News Notes for the Week of January 4, 2010

Monday, January 4, 2010

Welcome to the new year and to DressageDaily's new weekly News Notes offering you quick updates on the latest news and upcoming events for the week. The 2010 dressage show season kicks off this week in Florida with the Wellington Classic Dressage Challenge I being held this coming weekend at the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center in Loxahatchee, Florida. Also coming up this weekend is the Twice as Nice Dressage I in Newberry, Florida. Debates over dressage training methods, particularly the rollkur, made the national news in England this week when The Daily Mail ran an article on a petition signed by tens of thousands of equestrian fans in opposition to what they perceive as cruel training methods. Equestrian fans are threatening boycotts of the 2012 Summer Olympics, set to be held in London. The protests have arisen over what the British press is calling the "blue-tongue scandal" in reference to a video posted online of Swedish rider Patrik Kittel using the technique during a warm-up for a competition in Denmark in October. The chair of the British Horse Society, Patrick Print, has called on the FEI to investigate such training practices. Kittel has denied that he rode the horse seen in the video, Scandic, for an extended length of time in a rollkur position. Kittel has said Scandic tends to play with his tongue and that's why it was over the bit and sticking out of his mouth during the time the video was shot. 

How much is a dressage horse worth these days? Depends on the horse. The British press reported last week that Moorlands Totilas, the 10-year-old stallion that has been breaking score records with rider Edward Gal, has become the most valuable competition horse "of all time." According to an article in The Telegraph, owner Kees Visser said that he might consider selling the horse for around 26 million Euros, (around $35.7 million). "You can't say he's not for sale," Visser said. "Never say never. If you say 15 million Euros, then maybe 20 or 25 million Euros would be the price." He also noted that he wasn't in a hurry to sell the horse.

If you are in the Aiken, South Carolina area, a dressage show scheduled for this weekend will contribute to a good cause. The Three Runs Plantation is holding a show to benefit the Aiken County Animal Shelter. The show is being held on January 9 and all proceeds benefit the shelter.

Australia may be one of the latest countries to send para-equestrian riders to the upcoming 2010 World Equestrian Games. The country held its first international-level para-equestrian competition just before the holidays as part of the Saddleworld Dressage Festival held at the WERRIBEE Park National Equestrian Center. The para-equestrian dressage competition attracted 34 riders from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Japan. They competed in front of a jury of international judges from Australia, the Netherlands, Belgium and France.