Dressage has been called poetry in motion and ballet on horseback. It’s beauty dates back hundreds of years and yet, today, continues to gain popularity across the county. Dressage is a French word meaning “training” and describes the sequential development of the horse’s suppleness, obedience and strength. The result is a breathtaking blend of power and artistry. Competition involves a series of movements based on a horse’s action, not unlike gymnastics or figure skating competitions.
For more than 40 years, Dressage at Devon (DAD) has brought top competitors, horses, trainers and judges from across the continent and around the globe together for one of the highest-rated international dressage competition.
DAD opens with the three-day Breed Division, in which horses and ponies from young foals to 5 year old mares and stallions, are judged for movement and conformation. Individual Breed Classes have featured more than 20 breeds, from Appaloosas to Knabstruppers and Dales Ponies. The USDF Breeders Championships East Coast Series Finals, the Foal Championships, and the Born in the USA Breeders Awards are among the highlights of the show’s first days.
Thursday, the four-day Performance Division begins. Most Dressage at Devon classes are FEI (Fédération Equestre Internationale) level, including four Grand Prix classes, the level of Olympic competition. Musical freestyles classes are favorites.
Festival Shops offer exclusive apparel, fine arts, antiques and collectibles, and food from burgers to full gourmet meals at charming outdoor cafes. Families enjoy the weekend atmosphere, where exhibitions are geared towards family fun. Sunday is family day, with young riders performing throughout the day.
Dressage Explorers, a program created for kids, takes place on Sunday and a stick horse competition, equine jeopardy, a selfie-scavenger hunt plus new activities every year.
Dressage with the Experts offers an opportunity to hear live, expert commentary on individual headsets and an electronic scoreboard, the first ever at a US dressage competition, allows spectators to see the scores for each movement, as they are assigned by the judges.
Dressage at Devon takes place at the Devon Horse Show Grounds, Route 29, in Devon, Pennsylvania. General admission is available for $10 at the show grounds during the show; children under 3 are free and children 4-12 are $5 for General Admission. Reserve seats and box seating are available.