Decades of Dressage

Decades of Dressage 2021 - LVDA Youth Show Manager Katie Staib, Show Secretary Ryleigh Koch, Volunteers, and Judge Cheryl Ash L . Photo by Alyssa Murphree Media

By Katie Staib

As a Lehigh Valley Dressage Association (LVDA) youth competitor and board member, I would like to tell the story of the birth and success of LVDA’s very own “Decades of Dressage” Show.

Ever since I entered the dressage world, I have always been interested in the “behind the scenes” of running a show, and what it meant to be a show manager or show secretary. In the beginning of 2021, I approached our president, Jennifer Koch, with the idea of having a youth run show, to celebrate the LVDA adults and all that they do to volunteer and support our association. I expressed my interest in learning the roles of a show manager/secretary position, and was beyond excited by all her support. As a youth, I can say how grateful we are to all the adults’ time, hard work, and support that they put into not only the organization, but to the Youth Program. It was about time that us youth did something to say “thank you”! After discussing themes, prizes, and what was going to make this show special, Jen, her daughter Ryleigh, and I decided to make the show for the adult amateurs of the organization! As we were thinking of themes for the show, Jen thought of the idea of having a show to recognize each decade of riders from the organization. It was through this idea that the show name, “Decades of Dressage”, was born.

 While there have been many adult amateur-focused shows in the past, we were the first ones in our GMO to host an adult amateur show completely organized and run by youth. The very first “Decades of Dressage” Show took place on July 14th, 2021 at Thunderhead Farm. While there was much preparation and learning behind the scenes of show management, we had an impressive 15 youth volunteers for the day. Since the purpose of the show was to be completely run by youth, I decided to pair one older youth and one younger youth together for each volunteer position.  This allowed the younger youth to learn from the older youth what volunteering, and specifically each position, was all about! We have followed this same format both years, and have had two beautifully run shows.

It was important to me that we incorporated some fun, special additions to this show to make it, well, more of a party! Our registration and test pick-up tables featured music from the decades all day long, as well as some baked goods from the nearby Thunderhead Lodge. Riders were even able to purchase professional photos from photographer Alyssa Murphree, who we had on site all day. We had many donations from very successful trainers, photographers, and equine professionals in our area to help make the silent auctions and raffle baskets a huge success! Both years, champion and reserve champion riders with the highest test percentage born in each decade received some pretty awesome prizes. The first year, I decided on human neck sashes, as well as assorted candy boxes from each decade. Riders loved looking back on some of their favorite childhood candies! Last year, riders were excited to dress their horses in beautiful neck sashes, as well as a new Decades Of Dressage saddle pad. What rider doesn’t love a gorgeous neck sash and saddle pad to add to their collection?

On behalf of LVDA, I can say how proud we are of the great success that our “Decades of Dressage” Show proved to be in 2021 and 2022. We had a great turnout of riders each year, and were able to raise a significant amount of money for the LVDA Youth Program. We are extremely grateful to have earned the 2021 USDF Creative GMO-Sponsored Program Award, and to have been able to display one of our show recap videos at the 2022 Adequan®/USDF Annual Convention.

I hope that the story and continued success of LVDA’s “Decades of Dressage” Show will inspire others to run similar events and share the importance of youth involvement in show management around the nation.

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