Anne Gribbons: A Force in U.S. Dressage

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Written by Kelly Sanchez


Double 2010 WEG medallist USA Dressage rider Steffen Peters calls USEF Dressage Technical Adxisor/National Coach Anne Gribbons "Boss"  and for all the right reasons!
Double 2010 WEG medallist USA Dressage rider Steffen Peters calls USEF Dressage Technical Adxisor/National Coach Anne Gribbons "Boss" and for all the right reasons!

DressageDaily feature writer Kelly Sanchez caught up with Anne Gribbons in California for this insightful interview with "The Boss" as she and USEF Managing Director and Dressage Chef d’Equipe Eva Salomon travelled to the west coast completed a scouting tour, clinics and shows before leaving for the World Cup Finals this week, in Liepsig, Germany.


To watch Anne Gribbons at a dressage show, you quickly understand why Steffen Peters refers to her simply as “Boss.” Coaching the high-performance riders at a CDI in Los Angeles in April, she was seemingly in 10 places at once — monitoring the action in the show rings, closely observing horses and riders in the warm-ups, offering suggestions, fielding phone calls, greeting old friends.

As USEF Technical Advisor/National Coach, Gribbons draws on her considerable expertise as not only a 5* international dressage judge, but a competitor, instructor, barn owner and show manager, and it’s a role that she relishes. Even before she was named to her post, Gribbons had a vision for American dressage, and now, nearly a year and a half into her tenure, which runs through 2012, she has already achieved some lofty goals. The U.S. dressage team’s somewhat unexpected success at last fall’s Alltech/FEI World Equestrian Games (where Steffen Peters won two individual bronze medals, and the U.S. dressage team qualified for the 2012 Olympics in London) was only the start.

Three Americans are competing at the World Cup Dressage Finals in Leipzig. Germany, and in July she intends to send a Nations Cup team for the first time since 2005 to the World Equestrian Festival CHIO in Aachen. After the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, in October, preparations will heat up for next summer’s Olympic Games in London. “We have plans for everything,” she says with a smile.

An American Brand of Dressage

David and Anne Gribbons at the 2000 Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Dressage National Championships.
David and Anne Gribbons at the 2000 Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Dressage National Championships.

The Swedish-born Gribbons, who lives in Florida with her husband, David, acknowledges the challenges of putting together a dressage program in a country as vast as the U.S., but she’s quick to praise the wealth of coaching talent from coast to coast. “We have the people who went to Europe and did it all — their knowledge should now be poured into our young people. It’ll take a whole bunch of teachers from here to start our young riders correctly at the bottom and go up the pipeline. We still need to go to Europe to show, I’m sorry to say, but I’d like for us to be able to do the pre-work here and not necessarily have to send people to Europe to train and work in the barns. I think we could have a brand of dressage that’s ours.”

She argues that Americans should also be training their own horses and not relying on importing top prospects from abroad. “The Europeans are never going to sell us a trained horse that’s going to beat them — not at the highest levels. We need to breed our own horses as well, but that’s an even longer process. I probably won’t live to see it, but I look forward to the day when Americans can field a winning team of horses trained and bred here. It’s 20 years from now, but we’ve got to have a plan. We can’t always leave it up to some other nation to fix us.”


Gribbons made sure her team came together just not in competition but during the "down time" when training at USET headquarters in Gladstone NJ, they did dinner and a cruise to the statue of Liberty in New York. Steffen Peters, Catherine Bateason Chandler, Todd Flettrich and alternate rider Pierre St Jacques
Gribbons made sure her team came together just not in competition but during the "down time" when training at USET headquarters in Gladstone NJ, they did dinner and a cruise to the statue of Liberty in New York. Steffen Peters, Catherine Bateason Chandler, Todd Flettrich and alternate rider Pierre St Jacques

Gribbons knows that it takes “true grit and discipline” to make it in the high-performance arena, particularly in the U.S. “What I hope,” she says, “is that when I leave this job there’s a system in place that the riders trust, because this is what we’ve been lacking. It’s an enormous task, because the country is so huge. Our biggest enemy is our distances. In Germany or Holland, they can hop in the car and meet in two hours. We have that fight and always will. But if we work together, we can make it better.”

