Calgary Area Dressage Owners vaccination update…..

The minimum standard for most of us dressage owners is to have our horses vaccinated annually against: tetanus, eastern and western encephalomyelitis, west nile and rabies.

F.E.I. regulations ask for proof of vaccination against the list of diseases above and also including: equine influenza, equine herpes virus and strangles.

It is also time to have an annual Coggin’s test done for proof of finding your horse negative for Equine Infectious Anemia.  This test is valid for 6 months, orup to 1 year if taken between January 1st and May 31st of the calendar year.  Most shows require proof of a negative Coggin’s for entry onto the show grounds.

Canada currently has no vaccination requirements for equine health.  It is up to responsible horse owners to look after their own.



Canadian Dressage Team – 4th, 5th and 6th place

Tom Dvorak & Viva's Salieri
Tom Dvorak & Viva's Salieri

Guadalajara, Mexico – Canadian Dressage Team members Tom Dvorak of Hillsburgh, ON, Tina Irwin of Stouffville, ON, and Crystal Kroetch of Calgary, AB, placed fourth, fifth and sixth respectively in the Individual Dressage Final
held Wednesday, October 19, at the XVI Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico.


Tina Irwin & Winston
Tina Irwin & Winston

Canada’s youngest team member, 30-year-old Irwin, was the first to enter the arena at the Guadalajara Country Club.  Riding Winston, a 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Mary Ellen Horgan, Irwin performed to a medley of popular songs from the 80’s, including ‘What a Feeling’ from Flashdance and ‘Life Is Life’ by Noah and the Whale.  Winston showed his maturity and consistency with a flawless and expressive performance that earned a score of 77.225% for Irwin. “Winston was amazing, and I was totally thrilled,” said Irwin, who was making her major games debut.  “It was my personal best score.  We definitely peaked at the right time.  It was also fantastic to ride to my music, which was produced by long-time sponsors and supporters Lewis Manné and Wendy Watson of Zap Productions.”Combined with her Intermediaire I score of 70.842% from the first half of the individual competition on Monday, Irwin’s average score of 74.034% moved her up five places, from tenth after the Intermediaire I, to fifth.

Tina Irwin & Winston
Tina Irwin & Winston

Next in for Canada was Kroetch, 54, riding her own 10-year-old
Hannoverian gelding Lymrix.  Kroetch’s difficult choreography included a canter pirouette immediately following the initial halt, and a serpentine of two tempi  changes.  Her score of 76.325% placed her sixth in the Freestyle.  Having  finished ninth in the Intermediaire I two days earlier with a score of 71%,  Kroetch improved on her ultimate placing, with an average score from the two  tests of 73.663%, and seventh place overall.



Dvorak, 46, was the second last rider in the arena, competing
immediately after the eventual silver medalist, Heather Blitz of the United
States on Paragon, and the gold medalist Steffen Peters, also of the United
States, on Weltino’s Magic.  Dvorak rode Viva’s Salieri, a 10-year-old
Canadian-bred Hannoverian stallion, to a dynamic Spanish guitar themed program
that included four canter pirouettes and tempi changes on curved lines for added
difficulty.  An impressive score of 77.300% placed Dvorak fourth in the

Combined with his fourth place result of 73.079% in the Intermediaire
I, Dvorak finished fourth overall with an average score of 75.190%.  Even more
impressive, Viva’s Salieri is a Canadian-bred horse, having been bred by owners
Augustin and Christine Walch of W. Charlot Farms in Stratford, ON.

For Dvorak, the results in Guadalajara were reminiscent of the 2007
Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where he also placed fourth
individually, having also claimed a team silver medal.

The Canadian riders had high praise for the support they received
from Team Chef d’Equipe Gina Smith of Brockville, ON, and Team Technical Leader
Markus Gribbe of Germany.

“It’s great to be a part of our team’s wonderful results and to be able to help,” said Smith,
who was a member of Canada’s bronze medal team at the 1988 Seoul

Following the Prix St. Georges test held October 16, Canada won the
team silver medal and, in doing so, achieved their goal of qualifying a team for
the 2012 London Olympics.  Unfortunately, under Pan American Games rules, only
three riders per nation may advance to the Individual Final.  Although the
fourth member of the Canadian Dressage Team, 48-year-old Roberta Byng-Morris of
Godmanchester, QC, was unable to compete on the final day, she placed
16th individually in her major games debut with her 12-year-old
Hannoverian gelding Reiki Tyme.

