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Transition Time

After an intense Olympic year, dressage resets as 2013 begins

Special to the Horsetrader - January 17th, 2013 - Show & Event News

Gunter Seidel (left), with Steffen Peters at Del Mar.

BURBANK — Now that the sun has set on a a remarkable year in dressage — an “Olympic year” that featured among other headline moments the retirement of an icon, Ravel — a new chapter for riders, horses and event managers is quietly opening.

“The year after the games is always a quiet year,” says Glenda McElroy, owner of Cornerstone Event Management and the chair of the L.A. Chapter of the California Dressage Society. “It’s kind of the rebuilding year — a lot of people have new horses, new goals.”

As a dressage event manager since the mid-1980s, McElroy has sought a blend of international and local competition that builds a dressage community, and the formula has worked. Although exciting qualifiers for elite Olympic and World Cup competition will subside this year for Cornerstone, there is a line-up of competitions that will contiue to grow the sport.

“There’s a lot happening,” she said. “We’re going pretty much full-stream with our big FEI shows in the spring, and we’re looking forward to doing some other exciting things.”

One energetic project is the national Young Horse Dressage Program. In the program, co-sponsored by Markel Insurance and the USEF, 4-, 5-, and 6-year-old horses are the focus, with the intent to promote the importance of selective breeding and correct training of horses in the U.S. Organizers hope the program will encourage participation of breeders, riders, and trainers of young horses in dressage, as well as foster the proper development of young dressage prospects through the training scale. Also, finding talented riders and trainers of international-caliber horses for eventual careers at the FEI level is key.

“We’re going to do a smaller version here in California called the Young Talent Search for 4-, 5- and 6-year old horses,” says McElroy. “The idea behind that program is for it to find some of these young horses and some of these young trainers that may have some really nice horses and don’t yet realize that the horse has some real potential. It’s important to explain how to get there, how to get into these programs.”

The first Young Rider Qualifier/Markel Young Horse Qualifier as well as the first Developing Horse Qualifier/Markel “Young Talent” Series will be the Burbank Mid-Winter Dressage CDI-3* show at the L.A. Equestrian Center Feb. 22-24. Cornerstone’s season actually kicks off a month earlier at the L.A. Mid-winter Dressage at the LAEC.

“I think it’s going to be a pretty good year because I believe there’s a lot of pent-up energy for showing,” says McElroy.

Another fresh component for regional dressage is the partnership with Blenheim to conduct shows at the Mission Viejo Riding Park in San Juan Capistrano.

“It’s a great place,” she says. “It’s right between L.A. and San Diego — two great groups of enthusiastic people. It’s new, it’s fresh with new hotels and reataurants for those competing. We’re looking forward to it.”

The two events scheduled for Orange County are part of Cornerstone’s seven-show “Southern California Dressage Series.” The company also will manage two “Northern California Dressage Series” events in Woodside this year, and two “Colorado Dressage Series” events this summer. The four “L.A. Chapter” California Dressage Society shows will take place at both the L.A. Equestrian Center and The Paddock Riding Club, and the CDS CHampionship show will be in Northern California in 2013.

“Since it was created in the 1960s, the California Dressage Society has been a great contributor to the success of dressage,” saus McElroy. “The CDS laid the groundwork and the foundation for so many opportunities for so many riders, and perhaps people don’t realize that’s where a lot of the structure came from — from CDS. It just helped everybody be more successful.”

Cornertone manages the highest-level events here, too, and McElroy knows first-hand the inspirational influence of watching the elite horses and master riders.

“I think that’s what really can instill the dreams of possibilities,” she says.

Until then, it’s a transition time.

“We’re talking with some of the other managers about what we are going to do in the next three years before the next Olympics in Brazil,” says McElroy. “That’s kind of where we are. Now there’s a chance to kind of catch their breath. When we have big World Equestrian Games coming up or horses getting ready for the European championships or Pan Am, it’s always a little hectic. This year is a little bit quieter.”

MORE ONLINE: Markel/USDF Young Horse Program http://bit.ly/301B_USDF

Cornerstone Dressage http://www.cornerstonedressage.com

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