How the other side do it.

I was honored and privileged to have been invited to present at this year’s Queensland Festival of Dressage, held last week.  I must admit, I did have  browse through their website http://www.qlddressagefest.com/ before I left to travel the 5 hour flight over there, but what I found when I got there blew me away!

The QSEC- venue for the FestivalThe committee is a group of passionate and dedicated volunteers with an interest in developing the sport not only in QLD, but over all.  This is the 7th year of running, and the idea of the festival is to raise significant funds to invest back into QLD Dressage, for example for training funds, travel bursaries etc.  And believe me, they have raised some very good funds over the years, the result of a lot of hard work.

The festival was exceptionally planned and well run, and the buzz they created at the opening of the gates was amazing!  The day was filled with presenters like me speaking on various theory, and demonstrations, clinics and masterclasses in the main arena of the QSEC.  It was aimed, not so much at the top level riders, but those riders very much like me who aspire to move up the grades and continue to improve and reach our goals.  I particularly enjoyed Jenny Gehrke’s session on Stepping up to Medium, and the Masterclass on developing Piaffe and Passage.  And the day was fun, filled with humour and generosity.

Check out this you-tube clip from one of the entertainment sessions: Fisherman’s Friend vs Harold the Horse

It was just lovely to see so many happy horses in the ring.  There were certainly some fireworks, and some unsettled horses, as the environment was quite challenging and highly charged.  But, all the QLD riders dealt with anything quietly and calmly, and the horses stayed soft and happy.  Not once in any of the education sessions did I see a horse that was tight, restricted, “held together”, tense or under stress.  They were all lovely, soft “happy horses”!

Another factor that contributed so much to the success of the day, was the contribution of all 3 State Squads, not only on the day by providing demo horses, but clearly practicing beforehand to put together some stunning quadrilles and displays.  A “meet the stars” stable was set up outside for visitors to meet and chat with the state riders and their special horses.  What a great idea, and the horses all got very spoiled with lots of carrots!

It was truly an inspirational day, and if the rest of the country is following in QLD’s footsteps in terms of education, training, developing and promoting the sport of dressage, then I think that the sport can only improve in leaps and bounds for the benefit of the horses we all love so much.

Congratulations Nicole and the team behind the festival!  Like them on facebook, and stay tuned for the date announcement for 2014- it is well worth the trip!

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