Members of eight Central Ontario Region Pony Clubs - Durham, Kawartha, Maple, Oshawa, Toronto & North York, Tynedale, Uxbridge-Scugog and Victoria - have entered the third and final Regional Qualifier for the Central Canadian Zone Dressage Championships. This Qualifier takes place Sunday, July 28, at Chance Stables near Bowmanville, hosted by the Durham Pony Club. Selection for the Central Ontario Dressage team, which will compete against teams from the Western Ontario and St. Lawrence-Ottawa Valley Regions, will be based on scores achieved at this meet and other qualifiers hosted by the Oshawa Pony Club on June 16, and by the Victoria Pony Club on July 14. This year, the Central Canadian Zone Champi-onships are being hosted by the Western Ontario Region August 17-18. This show is also serving as the Central Ontario Regional Dressage Finals.
Dressage is a system for training horse and rider that has its roots in ancient Greece. All work is done on the flat. Early levels emphasize walk, trot, and canter on a straight line and in circles as the horse learns to carry his weight and that of his rider with safety and elegance. Horses also learn to halt on command with the four feet placed squarely, and to stay immobile for four seconds. Higher levels require the horse to lengthen and shorten strides, to turn on very tight circles, to back up, and to go along the centre of the arena in an S-shaped line. The kur, dressage to music, is one of the most graceful and crowd-pleasing of all equestrian competi-tions. This show will include solo kur competition at several levels plus a pas de deux class.
In Dressage, each horse/rider combination performs a set test before a judge. The test will require the rider to trot from one of the letters around the sides of the ring to another, then change to a canter exactly at that letter, for example. Circles must be round and of a specific size, usually 20, 15 or 10 metres, and the rider must ride these "by eye." As well as marking how accurately the horse and rider perform the test, the judge will give marks on the paces and obedience of the horse, and the position and seat of the rider. Success in Dressage requires a lot of practice, discipline and sound training, as well as talent.
Dressage is an Olympic sport, in which Canada's best showing was a Team bronze medal in 1988. Three of the four members of that team were Pony Club graduates, and this show may very well feature members of the 2008 or 2012 Canadian Equestrian Team.
Chance Stables are at 2700 Bloor Street East, between Rundle Road and Holt Road. Spectators are welcome without charge.
For more information, get in touch with Liz Inglis or Bob Inglis, Central Ontario Region Pony Club Communications Co-Chairs, or call them at 416-493-1223 (office) or 416-491-4230 (home).