By Hilary Moore
You simply cannot understand the experience of going to Lendon Gray’s Youth Dressage Festival without actually being there. Mix two parts riding camp with one part horse show, add a touch of the World Cup and a sprinkle of boot camp, and you can begin to imagine what it was like to be at Saugerties, August 7-9, 2009.
Dressage4Kids is not just a dressage show for Young Riders. It scores each junior/young rider’s ability in a dressage test, as well as an equitation class and a written exam. Individual prizes are given for each portion/overall score, and teams are also placed for highest overall average. Riders are encouraged to present themselves for a scored turnout inspection before their first ride and all competitors above Second Level must participate in a mock vet jog.
This year, the PVDA’s own Jennifer Foulon attended and we are very proud to announce that she placed in every aspect of her competition! This was Jennifer’s first trip to Saugerties and she came home with SEVEN ribbons. She earned fourth overall in the Training Level and seventh in the First Level divisions for ages 15-17, scoring a 92% in written, placing 5th after a tie for 1st (94%) and a tie for 3rd (93%); 95% in equitation and placing 3rd; and for the dressage tests, a 64.722% in First 2 and 64.8% in Training 4 placing 6th.
Awards also were given to recognize horsemanship and Jennifer missed placing for best turnout of the entire show (225+ competitors) by 1 point!
To prepare for this unique horse show Jennifer had to read specific books on horse teeth and horsemanship, as well as prepare her equitation and dressage tests. This included a book club (that we organized with the Sugarloaf Chapter); equitation work without stirrups and on the lunge; and
running through the dressage tests at home and at shows. After long hours of studying, an equitation win at the Region 1 Youth Team Championship and a whopping 76.8% in their Training Level test at the Spring PVDA show, Jennifer and her horse Ferrero were ready.
In addition to the hours of testing, there was lots of fun to be had. We browsed the tack sale and vendors, watched the Prix Caprilli classes and Friday evening went to dinner with members of the WPDA team and their coaches (Krista Tycho Noone and Amy Hoffield). Saturday evening brought a Grand Prix freestyle and demonstration by 2009 Brentina Cup
rider, Jocelyn Weise, aboard Lamborghini. She rode to music from the Wizard of Oz and performed movements with commentary by Pam Goodrich. Jennifer’s classes were guest judged by Kathy Connelly and Michael Barisone, and the show also hosted Margaret Freeman, Pam Goodrich, Liz Austin, and Lendon herself.
Between stable management, competition and the required two hours of volunteering, Jennifer had quite a busy weekend! However, I do believe that only junior/young riders truly interested in learning every aspect of this sport can succeed and this Festival encourages every competitor to be a wellrounded horsewoman from the time they arrive to the time they leave. Of any other junior/young rider event I have ever attended, The strict rules and tightly run show encouraged excellent horsemanship or sportsmanship. Not once did I see a kid sitting around while their groom mucked a stall. Quality riding, horse handling, sportsmanship and effort were generously rewarded with prizes like new dressage saddles, embroidered coats and recognition from U.S. Team riders.
Lendon Gray’s Youth Festival is a perfect environment for teaching a younger rider how to correctly succeed in this sport. A postevent quote on the Chronicle Forum sums up the feeling I left Dressage4Kids with: “If you had more people like Lendon (Gray) in every area, the Dutch and Germans would have some real competitors in the future."