Dressage at Devon: Why Competitors Like A Horse Show

Sep 30, 2011 - 6:08 AM
Winyamaro and his groom, Anna Pettersson, enjoy a moment of levity at Devon! Photo by Anna Jaffe.

Dear Rita,

Very often in my blogs, especially in videos, you hear me praise a show and tell you that it is one of my favorites. After attending a show a few weeks ago that failed to make it on my “Favored Show” list, I thought it might be interesting to write about what makes a show enjoyable for competitors—besides winning of course.

Three elements make or break a show for me: Footing, Stabling and Organization. I am going to use the Dressage At Devon CDI-W 2011 as a prime example of what to look for in a great horse show.

Winyamaro, Anna Pettersson, Gizmo and I arrived yesterday afternoon at the Devon showgrounds. Signs directed us to the parking and unloading for competitors. We were stopped by security at the entrance to the CDI stabling. We were told which barn to look for and given a stall number. We were then directed to a waiting line for unloading. We waited not more than 10 minutes to get a spot, and after unloading, we were told where we could park our vehicles.

I went to the show office to pick up my package, was met with a smile and given all the entrance armbands that I needed. I was welcomed and given a start time for the Vet Check and a training time for the arenas.

Some riders may have been critical of the footing at Devon in the past, but I hope that for the sake of this lovely show, those times are behind us. The Gold arena has been completely renovated with euro-felt footing as the Dixon Oval was a few years ago. Both arenas have excellent footing that holds up extremely well in wet conditions. More footing renovation for the large warm-up arena is in the future plan.

My only disappointment at this show has been the CDI stabling, which needs a serious update. Significantly, my concerns have been met with absolute agreement from the OC and the Devon Horse Show. No official at this show has brushed my concerns aside or remarked, “What did you expect…Aachen?” (Hmmm.) I have been told that a renovation for the CDI stable is planned for the near future. Hoorah! When these two projects—new footing for the large warm-up and new stables for the CDI horses—are complete, Devon will be a first class show facility….in my opinion, worthy of a five-star. How exciting is that for American Dressage???!

After the Vet Check this morning, the CDI stabling was closed and persons without armbands were no longer allowed to enter. The entire CDI stabling is enclosed with wire mesh fence and is patrolled by the security contingent known as the Pink Hats. Boys in Blue are on patrol at both street entrances, and the visible show of security ought to discourage any potential thief or wrongdoer.

Not to mention, the FEI rules for footing, security and stabling are not only being met, but the spirit of those rules is also being upheld at Devon.

Now, Rita, these details of a good horse show might be taken for granted at most FEI events around the world, but there are a few venues which need to work on upholding the spirit of the FEI rules rather than skirting around their technicalities. Remember, you can’t have a horse show without competitors, so making them feel welcomed, protected and respected would be a wise approach to increasing their attendance at a horse show. Devon gets both thumbs up from me!

I’m Catherine Haddad Staller, and I’m sayin’ it like it is from Devon, Pa.

Training Tip of the Day: Check your frame before going to the show. You can improve your marks considerably by ensuring that your horse’s frame is correct, soft and steady from the beginning to the end of your test.




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