Thursday, March 31, 2011

Herr Christoph Hess Returns

Two years ago, NEDA, the New England Dressage Association, invited Christoph Hess to the area for the annual "Spring Fling" clinic.   It was Hess's first visit to the area and included the obligatory eating of boiled lobstah!   I reported on the clinic in NEDA's "Tip of the Hat" newsletter with this article.

This week, Christoph returned to New England for a tour of clinics in the region.   Tuesday and Wednesday, he was in Georgetown, Massachusetts at the beautiful Rosebrook Farm, home of Cindi Rose Wylie's Quarterline Dressage.   There, Hess cheerfully worked with a wide variety of horses and riders, from novice to Grand Prix.   As it was two years ago, it was educational, entertaining and inspirational.

Today & tomorrow, Hess is at UMass in Amherst.   After that, he'll be going to Lexington Kentucky and Cleveland Ohio.   Hess will be back in New England for a Young Horse and Dressage Forum Clinic with Michael Poulin on April 9 and 10 in Rhode Island.   Details can be found here.

With a monster nor'easter snowstorm predicted for tomorrow (April Fool's Day of all things!) and tons of the white stuff still in our pastures and outdoor arena, getting motivated for show season has been challenging.   However, after hanging out with other dressage trainers, riders, and enthusiasts, and watching quality training with a world master, the dressage sap is once again flowing!   Time to tap it and start boiling!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Managing Horse Show Entries

In New Hampshire, we are still gazing at snowbanks of fairly impressive but slowly diminishing height and striped pastures of alternating areas of mud and melting snow.   We're a few weeks away from the start of green springtime, but competition season is approaching none-the-less!   So for me, this is the perfect time to put together my ....

The Horse Show Binder

I've come to believe preparing ahead of time to send off entries in an orderly fashion makes life so much easier in the long run.   For each horse I plan to compete, I fill out one entry form with all but the show name, show date, and actual classes entered.   As required, I ensure each line of "Rider", "Owner" and "Trainer" have my details shown in full.   No dittos or "same" allowed!   When each entry form is done, I make about 10 copies per horse.   This goes into the HSB.

For each horse, the HSB also contains sections for:

  • Multiple copies of the KWPN registration papers
  • Multiple printouts of USEF & USDF memberships
  • Multiple copies of the Coggins / EIA test results
  • Multiple copies of a dressage test showing qualification to ride in Freestyles

Other sections of the HSB include:

  • Laminated horse show checklists, used when packing the trailer & truck both to and from shows
  • Copies of entries sent in to the various show secretaries.   So far, I've only had to refer to them to remember which horse was going to be doing what, when, and where!     :-)
  • Printouts of ride times
  • Printouts of scores & results earned

The HSB seems to grow and evolve over time, but proves its worth each year!

Read Each Show's Entry Requirements

While nearly all the USDF Region 8 shows listed in the NEDA Omnibus Prize List (aka the Little Black Book) use the entry form included in the distribution of the book and also posted here in pdf format on the NEDA website, not all shows do.   Some shows have their own entry forms.   Reading the fine print in each prize list is critical to sending in a perfect entry form and avoiding disappointment in not getting accepted into the show.

Know the Key Dates

Each dressage competition has unique dates for acceptance of entries, also known as the Opening and Closing dates for entries.   Some shows open entries months in advance, some only a few weeks in advance.   Keeping track of these can be key to getting your entry accepted before the show fills up!

My first year back in the USA after 12 years in England, I learned that the USDF does NOT send congratulatory letters to riders who have qualified for the Regionals the way British Dressage did.   So, while waiting for my letter and invitation to arrive in 2007 when Jeddien and I first qualified for the 3rd Level Open championships, I missed the "entry window" for the championships!   Fortunately, I still got my entry in before the final closing date!   Phew!   Lesson learned!

For those aiming for the USDF Region 8 Championships, keep these key dates in mind!

  • Championship Qualification Dates: August 17, 2010 to August 15, 20
  • Fall Festival Entry Dates: July 18, 2011 - August 15, 2011
  • Championship Entry Window: July 18, 2011 - July 23, 2011   (The 6 days when only the entries of horse / rider combinations who are riding in championship classes are fully processed - including open classes - and given priority!)

Using good calendar management tools can really help plan and manage the dressage competition year!