July 2016 - Show Report: Paso Robles Dressage Summer Classic
Written by Anna Buffini
Friday, 01 July 2016 02:50
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Wow!” Superlative is best way to describe new dressage show.

by Anna Buffini

My first impression just arriving at the First Annual Paso Robles Dressage Summer Classic, at the Paso Robles Horse Park, was “Wow.” It’s beautiful, quiet, the footing in every single arena is GGT-Footing top quality: well groomed and they managed it wonderfully throughout the day.

The Masterminds: Barbara Biernat, Lisa Blaufuss and Thomas Walker and Ryan Torkkeli of Torkkeli and Walker Dressage, with Michele Banidu and Sarah Boothe of Custom Saddlery.

Plentiful prizes

Presented by Templeton Farms, June 10-12, this new competition was staged under the direction of Lisa Blaufuss of Crackerjack Productions; Barbara Biernat of Horse and Rider Boutique; and Ryan Torkkeli and Thomas Walker of Torkkeli and Walker Dressage.

The venue is wide open and peaceful. All the vendors, arenas and stabling are in close proximity to each other, making it very competitor friendly. The big airy 12’ x 12’ stalls are insulated so that the horses are perfectly comfortable regardless of any weather conditions that may arise.

Tom Meyers, who does night watch, says that he has never been to a show where the horses have been so quiet and peaceful, laying down at night with no anxiety and no pawing.

Competitors said the drive truly isn’t that bad. Even with traffic, it’s about six hours on average from San Diego. All I can say is that the drive is completely worth it to make it to this show.

It’s fun, rewarding, new, brings in top judges and again, the footing in all five show and warm-up arenas is perfect! I can’t say enough about it, footing is always the #1 concern for our horses, while competing and for it to be Olympic-standard in every single arena is absolutely wonderful.

Volunteers at the ready!

Willy Arts, Nacho Moran and Lisa Vidov

There are also lots of fun places to stay in the area, including great hotels and also very cute bed & breakfasts that make it an even more enjoyable experience. Also, outside of the show, downtown San Luis Obispo is adorable and has something for everyone: wine tasting, great food and fun shops all in a relaxing atmosphere.

This show also has a lot of activities that are new and exciting. The competitor party Friday night was fun, the sales horse presentation Friday and Saturday was excellent. The relay race and the educational talks taking place inside the tent were well organized. For the husbands who love the seven minutes of showing, but aren’t quite as crazy about the rest of grooming, mucking and cleaning all day long, there’s a “man cave” for them to have some guy time.

On Saturday evening, an honor round was held for the top finishers of each division and prize gift bags were presented to each winner, Sabine Schut-Kery presented a wonderful educational session about riding transitions and there was an exciting relay race won by Sarah Lockman Dressage.

After all of that, the day was still not over! There was a delicious catered dinner during the sales presentation, filled with well-presented horses who strutted their stuff around the show arena as Nicho Meredith announced information about each horse.

Relay Race zaniness

Afterwards Custom Saddlery presented their Most Valuable Rider awards, won by the deserving Nacho & Jo Moran. A very special moment of the evening was when the amateur MVR award went to Michele Bandinu, an incredible Para-Dressage rider, who received a long-standing ovation.

I scribed his test and he was so incredible that I was completely shocked when the judge told me half way through the test that he was a para rider. It was absolutely incredible and only makes me love this sport that much more.

I honestly cannot say one bad thing about this show. The vendors, management and riders are all buzzing from this experience. We are so thankful for all of the shows in California that have made it possible for us to stay in our home state while competing internationally. These organizers include California Dreaming Productions, which has given Southern California’s CDIs a breath of new life; Cornerstone Dressage; Crackerjack Productions; California Dressage Society and Equestrian Concepts; who have also been consistent and extremely hard working to keep dressage thriving in California.

Paso Robles is a fun-filled, action-packed, well-managed, perfectly-footed, new and exciting show that I know will expand greatly in the years to come!

Widespread Enthusiasm

As I mentioned, the enthusiasm for the inaugural Paso Robles Dressage Summer Classic was widespread. Heres what others had to say:

Sarah Lockman leads her team to victory in the relay race.

Sabine Schut-Kery gives an educational clinic.

“I am very excited to be here to help create a show for the community where both North and South can meet! Looking forward to developing the show and offering more and meeting the needs of the dressage community.” - Lisa Blaufuss

“We are so excited this is happening, people have responded so well it’s been amazing. It’s new, it’s fresh and I am very excited about the future and what’s to come! Looking forward to keeping the management excellent and serving the community the best we can.” - Thomas Walker

“I thought it was very Important that the show was born out of the community for community. We really wanted everyone to feel welcome.”  - Barbara Biernat

“It’s awesome stabling, super footing, great hospitality.” - Leslie Webb

“I haven’t been to a show with less pawing and anxiety, so many horses were relaxed & laying down at night.” - Tom Meyers

“I haven’t been to a show this fun in a long time! - Sabine Schut Kery

“Awesome facility, perfect footing, lovely and well run.” - Laurie Falvo

“I think the venue is wonderful! Great footing and stalls! So much room to grow. I see this as the beginning of many wonderful shows. We are lucky to have this venue and the management was so accommodating to the riders’ needs!” - Kathleen Raine


Author Anna Buffini is one of our region’s top up-and-coming dressage riders, but she took a break from competing this weekend to volunteer as a scribe for this new event.