Her job, she contends, is not to teach every American. “As we see horses and riders at the shows and in the clinics, we can tell which direction they’re going,” she says. “If there’s a problem, I go in and say something. After 30 years of judging, I know how it’s supposed to look. I’m not trying to tell them how to do it, I’m trying to tell them how to make it better. I have no other agenda. I don’t try to sell them horses. I don’t try to tell them how to run their lives. But I do expect them to respect my opinion and the fact that I really care.”


Tina Konyot and Calecto V
Tina Konyot and Calecto V

Tina Konyot, a member of the U.S. dressage team at WEG, has known Gribbons since she was a girl and appreciates that Gribbons respects her as the “passionate, outspoken person” that she is. “Being a trainer herself and someone who’s developed her own horses, Anne very much believes in people working hard,” says Konyot. “She’s a very dedicated woman, and she’s been aware of my struggle to stay above water as a horse trainer. She knows I train alone; I’ve made all my horses on my own. Having Anne on the ground, helping me, advising me — it works beautifully. I’m always grateful when someone with knowledge respects you and doesn’t come in like they know everything. In the most genuine way, Anne is trying to put together a program for all of us. It’s about the American program, not just individual riders. She’s been involved in every aspect of the sport, and she has a very clear and fair outlook on all of it. As an international judge, her eyes are different. We have access to a person who knows what’s going to get us those extra two points. It’s so special that she’s right there for us.”


Preparing for Success at WEG

Carl Chandler, Eva Salomon, Jane Clark, Anne Gribbons, Dr. Rick Mitchell, Tina Konyot, and Todd Flettrich at the Alltech/FEI World Equestrian Games cheering Catherine Bateson Chandlers
Carl Chandler, Eva Salomon, Jane Clark, Anne Gribbons, Dr. Rick Mitchell, Tina Konyot, and Todd Flettrich at the Alltech/FEI World Equestrian Games cheering Catherine Bateson Chandlers

Many believe that the U.S. dressage team’s intensive preparation for the World Equestrian Games was key to its success in Kentucky, and Gribbons’ approach left no doubt as to the discipline and dedication that she expected from her riders. At USET headquarters in Gladstone, New Jersey, she posted a daily schedule for WEG team members Peters, Konyot, Todd Flettrich and Katherine Bateson-Chandler that even included socializing in addition to sessions with a sport psychologist. “We had two weeks after the trials,” Gribbons recalls, “and every day they had their own training time. When I first put up the schedule, they were a little taken aback. But they all came to every session.

“We had lunch together every day and went to parties and dinners together,” Gribbons continues. “All this socializing really cemented them. I actually had comments from the other coaches and chefs at WEG that the Americans looked like they had such a good time together. It was a really good image. When the horses went into the ring, everybody was there helping.”


Anne Gribbons works with Steffen Peters and Ravel
Anne Gribbons works with Steffen Peters and Ravel

Peters has long been a fan of Gribbons and her no-nonsense approach. “There’s no doubt — and I mean this in a positive way — that Anne is tougher than Klaus [former U.S. Chef d’Equipe Klaus Balkenhol], but also very, very fair to the horse and rider,” he says. “Anne had a tough act to follow, because, let’s face it, Klaus did a very successful job. But I always thought that we were missing a little bit of structure, not just for the training but afterwards — the program, getting the team together in one facility, being insistent on the sport psychology, the physical fitness. And that’s what Anne has introduced.

Steffen Peters and Anne Gribbons collaborate at the World Equestrian Games
Steffen Peters and Anne Gribbons collaborate at the World Equestrian Games

I always call her ‘Boss.’ I personally like that extra authority. [In Germany] I spent two years in the army, and that structure and organization really helped me. Anne doesn’t take it quite as far,” he adds with a laugh, “but I’ve had tests with Ravel where he came out at a 78 or even an 80 percent, and the first thing she said was, ‘We’ve got to work on this, this and this.’ And that works great for me, because it’s always a learning curve. She really helped me with Ravel’s left pirouette and the passage and brought them consistently a point higher. A big part of those two bronze medals belongs to her.”

