Thanks to its remarkable versatility and steady temperament, the Dales Pony has found success in a wide variety of competitions both in England and in North America. While the Dales Pony is most often used as a riding or driving pony, it has been seen in competitions such as dressage, jumping, and even eventing. In this article, we'll take a look at a few of the competitions that the Dales Pony participates in, as well as highlighting the characteristics of the pony which help it succeed in these competitions.
Thanks to their impressive stamina and willingness to please, Dales Ponies are naturals when it comes to riding, making them excellent candidates not only for cross-country or endurance riding, but their willingness to jump has also helped them to become successful in performance classes and dressage competitions. We'll take a look at these events first.
Dressage is among the oldest of horse competitions still being performed today. Sometimes called the "horse ballet," dressage has its roots in the Renaissance and tests natural athletic ability and willingness to perform. Dressage is found at all levels of competitions, from amateur to the Olympics. In competition, the horse must work through a series of different gaits and is graded according to how well it executes each gait with the least amount of perceived effort as possible.
Cross-country is a competition which combines endurance, strength and trust between the horse and the rider. Horses compete on an outdoor circuit with a series of fences and obstacles that would occur naturally in the country side, such as ponds, ditches, and streams. The horse and rider race against the clock and must reach the finish line within a predetermined time frame, called the optimum time. Horses are penalized for being late and, in some cases, for being too early.
When many people think of horse competitions, they immediately picture a horse and rider working their way through a jumping course. This competition is called show jumping. There can be anywhere from twelve to twenty jumping obstacles in the ring, and unlike cross-country, elements of these obstacles can be knocked off, making the goal of the competition not only to complete the course but to do so by performing each jump cleanly.
Finally, there is one event that combines these three competitions called eventing. This competition can either be held on one day, over two days in which dressage and show jumping happen on the first day and cross-country on the second, or over a period of three days.
Driving is another area where the Dales Pony excels. Thanks to its calm temperament and impressive endurance, these ponies are naturals at driving. Many report that they do not panic and are very sure footed. There are a variety of driving competitions available, including a "dressage" class that emphasizes control and precision, "marathon" cross-country, which tests endurance and fitness, and an obstacle course which is often called either "stadium" or "cones" competition.
The diversity of the Dales Pony makes it a favorite of many enthusiasts. When it comes to competition, this breed excels.