With the indoor arena at Werribee looking like a Chinese Festival the tone was set in an Olympic year for Dressage and Show Jumping with the stars. Chines lanterns line the roof and a massive dragon is overseeing procedures from the backdrop that creates the wall of the Gold Pass area.
Sue McKay and her team have done a marvellous job as always in their preparations for one of the first major events to be held since equine influenza forced the industry into shut down mode. It seems timely to celebrate that the equine industry is getting back on track.
The list of judges is impressive with highly accredited judges coming from Germany, New Zealand and Hong. With the open judging everyone who is there can benefit from the comments of experts like; Mary Seefreid, Uwe Spenlen, Jan Bird, Alison King, Susie Hoevenaars, Virginia Creed, Helen Hughes-Keen, Helen Heagney, Brian Cheffers and Sue Coman.
(pic: Berni Saunders and Antaris)
KongJurgen Koschel and his son Christoph have come from Germany to present the Bates Dressage Master Class and Melanie Landmeier, also from Germany is here to present the Jumping Master Class.
A change of format for 2008 saw the inclusion of a "material" class for 4 year old horses. This class is being judged along the same lines as this same class overseas where the young horse is not called "a young dressage horse" until 5 years of age.
The 4 year old classes started on Thursday with some beautiful horses showing that our breeding programs are developing some very classy equine competitors.
The horses are judged on their conformation, their walk, trot and canter. They are also judged on the over all impression they make on the judges. The judges were looking for cadence, elasticity, impulsion and of course obedience.
Some of the youngsters coped like old pros with all the music, loud speakers and shuffling crowds, while others just could not contain their excitement and it was great to see their riders contain that excitement and regain composure.
The material class was only open to horses that had entered in the Young Dressage Horse event and aims to highlight the suitability to become a dressage horse. After completing a routine at the direction of a caller each horse was presented in hand to the judges.
The second round test for the 4 year olds was still under the direction of a caller, but only 2 horses in the arena art a time not three.
Gary Lung was riding the magnificent Weltmeyer Gelding, GB Winchester (left). The chestnut looked completely at home in the arena and displayed extravagant yet controlled movement that seemed well beyond his years. The crowd could not help but applaud the effort. The judges too were impressed and the combined marks for movement and impression allowed Gary and GB Winchester to finish the competition in first place.
The crowd were also drawn to applaud the beautiful Sandro Hit gelding, Summersby ridden by John Potter. The judges were so impressed with Summersby's movement and composure that they openly stated that they would have liked to see John smiling more and showing that he was enjoying riding this gorgeous horse. Awarded a 9 for his trot the judges showed they were not joking.
John Potter and Sommersby in the material class
Click here for results of the 4yo YDH Competition