March 2018 - CDS Meeting & Symposium Report
Written by Anne Hempy
Tuesday, 27 February 2018 21:54
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Championship show change proposals & young horses in the spotlight in Sacramento.

by Anne Hempy • photos: Tamara with the Camera

The California Dressage Society Annual Meeting was held on Jan. 19-21 in Sacramento. The meeting began on Friday at the Embassy Suites Sacramento Riverfront with a meeting of the board members, and opened up to a larger audience on Saturday morning with representatives and members from all chapters in attendance.

Crowded house for Young Horse Symposium at Starr Vaughn Equestrian

David Wightman, left, and DG Bar’s Willy Arts.

CDS president Kevin Reinig opened the meeting on Saturday and presented a review of the activities from 2017, which was the 50th anniversary year for CDS. Kevin spoke about the successful CDS activities from last year which included the Adult Amateur Clinics (North, Central, and South), The Regional Adult Amateur Competitions (RAAC), and the CDS Championship show in Rancho Murieta. The RAAC is growing and thriving, and the Championship show has become so large that some changes have been made to accommodate the growth.

Following Kevin, each of the board members provided a report on their specific focused area including the Junior Program, the RAAC, Scholarships, Travel Grants, Adult Amateur Clinic Series, Educational Committee, and a USDF national report delivered by Carol Tice.

Each of the regions, North, Central, and South, then broke out into round table discussions. The board asked the chapter representatives to consider two questions to guide their dialogue for the round table discussions:

What role does your chapter bring to the local equestrian community?

What support do you need from CDS to fulfill that role?

Following the regional break-outs, the whole group had a discussion about the common challenges within each chapter and also shared ideas about what is working well. A challenge shared by all chapters is how to better communicate with their members, particularly the Juniors/Young Riders. Several chapters have activities that work very well including awards banquets, circuit shows, and group activities focused on education for riders. The group discussion was a valuable way for chapter representatives to get ideas on how to improve things in their own chapter.

Volunteerism was recognized and appreciated by the board as medals were awarded to the top 10 nominated scribes. Paula Langan received special recognition for celebrating her 30th year as CDS secretary. The announcement of Paula’s anniversary was recognized by all in attendance with a standing ovation for her.

Paula Langan & Kevin Reinig

photo: Anne Hempy

Many CDS members arrived later in the afternoon on Saturday to ask questions and provide their feedback regarding the recent CDS rule changes for 2018. The board explained that the changes made were necessary to accommodate the growth of the Championship show and the limited space and number of venues which can host the show, as well as budgetary constraints. A comprehensive list of changes can be found here: The board encouraged all members to send their comments and feedback to: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Board member Tracy Underwood announced that she has made a motion to amend the rule changes made by the board. The board cannot rescind a change and any new rules cannot be implemented until 2019. However, amendments may be possible.

During the first week of February the board was set to have a conference call meeting to discuss the possibility of   amendment of changes, and any amendments must be made prior to the championship show prize list deadline.

Young Horses Symposium

Saturday’s meeting concluded with a presentation by Willy Arts and David Wightman who spoke about the program and schedule for Sunday’s Young Horse Symposium at Starr Vaughn Equestrian facility in Elk Grove. David and Willy also opened the session up for any questions regarding the selection and training of young horses. The evening closed with an elegant banquet where friends and family celebrated along with the CDS 2017 award winners.

On Sunday morning the Young Horse Symposium began. Titled, “So I Have this Young Horse, Now What do I do With Them?” was very well attended. The day began with Willy evaluating conformation, followed by the logical progression of a lunging demonstration and how to start a young horse under saddle, including how to get your young horse familiar with the tack, and how to mount for the first time.

After Willy built this foundation of starting the horse, the format of the Symposium switched to focus on demonstrations of groups of riders on young horses in various levels of training. Willy worked with 4- year-olds under saddle with Jericho DG ridden by Ashlyn Dodge, Johnstone ridden by Rachel Wade, and Belialuna RTH ridden by Ericka Reinig.

David then continued with a 4-year-old group and focused on test riding with Figaro ridden by Alyssa Doverspike, Navarro ridden by Anna Wood, and Fleur Noir ridden by Sandy Savage. Willy then had the 5-year-old group presented in hand so that the audience could make notes and compare conformation. He asked everyone to try to predict how the horses would perform under saddle based on the traits observed in their conformation.

Next, the 5-year-olds were presented under saddle with Impression DG ridden by Ashlyn Dodge, Ion SWF ridden by Caitlin Hamar, and Ignite DG ridden by Stephanie Schauer. David worked with the 5-year-olds on how to ride a test with Romulus ridden by Anna Wood and Llairo ridden by Sandy Savage.

David also presented a session on how to ride a test with the 6-year-old group with Hotshot AF ridden by Alyssa Doverspike and Habanero ridden by Craig Stanley. Willy continued his training under saddle with his 6-year-old Hollywood ridden by Lauren McKeand, Secreteria LA ridden by Ericka Reinig, and Kristina ridden by Beth Spuhler.

The culmination of the symposium was David riding Silberfeil after a demonstration ride with Dalina ridden by Ashlyn Dodge and Caliente ridden by Craig Stanley.

Thank you to the California Dressage Society for hosting this great event. As a first time attendee, it was very enlightening for me as a competitor to learn about all the hard work that goes into planning and hosting the RAAC and CDS Championship shows. I would encourage all CDS members to educate themselves about the history of CDS and the evolution of the Championship show in order to better understand the intent behind the 2018 rule changes and to provide their feedback to the board.

For more information on the California Dressage Society, visit