Kids and Dressage Breeds

I am in my annual countdown toward Lendon Gray?s Youth Dressage Festival, which will be held this weekend in Saugerties NY.? There will be over 300 kids.? it’s a huge undertaking and an unusual format: Dressage test, equitation test and written test, all counting equally.? On Friday, there are practice classes and the written test.? On Saturday are the dressage and equitation tests.? On Sunday, there are awards and special classes, including a musical freestyle, prix caprilli (dressage test with jumps), dressage trail (dressage test with obstacles), and a stable management challenge. In addition to helping out with judging, I’m on the committee and have a variety of responsibilities, including the program and setting up the trail class.? This year I’m also helping to organize the special demonstration held before the Saturday night dinner.? New this year, we’re having classes for sport horse handlers, so for the Saturday demo we’re featuring a parade of breeds.? I’ve always been aware that there was a terrific variety of breeds at this show, but choosing breed representatives from the horses entered made me realize there are even more than I suspected.? Of course, in dressage the type of breed doesn’t matter ? it’s the performance that counts.? With kids involved, you’re going to see lots of pony breeds plus breeds that traditionally have smaller horses.? We also see a lot of older horses, and it’s great that these equine senior citizens are there to bring along the younger generation of riders. I did a count of breeds in the 2010 show before we knew all the entries for this year.? There were 31 breeds listed, not counting all the cross-breds.? Among the pony and smaller horse breeds were:? Arab, Chincoteague, Connemara, Dutch Pony, Exmoor, German Riding Pony, Haflinger, Morgan. Newfoundland Pony, POA, Quarter Horse and Welsh!? Of course, some of the ?bigger? horse breeds come in smaller versions as well.? As part of the breed parade, we’re going to line up representatives from 10 different breeds and then let the viewers try to guess the actual breeds before we announce them.? Should be fun and, I hope, really interesting.

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