Selecting a Team

US Dressage Team at the Alltech/FEI World Equestrian Games 2011; Todd Flettrich, Catherine Bateson Chandler, Tina Konyot, Steffen Peters
US Dressage Team at the Alltech/FEI World Equestrian Games 2011; Todd Flettrich, Catherine Bateson Chandler, Tina Konyot, Steffen Peters


As for the pressures and politics—real or imagined—that come with such a high-profile position, Gribbons shrugs them off. “When you’re judging internationally, you are used to pressure from trainers and sponsors, much heavier than we are used to in this country. There is plenty of pressure in Europe, with those trainers and sponsors breathing down your neck, and you’d better be able to stand your ground. In the U.S., we are thrilled to have wonderful sponsors for the horse, but we are not going to care if one sponsor’s horse makes the team over another. It’s not about the sponsorship. In the end, the best horse and rider wins, the cream rises to the top. It is the judges at the Trials who select the team. Those judges are our very best, and they’re motivated to put out a good team.

“Of course, we’ve been criticized for picking our teams democratically,” she notes with a smile. “The Europeans laugh at us and say, ‘Why don’t you just have somebody pick them?’ I have now been involved in the procedures for making a team 20 times or more in one capacity or another—coaching, riding or judging. Our system may look cumbersome to others, because we’re so terribly fair and democratic, but in general we have ended up with the right horses on the team.”

The March to the Pan Am Games

Gribbons with the silver medal team at the Pan American Games: Anne Gribbons, Guenter Seidel, Elizabeth Ball, and Leslie Webb
Gribbons with the silver medal team at the Pan American Games: Anne Gribbons, Guenter Seidel, Elizabeth Ball, and Leslie Webb

She’s especially pleased with the talent available for this fall’s Pan Am Games, which are held at the small tour. “I am so certain that we will have the most exciting trials,” she says. “We have phenomenal horses at the top and phenomenal riders, and for the first time ever, I can say that we also have depth. We’ve always had a stronger contingent in the small tour, but not with this kind of quality. It’s really amazing.”

Steffen Peters agrees. “Dressage in the United States is still growing, and we’re at a point right now where we can say that we have some fantastic horses. That’s a huge responsibility for our coach, and I know that Anne can handle it.”

 

Dressage World Cup Finals 2015

Monday, April 20, 2015 - 07:19
Written By: Kelly Sanchez
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Sunday, April 19, 2015 - 08:11
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Saturday, April 18, 2015 - 17:42
Written By: Astrid Appels - Eurodressage.com
The 2015 World Cup Finals' podium: Edward Gal, Charlotte Dujardin, Jessica von Bredow-Werndl There was no surprise and no challenge for Charlotte Dujardin to reclaim her world cup title as she cruised to victory in the Kur to Music at the 2015 World Cup Finals in Las Vegas on Saturday 18 April 2015. After earning her first World Cup title in 2014 in Lyon, Dujardin extended the honour this year and shared the World Cup podium with Dutch Edward Gal and German Jessica von Bredow-Werndl. Charlotte Dujardin put in an immaculate ride to her much beloved music based on the Disney animated movie How to Train Your Dragon. Valegro is a very lightfooted mover despite being a musled athlete. Read the full story on Eurodressage.com!
Saturday, April 18, 2015 - 09:06
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Friday, April 17, 2015 - 11:17
Written By: Kelly Sanchez
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Friday, April 17, 2015 - 08:58
Written By: Louise Parkes
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Friday, April 17, 2015 - 08:49
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Thursday, April 16, 2015 - 12:55
Written By: Mary Phelps
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Thursday, April 16, 2015 - 12:20
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Thursday, April 16, 2015 - 09:19
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Eventing

