1st Time Texas CDI Big Success

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Berndt von Hassler of Waxahachie, Texas, on Cassiani, winner of the Prix St. Georges at the first CDI in the US Southwest. © SusanJStickle.com

KATY, Texas, May 3–When the first CDI in the U.S. Southwest was being planned, the organizers opted to spend thousands of dollars more than needed to give competitors the best experience. And the response made it worth while with perhaps the largest FEI Junior rider class in the nation.

The inaugural CDI1* competition was organized by the Houston Dressage Society for the region that includes Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Oklahoma to raise the level of dressage and provide an opportunity for local riders to compete without the cost and time of traveling to the nearest CDIs, 700 miles (1,100km) to South Florida, the same distance as Paris to Rome.

In this Pan American Games year in which dressage is at small tour level, a local CDI also gave riders a shot at competing for the U.S. team selection trials scheduled for Gladstone, New Jersey, in September.

“I want to elevate the quality of dressage in Region 9 and having a show that will hopefully bring out the best, will aid in doing this,” said Kathy Jones, president of the Houston Dressage Society that organized the event at this suburban equestrian center.

“I want riders in our region to have something to strive for and I want it to be the best. I am also hoping that this will entice our trainers to take it up a notch on their own training. We have been told that Region 9 now has some really good horses, great juniors and young riders, and that all we are lacking is some better training.”

To make sure she learned how to do it right, Kathy worked at a CDI staged in Colorado by U.S. 4* judge Janet Foy in 2010.

She said that providing the minimum facilities for a CDI1* would have been only slightly more expensive, but the organizers went all out to make it special.

Among the biggest “extras” were $10,000 in prize money, parties that added $5,000, $3,000 for sheriff’s deputies to provide security instead of relying on volunteers, a $3,000 scoreboard. All told, about $25,000.

Sponsorships covered about $16,000 of the costs “but we regarded this as an opportunity” and hope to raise more money for a planned CDI next year.

“We got great support from the competitors,” Kathy said. “We had 23 CDI riders. All of the judges were impressed by this number, particularly with the 10 riders in the FEI Junior Class–most at any one CDI in the country, I believe. The other competitors were great. We had a full show with a waiting list.”

Gasoline prices up to $4 (€2.70) a gallon–less than half the price of gas throughout western Europe but way higher than Americans are used to paying–also hurt entries as riders from Canada and the Midwest wanted to attend but were put off by travel costs.

Local barns bought VIP table sponsorships.

Competitors and visiting officials gave the show top marks for planning, organization and implementation, especially the camaraderie of the show staff.

For complete results go to: http://www.showsecretary.com/rs.asp?U=&Show_ID=243&Class_Date=4/29/2011