Bedford, NY – February 9, 2017 – The 15th Annual Dressage4Kids Weekend Equestrian Program was, once again, a great success and has grown in popularity each year! Twenty-eight speakers in all, and more than 150 participants each day gathered at Nonnewaug High School in Woodbury, CT in late January to learn and discuss all horse and rider-related topics in their quest to become better riders and more knowledgeable horse people .
Lendon Gray, Olympian and founder of Dressage4Kids, was the keynote speaker and shared her journey from early beginnings to riding at two Olympics and the World Cup, and what it took to get there. She asked, ‘How many of you take notes immediately after your lessons?” explaining that she always did this, using her notes to work on improvement between lessons. She gave thanks to all her mentors and trainers, and the owners whose horses she trained and showed. She especially thanked the horses that helped her achieve her dream, particularly Seldom Seen, who patiently learned the Grand Prix movements with her, and went on to achieve great success even though he was only 14.3 hands. Through Dressge4Kids, Lendon Gray has given many riders the opportunity to gain the knowledge they need to reach their goals and succeed – from the lowest to the highest levels of competition.
The Weekend Program is also notable for having experts in a variety of equine fields – Chiropractor Dr. Anna Crane spoke on the physiology of ‘warm up and cool down’ so the body can adjust correctly. Other subjects included saddle fitting pointers, advice on trailer safety, tips on bio-security, the advantages of massage and accupuncture, correct bandaging, ‘how to plan your day at the show’, and the importance of keeping track of your horses’ TPR (temperature, pulse and respiration).
The Business Seminar conducted by Atty. Beth Clarke attracted 20 professionals for the two days. This covered important aspects of running a successful business in today’s environment and was expressly focused on the equestrian industry.The Eventing track with Sara Contois, and the gym activites from vaulting, to Centered Riding practical applications, and the BALIMO method for balancing riders correctly on their horses, were also popular.
Another Olympian told of her journey to the Rio Olympic games. Margaret (Gigi) McIntosh gave an inspiring presentation of what it took to go from a 4* Event rider to overcoming severe, paralysing injury, to making the USA Para-Dressage Team.
There was, as always, great advice from Judge Margaret Freeman, on the ‘what the judge sees that riders don’t,’ and what collective marks mean. On Sunday, she headed the USDF Region 8 Judge’s Forum when more than 30 judges or L judges discussed various aspects of what to look for and giving appropriate marks. David Collins, top rider and trainer, and author of the book Dressage Masters, discussed how horses’ react and think. He emphasized that riders must be ‘tuned in’ mentally to the horse to feel what the horse’s body is ’telling’ them. “If you are stressed, they will be stressed,” he said, “because a horse picks up on what the rider is thinking and will act accordingly.” He suggests doing deep breathing for ten minutes before mounting to clear the mind in order to really focus on the horse.
The Weekend Equestrian Program, which aims to include everyone from the horse community, is of great value to riders of all ages and skill levels, parents and horse enthusiasts alike. Everyone who came was happy to have the chance to learn so much from so many experts, and is already looking forward to next year’s program. For information about the Weekend Equestrian Program, go to www.dressage4kids.org or contact Susan Sieber, Event Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (203) 223-4261.
Dressage4Kids, Inc. is a non-profit organization incorporated for the express purpose of providing educational and competitive opportunities for youth riders and the adults who support them