When the ASPR lost their booking at Werribee Park the Committee and those close to the organisaton of this event feared the worst and felt that some of the momentum that had built to make the event so popular might be lost. There is no doubt that the program had to be altered to accommodate, but the two side by side arenas at the Tonimbuk Equestrian Centre and the central admin/hospitality area certainly worked well and a great time was had by all. In particular the helpers, scorers and ASPR personnel appreciated being able to see most of the action and be a part of the event.
(Pictured left is Yarramee Fancy Pants and Sharyn McCombe - winners of the 5 YO Young Pony Class)
The weather was positively glorious and an early preview of Spring - which is just 10 days away. Tonimbuk had experienced the worst of Victoria's wet weather which meant that some of the warm-up areas were off limits. The areas situated on higher ground provided quite good footing and riders were able to prepare outdoors without too many problems.
Particular thanks goes to ASPR Registrar Margie Kuiper and President Rossanne Mason for their super human efforts to make the show a very positive milestone in the 8 year history of the ASPR. We all agreed that the quality of ponies is on the improve and the Saturday evening educational segments were very well received with a number of enthusiasts making a special trip to hear words of wisdom from Caroline Coleby (Event Director for DWTS) and International Judge Jill Cobcroft who shared her passion for ponies and vast knowledge of the European scene with us.
Arena 1 at Tonimbuk
Before the buffet dinner, Caroline Coleby worked with the Elementary Level pony Milaan Park Serenade and Alex Sventek (right) to show how correct riding and adherence to the Germany Training Scale is the basis for improvement and following this proven system will improve all ponies and help them to be better at dressage. Caroline was then assisted by Georgina Cattermole from Bellaire Training Stables and they showed us the important considerations of judging the 4 YO Material class which has a static conformation element. Caroline gave us a perfect example using Georgina's magnificent stallion Bellaire Cannavaro, a two times winner of the Esther Bellis Trophy at Dressage and Jumping with the Stars. This award goes to the top scoring horse taking part in both the jumping and dressage classes at this prestigous event. Cannavaro is an imported stallion and it was easy to see the relationship between his lovely loose movement and perfect conformaton. Caroline made the point that the basic qualities that are ideal for dressage will not change whether we are assessing a horse or a pony.
After dinner, International dressage judge Jill Cobcroft shared with us her favourite video clips of the ponies that have made their mark in Europe and discussed their conformational suitability for the task. Things like the freedom of the shoulder which makes self carriage and lightness more achievable and adds to the quality of the rhythm and expression were identified and discussed.
Jill put a lot of work into planning her session and gathering the appropriate DVD clips to demonstrate the points she was making. It is really gratifying to see the development of pony dressage set to go the next step with many breeders and owners already on the right path to improve the Australian gene pool and new people coming into the sport with a willing and open minded approach to producing purpose bred ponies - the future is very exciting!
Sadly in 2011 the ASPR Victorian Challenge was not able to include jumping classes in the program - the demand was very small and with only a skeleton committee it is a very costly and labour intensive exercise, so the priority for 2011 was to ensure that the program could be managed and would provide first class competition to satisfy the interest of 95% of the members.
The Committee did a great job to provide an event which attracted gratifying sponsor support and the many supporters were all thanked individually at the presentation ceremonies. The main name sponsor Equine Chia really got great publicity and others like Mitavite Feeds, Cyberhorse's Kelly Bauer Photography and Acu-Light which combines ancient healing and modern science ... along with many other companies and pony enthusiasts who play an important role supporting the activities of the ASPR.
Margie Kuiper put together a carefully considered program which reflected heer wealth of experience as an event organiser with dressage classes starting at Preparatory to encourage tiny tots just getting into the sport and full EA classes up to Medium. The ponies were beautifully prepared and many were in show ring condition and a very high standard of presentation was observed.
We all agreed at the end of a busy weekend that the 2011 Victorian Pony Challenge was a very positive confirmation that performance ponies now have a very important role in the education of children and young riders and the early plans for the ASPR to conduct training days was discussed by the Committee.
I hope you enjoy the three slide shows - the horses have been presented in alphabetical order
Slideshow 1 is some of the features and highlights at the event. Slideshow 2 is many of the ponies that took part in the Saturday classes and Slideshow 3 are some of the ponies that were at the Tonimbik Equestrian Centre on Sunday.
Features and Highlights from the Show
Some of Saturday's Competitors
Some of Sunday's Competitors