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Pony Club Members Compete for Spots at Central Ontario Regional Dressage Finals

More than 60 young riders from 10 Pony Club branches - Durham, Kawartha, Maple, Oshawa, Rising Star, Simcoe, Springwater, Toronto & North York, Uxbridge-Scugog and Victoria - have entered the second Central Ontario Regional qualifier for the Regional Dressage Finals. This show takes place next Sunday, June 22, at Cedar Peaks Farm, hosted by the Simcoe Pony Club. Selection for the Regional Finals will be based on scores achieved at this competition, plus a second qualifier held June 1. Sunday's show offers competition in 17 different classes, including nine dressage-to-music classes for freestyle solos, Pas de Deux or Drill Teams.

Dressage is a system for training horse and rider that has its roots in ancient Greece. Early levels emphasize walk, trot, and canter in a straight line and in circles as the horse learns to carry his weight, and his rider's, with safety and elegance. Horses 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, turn very tight circles, back up, and go along the arena centre in an S-shaped line called a Serpentine.

In Dressage competitions, each horse/rider combination performs a set of required movements, progressively more difficult at each level, 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 in diameter, 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.

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 2016 or 2020 Canadian Equestrian Team.

Pony Club is an international organization to promote riding and horsemanship skills among young people. Show jumping is the most familiar of Pony Club's activities to most spectators, but there is also competition in dressage, mounted games, rallies (which include dressage, cross-country and stadium jumping, plus stable management competition), tetrathlon (which includes swimming, shooting, cross-country riding, stadium jumping and cross-country running by the riders) as well as academic competition in quiz format.

Cedar Peaks Farm is on Country Road 27 (formerly Highway 27), one kilometre south of the Cookstown lights, on the east side. The show is expected to start at 8:00 a.m. Spectators are welcome without charge, but please, no dogs.

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).