All for the Horse The inaugural Festival for the Horse combined education, horsemanship and fun for an equestrian experience of a lifetime.
By Jessica Hein
Education, horsemanship and fun took center stage to create a memorable equine experience at the inaugural Festival for the Horse, a special event taking place August 9–13 in Mora, Missouri, hosted by North American Western Dressage and Friends of Sound Horses.
The festival featured hands-on learning sessions and demonstrations by well-respected clinicians at Van Holten Ranch, a 300-acre equestrian paradise in the “Gateway to the Ozarks.” Newly honed skills were put to the test in competitive in-hand and riding events; social events, including trail riding, campfires and parties filled free time, too.
Renowned horseman Dan James of Double Dan Horsemanship headlined the Festival for the Horse; he taught attendees about canter with confidence, bareback/bridleless riding and lead changes. Other clinicians included Michaela and Amanda Lane of Double Lane Horsemanship, Alece Ellis, Julie Slater and Brandy Van Holten.
“The Festival For the Horse was a fantastic demonstration of people coming together to bring good horsemanship principles to all,” NAWD President Jen Johnson said. “It was great to see the mutual respect and camaraderie shown between clinicians who demonstrated different aspects of horsemanship but worked together to make sure that the learning experience was good for everyone.”
Participants spanned the gamut of age and experience, hailing from Canada, Texas, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri. The Festival was truly a worthwhile experience for everyone in attendance.
“We were honored by the presence of five lovely young students of Double Lane Horsemanship. In addition to putting in some very nice rides, they were wonderful to have around—always ready to lend a helping hand with whatever needed to be done calling tests, cleaning up the arena or serving as the gate crew,” Jen said.
NAWD has long promoted horsemanship and personal growth—while keeping the horse’s welfare foremost—as part of its pioneering virtual shows. The Festival for the Horse brought learning out of the computer and into the real world, while helping friendships forged over social media blossom into even deeper relationships.
“Many of the people at the festival were individuals that I have worked with utilizing the power of online technology but have never met in person. It was great to have this opportunity to meet and work with these people face to face,” Jen said. “For me, the most rewarding moment of the Festival was watching Julia Druga-Lamberton bring the most beautiful freestyle performance I have ever seen to the arena with her Paso Fino, Seabreeze Savaje Vaquero, using a garrocha pole.
“Julia and ‘Cowboy’ have been avid participants in our virtual shows, so I am very familiar with this pair and have watched them struggle with relaxation in the show atmosphere—yes, even the camera incites show nerves! It was a joy to see how the music helped Julia and Cowboy relax and enjoy working together. Alece Ellis, our gaited specialist from Friends of Sound Horses, rewarded Julie with an incredible 79 percent score, which helped Julia win versatility buckles for both the Gaited and Open divisions.”
Special thanks to everyone who helped make the Festival for the Horse a success in its very first year: Gold Sponsors—Dream Big Hidez (buyhidez.com), MYLER/TOKLAT (toklat.com) and White Horse Trading Post (whitehorsetradingpost.weebly.com); Silver Sponsors—Nicole Smith, authorized HAY CHIX dealer (email@example.com), MFA Equine (mfa-inc.com) and Ay Chiwawa Mexican Café (myaychiwawa.com); and Bronze Sponsor—MaryAnn Ensz Bell, MAE BE Quarter Horses (maeberanch.com).
Learn more about NAWD at nawdhorse.org or by searching Western Dressage NAWD on Facebook.
About North American Western Dressage
North American Western Dressage (NAWD) is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating horse enthusiasts about the universal benefits of Western dressage and providing fun, affordable ways to participate in this popular new sport. NAWD offers a variety of programs, as well as virtual coaching and showing opportunities, achievement awards and more. Learn more about NAWD at nawdhorse.org and at facebook.com/WesternDressageNAWD.
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A compilation of articles about events, horse shows, and equine activities around the Northeast.