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Thursday, April 16, 2015 - 09:31
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Wednesday, April 15, 2015 - 11:43
Land Rover North America today announced they are returning as presenting sponsor of the 2015 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event and continuing their longstanding support of the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) and equestrian sports. The event will run April 23-26th, 2015 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. Throughout the weekend,...
Wednesday, April 15, 2015 - 11:00
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Tuesday, April 14, 2015 - 13:17
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While many of the Rolex-bound competitors were getting their final run in at The Fork in North Carolina under sunny skies this weekend, closer to home Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear declared a state-wide emergency after torrential rainfall on Thursday and Friday left much of Lexington and especially the Kentucky Horse Park under water. Mick...
Tuesday, April 14, 2015 - 09:30
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The competition isn’t over until the final fence is jumped, and Kyle Carter and FR’s Trust Fund put in a cracking show jumping round in the final phase of the Ocala Horse Properties International Festival of Eventing CCI2* before they dropped out of the lead when the last fence on course came down. Kyle and “Finn” got lucky when they rubbed the...
Monday, April 13, 2015 - 21:20
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Reining and Western Riding

Monday, April 20, 2015 - 15:06
The 18th edition of the National Reining Breeders Classic Open finals ended in an exciting run-off for the title. Sam Schaffhauser and Gunners Tinseltown, by Colonels Smoking Gun out of former NRBC Champion Miss Tinseltown, led the finals until the second-to-last set with a 227. Then Casey Deary and ARC Gunna Sparkya lit up the Great Southwest...
Sunday, April 19, 2015 - 21:10
The first section of the qualifying go-round of the 2015 NRHA European Open Futurity counted 44 horse-rider combinations. Marking the highest score of the day (218.5) in the €92,000-added Level 4 division, was past NRHA Open World Champion Ann Fonck riding Roses For Einstein (Einsteins Revolution x Roses Champagne) for owner 23 Quarter Horses Az...
Sunday, April 19, 2015 - 00:48
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Sunday, April 19, 2015 - 00:26
The first Champions of the 2015 National Reining Breeders Classic were crowned Friday, April 17, when the Non Pros battled it out for top honors in the Great Southwest Equestrian Center’s Coliseum Arena. This year was the largest Non Pro in NRBC history, and the combined preliminary and finals payout of $269,473 proved that.
Non Pro Level 4...
Saturday, April 18, 2015 - 10:07
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Friday, April 17, 2015 - 11:24
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Thursday, April 16, 2015 - 17:28
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Driving

Wednesday, April 15, 2015 - 10:39
After a season of presenting the Horse Gym USA® Top Equine Athlete Award at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival, Horse Gym USA® brought the award to the celebrated combined driving event Live Oak International in Ocala, Florida. The Horse Gym USA® Top Equine Athlete Award went to Allison Stroud’s four-in-hand team for their admirable fitness....
Tuesday, April 14, 2015 - 23:18
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Tuesday, April 14, 2015 - 12:48
Andy Marcoux, Coachman's Delight, Inc.
I've been working hard, test driving, and developing lesson plans for this week's class "Improving Transitions." I spend a bunch of time focusing on this in my teaching and training with my students at home. Of course, like you, I kind of have been folding them into my training as part of something else that we're working on. It's easy to forget...
Sunday, April 5, 2015 - 08:55
It may no longer be the Year of the Horse, but it was a big season for ponies at the 2015 Live Oak International. The March 18-22 show, hosted at the Ocala, Florida equestrian estate of 11-time USEF National Four-in-Hand Horse champion Chester Weber, presented United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) National Championships for Single, Pair, and...
Saturday, March 28, 2015 - 14:57
Ocala, FL (March 28, 2015) – “I strive for personal best each and every time I enter the arena,” says driving competitor Suzy Stafford.  At the Live Oak International CDE competition on March 19-22 2015, Stafford showed that her personal best is winning first place. She and her mare PVF Peace Of Mind (who Stafford calls “Hunny”) defended their...
Monday, March 23, 2015 - 07:49
Leah Oliveto
Ocala, Fla. - The first United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) Driving National Championship titles of the year were decided today at Live Oak International CDE in the Single Pony, Pair Pony, Pony Team and Pair Horse divisions. Drivers navigated the 20-obstacle course on the final day of the championships as the leaders coming into the cones...
Monday, March 23, 2015 - 07:40
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Show Jumping

Tuesday, April 21, 2015 - 09:42
FEI Communications
The London International Horse Show, Olympia (GBR) has been unveiled as the “Best Press Office” for the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Western European League 2014/2015, following voting by global media.
 