The Canadian Dressage Team was assisted at the Pan American Games by
Team Veterinarian Dr. Alan Manning.  The Canadian Equestrian Team is supported
at the Pan American Games by Team Leader Kerri McGregor of Newmarket, ON, and
Assistant Team Leader Tina Collins of Loretto, ON.

Pan American Games – Final Individual Dressage Results:

Gold:      Steffen Peters                United
States                    Weltino’s Magic

Silver     Heather Blitz                 United
States                    Paragon                           81.917%

Bronze   Marisa Featherling        United States
Big Tyme                           77.545%

4.            Tom Dvorak                  Hillsburgh,
ON                 Viva’s Salieri                           75.190%

5.            Tina Irwin                      Stouffville,
ON                 Winston                           74.034%

6.            Crystal Kroetch             Calgary,
AB                      Lymrix                           73.66%

For more information on the 2011 Pan American Games, held every four years, please


Pan-Am Games Dressage Update…..

Pan American Games 2011
Crystal & Lymyrix at Pan American Games

– Following the first day of individual dressage competition at the XVI Pan American Games, Tom Dvorak, 46, of Hillsburgh, ON, sits in fourth place, just over one percentage point behind third placed Marisa Featherling of the United States.

Riding Viva’s Salieri, a 10-year-old Canadian-bred Hannoverian stallion, Dvorak received a score of 73.079% in the FEI Intermediaire I test, which forms the first half of the individual medal competition. On Sunday, October 16, Dvorak led Canada to a Team Silver medal as well as a berth for the 2012 London Olympic Games.

All four members of the Canadian Dressage Team contested the Intermediaire I with excellent results. Calgary’s Crystal Kroetch, 54, rode her 10-year-old Hannoverian gelding Lymrix to a ninth place finish with a score of 71%.

The Canadian team’s youngest member, Tina Irwin, 30, of Stouffville, ON, finished close behind in tenth with a score of 70.842% riding Mary Ellen Horgan’s Winston, a 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding.

Roberta Byng-Morris, 48, of Godmanchester, QC, was the Canadian rider to make the biggest leap up the leaderboard, moving from 25th in the team competition to 16th in the Intermediaire I with a score of 66.947% riding her 12-year-old Hannoverian gelding, Reiki Tyme.

The top 15 competitors from the Intermediaire I test qualify for the Individual Freestyle, after which the individual medals will be awarded. However, as a maximum of three competitors per nation are allowed to contest the Individual Freestyle, Dvorak, Kroetch and Irwin will be Canada’s three representatives.

Delighted with his results to date with Viva’s Salieri, Dvorak is hoping for even more in the Individual Freestyle to Music on Wednesday afternoon. “I love riding the freestyle,” said Dvorak following Monday’s competition. “My freestyle is technically difficult and the music really suits my horse. I’m really pleased with my horse and I know we are in the ball game, which is very exciting.” Dvorak’s horse, Viva’s Salieri, is owned by its breeder, Augustin Walch, and his wife, Christine, who travelled to Mexico to watch their horse compete for Canada. “I’m always very happy to see Tom with my horse,” commented Augustin Walch of Stratford, ON. “Tom and his wife, Ellen, have always done the best for the horse since he was four years old.”

Kroetch also improved both her score and her placing from the team competition to Monday’s individual competition, and has every intention of moving even further up the standings in the Freestyle. “My horse just gets better and better in the ring,” she said. “I have wonderful music and a technically difficult program. If I can keep it together with no mistakes, I believe we can still improve on our placing.”

Canadian Dressage Team Chef d’Equipe Gina Smith of Brockville, ON, and Team Technical Leader Markus Gribbe of Germany have been thrilled with the Canadian results in both the team and individual competitions. “They have achieved exactly what we came here to do,” said Smith, a 1988 Olympic Team Bronze Medalist. “The atmosphere among the team is wonderful. It’s really been a pleasure to watch everyone come together and achieve these results.” The Intermediaire Freestyle to Music, by far the most popular spectator event of the Pan Am Games Dressage competition, will commence at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, October 19, at the sold-out stadium at the Guadalajara Country Club.

2011 Pan American Games Dressage Results – Intermediaire I – October 17, 2011

  1.  1. Steffen Peters/Weltino’s Magic (USA) – 78.079%
  2. 2. Heather Blitz/Paragon (USA) – 77.184%
  3. 3. Marisa Featherling/Big Tyme (USA) – 74.316%
  4. 4. Tom Dvorak/Viva’s Salieri (CAN) – 73.079%
  5. 5. Bernadette Pujals/Iusa Rolex (MEX) – 72.605%9.

