34th Annual International Dressage at Devon Horse Show

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

DressageDaily On the Scene - Dressage at Devon 2008

The elegance and precision of classical horsemanship in competition
September 23rd through 28th

Dressage. It has been called poetry in motion and ballet on horseback. Dressage is an ancient equestrian discipline, and the fastest growing equestrian sport in the USA today. In September, Dressage at Devon brings top competitors, horses, trainers and judges from across the continent and around the globe together for one of the highest-rated international dressage competitions and the most complete breed show outside of Europe. This year, the 34th annual Dressage at Devon Horse Show will be held September 23rd through 28th at the Devon Horse Show grounds in Devon, Pennsylvania. Olympic medalist Robert Dover calls Dressage at Devon “the standard by which all American horse shows should be judged.” More than 700 horses are expected to compete with an anticipated 35,000 spectators.

Dressage, a French word meaning “training,” describes the sequential development of the horse’s suppleness, obedience and strength. The result is a breathtaking blend of power and artistry. Competition involves a series of movements based on a horse’s action, not unlike gymnastics or figure skating competitions.

Dressage at Devon opens with the three-day Breed Division, in which horses are judged for movement and conformation. More than 30 breeds are represented. The USDF Breeders Championships East Coast Series Finals, North American Breeders Futurity Championship Finals and the Born in the USA Breeders Awards are among the highlights of the show’s first days. New this year is the first Foal Championship ever to be held in the United States. The combination of breed classes and performance classes gives the spectator a unique perspective. Dressage at Devon is where you can see it all, from foal to Freestyle Champion.

Thursday, the four-day Performance Division begins. Most Dressage at Devon classes are F.E.I. (Fédération Equestre Internationale) level, including four Grand Prix classes, the level of Olympic competition.  Musical freestyles classes, like dancing to the music, are favorites.

The Festival Shops offer exclusive apparel, fine arts, antiques and collectibles from more than 65 vendors, and food from burgers to full gourmet meals at charming outdoor cafes. Families enjoy the weekend atmosphere, where Kids Corral provides activities for youngsters, and exhibitions are geared towards family fun. A highlight of this year’s Family Day will be the first-ever Dressage at Devon Leadline class for aspiring youngsters.

Dressage with the Experts offers an opportunity to hear live, expert commentary on individual headsets and an electronic scoreboard, the first ever at a US dressage competition, allows spectators to see the scores for each movement, as they are assigned by the judges.

Wednesday Dressage at Devon offers a forum with Dr. Hilary Clayton, Fitness Training to Maximize Dressage Performance. Held on Wednesday evening, September 24th at 7 pm, the Forum includes a gourmet boxed dinner.

Hundreds of volunteers work together to make Dressage at Devon a success. The show benefits Thorncroft Therapeutic Horseback Riding, Inc., one of the oldest and largest therapeutic riding facilities in the nation. Thorncroft helps the disabled to improve balance, circulation, muscle tone, and concentration, while enhancing self-esteem. Since 1991, Dressage at Devon has raised more than $1,070,000 for Thorncroft.

Dressage at Devon takes place at the Devon Horse Show Grounds, Route 30, in Devon, Pennsylvania. Tuesday, September 23 through Sunday, September 28. General admission is $8; children under 12 are admitted at no charge. Reserved and box seats are available. For information go to www.dressageatdevon.org.