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Tuesday, April 21, 2015 - 09:36
FEI World Cup Finals Las Vegas
Las Vegas, NV - April 18, 2015 - After a beautiful Native American Tribute, national anthem rendition by Kristen Hertzenberg and a pyrotechnic performance, tonight's Canadian Pacific Grand Prix of Las Vegas was underway. With an international field of twenty-two starters including past World Champions and Olympic Gold Medalists, only three rode...
Tuesday, April 21, 2015 - 09:25
Niels Knippertz, Aachen
“Of course, everyone will now jump to the conclusion, the fatso is only thinking about food again,” says Reiner Calmund with a grin. Together with Michael Mronz, General Manager of Aachener Reitturnier GmbH, Calmund introduced “Aachen Gourmet“: Top chefs at the World Equestrian Festival from May 29th-31st. The top riders in the world will be...
Tuesday, April 21, 2015 - 09:20
Starting Gate Communications
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Monday, April 20, 2015 - 15:27
USEF Communications Department
Las Vegas, NV - The 2015 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final concluded this afternoon with United States jumping elevating its status on the world stage, placing five athletes in the top 20, including three in the top 10. Twenty-nine starters came into the Thomas...
Monday, April 20, 2015 - 10:57
Diana De Rosa
Sometimes its a threesome that causes a problem and such was the case on Friday night, April 17th for the second leg of the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final II taking place in Las Vegas, NV. But this was a triple threat of a different kind and came at the end of a very tight and complicated situation. That threesome was the triple combination...
Monday, April 20, 2015 - 10:38
Véronique WASA (Point Virgule)
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Para Dressage

