Our motivation for promoting a young horse series is due to Simone Howarth’s experiences with the national and international young horse circuit in Europe with her horse, Show Special, then ridden by Zilla Pearse, along with Simone’s current work and interest in producing various local young horses through her pupils.
Mickey van der Merwe, a pupil of Simone’s, became involved with the scribing and scoring of the Young Horse classes at the South African Dressage Championships, where she was highly commended by the international judges for her efficiency and high level of competence.
It became apparent at the South African Dressage Championships that a dedicated team was needed to run and organise a young horse series and we at Howarth & Riders Dressage became interested in taking this on board.
Format of the Series
There are four different age categories: 4 year old, 5 year old, 6 year old and 7 – 9 year old classes. Frequently at CDI shows overseas there is a Small Tour for 7 – 9 year olds. We appreciate that in South Africa, as with all the other age categories, PSG and Inter I is a level or two above what the average horse here, of that age, is capable of. Therefore, after consultation with DSA, the 7 – 9 year olds ride a Medium test. The advantage of including the 7 – 9 year olds is that these young horses compete against their peers rather than against older school masters in the same class.
The 4, 5 and 6 year old classes are judged like the FEI Young Horse classes, with marks being given for walk, trot, canter, submission and general impression. The 7 – 9 year olds are judged and scored as a normal, complete tests, as they are in the 7 – 9 year olds at CDI shows. An essential part of the series is the aim to educate and uplift the level of young horses being produced in SA. Therefore, at the end of each test, feedback on the horse’s performance from the judges is given to the rider and the public over a loud speaker. This helps to engage the spectators and to assist the rider as to how the horse’s training is progressing and in what areas improvement can be made. This public feedback also displays transparency and assists with understanding of the scoring system and of what the judges are looking for in a future top level dressage horse.
Throughout the course of the series the tests increase in difficulty within the grade for the age group, cumulating in the highest test of each grade being ridden at the championship show (with the exception of the 7-9yr olds, whose highest test used will be Medium 2 or 3).
The grades are:
4 Year Olds: DSA Prelim 2013
5 Year Olds: DSA Novice 2010
6 Year Olds: DSA Elementary 2010
7 – 9 Year Olds: DSA Medium 2010
Each participating province is organising a minimum of 3 qualifying shows throughout the calendar year, cumulating in a Provincial Championship show. As a requirement for the Provincial Championship show, horse and rider combinations must compete in at least 2 of the qualifying shows. The top 5 horse and rider combinations of each age group at the Provincial Championships will be filmed. The videos of the top three in each age group in each province will go forward to the National Championship. The videos will be sent to two FEI Young Horse Judges in Europe along with being sent to two judges in SA. The accumulation of all of the judge’s marks will result in a National Champion for each age group. This series is being run as unaffiliated classes, where no points gained will be added to the horse’s grading points. Horses and riders competing in the series must be registered with DSA but will not be required to ride within its current DSA grade.
Sponsorship and Prizes
Arco360 are very kindly sponsoring the rosettes for the whole series along with sponsoring the costs of the videoing of each of the Provincial Championships. We are most grateful to Candice Hobday of Hobday Equestrian Enterprises for her support of the series.