Pony Dressage Day – Something for Everyone!

Australian Sports Pony Registry

?2010 Victorian Pony Challenge – July 31 – August 1
Werribee Park Equestrian Centre

Sunday – Overnight rain created the “murkiest” conditions that I have seen at Werribee Park for many years.  The sand arenas were covered by sheets of water and the grassy areas around the rings were completely waterlogged and slippery.   This was a very new experience for all ponies competing in the present era - it will only be their sires, dams and grand dams that have experienced such wet conditions and know that water is part of the great outdoors and nothing to be afraid of!

Having mentioned the unusual level of water all around, the ponies deserve credit for their good behaviour as there was hardly a resistance that seriously impacted the quality of the dressage and my only observation was that a number of ponies adopted a more  conservative way of going, so as to maintain balance and prevent slipping in a puddle.

Sunday was dressage day, with all 5 outdoor arenas set up for competitions from Preparatory through to Medium this provided a great deal of variety in the size and style of the ponies … and the level of experience and capability of their riders.

The ASPR made a point to secure the most experienced judges and were very sorry when Brian Schrapel rang in to say he had a very bad bout of the flu and would not be able to judge.  The organisers were able to re-arrange the schedule and fortunately all tests ran in accordance with the program - it was a great day of competition.

The Champion in the Preparatory division was Annabel Weiner on her chestnut, Pixies Delight.  Annabel is trained by Liz Alexander from Launching Place and she has a lovely way with younger riders and has certainly worked her magic with Annabel.  Pixies Delight has a super regular rhythm and is so obliging – he is worth his weight in gold!

Tarralea Next Step and Abby Plant were the Reserve Champions in the Prep ring and these young riders have a great future in the sport.

The Associate Preliminary had a colourful outcome as the spotted Appaloosa gelding Binalong Park Piper ridden by Stephanie Goodlet took the Championship sash from Rossanne Mason’s very attractive Palomino, Penmain All A Glitter.  

As Rossanne’s trainer, I was very proud.  This was her third only Dressage competition and the same for her pony.  In a pre-event training session I said to Rossanne, “As a competitor you must rely on a good systematic training program … and as this is early days … do not expect too much.  There will be ponies at your level, who have been in work for 12 months or longer and they are sure to be more experienced and ring savvy.  Just do your best and make this competition part of your long term plan to improve, so that you can move up the grades securely.  Dressage riders compete against themselves – not each other!”

In the open Preliminary classes Rebecca Farran riding the pure Arabian, Barnnolut Remini finished ahead of the imported stallion Hilkens Nougat Cream.  I have judged Rebecca and Remini a few times in the past 6 months and have noted her careful attention to detail.  She presented her pony in a lovely soft frame with good engagement of the hind quarters.  The horse maintains lovely self carriage and shows no resistance – this indicates sound basic training in accordance with the German Training Scale and they are sure to progress steadily.

In the Associate Novice, the Champion was Kooyong Romeo, an Australian Pony ridden by Sally Barnett and they worked consistently for a 1st in one event and 2nd place in the other.  Reserve Champ was Norm Clark’s Welsh Cob, Bookra Sovereign Edition by the well respected Wingana Welsh Flyer.  

In the Novice rings the eventual Champion was the diminutive Emily Van Sonsbeek riding the obliging grey Australian Pony, Marena Night Sky.  His name would suggest that he was once a lovely dark grey and he is now snowy white.  Emily outworked many of the seasoned professionals and deserves full credit for her achievement.  The Reserve Champion Novice pony was the cute chestnut Welsh C, Acheron Priceless and he was well ridden by Tonaya Barton.

The Elementary competition was hotly contested - I judged one Elementary class and was pleasantly surprised by the level of education and scope that was evident in most of the ponies.  With the demanding shoulder-in and renvers sequences, this standard sorts out those riders who have worked with sustainable and sound  basics in their sights - from the ones who have ridden the movements more like tricks!  I believe that most enthusiasts now make sure they are working with a good trainer who has the rules and guidelines in mind.  

Mandy Heather’s grey part Welsh, Buckwell Park Casino was the Elementary Champion with Jodie Van Bruegel’s lovely gelding, Salisbury My Guy, ridden by Jason James taking the Reserve Elementary Championship.

The Medium classes were conducted on Saturday, but in this overview of the Champions, I would not like to miss mentioning the great job that was done by the riders on their lovely ponies.  Koora Lyn Sunrise, a striking grey Australian Pony was beautifully ridden by Sophie Whitworth to take out the Medium Championship with the solid performing Riding Pony, View Bank Boyd and Emma Copley being awarded the Reserve Champion’s sash.

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The Federal Secretary of the ASPR Margie Kuiper said, “We were delighted with the number of entries and the fantastic support we received from our sponsors.  Without good judges, we cannot run a good competition, so we are grateful to the experts who gave their time to per part of the Victorian Challenge.  Each year, the numbers are growing and I have received a great deal of praise about the improvement in the standard at this event.  This was the aim of the ASPR when it was formed back in 2004, and it is great to see the hard work making a difference!”

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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