• Fran Cleland

From little things big dressage stars grow


ABOVE: Indented Head tiny tot Evangeline Carty on Jellybaby with mum Megan. Picture: JANICE GORICK

A GROUP of pony-loving people had a discussion 21 years ago about pony dressage in Europe and the lack of it in Australia.


They made a decision and started a competition that is still going strong and paved the way for the sport in Australia.


The brainchild of Chris and her late husband Gary Hartigan was to give pony enthusiasts to show that Australia could do the same as those in Europe and their APOB – Australian Pony Owners and Breeders – event is one of the most looked forward to of the year.


“We are very proud that we were part of the initial charge, but even in early days we were of the firm belief that to ‘tip your toe in the water and have a go’ should not be costly and that we also needed to encourage young people,” Chris Hartigan said.


“We also understood that not all ponies are registered and that could be a hurdle to competing, and so our second most important rule – no registration required.


Ava Wilson riding Mithril Hilldene

“So our rules/requirements are very simple. Your pony must be 14.2 or under and we do not require membership of any organisation nor registration of the pony.”

The group has been pushed to go “official” but that will never happen. They run EA Preliminary thru to EA Advanced tests and use EA qualified judges.


“Essentially, it is a full-on competition and many senior riders have used our day to introduce a young pony to the dressage arena and we have noted many over the years that have gone on into the “open” ranks and compete very successfully,” Chris said.


The spectators’ favourite group is Tiny Tots who ride in a smaller ring and use the less complicated tests of the lower grades of PCAV. Tiny Tots are split between led and solo. Many of the TT riders have gone on to become very successful EA Dressage riders both on ponies and the bigger equines.


At the start, there was fairly vague discussion with EA about letting ponies into the dressage arenas across the land. To their credit EA has most certainly embraced the concept and Pony Dressage here in Australia is now on most schedules of competition, Ponies have their own section at Dressage With The Stars.

Tracey Gorick riding Callanish Emrys

At this month’s competition The Tiny Tots champion was Lucinda Cooper on Elargee Triple Elegance and the Junior Preliminary Champion 16 years and under was Camille Mason riding Rahane Chloe.


The Preliminary champion Division two was Kerrianne Bilson riding Dulcinea and the Preliminary champion Division three was Alexandra Hay with Ferden Park Bonnie.


The Novice champion was Shayleigh Joblin with Maxwell Matador Royale, the Elementary champion, Lisa Swan riding Butterfly Farm Elle, Medium champion, Georgia Frank and Baxters Grand Image and the Advanced champion, Clair Arnold’s Fawks Crocodile Rock.


The winner of the Jaime Stroud Memorial Sash for best score 16 years and under was Taylor Shute riding Brookman Park Jimmy Choo scoring 71.071%


Click here for full results.