The ASPR provided a last chance opportunity for dressage riders to qualify for the Saddleworld Dressage Festival (8th-11th December, 2012) so we saw many very good performances in open dressage classes from Prelim right up to Advanced. Pony Dressage and Para Equestrian along with the well supported Associate classes all went to make the day a "something for everyone" occasion with strong numbers helping to build this event into a very important fixture on the Victorian calendar.
The hard working committee must be congratulated for their efforts, in particular the ASPR Registrar Margie Kuiper who is such a capable event organiser - no one comes close and so she tends to get left with the "lions share" of the admin.
President, Rossanne Mason's understanding of the importance of sponsors was evident in the effort that she put in to making sure that the main name sponsor Prydes EasiFeeds was a major part of the day. She said, "I am very grateful to Prydes for coming on board, they have been so generous with the feed for prizes and I have taken on the task of ensuring that they are a highly visible part of the day!
I have already spoken about my own experience with Prydes feeds in the management of ponies on my stud (see Cyberhorse article about Insulin Resistance) and success with Prydes EasiFeeds means that I am delighted to have them supporting the ASPR. I am certain that many of the lucky winners of feed today will see a difference in their horse or pony .... and that will be a great outcome for Pydes. We sincerely hope they will come along again next year!"
Margie Kuiper added, "We are really grateful to our judges, in particular the officials who have taken a special interest in pony dressage and are committed to helping to develop the sport. They have been prepared to talk to riders and explain just what the judges want to see in the training and execution of the movements at each level. Many supporters travel a great distance and it is much appreciated. I would also like to thank our wonderful pencillers, their contribution is gratefully acknowledged and many of them also live a long way from Elcho Park - they are the unsung heros of the sport! A good penciller makes the judging so much more meaningful as they are the link between the judge's observations and the test sheet which records the standard of work on the day. The information they take down is the best lesson a competitor can get!"
"We were delighted to welcome such a wide variety of competitors today. The ASPR committee made a decision to try and give the para-equestrian riders the opportunity to come along and enjoy our event. Unfortunately the weather leading up to the competition seemed to frighten off a few and the scratchings in many of the classes were higher than we had hoped!" Margie said.
"We are really fortunate to have locked in our date at Elcho Park, the venue improves all the time and the competitors love it. It is not much further than Werribee and the fee structure helps us to keep the charges to a minimum to make it a day for all riders. Our feedback has been excellent and the admin and catering facilities mean that all aspects of this event works well. I would like to thank the Elcho Park volunteers for their enthusiasm and dedication, it is much appreciated!" Margie concluded.
Pictured above right is Kerry Ford wearing her lovely new "Prydes" jacket, she a favourite in the pony dressage community. Kerry has worked hard to progress up the rankings with her talented Welsh Cob stalion Fleur De Lys Jack Daniel - he won the pony medium classes and the championship. Although we would like to see more brisk competition, Kerry's training is on track and percentages confirm her good work. With numbers growing, it will not be long before we can count on full classes for the ponies.
Competitors travelled from near and far to be part of the ASPR day and in particular pony dressage enthusiasts appreciated the chance to join with like minded people in this growing arm of the sport. The ASPR warmly welcomed Krysia Vucic and her charming palomino stallion Earlswood Apollo who came all the way from South Australia to be part of this event ... and at the other end of the size scale was Julie Mills with Kaaru Flash Duke a gorgeous Cludesdale, complete with full feathers, and they took part in the Medium events. This was a great effort and I loved watching this gentle giant doing his half passes and flying changes with lightness and ease. Apollo and Duke added some colour and character to the show.
Right is Anna Sharpley who was at the event in multi-tasking mode. She stood in to support the well known and respected horse photographer Julie Wilson, who could not be behind the camera all day as she was riding her beautiful pony Malibu Park Sox in the pony preliminary classes. Anna also helped to prepare the pony for his test.
This was nice relaxed competition, so an ideal opportunity to bring the future dressage horses and ponies out for an early experience. My own Penmain Fabian had his first outing and he was beautifully ridden by young FEI rider Shanon McKimmie who has been working Fabian for a couple of months. Shanon is the youngest ever winner of the prestigious Marcus Oldham Challenge (at Prix St George level, an event held as part of the Saddleworld Dressage Festival) and she won a trip to Aachen show as part of her prize. Shanon says that it was a fantastic experience and very important step in guiding her career as a professional in the industry. As well giving lessons and breaking/educating a few ponies and horses, Shanon is the "finishing school" rider for the Racehorse Outplacement Program and her patience and lovely way with the horses is much appreciated.
Shanon McKimmie reassures Penmain Fabian - having his first competition start.
We saw a great showing of TB's out competing today, unfortunately I could only note the ones I absolutely know, as the breeding of the horses is not available in most competition information - a sad oversight of the sport. But I would like to congratulate Lisa Brown and Nightsky Symphony and young rider Jordan Smith with her lovely loose moving Corona Gold for their outstanding results. (see the TB's in the slideshow for horses, below).
Jordan was "pipped at the post" in the Novice 2B by Jason Dins riding Justine Greer's beautiful Jaybee Angelina. Justine instructs Jordan and Corona Gold so it was a very successful day for her students and horse. Justine introduced the newest addition to her family, 2 1/2 week old Blair - Congratulations to Justine and Mark and we will, no doubt, see more of this young man as he grows up. Justine is a great supporter of pony dressage and rode the 4 YO winner at Dressage with the Stars earlier this year on the sensational Penmain Posh who wowed the highest calibre judges with his flamboyant uphill canter.
The noticable increase in pony entries has two driving influences, first is the introduction of mandatory qualification for Dressage and Jumping with the Stars for 2012. This has meant that the ponies have been out and about looking to achieve the necessary scores to be able to take part at this prestigious event. The second, and possibly the major influence on the strong pony numbers, is the steadily increasing interest in ponies for the performance disciplines and this is where the ASPR can take a bow. The Registry was formed in 2003 - way ahead of the mainstream uptake - and they have provided the infrastructure and support that has driven the growth in interest. Well done to all concerned - the vision has become reality!
The ASPR is planning a workshop in March next year where expert clinicians will help to guide the training, in particular the final preparation for DWTS. The weekend will be held at the Tonimbuk Equestrian Centre in Gippsland, Victoria and it will be a great chance for people to get together and ensure that the 2012 DWTS shows just how far the ponies have come! Keep an eye on the ASPR web site for details.
Go to the Slideshow for Ponies
Go to the Slideshow for Horses
Prydes EasiFeed Open EA Dressage Competition
Sunday 23rd October, 2011
Elcho Park Lara (Victoria)