Regional Dressage Festival held at Taree Showground

The regional dressage festival at Taree Showground attracted 160 riders. Photo Nina Horvath from Wytchsytck Pictures.
The regional dressage festival at Taree Showground attracted 160 riders. Photo Nina Horvath from Wytchsytck Pictures.

MANNING Valley Dressage and Hacking Club (MVDHC) successfully hosted the NSW Regional Dressage Festival at Taree Showground.

This attracted 160 horse and rider combinations from across NSW with some riders travelling from Queensland and New Zealand. The club ran six arenas over the three days, hosting competitions and championships across all levels of dressage including preparatory (below first level) all the way through to Grand Prix (Olympic Level) and Para-Equestrian events with competitors in all classes and across multiple divisions. 

To facilitate the program, the MVDHC added to the existing three permanent arenas by building a temporary sand arena on the grounds and erecting a large marquee. These additions became the focal point, especially during the evening freestyle competitions and young horse masterclass under lights. 

The evening program was opened by Australian Light Horse Association members Rodney O’Regan OAM and bugler Warwick Murray with a commemoration for Australia’s legendary Equine Anzacs. This started the dressage freestyle events, where riders performed their own choreographed routine to music, which is judged on both dressage technique and artistry. Riders from novice to grand prix level put together some beautiful freestyles. International young horse specialist Melanie Campbell of Campbell Dressage delivered a young horse masterclass with some exciting local four and five-year-old horses displayed by Katina Smith, Nicola Paff and Rachel Clarke.

 “It was an action-packed program,’’MVDHC president, Stefanie Winwood said.

“All the surfaces rode really well and the grounds looked amazing both during the day and at night.  Combined with the beautiful weather, the festival has helped promote the Manning Valley as an appealing destination for high level dressage competition.”

The Manning Valley is becoming a hub of top level dressage, producing some very competitive horse and rider combinations with MVDHC members having a successful competition, including: Nicola Paff winning official competitive (OC), open preliminary champion, Jamie Pike winning OC amateur owner rider (AOR) elementary champion, Katina Smith winning OC open medium champion, Rhiannon Isaacs winning OC AOR medium champion and Kathleen Guest winning OC AOR advanced champion.

Hunter Valley riders Sheridyn Ashwood won the coveted FEI Big Tour Champion and Rozzie Ryan won the Grand Prix Freestyle.

Nine judges spent time shadow judging and being mentored by higher level judges in order to further develop their judging skills and in some cases gain a higher level of accreditation. Like the State championships, the event was live scored by Karen Lever of Snafflebytes to provide riders with quick, online access to their results.

“We are receiving amazing feedback from our competitors, judges and sponsors alike on such a well-run competition,’’ Stefanie added.

“The riders congratulated the club for putting on such an exciting event, that has provided a big atmosphere for the horses, which will help them to prepare for the upcoming State and national championships.”