There’s a lot of horseback riding going on at the SAFE Benefit Horse Show, but what about those of us with horses that choose not to be ridden? The noble companion horse, devoted to a life of peace and tranquility. The very young horse who hasn’t started a riding career yet, or the venerable senior equine whose riding career is over. The mini horse, too small to carry a rider, but big enough to shine in the show ring? For those horses who prefer you don’t sit on them, we have some special competitions planned for this year’s SAFE Show. We’ve got a great lineup of Halter and Showmanship classes for both Western and English horses. We’ve just added Horse Agility to the schedule, which is done in hand. And hopefully you’re also aware that our Trails Course can be completed in hand. But last year SAFE developed its very own competition for In Hand Dressage!
If you’re not already intimately familiar with showing Dressage, it’s a competition in which riders guide their horse through a series of movements designed to demonstrate the skills that a dressage horse should display at each level of training. Each horse and rider pair enters the arena and follows the prescribed sequence of movements outlined in the test they are riding. The judge gives each movement a separate score, and the pair with the highest total score wins the class. The different tests are readily available through the USDF and USEF so riders can familiarize themselves with the test movements and practice them prior to the competition. Some riders will memorize the test movements, but at the lower levels of dressage, it’s permitted to have a reader next to the arena who can call out the movements as the test is ridden.
In order to offer In Hand Dressage at the SAFE Show, we had to create an In Hand Dressage Test. Last year, Jet Parrett designed the patterns and tested the movements to determine if they could be done on foot while leading a horse, within a reasonable time period of three minutes or less. The resulting In Hand Dressage test will allow handlers and their horses to demonstrate straightness, balance, willingness, and accuracy.
In Hand Dressage is open to all competitors at the SAFE Show, even those who will be riding their horse in other areas of the show. It will take place on Saturday just before dinner, in the Pacific Moon Dressage arena. Ride times will be assigned and posted online by Thursday 7/28.
If you’ve already registered for the SAFE Show and want to add In Hand Dressage, use this handy link to Add Classes.