Dressage. It has been called poetry in motion and ballet on horseback. Dressage is an ancient equestrian discipline, and the fastest growing equestrian sport in the USA today. In September, Dressage at Devon brings top competitors, horses, trainers and judges from across the continent and around the globe together for one of the highest-rated international dressage competitions and the most complete breed show outside of Europe. Olympic medalist Robert Dover calls Dressage at Devon "the standard by which all American horse shows should be judged." Hundreds of horses are expected to compete in front of thousands of spectators.
Dressage, a French word meaning “training,” 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.
Dressage at Devon opens with the three-day Breed Division, in which horses are judged for movement and conformation. More than 20 breeds are represented. The USDF Breeders Championships East Coast Series Finals, the Foal Championships, and the Born in the USA Breeders Awards and the Parade of Breeds are among the highlights of the show’s first days. The combination of breed classes and performance classes gives the spectator a unique perspective. Dressage at Devon is where you can see it all, from foal to Freestyle Champion.
Thursday, the four-day Performance Division begins. Most Dressage at Devon classes are F.E.I. (Fédération Equestre Internationale) level, including four Grand Prix classes, the level of Olympic competition. Musical freestyles classes, like dancing to the music, are favorites.
The Festival Shops with more than 90 vendors 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. Plus the Dressage Explorers program offering something for all ages – including a stick horse competition, equine jeopardy, and a selfie-scavenger hunt.
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. Tuesday, September 27 through Sunday, October 2. 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. Reserved seating has no discounts for children.