CDI Dressage Show
Posted by Irina Yastrebova on Wednesday, September 9, 2009 07:32 PM
CDI simply stands for Concours de Dressage International
which means international caliber dressage competition with FEI rules and regulations in place.
This was the first CDI event in Western Canada. It was held at Amberlea Meadows Equestrian Center
during annual Gold Rush dressage show. For details on results go to
Gold Rush Dressage Show website
I had a chance to go on Saturday when Intermediare I and Grand Prix tests were performed. Canadian provinces were represented well. There were riders from BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan. I was hoping that US riders may be interested especially from the states such as Montana or North Dakota. Unfortunately, none came. I was told that US riders have to pay $250 to USDF to compete outside their borders.
The weather was perfect on Saturday and the show was running very smoothly. Even though CDI classes required extra grooming and watering for arena. The ground crew did it quickly and efficiently to keep classes always on time. At first glance dressage show especially of such caliber gives an impression of beautiful horses and well turned out riders. I like black and white attire of dressage competitions, the formal feeling it creates. Some people find it boring or terrifying. I do not.
First, I went to watch a warm-up ring for the Gold Rush riders (CDI riders were using a different warm up ring)
After watching the warm-up for awhile the atmosphere of formal event started to disappear. Mostly it came from watching riders. Now that I know so much about the biomechanics of the seat and the disturbances it can create in horses it was almost painful to watch. So many riders were constantly pushing and pushing with their seats especially at walk and canter. Many of them couldn't sit the trot properly, so they bounced along holding the reins tightly. Rising trot wasn't much better, behind the motion and sawing the reins or holding them tight and overflexing horse's neck was the most popular picture. When I stood there watching horses dutifully working for their riders without much complain or joy for that matter I was wondering about warmbloods being such popular breeds for dressage. I know for a fact that Arabs, Andalusians and some Thoroughbreds are too sensitive in their backs to tolerate such harsh seats.
Realizing that there is another warm-up ring for CDI riders I went there to watch Junior riders and Intermediare I riders warming up. The picture was so much better. I was really happy to see one junior rider and one Intermediare rider riding with very quiet and effective seats and light hands. Horses were moving with a nice spring in their steps with supple backs and long necks arched up and out of their shoulders. Later I found out the Intermediare rider used to be a three-day eventer. This is not the first time I see riders who have much more sympathetic seats are not exclusively dressage riders and came from other riding disciplines. I guess jumping and cross-country galloping makes you really appreciate horse's balance, respect and rely on your horse's judgment and give him a chance to do the work himself. Unfortunately, the Intermediare rider made a mistake in the test. She, probably, got upset after that because her horse started to get nervous and made mistakes. This
prevented her to get a good score. However, watching her ride the test was pure delight. Such light, sympathetic and quiet seat. FEI Junior Team test is equivalent to Third Level tests. I enjoyed watching this test because it has a wonderful sequence of movements, it is really well designed test. Click here
for a complete list of dressage tests including FEI level.
CDI Grand Prix riders started to come for their warm-up I was excited like a kid. You can learn so much from watching such experienced riders during their warm-up. Well, it was hard to focus on a positive side while one of the riders was spurring and whipping her horse to get better engagement for piaffe, then to get more expressive flying changes. At some point it looked like she needed a whip just to get a flying change because the horse was making so many mistakes. At FEI level competitions there are Stuarts who watch warm-ups in order to stop abuse and harsh treatment toward horses. There was one, she didn't feel comfortable watching the whipping and told the person she was talking to that she does not compete at Grand Prix level and doesn't know where corrections stops and abuse begins....??????!!!!!!! While I was watching I was thinking about the horse and will he get back at the rider in the show ring for such harsh treatment. He did, he did mistakes in piaffe, in flying
changes, in passage, in transitions, in canter pirouette... The amazing conclusion came from the judges, who placed the rider quite high, giving her a good score.
I truly love dressage. I love training horses and teach them to go forward in balance with engaged hindquarters, supple backs and arched necks. A well trained and ridden dressage horse is an amazing site to see. It makes me very sad to the point of being angry when dressage is displayed like that and not very experienced riders especially young ones may accept it as a norm. Please learn to recognize effective and sympathetic riding to get inspired and to work toward better ideal.