Young Dressage Ponies Show Their Talent

Australian Sports Pony Registry 

2010 Victorian Pony Challenge – July 31 – August 1 

Werribee Park Equestrian Centre 

Saturday Evening – Young Dressage Ponies.  On the eve of the horse’s birthday and the commencement of a new competition and breeding year, this competition was sure to be the first outing of the season for 4 and 5 YO Young Dressage Ponies and their experience will be an important step to preparing and qualifying ponies for Dressage with the Stars in March/April 2011.

While the ASPR Young Dressage Pony classes were small, the quality of the ponies has improved greatly … as too, the training and presentation.  It would not be the first time I have mentioned the 12 year history of Dressage with the Stars and the positive influence of learning about the European selection process and the importance of good basic training, which has come about by having experts such as Ulf Moller from PSI (Performance Sales International) visit Australia each year - such insightful information has helped us to form the guidelines to foster the growth and improvement in young horse and pony dressage.

From 1998 to 2010 Australia’s young dressage horses have reached a standard that sees them compare favourably to the best in the world.  A good example is Maree Tomkinson’s beautiful mare Diamantina who returned to Germany to take her place at the World Young Horse Championships in Verden in 2007 … she came 6th and put the world on notice that Australia is coming of age!

As a long serving A Level judge and former NCAS Coach, I am keen to help pony owners and performance enthusiasts to understand the system of training embodied in the German Training Scale and to use this proven system to build the foundations for progressive education and ongoing success – the guidelines for training and presentation are well documented in the Equestrian Australia Dressage Rules, but occasionally need further explanation for those who have not trained this way before.  I believe that we are making progress and I would like to acknowledge the role of the ASPR in these early days for Australian sports ponies.

The 4 YO Young Dressage Pony class was judged as a Material Class with ridden and lead components to the workout.  The ponies came in, three at a time (where possible) and performed a commanded dressage test of about Preliminary level.  At the completion of the ridden assessment the ponies were unsaddled and the judges – Moya Jess (A Level and Young Horse Specialist) and Chris Seivers (B Level and Young Horse Specialist) judged conformation, type and movement at the walk.  

We saw a wide variety of sizes and types, but the task of the judges came back to an assessment of correct basics with reward for movement, trainability and scope to train on and progress up the grades.

The winner of the 4 YO class was Nawarrah Park Pop Rock – a striking Welsh Cob by the imported stallion Synod Aristocrat from Acheron Pytaten.  He is everything one would look for in a dressage pony and his amazing walk and canter pushed him up this evening’s rankings.  

I was delighted to see him come out the winner, as I too proudly own a Nawarrah Park Welsh Cob, Pele, and I was able to see the strengths of this breed shine through.  Pop Rock was beautifully presented by Ben Terry and this is a combination to watch.

Heatherton Park Twilight ridden by Natalie Boucher finished up in second place.  Natalie’s pony also has Welsh blood - by Bookra the Coalman.  Twilight was very unsettled but still managed to show a stunning walk and is sure to have gained in confidence from his experience indoors at Werribee Park.

Filou Lane Limited Edition was ridden by Filipa Marshall.  This lovely Australian Pony has a great future and his early exposure to dressage will stand him in good stead for show ring success.  This black/brown is by Fairlight Acres Kidman from Fairlight Acres Promise.

Mirinda Impressionist - a Riding Pony bred by Peter and Robyn Barry at their renowned Mirinda Stud, showed pleasing elegance and potential for dressage.  He is by Dainhill Royal Bow from Springwood Summer and is owned and ridden by Maddison Albutt.

Tarzen The Wob (Warmblood/Welsh Cob) is a special favourite of mine as he has lots of chrome and the physical appeal which makes Welsh Cobs very popular.  He is by the WB stallion AJ Maximus from Nattai Freyer.  To my mind this stallion combines the better of the two breeds and as he develops strength, Tarzen will come into a class of his own.  He was ridden by his owner Norm Clark who hopes to get him qualified for DWTS 2011.

Dee Jay Black Label took great comfort from his rider Sharyn Wyatt and settled well for his workout.  This attractive coal black is also of Welsh Cob breeding, by Bookra the Coalman (same as the second placed pony) from Tru Blue Misprint.  Another pony to prove the worth of Welsh blood in our performance ponies of the future.

