News Notes for March 16, 2010

Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Posted by Lynndee Kemmett

The dressage show calendar grows busier every week as we enter the spring season. There is one CDI on the schedule for this weekend and that's a CDI3* being held during the Winter Equestrian Festival Dressage Classic (www.dressageshowinfo.com) in Wellington, Florida. But there are nearly a dozen shows going on across the country this weekend. Check out the schedule for all of them at USEF Calendar.

In case you haven't heard, Equestrian Sports Productions, producers of the annual Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida, has hopes of bringing the World Equestrian Games (WEG) back to the U.S. in 2018. The Palm Beach Post reported this past week that the organization plans to submit a bid to host the 2018 WEG. The 2010 Alltech/FEI World Equestrian Games is scheduled to be held in Kentucky this fall from Sept. 25 to Oct. 10 and it will be the first time the WEG will be hosted in the U.S. If America proves to be a good host for this upcoming WEG, that just might help the Florida bid. The plan would be to host the 2018 WEG at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.

While the 2018 WEG might seem a long way off, the reality is that bidding for the WEG is a bit like bidding for an Olympics, you need to start early. Competition to host a WEG is tough, because many countries around the world see it as an opportunity to draw visitors and boost local economies. The 2006 WEG in Aachen, Germany drew about 576,000 spectators and had an estimated economic impact of $311 million, according to Jennifer Wood with Equestrian Sport Productions. That's the sort of impact that leads many countries to want the WEG in their backyard.

And speaking of the 2010 WEG, Alltech, the lead sponsoring company, is giving out free tickets to elementary school students in Kentucky who show their creative side. Called the Alltech Creative Sponsor Program, it aims to educate young children about this international equestrian event that will be going on right in their home state.

"Ask any child, and they can identify with the Olympics and the Super Bowl. Ask them about the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games occurring in their own backyard, and they are not as sure," said Dr. Pearse Lyons, president and founder of Alltech. "The Alltech Creative Scholar Program is about education, creativity, and fun. We want kids to understand what's coming in less than 200 days - the 'Olympics' of equestrian sport with an estimated worldwide television viewership of 460 million, which is five times the average viewership of the Super Bowl."

The program is open to students in elementary schools in Fayette, Jessamine, Scott, and Woodford counties in Kentucky. And, the way it works is that schools are given tickets and then teachers ask students to do creative projects with an equine or WEG theme. Teachers will serve as judges and decide which student projects earn the tickets. Read more about the program at http://news.thomasnet.com/companystory/574342.

And one more bit of WEG news. It was announced this past week that country music singer Wynonna Judd will perform at the opening ceremony. It's reported that she'll sing "My Old Kentucky Home." No doubt her performance will be on national TV as NBC is planning to broadcast much of the WEG.

The collegiate equestrian world suffered a loss this past week with the passing of Dale Wilkinson. He founded the University of Findlay's equestrian program back in 1975. He was 84 years old. To get Findlay's program off the ground, Wilkinson let the university use his farm and arena to teach students and he served as the first riding supervisor. In 1984, Wilkinson moved to Georgia and sold his 72-acre farm to the university. And in 2005, the university named an indoor arena in honor of him. The arena was in one of the original buildings he used when he first began the university's equestrian program.

As a trainer, Wilkinson focused on Quarter Horses and the sport of reining. In 1986, he became the first inductee to the National Reining Horse Association Hall of Fame. He was also a member of the American Quarter Horse and National Cutting Horse associations' halls of fame. The university asks that memorials in his honor be made to The Dale Wilkinson Western Equestrian Scholarship Fund. You can read more about him at http://www.thecourier.com/Issues/2010/Mar/13/ar_news_031310_story4.asp?d=031310_story4,2010,Mar,13&c=n.

It may be that the majority of dressage riders spend the bulk of their riding time in the ring, but most of them probably understand the importance of maintaining access to trails on public lands. The American Horse Council has been looking into the problem of loss of access for some time. And last spring, the AHC published a report on the status of equestrian access to public lands and launched a survey campaign to learn more. This effort was prompted by a growing concern among riders around the country that they were seeing a reduction in the number of trails and trail heads open to equestrians on federal lands.

The AHC is still surveying riders and is using information from the survey in its lobbying efforts to convince Congress to protect, and even expand, the right of riders to use public lands. AHC needs as many equestrians as possible to respond to its survey and lend weight to its access campaign. You can help AHC in its efforts by taking the online survey. To do so, go to the American Horse Council website at https://www.horsecouncil.org/survey.php.