Friday, January 16, 2015 - 06:20
Written By: Lindsay Y. McCall
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Tuesday, January 13, 2015 - 05:46
Written By: Lindsay Y. McCall
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Monday, January 12, 2015 - 10:29
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Friday, January 9, 2015 - 06:31
Written By: Lindsay Y. McCall
U.S. Chef D' Equipe Kai Handt jogs Rubicon 75, ridden by Mary Jordan, owned by Vinceremos Therapeutic Riding Center (Photo (c) Lindsay Y. McCall) Wellington, FL - Para-Equestrian Dressage athletes from around the North American continent have landed in Wellington, Florida, for the 2015 Adequan Global Dressage Festival CPEDI3*. This is the first CPEDI3* event for the 2015 calendar year. Thirteen horse and rider combinations presented their mounts in front of FEI Ground Jury members Mr. Freddy Leyman (BEL), Mr. Kjell Myhre (NOR), and Ms. Kristi Wysocki (USA). Para-Equestrians from Canada and the United States will compete January 9-11, in The Van Kampen covered arena at the Global Dressage Festival. Friday, January 9, is the FEI Para-Equestrian Dressage Team Test, followed by Saturday's FE...
Thursday, January 8, 2015 - 08:52
Kai Handt and Wes Dunham showcase collaborative coaching at the Northeast Symposium in 2013. Rider Sydney Collier aboard her own Wentworth works on gaits. (Photo (C) Lindsay Y. McCall) Wellington, FL - The United States Equestrian Federation, Inc. (USEF), is excited to announce a two-day Para Equestrian Dressage Symposium to be held at Global Dressage, Wellington, Florida, January 12 & 13, 2015, 8 AM-4 PM. Select U.S. High Performance and developing Para- Equestrian Dressage riders and coaches will be attending the symposium. Auditors are welcome to attend for $75. Pre-registering as an auditor is not required. Please contact Laureen Johnson at USEF at lkjohnson@usef.org if you are interested in audit...
Wednesday, December 24, 2014 - 06:00
Written By: Lindsay Y. McCall
Nora Grassmyer, Mibis, Barbara Grassmyer, and Bob Grassmyer. (Photo: (c) Lindsay Y. McCall) El Dorado Hills, CA - On December 19, 2014, the Dressage Community lost friend, volunteer, and parent Nora Grassmyer after a three year battle with bladder cancer. Nora was heavily involved with the Dressage and Para-Dressage disciplines both internationally and at the national level. She was also a longtime volunteer at the California Dressage shows managed by Connie Davenport. Nora was a driving force behind her daughter and Paralympian Barbara Grassmyer. She was there at every moment for Barbara including when Barbara served as an alternate for the U.S. Paralympic Team in 2000, competing in Sydney, Australia; in 2001 and 2002 when Barbara was the USEF Para-Equestrian Dressage National Champion;...
Thursday, December 18, 2014 - 07:30
Rebecca Hart and Schroeters Romani rode to the high score of 78.382% during the Polar Express Show at White Fences. Wellington, FL - Rebecca Hart and Schroeters Romani shined Saturday afternoon during the Polar Express show held at the White Fences Equestrian Center in Loxahatchee, Florida. The talented duo rode to the score of 78.382 percent for the FEI Para Team Grade II test during the national show, kick starting their season as they prepare for the Adequan Global Dressage Festival in CPEDI3* in January 2015.Hart traveled to Florida in early December to work with Wellington-based international dressage trainer Todd Flettrich out of Cherry Knoll Farm, which is also a partial owner of Romani. Hart and Flettrich have worked consistently on warm-up and preparation with Romani after takin...
Sunday, December 14, 2014 - 18:41
Sydney Collier riding Willi Wesley (Photo: SusanjStickle.com) Lexington, Ky. - The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) is pleased to announce Sydney Collier as the 2014 Junior Equestrian of the Year. Seventeen-year-old Collier is a talented Para-Equestrian who competed at the international level in 2014, including the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. A native of Ann Arbor, Mich., she was diagnosed at the age of seven with a rare congenital birth defect called Wyburn-Mason Syndrome. In spite of this challenge, Collier pursued her love of riding and has become a top equestrian athlete. A prime example of courage, sportsmanship, and dedication, Collier will be awarded the Ruth O'Keefe Meredith Memorial Trophy as the 2014 Junior Equestrian of the Year. Having her biggest year to da...
Sunday, November 30, 2014 - 07:53
Trainer Wes Dunham and WEG athletes Sydney Collier's mount Willi Wesley at the 2014 Adequan Global Dressage Festival CPEDI3* horse inspection . (Photo: Lindsay McCall) Wellington, Florida - November 26, 2014 - Entries are now being accepted at www.equestrianentries.com through December 22, 2014, for the 2015 Adequan Global Dressage Festival CPEDI3*. Para-Equestrian Dressage athletes kick-off the show season with their their first international show of the year January 7-11, 2015, in Wellington, FL, in the Van Kampen covered arena. This show will include FEI Para-Equestrian Dressage athletes in Grades Ia, Ib, II, III, and IV. Thursday, January 8, is the Horse inspection at approximately 5:30 PM. Friday, January 9, is the FEI Para-Equestrian Dressage Team Test, followed by Saturday's FEI P...
Tuesday, November 11, 2014 - 07:18
  We salute our veterans this Veterans Day. Thank you for protecting our freedoms. On this day we ask you to take a moment to think about those that have served our country. We would like to salute our disabled veterans who are part of not only the equestrian sport but all Paralympic sports. Thank you, - USPEA. We too, at DressageDaily, would like to take a moment to thank all veterans who have served our country to protect our liberties and rights. We truly appreciate all past and current members of our military for all that you do! History of Veterans Day - From the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: World War I - known at the time as "The Great War" - officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versaille...
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