Dressage Victoria Chair Report 2016

This report reviews the Dressage Victoria year 2015/16, recognising our many achievements and flagging the areas of concern. While volunteers provide a hugely important amount of work towards the success of Dressage in Victoria, at the centre of our operations on a daily basis are the EV Staff. I would like to thank Katrina & Iole Brzozek who left EV this year having been great contributors to Dressage over the last few years and welcome Rebecca Willis back to the EV office in the role as Dressage Co-ordinator. Rebecca’s knowledge of the administration of the sport is invaluable.

At the centre of all Dressage events are the judges and our Dressage Judges Education Panel has had a very strong year. The relatively new panel led superbly by Jane Ventura has secured consistent funding from the Dressage Levy and applied it to an increasing range of education activities that is beginning to create more, much needed judges. Management of the many issues around judging can be a challenging task but Jane and her team have administered this area with professionalism.

While the Victorian Young Rider Dressage Squad had been a highlight for many families involved in Victorian Dressage, in recent years its activity had declined. In August 2015 DV, with the help of Jan Smith and many parents, relaunched the Victorian Dressage Young Riders Squad and Development Programme with a very strong response. Equissage have generously sponsored the programme. Nearly 70 families joined the group in their diverse activities over four weekends during the year. We consider this programme a real success.

The State Dressage Squad has taken many steps forward during FY 15/16. Veronica Steward and Rae Ansell have led the group to secure a generous sponsor, Pryde’s Easifeed, conduct very successful fundraising and hold numerous training weekends and social functions. The strictly score-based selection process continues to be seen as a fair and effective system and recent comparisons with dressage squads in other States suggests that the Victorian model is going well.

Victorian elite riders are representing us well at the international level, with Mary Hanna representing Australia at her fifth Olympics and Maree Tomkinson the team reserve,

The DV major event calendar is the envy of the nation as we now have five CDI held in Victoria each year. PSI Dressage & Jumping With The Stars continues to attract the crowds. Thanks to event directors Deb McNicol and Sue Mckay this event evolves every year and remains the highlight on many fans' schedule.

The 2015 Saddleworld Dressage Festival showed a considerable growth on the previous year. More than 400 horses attended, which represented an increase of 30%. Thanks to the professionalism of event director Marli Plant, the event received wide praise for its friendly atmosphere.

The planning for the 2016 Pryde’s Easifeed Dressage Festival is well underway and this year’s event director Annabelle Johnstone is expecting further growth in the numbers of horses attending. Additional entertainment is also planned for the Saturday night this year.

The Young Rider Dressage Championships held in Easter school holidays showed small growth in numbers this year. The event is moving to a new date, January and venue, Boneo Park for 2017. The event director Donna Desmet and her committee are looking forward to an exciting revamped event sponsored by Ellanbrae Park.

The CDI @ M3DE continued to attract the biggest crowd of the year with the indoor packed to the rafters for the Grand Prix Freestyle.

Thanks to all our event directors assiduously adhering to budgets, our activities have remained in the “black”.

To ensure Dressage in Victoria represents both regional and city based riders, regional events have been encouraged to make participation and competing easier for those in outlying areas of Victoria. In the north Elmore Equestrian Club has affiliated and commenced events at the huge Elmore Equestrian Centre. Tatura F&NC has increased their activities further and continue to grow their involvement in the sport. In West Gippsland, Randall Park Equestrian centre has affiliated and is conducting EA events. In the west Western Victoria Dressage Club recently celebrated its 40th Birthday and continue to battle the tyranny of distance between members and venues. While further support is needed for the ongoing growth of the regional clubs FY 15/16 did make a start in the right direction.

The ADC has suggested that all States adopt a uniform Star Rating system for Dressage events. Five stars for a National Championship down to one star for a local club event. The idea being that some EA Dressage rules relating to number of judges, stewards etc. could be adjusted for different level events. This may help smaller clubs run local events.

One of the highlights of the DV year was undoubtedly the growth the Amateur Owner Rider class. An initiative of the ADC three years ago, the advent of the Mitavite AOR Leader Board has created much more interest this year. Thanks to volunteer Dolly Joyce for collating results and securing sponsorship, 400 riders participated in the Leader Board. This class will continue to grow as we focus more attention on adding value to the membership of our many grassroots members.

With this same thought for the grassroots rider, EV admin sponsored and conducted a number of Protocol days at WPNEC and encouraged clubs to follow suit. From very few a couple of years ago we now have regular protocol days happening in Victoria with the number growing as riders enjoy the value of ring practise and expert feedback.

EV set the goal in 2014 to reach out to other organisations to seek common projects of mutual benefit. After previously having little to do with Government, EV has attracted several grants to help grow participation and enhance facilities. DV has also begun working with other equestrian organisations like HRCAV and PCAV. Both groups will be involved in the biggest Pryde’s EasiFeed Dressage Festival ever in December 2016.

In recent years the printed Dressage Handbook has been replaced by the EV online calendars. We are uncertain about the efficacy of this approach but the number of tests ridden in Victoria for FY 15/16, 7,000, remained the same as the previous years. The rapid take-up of online entry systems by clubs may improve the dissemination of event information. We have striven hard in recent years to create a clash free calendar and despite a couple of exceptions this has been achieved. We are currently planning a two year calendar to give event directors better access to venue bookings.

The number of EV members nominating Dressage as their sport and the number of active Dressage Performance cards has continued grow at a healthy rate.

Two main areas of concern arose during the year. The cost of competing may be getting to a crucial point and the quality of riding surfaces needs improving. In one sense these issues are connected because the second will cost plenty of money and someone will need to pay for it. We need to look at the cost of competing in Dressage from a number of angles and see if DV can lead a rethink of event costs to help grow the grassroots.

EV is currently involved in the State Facilities Study, supported by State Govt. and negotiations with Parks Victoria for a new WPNEC lease that would involve major capital expenditure. DV is strongly advocating for these processes to materialise in a new arena area for Dressage at WPNEC.

DV has achieved all this with a very large and historically constructed committee. Over the last year discussions have commenced on the topic of restructuring the DV committee to be more effective and better represent all affiliated clubs. 2017 will hopefully see some progress on these areas of concern and a continuation of the achievements so far.

Michael Bragge
Dressage Victoria Chair 


Download all Board and Discipline Reports:

EV AGM Report_2016.pdf