Tuesday, May. 28, 2024

New Dressage Complex Coming To Kentucky Horse Park

The Kentucky Dressage Association is looking to make the Kentucky Horse Park an even bigger draw for equine competitors. They’re drafting a plan that would see the existing dressage complex improved to standards on par with the Rolex Stadium and Alltech Arena.

The complex is currently used for regional competitions, including an annual CDI*, which takes place in May. An upgrade to a CDI*** has been approved for 2012.

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The Kentucky Dressage Association is looking to make the Kentucky Horse Park an even bigger draw for equine competitors. They’re drafting a plan that would see the existing dressage complex improved to standards on par with the Rolex Stadium and Alltech Arena.

The complex is currently used for regional competitions, including an annual CDI*, which takes place in May. An upgrade to a CDI*** has been approved for 2012.

KDA hopes to raise more than $1 million by June 1 to fund the renovations, which include a complete overhaul of the footing for all five arenas and new permanent structures, including an announcer’s booth with PA system, new judges facilities and a show office, which would double as a lounge.

Sheila Woerth, chairwoman of KDA, said the goal is to make the facility a draw in its own right to competitors.

“The Horse Park has grown tremendously over the last few years,” she said. “Lots of events are now coming to that area, and we wanted our facility to be at the highest level of quality that we could. We want the best riders to come compete here.” 

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KDA has been trying to get the approval for the plans to update the arenas for years. The large racing oval that surrounds the arenas provided headaches for everyone involved. Five weeks ago, the track was given to KDA, and they finally were able to go in and do the surveying necessary to provide new footing and drainage for the arenas.

After researching with riders and studying top venues, KDA decided on the Martin Collins Ecotrack, which is used at Royal Windsor and Hickstead in England. The synthetic riding surface is similar to that of the footing in the Alltech Arena but is less sticky, according to Woerth. All five arenas will feature sophisticated drainage underneath the Ecotrack, and, as an added bonus, the footing doesn’t need watering.

“After we figured out that we could drain the complex, we spent months researching what kind of footing to put in,” said Woerth. “We went to the riders, because they’ll tell you the solution if you listen.”

At the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, dressage was the first event to sell out of tickets. As a result of the exposure, KDA foresees dressage growing even more in the area in years to come. In 2005 at their regional championship competition, KDA had 350 rides over 3 days. In 2011, that number jumped to 1120 rides over four days.

Woerth hopes the facility will be ready in time for fall competitions in 2012.

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