-Dressage Competition at WindReach Farm in Ashburn, Ontario with the help of her gelding McGuire and her coaches Paige Lockton and Elaine Potter.   

The para-dressage competition in which Madison competed – officially the WindReach International Para-Dressage CPEDI3 – was also fortunate enough to receive financial support from Canada’s government. Canada’s federal government gave $50,000 (Canadian) to the event, which was held at the 109-acre WindReach Farm, created by Sandy Mitchell, an equestrian born with cerebral palsy. The farm caters to para-riders.  
This past weekend’s competition was the largest para-equestrian competition in North America. There were riders from all over the world including the United States, Canada, China, Bermuda, Japan, and Australia. The U.S. earned the Silver Medal in the competition. The final Selection Trials for U.S. para-dressage riders will take place at Lamplight Equestrian Center in Wayne, Illinois.
Read more about Madison and McGuire.

The news is out on the wires that Dutch rider Anky van Grunsven will not be competing at this year’s WEG because her partner, Salinero, is still recovering from an injury to his withers. Her other top horse is the stallion IPS Painted Black but he’s not been as consistent in competition and she’s chosen not to make a run for the WEG with him.

Most of the news coming out of Iraq focuses on the continuing effort to put that country back together after years of war, but National Public Radio recently reported on something much more positive – a thriving equestrian scene in the Amariya neighborhood of West Baghdad. Throughout the years of the U.S.-led invasion and internal strife, the Baghdad Equestrian Club has found a way to stay active with twice weekly horse races that continue to draw a crowd despite the dangers of the neighborhood. It’s not quite the place it used to be. NPR reports that the original track was built by the British after World War I and was once a rather glamorous place, especially in the 1930s and 1940s. The track was moved in 1995 when Saddam Hussein built a mosque on the original site. Still racing has survived. It’s a secular world amidst a religious nation as the Koran forbids gambling, which still does occur on race days. There is no alcohol at the club, but race fans bring their own.
You can read more about Baghdad’s racing industry.

The therapeutic benefit of time spent with horses was the subject of a recent Chicago Sun Times article. The article focused on the nonprofit Equestrian Connection in Lake Forest, Illinois, which runs a program that connects special needs children and adults with horses. Equestrians are quite familiar with the benefits of therapeutic riding programs, but the Sun Times article certainly helped to highlight those benefits to a wider urban audience unfamiliar with how riding and simple acts like brushing a horse can provide physical and mental relief. More than 220 children and adults use the center each week.
Read the whole article.


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