Report by Alice Knox
The inaugural Adequan West Coast Dressage Festival was warmly welcomed to the Southern California dressage scene in January, and already many are looking forward to the event’s return next year. WCDF president Scott Hayes described the festival as “Not only competitions, but a gathering place for the dressage community to socialize, learn, and grow brands and businesses in this spectacular part of the horse world.” Designed primarily as a means to provide multi-week, winter-time FEI competition without having to fly horses, clients and supplies to southern Florida, the San Diego tournament handily accomplished the mission.
The location was the beloved Del Mar Fairgrounds, fondly referred to as “Where the turf meets the surf”. The showgrounds are regarded as the best on the West Coast, with permanent shed row stabling and roomy stalls. Arena footing is maintained by the same equipment used on the adjoining race track, site of the 2018 Breeders Cup Championships. The sparkling Pacific Ocean is directly to the west, and the charming village of Del Mar to the south. To the east are equestrian communities where San Diego’s resident dressage Olympians, namely Peters, Seidel and Traurig, have their training barns. The weather was typical for southern California at this time of year - warm, dry, sunny days with crispy cool nights. Wear short sleeves during the day, and put on a puffy jacket when the sun goes down.
Show management’s attention to detail included dressing up the indoor arena with classy black linens and glowing table lamps on the VIP box seat tables. The ringside Hospitality Lounge didn’t disappoint and provided a lively meeting place for riders, trainers, owners and friends. The comfy couches, full bar and view of both the competition ring and golden Pacific sunsets were quite inviting. Hungry? A café just outside the lounge prepared fresh, made-to-order breakfast, lunch and dinner items.
The four weeks of top competition, along with Master Class exhibitions, attracted exhibitors throughout the West Coast and British Columbia. Those who wanted to experience the event but couldn’t attend were treated to free livestreaming on the horse show’s Facebook page, with expert commentary provided by retired FEI 5* star judge (and San Diegan) Axel Steiner. Master Class clinics featured equestrian celebrities Monty Roberts, Boyd Martin, Laura Graves, Helen Langenhanenberg, and Charlotte Dujardin. General admission to the presentations was simply a suggested donation to the international animal welfare organization Brooke USA. By making the show easily accessible to so many, the West Coast Dressage Festival created an instant fan base that will happily support the event next year.
The USSHBA was well represented at the festival. Congratulations to breeder and USSHBA board member Maggie Neider of North Hill Farm in New York. During the show’s final weekend, Maggie’s home bred Rosalut NHF (Rosenthal x Legacy x Salut) continued his success in the dressage ring by winning the CDI 1* Intermediate 1 class with 70.41%, out of 14 entries. The 8 year old Oldenburg was ridden by Carly Taylor-Smith of Malibu, California for owner Nikki Taylor-Smith. USSHBA was also an event sponsor, and our full page, color advertisement in the show program introduced the West Coast dressage community to our organization.
More information on the Adequan West Coast Dressage Festival info can be found here.
A collaborative effort produced by the USSHBA Education Committee, USSHBA members, and our partners.