Dressage (a French term meaning "training") is a path and destination of competitive horse training, with competitions held at all levels from amateur to the Olympics. Its fundamental purpose is to develop, through standardized progressive training methods, a horse's natural athletic ability and willingness to perform, thereby maximizing its potential as a riding horse. At the peak of a dressage horse's gymnastic development, it can smoothly respond to a skilled rider's minimal aids by performing the requested movement while remaining relaxed and appearing effortless. Dressage is occasionally referred to as "Horse Ballet." Although the discipline has its roots in classical Greek horsemanship, mainly through the influence of Xenophon, dressage was first recognized as an important equestrian pursuit during the Renaissance in Western Europe. The great European riding masters of that period developed a sequential training system that has changed little since then and classical dressage is still considered the basis of trained modern dressage.

Early European aristocrats displayed their horses' training in equestrian pageants, but in modern dressage competition, successful training at the various levels is demonstrated through the performance of "tests," or prescribed series of movements within a standard arena. Judges evaluate each movement on the basis of an objective standard appropriate to the level of the test and assign each movement a score from zero to ten - zero being "not executed" and ten being "excellent." A score of nine (or "very good") is considered a particularly high mark, while a competitor achieving all sixes (or 60% overall) should be considering moving on to the next level.

Monday, December 7, 2015

The USDF Convention

          I have arrived home after a great trip to Las Vegas! My head full of ideas and missing my horses. Florida is having crazy rain and I truly hope the weather clears up for our Festival of Champions this week.
          It was super fun to see everyone in Las Vegas and I truly feel we have an amazing group of people steering our Dressage Sport into the future in a positive way. I was not able to go to the awards banquet but so happy to see so many people arriving to claim their well earned prizes from this year. The young people especially, that were experiencing the Convention for the first time and then of course the breeders, volunteers, and riders all being rewarded for participating in our fantastic sport. Really so nice to see.
           It was heart wrenching for me that Lloyd Landkamer was not their to receive his Life Time Achievement Award, and brought tears to my eyes every time he was mentioned, such an incredible loss to our community, an amazing man taken way before his time. In addition was the sad loss of Veronica Holt who gave so much of her time to the sport and especially to the young people.
           The biggest topic at the Convention of course was the U.S. Finals. I was very sad to see headlines such as The West not Best for Dressage. This was not at all the feeling I got and I hope that the dressage riders from Regions 5,7 and 9 also did not have this feeling. I felt a lot of pressure to do the right thing for the entire dressage community when voting on this subject. Although I sympathize with the show managements that have the daunting task of moving this great show, and I completely understand the financial burden put on USDF to make this event work in more then one location, I do not believe we can have a show that is named The U.S. Finals, that does not have all of the U.S. represented. I am very pleased with the outcome of the Board of Governors and I hope that the rest of the dressage community will be as well.
            Basically the decision was made to keep the Finals in Kentucky for now, with Regions 5, 7 and 9 given the tough task of finding a venue that will fit all of the needs of this amazing show. Personally as a member of Region 8 I feel that our job is now to start to create some fundraising and look for sponsors, so that when the Finals move West we can be there to represent our great Region.
           As a Regional Coordinator and Chef d'Equipe of Region 8 I attended all of the Youth and NAJYRC meetings. The biggest news of course is that NAJYRC moves to Colorado in 2016. I gathered a lot of information during the week and will update my website with this in the next two weeks. I also am excited to see that there have been major improvements in the USDF website regarding the NAJYRC as well as other youth opportunities. So please check that out. In other news: Anyone under the age of 22 must wear protective headgear in the FEI jog, and snaffles will be accepted in the qualifying classes for NAJYRC. These rules have been in the making for a long time, but they are now in use.
           The snaffle rule means that Jr's and YR's wishing to use their test at Regional Finals as a qualifying score for the coming year for NAJYRC will be able to do so.
           I also presented a new agreement that will need to be signed by our Region 8 declared riders in order for them to be eligible for Region 8 funds when vying for the NAJYRC team. This came with positive feedback and Debra Reinhardt and I will make some necessary changes and then that will be in use for 2016.
           I am also excited that Region 8 will be able to host a USDF sponsored Jr YR clinic in 2016. previously the USDF had not enough funding to provide clinics yearly, so Region 8 was eligible every other year. With a clinic in 2015 and one in 2013 taught by George Williams. These were incredibly successful. However, they have acquired sponsorship for every year, and we will host Charlotte Bredahl this coming year, with the tentative date being September 3-4, 2016 at The Ashby Stock Farm. This will all be confirmed shortly and the information will go up on both my website as well as Region 8 and USDF's websites.
           The Adult Clinic Series is still on an every other year rotation. Therefore Region 8 has decided to host an Adult Clinic or two or three in 2016. This is still in the works, but we are very excited to bring forward an awesome format that will benefit many of our Adult USDF members.
           George Williams, president, Steve Schubert, treasurer and Debra Reinhardt, Region 8 Director all ran unopposed in the election therefore they are all on for another term. This is very good news and we really appreciate their enthusiasm, hard work and the amazing expertise and dedication that they bring to the USDF.
           I encourage anyone who has questions or comments to email me. I am looking for questions, riding, training or about USDF to answer and post on my website, I am sure your not the only one that is wondering that exact thing, so help others and help yourself! And if I do not know the answer I am happy to research the subject further for you.  Also, comments that might help us work better to serve Region 8.
           That's all for now :) Ride well!

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