How Dry We Are: Dressage Riders Warned Not to Bathe Horses at Australian Show

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Dressage riders can be an intimidating lot, especially en masse. I just read a footnote to the competitors advice for the big CDI-W dressage competition in Australia, held in the musical-sounding town of Toowoomba in the state of Queensland, which is the northeastern corner of the country.

(Note: CDI-W stands for Concours de Dressage International. The ?W' indicates that the event is a World Cup Qualifier that is recognised by the FEI.)

Australia is a huge country and I am sure that for a competition of this level, competitors hauled their horses from all corners. Nothing is close to anything in Australia, so competitors spend a lot of time on the road. And those roads are pretty dusty, given the drought conditions in Oz at present.

In the USA, dressage riders have a reputation for being, shall we say, opinionated and forthright. Imagine the scene at Gladstone if exhibitors hauling from Colorado were told that they couldn't bathe their horses before the competition. And that you should bring your own water.

That's exactly what happened last week at Toowoomba, which is on Level 5 water restrictions.

A message was sent to competitors: "As the weather will be cool to cold for the event, horses should not need much washing. We do request that you wash your horses prior to leaving home, and try to arrive at the event with full water tanks."

Hooray for artificial footing. The memo added, "The lack of water will not affect the quality of the riding surface in any of the arenas, and should not affect anyone's enjoyment of the event."

And it didn't. The grand prix, by the way, was won by international eventing star Heath Ryan on Regardez Moi (French for "look at me"). I guess the days of white-knuckle dressage for the Aussie eventers are over!

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