Solway College’s Inter-School Dressage competition is open to school pupils of all ages. PHOTO/DAVE LINTOTT

EQUESTRIAN

JAKE BELESKI
jake.beleski@age.co.nz

The annual Solway College Inter-School Dressage competition is once again set to welcome school pupils of all ages to Masterton.

The competition is in its fifth year and is scheduled to be held at Solway A&P Showgrounds on September 19.

The event is unique because it is open to pupils in Year 1, right through to those in Year 13.

Riders from across the central and lower North Island will take part, coming from as far as Hawke’s Bay and New Plymouth, and also from Wellington.

Event secretary Steph Mann said the age range of the competitors made it a special event.

“You’ve got little 5-year-old tots on their ponies and some of them are still on lead rein which means their parent leads them around the test.

“They’re not quite up to the level of being able to control their pony without that assistance.”

Riders can compete as part of a team or as an individual with the opportunity to win prizes – including feed and equine products and ribbons for all classes – as well as a special turnout section.

In the past couple of years the number of competitors has exceeded 100, and organisers were hopeful that would be the case once again.

Each rider completes two tests in the day.

The event will go ahead even if the weather does not play its part, but Mann said they had a contingency plan in place for that situation.

“We hope to run it all on grass, but our contingency is to run it on the amazing all-weather surface at Solway.

“With all the rain we’ve had lately it will probably be on the all-weather surface unless there’s some sort of miracle.”

Solway’s $140,000 state-of-the-art all-weather dressage facility has three full-sized dressage arenas that can be in operation throughout the day.

Sashes are awarded to the top junior and senior Wairarapa rider and leading overall senior and junior rider at the end of the event.

Mann said it would not have been possible to run the event without the support of numerous sponsors.

“A lot of the behind-the-scenes jobs are done by Solway College students, and teachers often get involved as well.

“It is a real team effort to make it happen.”

Solway College has a long association with equestrian sports, historically fielding a strong equestrian team.

In recent years, there has been a major revival of equestrian activities at Solway and the college has several accomplished riders across all equestrian disciplines.