Thursday, 26 January 2012 22:42

Dressage with a difference at Arena UK

Riders of all ages and from all disciplines were taking advantage of Arena UK's unique dressage competition on Thursday (January 26th).
So why is it unique? Well, where else can you ride two or three different tests before the same judge within a very short time?
At Arena UK in Lincolnshire they use just one arena for the dressage and the one judge may see a Preliminary test, followed by an Elementary, then perhaps a walk and trot test, then a different Preliminary, a Novice test and so on.
The judge certainly has to 'be on the ball' but for the competitors it is ideal - there's no waiting around for ages, or trying to work out which arena they need to be in!
Carol the innovator! 
This form of running dressage tests came about when Arena UK's dressage co-ordinator, Carol Ramsey (pictured below), first started organizing the competitions. “All the judges thought I was mad to mix and match tests but people love it” said Carol. “Competitors can do two tests in half an hour and then go home if they want, instead of hanging around for ages for their next class.

“The arena is exactly the same as it is for our British Dressage classes - with the flowers decorating the sides of the arena and so on - so the unaffiliated riders and their horses can get used to all the trappings. However, if someone has a problem, we can move things if necessary.
“We have a nice bunch of people competing here - a mix of regulars and newcomers and everyone enjoys the way we do things. It so much more relaxing for horses and riders.”
Stories galore! 
Christine Carlisle from Newark Equestrian Centre gives her employees the chance to compete the riding school horses and ponies at Arena UK. Her girls have project horses to work on - Ella Yabbacome was riding a five-year-old horse which came from Melton Mowbray sales as a three-year-old and Ella was delighted with the way he'd performed.
Showing rider Anne Varley brought a couple of young horses to Arena UK to give them experience. One of them was an ex-racehorse, which came to her unseen from Ireland. “I was called by a contact over there who asked if I wanted a really nice racehorse who otherwise was going to be sent to the abattoir. My old horse, First Buddy, was about to be put down and this racehorse's name was First Mate. I'd just been sent a card featuring Best Mate from Henrietta Knight so I thought this is an omen, I'll take the horse.”
Anne's feeling was right - for her ex-racehorse has done really well, being shown in Retraining of Racehorses classes and never coming home without a rosette.
Another competitor, Chris Groome, has been coming to Arena UK for many years and says the  'dressage competitions are lovely because there's no pressure and if it all goes pear-shaped there's no need to worry. It's fantastic if you have young or problem horses.‚Äö√Ñ√π
Ginny Cook brought a brood mare with little competition experience and one of the mare's three offspring, an eight-year-old who performed well, giving the family a good day's outing.
Several riders were on homebred horses including Alex Mundy, out for her first dressage competition of the year on her eventer Heidi.
Arena UK's next unaffiliated dressage competition is on February 9th. Contact Carol on 07774 018103 for further details or visit 

Arena UK is the venue for an annual dressage competition in aid of Spinal Research in February - more details coming soon!