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Pony Club Members Compete For Spots At Central Canadian Dressage Championships

Aspiring riders from across the Central Ontario Region have entered the second of the Region's Qualifiers for the Central Canadian Zone Dressage Championships. The Qualifier takes place Sunday, June 20, at Saddlewood Equestrian Centre near Bethany, and is being hosted by the Oshawa 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 Kawartha Pony Club on May 2, and by the Victoria Pony Club on July 11. This year, the Central Canadian Zone Championships are being hosted by the St. Lawrence-Ottawa Valley Region on August 26-29.

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 called a Serpentine. The kur, dressage to music, is one of the most graceful and crowd-pleasing of all equestrian competitions. This show will include kur competition at four levels for individual riders, and drill team competition at two levels.

In Dressage competitions, each horse/rider combination performs a set test before a judge. The test will require the rider to do one thing, for example trot from one of the letters around the sides of the ring to another, then change to a canter exactly at that letter. Circles must be round, not square, and of a required size, usually 20 or 15 or 10 metres, and the rider must ride these "by eye." In addition to marking how accurately the horse and rider performed the test, the judge will give marks on the paces of the horse, the 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 2012 or 2016 Canadian Equestrian Team.

Saddlewood Equestrian Centre is five kilometres north of Bethany, opposite the Devil's Elbow ski resort. Spectators are welcome without charge.

For more details e-mail Bob Inglis, Central Ontario Regional Communications Chair, or call him at 416-493-1223 (office) or 416-491-4230 (home).