Combined Education, Competition and Fun for Participants
By Alece Ellis
North American Western Dressage and FOSH teamed up to present the 2nd annual Festival for the Horse September 21–23 in Circle E Equestrian in Seymour, Wisconsin. The event offered educational and competitive opportunities, as well as plenty of camaraderie, for horsemen and women in dressage, trail, in-hand trail, ranch horse and long-lining divisions to test the exhibitor/handler and horse’s progress at various levels.
Circle E Equestrian is a premier facility and their volunteer crew were attentive to every detail. All dressage tests were completed in the indoor arena, while all other divisions completed in an outdoor arena. It was great to see a sizeable number of youth competitors in addition to several adults new to the NAWD competition programs.
After some intense rain left the area the night before the festival, the wind howled throughout the day. Competitors had the opportunity to schedule a Fix-A-Test for a test/division of their choice. Amanda Lane-Sommer, the judge for the Obstacle, Ranch Horse and Long-Lining divisions, braved the winds in the outdoor arena during the Friday Fix-A-Tests scheduled with her—several horses thought the “waves of corn” in the field next store might carry them away, but Amanda helped the exhibitors work through their horses’ apprehensions to get better performances. Those new to dressage had the chance to attend “Dressage 101” presented by Amanda—her interactive walking of a simple test provided a better understand of the geometry of the tests and the reasons behind the test movements.
Saturday morning the skies cleared and the rest of the weekend was beautiful. Following a full day of tests in the two arenas, many exhibitors took the opportunity to join in a Saturday “Movie Night,” where Dr. Gerd Heuschmann’s video “If Horses Could Speak” was viewed and the importance of awareness of horse-and-rider biomechanics was discussed. The impact of the video was evident by the lively discussion that continued throughout the remainder of the weekend.
The finale of Sunday’s tests included freestyles completed by Rebekah Rockfield of Wisconsin with her Appaloosa, Go Spike Go, and Julie Druga Lamberton of Pennsylvania with her Paso Fino, Seabreeze Savaje Vaquero. Julie again treated us to a creative freestyle making use of the garrocha pole. Check out Julie’s Freestyle on video below.
After the freestyles were completed, an awards ceremony commenced along with photo opportunities under the clear blue skies. Julie Lamberton and Seabreeze Savaje Vaquero showed that gaited horses rock—they earned the Gaited Division Versatility Championship and the Reserve Versatility Champion award in the Open Division!
More than 100 tests were completed during the weekend and exhibitors are already planning their work for the year in anticipation of the 2019 festival!
North American Western Dressage (NAWD) is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating horse enthusiasts about the universal benefits of Western dressage and providing fun, affordable ways to participate in this popular new sport. NAWD offers a variety of programs as well as virtual coaching and showing opportunities, achievement awards and more. Learn more about NAWD at www.nawdhorse.org.