Wyngara Dejavue – a Riding Pony with Myscal blood on both sides of his pedigree.  By Myscal Ali from Myscal Erica, this pony is owned by Elysha Walles and was ridden by the talented dressage rider Tiffany Joosse.  The pony showed a nice trot but tension prevented his best and Tiffany will look for more relaxation and acceptance to improve the quality of the paces and overall presentation.

Salisbury Maestro another Riding Pony - owned and ridden by ASPR Committee member Lauren Britton. Maestro is by Falconhurst Four Seasons and from Janevelyn Jazzed Up.  This pony is the finer type that needs a little more time to mature and there was no comparing the stature of the Welsh Cob breeding and the slower to develop riding pony bloodlines.   Lauren is on the right path with his training and he will benefit from the outing and experience.

I must compliment the judges Moya and Chris for their patient and encouraging style of assessment.  They gave all of the ponies every opportunity to show their best and helped the riders/handlers to understand their requirements.  Brian Brennon commanded the tests over the PA and he also showed great empathy and patience to help the riders to navigate their way around the ridden test.




The 5 Year Old Dressage Ponies were asked to perform a much more demanding test with no static or lead assessment.  The test contains leg yielding on both reins, simple changes of lead at the canter and a halt.  The judges expected to see a working trot approaching the early stages of collection.

The 5 YO’s will also be required to show an increased level of self carriage and balance, with the poll the highest point and the nose on, or just in front of, the vertical, with a quiet acceptance of the bit.

These requirements are not assessed in isolation and will only be generously rewarded if there is a clear level of engagement and energy delivered by the active use of the hind quarters.  At this stage, a faulty frame and/or a lack of engagement will be penalized as the judges of Young Horse/Pony classes take on a responsibility to guide the early education of tomorrow’s stars.   

This is the training scale at work and it helps riders, trainers and judges alike to recognize incorrect training or resistances which will need to be addressed in order to make progress possible.

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The winner of the 5 YO class was the “hero” of 2010 DWTS, Niconero – the Friesian/Pony cross who was beautifully presented and ridden by Torquay based professional, Jason James.  His owner Emma Copley enjoys active participation in Nico’s training and his win at this event confirms correct basic training and a good future in the sport of Dressage.  Nico’s trot has improved greatly and he is being set to impress a new set of judges in 2011. Niconero is by the Friesian stallion Felipe Mauri and from a pony mare named Charlotte.  Emma also owns his full brother and regrets that the youngster may go over pony height.

Second place in the 5 YO class went to the lovely bay riding pony gelding, Baxters Grand Image by Whiterose Valentino from Rothwell How Charming.  A lovely type, this pony was nicely ridden by owner Georgia Welch.  He scored higher than Niconero for his trot and walk but lacked the polish in his training … and this was costly!  I feel that Georgia will look at the score sheet and endeavour to address these issues for the future.

The elegant View Bank Barista was beautifully presented and ridden by Nirrelle Somerville who is a very experienced and successful show rider.  Barista is an Australian Riding Pony by Wedgnock Coffee Pot from View Bank Bijou. He was bred by well known show identity Sue DeCrespigny and is sure to improve as he matures and gains strength and experience.  He is in the best of hands and I feel that there is much more on offer.

Ashcroft Hidden Secret - a Riding Pony mare by the super sire Fairley Rembrant from Guilgud Dancer was bred by her owner Nicole Parsons.  This elegant mare was well prepared and ridden by Allison O’Neill but lacked the experience to compare with the more seasoned campaigners in this class.   I am sure that Allison will look to address these shortcomings in readiness for a 2011 appearance at DWTS and there is a lot of potential with this combination.

Murrong Skyla, another with Welsh D (Cob) in her pedigree.  Skyla is from a TB dam and shows a lovely mix of both breeds.  This 5 YO mare is owned by her breeder Lauren Britton and she will look to improve upon this performance by gaining more competition experience and acceptance of the level of training required.  I felt that a little more energy and engagement would create a softer back and this would enhance the harmony between horse and rider and attracted significantly better marks.  Improvement is not far away.

Go to Results.

Click here for a Report on the 6 Bar Showjumping Event.

Click here for a Report on the Victorian Pony Challenge.

Pictures Berni Saunders.

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