9.Crystal Kroetch/Lymrix (CAN) – 71.000%

10. Tina Irwin/Winston (CAN) – 70.842%

16. Roberta Byng-Morris/Reiki Tyme (CAN) – 66.947%

For more information on the 2011 Pan American Games, held every four years, please visit


No more Top Hats Allowed in National Level Tests!

A great Poster
Freestyles Rule

Equine Canada/Dressage Canada have issued a late rule change that as of May 1st, 2011, only competitors above 4th level will be allowed to wear Top Hats in Canadian Competitions.  All others must wear a safety approved helmet with harness when mounted on the show grounds. Failure to comply will cause the rider to be eliminated from the show.

Any Comments?

Here is a copy of the new rule as of March 23rd, 2011:

ARTICLE E 4.0 SAFETY HEADGEAR [effective May 1, 2011]

1. ASTM/SEI or BSI approved headgear must be worn by all riders

showing Fourth Level and below, regardless of age, when mounted on

the competition grounds at EC Bronze, Silver and Gold competitions.

2. ASTM/SEI or BSI approved headgear must be worn by all noncompeting

riders mounted on horses entered in classes at Fourth Level

or below in EC Bronze, Silver and Gold competitions.

3. All riders of any age while on non-competing horses must wear

protective headgear at all times while mounted on the competition


4. The penalty for contravening 4.0.1 is elimination.

5. Non-competing riders who contravene 4.0.2 and/or 4.0.3 will be

instructed to dismount until wearing an ASTM/SEI or BSI approved


Note: At the tack check which follows the test, the steward may ask the

rider to dismount so that the helmet may be inspected for the ASTM/SEI or

BSI label.

My comment is that I will miss wearing my Top Hat until I can ride in the FEI classes. It’s unfortunate that this elegant piece of our attire will no longer be visible at the higher national levels of our sport.  I acknowlege the inherent risks of riding, but always felt that once you reached third level, you were secure enough in your training to make a personal decision as to the head gear appropriate for your level of showing. Equine Canada (Dressage Canada)’s position is to: ensure our safety and protect against liability.  I thought that is why we signed waivers to compete at  shows. 

Calgary Dressage Tips: How to Ride a Diagonal…

Extended Trot
Diagonal in Lengthening or Extended Trot

When you prepare to ride the diagonal line:

Take a half halt (outside rein), make the  turn to ride your diagonal.
Line up the letter with your outside hip as you make the turn to the diagonal, then ride toward the letter lining it up with the new outside hip ( your hip, not the horse’s).
Don’t try to lengthen immediately like a shot out of a gun.  Ask for a more active trot, not quicker.
Do lower your hands (this keeps him on the bit and in the frame)

Ask for the lengthening and allow your horse to develop it.
Use your seat and legs to ask for lengthening.
Tip your shoulders slightly forward when you lengthen.  Slightly forward only!
Leaning back, like you may see other riders do is incorrect, and will cause your horse to hollow his back, lose his frame and lower your mark.
Try to shift your balance from your seat bones to your pelvic floor, if sitting gets difficult.
You have to trust that you won’t bounce out of the saddle….you won’t.
Please don’t grip with your legs, or you will bounce.  Think “Thump Thump Thump” with your calves and keep as much weight in your heels as you can.
You should feel that even though your shoulders are tipped slightly forward, your legs are still “under you” in correct alignment with as much weight in your heels as you can.
Ride to the far quarter line, if you’ve lined up correctly – you should be coming to the letter with your outside hip. Half-halt outside and change  bend toward the new direction. Use your inside leg.
Very subtly, resume your trot position – onto your seat bones, roll your shoulders back so your hands come back to the correct position, check you thumbs and close your hands and half-halt.  You will be preparing for a turn to the short side….so think “leg yield” around the corner.

This is detailed, but this is the mental process I ride through on every diagonal.

First Level Requirements….Tips

Calgary Alberta area show season begins next month with the Carrots & Cocktails Series at Anderson Ranch.  If you choose to move up to 1st Level classes from training level be aware that the expectation is “to confirm that the horse, in addition to the requirements of Training Level, has developed thrust (pushing power) and achieved a degree of  balance and throughness.”

Your horse needs to move forward through the elements of the First Level tests.  Use corners to balance your horse and ask for more roundness in the frame.  Throughness is characterized by the horses pushing power working through your horse, making him light in your hand and round on the bit.  Keep transitions smooth by taking the time to plan and prepare.  Required elements come more quickly in the tests as you progress up the levels.  Make sure you memorize you tests and plan how to ride each element. If you rely on a reader, you won’t have time to prepare for transitions.  “A horse goes how he’s ridden”, use the test elements to your best advantage by knowing what comes next and how to help your horse.