NEWS > Dressage
Posted by Suzy Jarratt on 14/10/2014.
Franz Venhaus

The National Dressage Championships presents for your enjoyment …… a Quadrille Exhibition!

Quadrille – a quaint word meaning very little to many people.  Could it be a tool for assembling furniture, a collection of nautical sandals or, perhaps, a muscle-building routine?

Maybe readers of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ will have an idea recalling when the Mock Turtle introduced a dance involving sea creatures and how the Lobster Quadrille proved a most entertaining diversion for young Alice.

Now for your enjoyment the National Dressage Championships presents its very own Quadrille Exhibition – with horses, of course, as it was many hundreds of years ago.

(The term came to exist in the 17th century, within military parades, in which four horsemen and their mounts performed special square-shaped formations or figures).

The performances at SIEC will be held to music, which will be designed by Mel Widdis of Fortissimo Freestyles. The action will take place in the main arena and consist of two teams:

The National Youth Development Squad comprising Courtney Barbera (Qld), Morgan Duell (Vic), Libby Hulin (NSW) and Victoria Stuckey (Vic).

And The Australia Dressage Committee Quadrille comprising Dr Kerry Mack (Victoria’s mother), Elizabeth Owens (Qld), Julia Battams (Vic) and Roger Fitzhardinge (NSW).

Two judges, Virginia Creed (Vic) and Sue Cunningham (NSW) will assess the quadrilles and provide feedback to the riders. Spectators are encouraged to applaud for their favourite team and a winner will be announced.

Because of the location of the next Olympic Games and because Australia has qualified to compete in 2016 the music will, inevitably, have a ‘go to Rio’ theme – riders and choreographers will be hard at work when they all come together for rehearsals at Horsley Park.

 “There’s a lot of criticism of committees by riders,” said Fitzhardinge, “they say we don’t understand the sport and don’t know what going on. Well there are four of us who do really understand; we’re serious competitors competing at a high level and we know what it’s like.

“It’s good to see that riders from the ADC can put on a show. Committee members competing among competitors is proactive and beneficial for the sport.”

It is not the first time he has partnered one of the riders. In the past Fitzhardinge did a pas de deux with Elizabeth Owens, then Elizabeth Mills.

“We both come from W.A, and we were booked to perform at the Perth Royal. We did a Black and White Minstrel routine to music played on a honky-tonk piano by Mrs Mills!”

 (For those too young to remember Mrs Mills was a plump jolly cockney who played sing-a-long tunes in the sixties and seventies).

Organisers of the Nationals are hoping that this exhibition, scheduled for around 6pm on Saturday, will fuel sufficient interest to lead to a Quadrille competition being part of 2015’s event programme.

At this year’s event, no matter what tests are being ridden on any part of the SIEC grounds, you can be sure those arenas would have been visited by the team from FOP.

“These are our unsung heroes,” said Dressage NSW President, Prue Spurrett. “The Field of Play team, headed by Kathy Shelley, is at all our major competitions and it’s the least glamorous role of all.

“Spectators at the Nationals will see them on tractors working alongside the SIEC team, preparing surfaces between breaks.  They manually rake the sides ensuring all is smooth and they prepare the judges’ tables situated around the arenas. They work from early morning to late at night and I’d ask riders, when they see them around, to just give them a nod and say ‘thank you’ – we wouldn’t have an event without them.”

Another important element to an event’s success is good food and Wild Oats wine and this can be found at the Top Spot Marquee.

 “We’ll be providing a series of great buffets during the Nationals and we’re holding a very special Saturday evening dinner in the Marquee” said Hospitality Co-ordinator, Gail Benson. ”And the caterers in the main arena will have an ‘Oktoberfest’ theme selling sausages, sauerkraut and German beer.

“We’d love to see you all at SIEC from October 22nd to the 26th.” General enquiries: Toni Venhaus 0418 686 781


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