By Chelsey Burris
2021 was a year unlike any other! The COVID-19 pandemic continued to impact our lives, but many dressage shows were back and thriving. YourDressage was there with you all year providing your daily dose of dressage by sharing stories from riders, trainers, breeders, and dressage enthusiasts across the country, as well as photo galleries, videos, and more. From inspiring stories about the Tokyo Olympic team, to informative horse health features, and articles highlighting unique and interesting breeds, here were the top 21 trending stories from 2021.
21. Breed of the Month – Mustang Gallery Part 1
Throughout the year, YourDressage highlighted different breeds through our Breed of the Month Series. In July, Mustangs were featured. Known for their wild and majestic spirit, these free-roaming horses are rounded up periodically to be sold to new homes where they will be tamed. These unique equines are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West. We asked our social media followers to share photos of their Mustangs, and let us know what makes these horses so special. In this gallery, you can see the photos they shared.
20. Enigma: Kissing Spines in Horses: Part 1 – Defining Kissing Spines in Horses
Kissing Spines, more scientifically known as impingement of the dorsal spinous processes, is a condition that has grown in relevance and impact throughout the last two decades with improved diagnostics and education. In this horse health feature from Platinum Performance, read about Kissing Spines and what a diagnosis can mean for you and your horse. Read it here.
19. Breed of the Month – Arabian Gallery Part 1
In July, Arabians were featured as the YourDressage Breed of the Month. One of the oldest horse breeds on earth, and the influence for many other breeds, these elegant horses are easily recognizable with their delicate faces and high tail carriage. They excel in many sports, particularly endurance riding. Enjoy the full gallery of photos shared by our social media followers here.
18. VIDEO: Equine Sleep with Dr. Sandy Venneman, PhD
You spend a third of your life doing it, so it must be important. Sleep is vital to athletes and their performance. Learn why sleep is important, how much you need, and how much your horse needs in this featured video. Dr. Venneman will cover the importance of “sleep hygiene” and how to be better prepared for success in your dressage test. This excerpt is from Dr. Venneman’s Sleep for Success Featured Education Presentation at the 2020 Adequan®/USDF Virtual Convention.
17. Breed of the Month – Quarter Horse Gallery Part 1
Continuing with our spotlight on breeds, Quarter Horses took center stage as the Breed of the Month for April. This breed originated in America, and is known for its athleticism and its ability to excel in everything from horse racing, to western sports, to ranch work, and even in the dressage arena. See the full gallery of photos shared by our social media followers of this breed.
16. Celebrating Draft Horses
The mighty Draft! In August, YourDressage celebrated Draft Horses and Draft Crosses of all kinds. Dressage riders who choose Drafts as their mounts are eligible for many Adequan®/USDF All-Breeds Awards as there are several Draft organizations on our Participating Organization list. See the full gallery of photos, shared by our social media followers, here.
15. Breed of the Month – Hanoverian Gallery Part 1
March was the launch of our Breed of the Month Series on YourDressage, and it started with a bang when we asked Hanoverian enthusiasts to share photos of their horses and let us know what makes them special. This breed originated in Germany, and is one of the oldest and most numerous of the Warmblood breeds. Hanoverians are known for their good temperament, athleticism, beauty, and grace. Check out the full gallery of photos, shared by our social media followers, here.
14. 2021 Great American/USDF Regional Dressage Championships Updates and Reminders
Many riders make the Great American Insurance Group/USDF Regional Dressage Championships a goal each fall. This article, published right before riders from all nine regions headed down centerline, featured important updates and reminders as we headed into the 2021 championship season. Check it out here.
13. Pony Power Part 2
May was #PonyPower month on YourDressage, where we shared photo galleries and exclusive stories from pony enthusiasts across the country. Adorable, feisty, and lovable, check out a full gallery of dressage pony photos here!
12. Pony Power Part 1
Coming in just on the wire ahead of the Pony Power Part 2 gallery, was the first gallery we shared featuring our smaller equine partners. See the full gallery here.
11. Sights from the Championships – Regions 1, 2, 3, and 9
Fall means Regional Championship time! Once the 2021 Great American Insurance Group/USDF Regional Dressage Championships started, we asked competitors, trainers, and spectators to share sights from the shows. This gallery gives you a taste of what the 2021 Regionals were like in Regions 1, 2, 3, and 9, which kicked off the championship season last year.
