The DressageAfrica team saw ex-South African and rising star on the European circuit, Dominique Tardin, out-and-about at Horse of the Year show at Kyalami Equestrian Park. We asked Dominique to give us her account of a show that continues to be a favourite in the South African show calendar:
In November last year, Frances Cheboub of the South African Warmblood Horse Society and I got chatting about sponsorship of the Warmblood classes. This is a wonderful show to attend yearly as some of South Africa’s top warmbloods locally bred and imported, all come together. It was also one of my favourite competitions and seeing that I have finished Young Rider’s and am now doing Grand Prix, I had some spare time on my hands before the spring and summer competition season started. I jumped at the opportunity to fly out and attend the show after so many years away in Europe.
Frances asked me to ride the show classes for the warmbloods. After deciding what to sponsor I accepted, as this is something I do as a career and I knew the experience would be great, being back in South Africa and riding in a showing show, even though I wasn’t actually competing, I had the chance to ride!!!!
I arrived the day before the in hand classes began and got to watch many top quality ponies and good pony riders, as well as catch up with old friends. I think the standard of the ponies is very good and is in the league of the European ponies. The next day, I attended the In Hand classes as our team in Europe sponsored these. We saw some super quality mares and foals, bred out of local and imported mares, some fabulous youngsters with dressage and jumping lines and also, some gorgeous mares and stallions.
Saturday was the ridden classes and the championships, as well as the dressage classes, which were judged by the well-known German rider Katrin Burger, who had international success on the famous stallion French Kiss among many others. She was very positive about every horse and had honest and correct comments on all her horses she placed. The ridden classes were judged by Sue Carter, who is a very well-known South African judge and is flown worldwide judging horses and ponies, as well as dogs. We are fortunate to have her in South Africa, for her knowledge is very valuable and she definitely knows exactly what to look for in a show horse.
I think I rode 25 or more horses, one after another in the sweltering heat, but it was a wonderful experience and it was very interesting for me too. There were all types of warmbloods entered, from 4 year olds to breeding stallions and regular dressage contenders. It made me really happy, that despite the limited training resources and the disadvantages South African riders face, being so isolated from the European professional world, the horses and riders are on the right track! I think it is not easy to produce horses of this breed, as they really are special creatures and I take my hat off to everyone who was involved in the competition.
I had a wonderful time in South Africa at the GHS show grounds and I hope to attend next year’s event. No matter where I may be based, Its an amazing feeling coming back to my roots and seeing the people that have been around most of my riding life.
The SAWHS is brilliantly run by a small group of true horse lovers with a passion for the breeding and they are a team who must be cherished. The SA Warmbloods have expanded and grown immensely over the last 4 years I have been in Europe. With the right choice of international help of stallion selectors and judges, the only way is up.
Congratulations to all the winners! Hope to see you again next year.
All the best,
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