Young riders from five Pony Club branches - Durham, Kawatha, King, Oshawa and Victoria - have entered the second Central Ontario Regional qualifier for the Regional Dressage Finals, with entries still coming in. This show takes place next Sunday, July 18, at Carousel Farm near Newcastle, hosted by the Oshawa Pony Club. Sunday's show offers competition in 20 different classes, including eight dressage-to-music classes for freestyle solos, Pas de Deux or Drill Teams. There will also be a best turn-out award.
Dressage is a system for training horse and rider that has its roots in ancient Greece. 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.
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, 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 2020 or 2024 Canadian Equestrian Team.
Pony Club is an international organization to promote riding and horsemanship skills among young people. Many of Canada's international show jumpers got their starts in Pony Club shows. 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.
Carousel Farm is at 4289 Highway 2. The show is expected to start at 9:00 a.m. Spectators are welcome without charge, but please note dogs are not allowed.
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).