10. The Fairy-Tale Horse
The chances of an unknown and relatively green rider making it to the world stage aboard a famously difficult horse that her mother purchased as a foal are practically nil. But that’s exactly what Laura Graves accomplished with Verdades, and that’s why the pair’s story captivated the dressage world from the time of their out-of-nowhere international debut in 2014. Read their inspiring story.
9. Consider a Thoroughbred as Your Next Dressage Horse
What breed of horse is right for you? Adult amateur Sally O’Dwyer shares about the chestnut ex-racehorse George, and a few of the reasons why an off-track Thoroughbred could be the perfect dressage partner for you! Read it here.
8. 2021 US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®: Recap and Results
The official recap of the 2021 US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan® is a must-read! Find out who was awarded the perpetual trophies, the results from the Regions Cup, see photo galleries from the competition, and check out our full coverage from the event, all in one place! Relive all the unforgettable and inspiring moments here.
7. The Stock Horse at X: The American Quarter Horse in Dressage
Quarter Horses proved popular with our readers, with stories about this breed reaching #7 and #6 on the trending list. From a young age, Region 9 rider Charlie S. found herself drawn to Quarter Horses. Her AQHA mare Rosie taught her that dressage isn’t just for “big fancy warmbloods.” Read her story.
6. A Lesson in Courage
As part of our Breed of the Month celebration of Quarter Horses in April, we shared the story of Katherine Abrams and her horse Blue. You won’t wait to miss this story about a Region 1 rider and her feisty and fiery Quarter Horse, who went from a ranch horse reject to a dressage champion. Read it here.
5. A Way to Ride the Shoulder-In
The shoulder-in. It may look simple, but it can be one of the most difficult movements to teach to students of dressage. The movement may be clear in your mind when you read about it, and it looks so easy when someone performs it correctly, but when you try to ride it yourself, you may run into multiple problems. In this YourDressage exclusive, multiple time Adequan®/USDF Breeder award recipient Maurine “Mo” Swanson shares the secrets of this movement, complete with helpful diagrams. Read it here.
4. Five Ways to Impress a Judge
Everyone knows that the best way to get a very good score on a movement is to perform that movement very well. But, as we all well know, and have experienced, sometimes that doesn’t work out. Maybe our horse was feeling a bit ‘off’, or there were external distractions, or it was our error in not preparing for the movement – mistakes happen. There are, however, some simple things you can do to impress the judges that will help you earn that extra half point, even on a movement that isn’t quite right. Read on here.
3. Bronze Medal in Action
Did you know, each week on YourDressage, we publish a Photo of the Week? You can submit your own photo to firstname.lastname@example.org for your chance to be featured. The most popular Photo of the Week in 2021, coming in at #3 on our trending list, is “Bronze Medal in Action”. The photo was taken by Yvette Karriker and features 12-year-old rider Taylor Karriker, earning her USDF Bronze Medal.
2. Fun Facts About Suppenkasper, the “Rave Horse” Who Went Viral at the Olympics
Much to the delight of everyone in the dressage world, an unexpected star from the Tokyo Olympics was our sport’s very own Suppenkasper (aka Mopsie), the reigning Adequan®/USDF Grand Prix Horse of the Year. Suppenkasper went viral online for his unique freestyle with Steffen Peters, complete with electronic dance music. Dubbed “The Rave Horse” online, clips of his freestyle took the world by storm, gaining millions of views on social media. Read some fun facts about “The Rave Horse” in this YourDressage exclusive.
1. Get to Know the 2021 US Olympic Dressage Team
Drumroll please! The most popular article on YourDressage in 2021 was…our feature on the Tokyo Olympic team! Get to know the equestrians and horses who represented Team USA at the Olympics, bringing home a team silver medal for the first time since 1948! The article introduces Adrienne Lyle and Salvino, Steffen Peters and Suppenkasper, Sabine Schut-Kery and Sanceo, and alternate pair Nick Wagman and Don John, as well as the shortlisted horses Harmony’s Duval and Ferano. Read it here.
What was your favorite YourDressage story, gallery, or video of the year? Let us know in the comments below.