A Wrap-up to the Eleventh Annual “Lendon’s Youth Dressage Festival”
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Of course, there were tests ridden, which means that some scored better than others. There was a roller coaster coverage of teams and individuals who topped the charts as well as several other noteworthy accomplishments.
Finishing at the top of the heap in team competition were four young ladies known as the “Piaffe Posse” (congratulations to Charlotte Woody, Hanna McCabe, Bobbie Kerr, and Sian Walker!). When their names were called at the Saturday evening banquet, their squeals of delight told all of us that they were oh-so-pleasantly surprised. The reserve champions made the trek from north of the border (outside of Montreal, Ste-Marthe, Quebec, to be precise), Team Valkenhof. Proud bearers of Maple leaf flags and the fleur-de-lis, one and all. (You should have seen those flags flapping with joy as the Valkenhoffers cantered down the ring in the parade of teams!)
A second highlight of the evening’s banquet was the bestowing of awards that recognize the major contributions all our dams and sires make to who we are. Lendon’s Dad (S. Braley Gray) and her Mom (Corinne F. Gray) obviously produced a litter that knows what it means to give of oneself for the good of others.
There were many great stories connected with individual contestants: the Chowanec family which filled out the ranks of the Festival with four siblings who competed in almost everything ranging from walk/trot right on up to FEI Pony Division and Katie Berube who was part of a vaulting exhibition team and went on to win the FEI Pony class.
But the story of Grace and her Mom, Susan, doesn’t end there. That’s right, Grace rises to each new day – and every ride -- facing up to the challenges of autism. And there she was, not only holding her own amongst less tried children, but going on TO WIN HER DIVISION. I am quite certain that the trip back to Brentwood felt as if this mother and daughter were floating on a cloud.
Photo: Written test in action
Ranging from the board members of Dressage4Kids (like Ms. Noone), to Lendon Gray herself (who rode horses other people thought unsuitable for the lofty atmosphere of haute école dressage to win at the highest levels of the sport), and carrying on to the Moms and Dads and other volunteers, this is a horse show that extols the contribution of all of us. (Right down to the puppies who stay out from under hoof and admire the work of both horse and rider while trying to keep our mouths shut.)
Mary Beth Heeder (Megan’s Mom, as you have probably guessed) took time from her job (Director of Orientation at the University of Michigan) on the eve of her being inundated with incoming students. And there she was –dashing from her role as one of the Festival’s irreplaceable volunteers to ringside so she could see Megan excel in test after test – and all of this because of the love they hold for these young people and their love of the horse.
The many, many winners at the eleventh incarnation of Lendon’s Youth Dressage Festival are a testimonyto Lendon Gray and for everyone who makes this event the delight that it is.
Photos by Ruth McCormick