Now that my Florida season has ended for 2016 I wanted to take a little time to reflect on what a wonderful winter we had at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival, particularly at the Florida International Youth Dressage Championships. Obviously, the Global Dressage Festival has incredible international draw, which makes it a very special place, as so many insanely talented riders converge here for three months to train and compete. This makes for some pretty intense competition, but it also makes it so much more fun and invaluable of an experience. I feel really lucky to have been able to send my horse down to Wellington for the winter.
Last week, Rigo and I competed in Young Rider division at the Florida International Youth Dressage Championships, which was part of the AGDF Week 10 CDI. The youth championships are organized by Lendon Gray and Dressage4Kids, and they are sponsored by several generous individuals and organizations who all support the celebration and development of youth dressage. In the Young Rider division, there were 25 entries, which was a little daunting because I’ve only been competing at this level for a few months and I was up against some pretty stiff competition. Most of the riders are a lot more experienced than I am, and because I had to go back and forth from Florida to Toronto so I could attend school, I wasn’t riding much, which made me pretty nervous.
However, the fact that there were so many people competing in this class meant that I got to meet a lot of new riders and make new friends. Obviously, high scores and high placings are nice and they are the objective of every show, but I decided that given that I am pretty inexperienced at this level and I hadn’t been riding regularly, I would just treat this like another everyday ride, and just try to ride accurately and not make any mistakes. We were very fortunate to have ended up in 5th place overall and be the highest placing Canadians at the championships, which was absolutely amazing!
But it wasn’t just the riding that made this event so much fun! We also got to attend many interesting events and get to know the other riders in the championship. For example, we all went to a dinner at which we learned about the amazing work that JustWorld International is doing in poor communities, we were able to attend a tea reception, and we had unmounted presentations on the final day of the show, which was a really fun and different award ceremony than what we are used to! I really enjoyed every minute of this experience.
I’m so grateful to Lendon Gray and Dressage4Kids, the sponsors of the show, my coaches, my personal sponsors and everyone else who made this competition of success! It was such an honour to be able to participate in this celebration of the youth riders in our sport, and I hope to attend again in 2017!