Kid-Friendly Dressage Show

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This weekend I judged a dressage show in Pinehurst NC at the fall show run there by Sue Smithson at Pinehurst?s Harness Track.? it's one of the few shows still run entirely on turf, on the infield of one track, but that will end next year since a new pad with three sand arenas is being installed on the infield of another track.? The turf, however, is really nice since it's sandy soil, holding up well to pounding even during serious rain. Another unique feature of this show is that it offers scholarships to kids (Free entries and stall!? Great idea Sue!).? The kids have to submit an essay and a bio for the show program as part of their entry and also have to enter an equitation class.? I judged the equitation class on Sunday, and it was a tough job putting the seven riders into order of placing.? They presented themselves beautifully, even though many aren?t used to riding in group classes. I'd seen several of these riders in regular classes during the show and again after the equitation class.? I noted that some weren?t as careful with the details of their equitation when riding a test as they were when riding in the group class.? Sometimes hands would get a little too busy, or toes would point out rather than toward the front, or the upper body would start to tilt forward.? While there are so many things to remember when riding a test, I really believe that it's just as important there to focus on the equitation ? fix a rider?s problem and you will usually fix a horse's problem. Last year there was an internet sensation of sorts on the dressage horse boards with a You Tube video of a 6-year-old rider and her pony Rusty doing a dressage test at a schooling show.? It got over 12,000 views, and they were beyond cute, both dressed up in pink.? Well, here were Rusty and Dylan, all of 7 years old now, at a regular open dressage show.? I could tell that Dylan had made a lot of progress in the last year ? she looked completely comfortable in the ring.? ?In her bio printed in the program, Dylan says that in addition to dressage she also wants to barrel race.? I can believe it, and I bet she'll be great!