• Fran Cleland

Development squad delivers some top dressage performances

THE Victorian Young Rider and Development Squad in dressage is one of the success stories in equestrian sport.

ABOVE: Charlie Welsh and Horizonte de Jeu.

Catering for dressage riders of all levels and from ages eight (on ponies) to 25 years, the program incorporates the official Victorian Youth A Squad, together with the B and C Squads and the very popular Development Program.


The aim is to provide riders with high-quality coaching both on and off their horses together with the chance to have a lot of fun and form friendships for life.

It has succeeded on both fronts, and after being hobbled by Covid like so many sports, the group was back in action at Werribee Park with what was officially titled the “Official Winter Competition”, but happily referred to as the “pop-up” event because it was organised at reasonably short notice specifically to assist the youngsters to qualify for the upcoming Brisbane CDI championships in September.


The group organiser, Jan Smith, is extraordinarily good at her job and combines it with good humour and genuine affection for the young riders.


“We were blessed with the weather and it was exciting to see Jessica Dertell competing on the stallion,” she said. “The EA (Equestrian Australia) rule states that a rider may not compete on a stallion until they are 18 and as it was Jessica’s birthday it was her first official ride on him.

ABOVE: Beth Rowley and Remi First Class.

“Cennin (the stallion) is interesting, an older horse (15) but with a very solid record at the highest level. This was his first official GP in Australia.”


He was the only starter in the grand prix, but under the capable judging of Moya Jess and Lee Howells, the score of 69.294 per cent was excellent.


The three placegetters in the Inter II test are all dedicated youngsters. Charlie Welsh and Horizonte De Jeu, Kelsey Josephs and IRock and Jackson Stern with Templeton Fursteniro all show good basics. In the Inter I class, Kristy Sparkes’ grey pony, Mithril Velocity showed the bigger horses how it’s done, winning from Rhiannon Denham on AEA Lorenzo and Melissa Taafe (AOR) riding Revelwood Martini.


The children and junior concept is judged on the technical aspect as well as the quality of the work, with the individual winner in the children’s team section being Shayleigh Joblin riding Greenwood Romeo. The children’s B section won by Jessica Sharp and Kingsfield Arlington.

For those who want to understand the judging, click here to view one of the test sheets.

Click here for full results.


ABOVE: (clockwise from top left) Nicole Donald and Mithral Samwise with their support team; stewards Teresa Matthews and Deb MacNicol; Kelsey Josephs and Irock Inter; and happy 18th birthday to Jessica Dertell, pictured with her mum Kate.