First Level and Up Level Winners at the Atlanta Youth Dressage Challenge Photo: Marc Mesa
Atlanta Youth Dressage Challenge inaugural competition took place at the Georgia International Horse Park (GIHP) in Conyers, GA, featuring Lendon Grey, Gwen Poulin and several other high performance athletes. The challenge, created by Lendon Gray and Dressage4Kids, consisted of three elements to create a division: a written test based on a particular reading assignment, a dressage test, and a dressage equitation class. The challenge scored each section worth 100 points apiece for a total of 300 points. Riders from Tennessee, Florida, Kentucky and Bermuda prticipated in this event. A special thanks to title sponsor, Custom Saddlery!Helena Stokes, mother of Emma Grace Stokes, who just turned 11 years old, said, "Our dressage trainer, Sheri Davis-Pruitt, mentioned the Atlanta Dressage Youth Challenge to us about two months ago. It was a good fit for Emma Grace, who had never shown her horse Whiskey (a.k.a Moonshine Kate) in an A-rated show. Dressing up in show clothes and taking them to Conyers was a good stepping stone to entering an A rated show in the future. As required, Emma Grace read the entire D Manual and put some things she learned to practice that reaped rewards in the show. She cleaned her saddle with tooth picks, as per the suggestion in the book. Her hard work got rewarded with a second place ribbon in the “turn out” category.
Emma Grace really looked forward to the challenge. We learned she is self sufficient in caring for her horse in a show environment. We learned she did not fully comprehend the difference in riding in the dressage ring – which she’s done in schooling shows – to the equitation class. She was delighted her dressage test score was the highest she’s gotten to date, which meant her hard work and perseverance at the tender age of 11 is paying off. We will now look at some videos or go to a show to see an equitation class, for her to grasp this concept better.
Gwen Poulin helps participant at the Atlanta Youth Dressage Challenge Photo: Marc Mesa
Lendon Gray and Gwen Poulin took turns sharing their careers in the horse business during our Saturday night dinner. Both Lendon Gray and Gwen Poulin shared their honestly with humor on their journeys, and I believe the participants will remember their stories for years to come.
Gwen Poulin was very effective in reaching the girls by sharing copies of her dressage tests with the participants. The first test, where she was a young teen and scored below 50% - did not deter her, but made her more determined. She is the living testament that if you persevere and practice, you also can get better – much better. She also shared how there are circumstances around especially competitive riding where so many things that you are not in control of can ruin your ride. She said, as a competitor, you should just go on and look at the challenges as a learning experience, not a failure. I loved that Lendon Gray cheerfully declared that she was known to “ride anything” and that gave her experience, but then occasionally, the perfect horse came along, allowing her to rise above the others and shine. This, I believe, taught the participants that no matter the horse they are riding, that horse help make a better rider, and in turn can help the horse get better, too – whether physically, mentally, or both."
Rebekah Mingari, age 17, said, “I learned not to underestimate the ability of my horse, that I can always learn something, and even he can learn how to develop as well. I also make it easy for him to cheat, and when he does I help him; I learned that I can't let him take advantage of me, and I'm the only one who can show him how it is supposed to be. I also learned that I need to discipline myself more, even though I may be riding alone, I still need to work on the "hard stuff" and do it correctly.”
Elle Turner, who competes at Grand Prix with my Dutch Pony, Ico Photo: Marc Mesa
Janie Pride – owner of Dutch Pony Ico, competing at the Grand Prix level with Elle Turner shared, "We were so excited to be accepted into the two day Emerging Dressage Athletes Program. Lendon has such a good eye and gave Elle specific exercises to improve her work in the Grand Prix. The clinic helped Elle and Ico received a 61.388% on her JR/YR Grand Prix test at Poplar Place Farm this weekend. Thanks so much to Lendon for her help. The riders watched each others' rides and really had a chance to bond. Elle learned so much from the guest speakers' talks on proper feeding, whether to lease or purchase a horse, the psychology of upper level competing, and the ups and downs of competition. Elle, Elle's Mother (Eleanor) and I learned so much."
She continued, "Elle and Ico also competed in the Dressage4Kids Festival. The riders had to ride a Dressage Test, take a written test over given subject material, have a turnout inspection and ride in an Equitation class. Eleanor and I were so proud that Elle won the Dressage Test section with her Intermediare-1 test and was fourth in the turnout inspection. Many, many thanks to Lendon Gray, Liz Molloy, Gwen Poulin, the speakers and our new friends."
For Results CLICK HERE - And For more information CLICK HERE