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Changes Afoot as Dressage at Saratoga Transitions to ENYDCTA Dressage Days at Stockade by Nikki Alvin-Smith

Changes Afoot as Dressage at Saratoga Transitions to ENDYCTA Dressage Days at Stockade. by Nikki Alvin-Smith.

For over twenty years the Dressage at Saratoga show has been an institution. Held every Memorial Day weekend the event was packed full of vendors, exhibitions of all styles of riding and of course, the all important dressage event.

Who could not love the atmosphere of riding dressage in front of the Grandstand on Saratoga racetrack. The event drew between one hundred and a hundred and fifty riders arriving from all over the North East and also Canada. This events’ presence on the dressage circuit was once a CDI with over eight rings running.

However as much as competitors loved the atmosphere and the spectators the best seats in the house,the racetrack footing was always an issue. Through the years the show migrated to the backstretch and then across the road, still on NYRA property to the Yaddo grounds. It is now set to move again. This time to Stockade Polo grounds in Glenville, New York.

We sat down with Regina Cristo, chairwoman of the show since 2010 to find out why the show has moved and what competitors can expect from the new venue.

CH:
The show migrated from Grandstand to backstretch to Yaddo Gardens. Can you give us a history/reasoning for the moves?

Regina:
The show was so grand when it was in its heyday, but there was always issues with the footing being on the track. Less and less international competitors attended the CDI, the footing being the main reason. As the show evolved into a National level show, it was smaller and the move to the backstretch, the huge trade fair that was in part brought by the Saratoga ARC ended after ARC decided it could no longer be part of the event. After several years on the backstretch, which was really nice as well, the footing problems never really improved, and less riders were willing to ride in the typical deeper footing of a racetrack. We were always guests of NYRA, and they did what they could do to help us maintain the footing for us, it just wasn’t what we needed to keep competitors happy. The move to the beautiful Yaddo Gardens show grounds across the street was an option we decided to try. The footing was much improved, but space limited. We were happy to be there for a few years, and decided it just wasn’t what we needed due to many reasons, including logistics to the barns, fiscal concerns with security and lack of ring space.

CH:
What has been the biggest hurdle you had to overcome when organizing the event?

Regina:
As in any large show event, there are always challenges,. The biggest in Saratoga has to be the having a working budget that allows for the best experience for competitors. Putting on shows with quality footing, officials and a host of other important issues is expensive. Losing money was not an option, and you can only charge so much for entries before competitors start migrating to the many, many other shows around our region. The quality of our show was always a top priority, and that was difficult to maintain with so many challenges.

CH:
What was the biggest success? What are you most proud of?

Regina:
I always considered a successful show each year where competitors and horses are happy and safe. Much of the struggles of the shows are behind the scenes, and being able to juggle making folks happy, and dealing with issues as they come up, (and they always do) can sometimes makes for some stressful moments. A great team that runs the show every year are dedicated and make the show run very smoothly, always with a smile! I am most proud of how the team works together no matter what is going on! I am very grateful for the efforts put on by so many wonderful volunteers!

CH:
Why has the show been moved?

Regina:
The biggest factor is financial concerns. It is expensive to have a successful show, and being in Saratoga is no exception. There are very high security costs being on NYRA property, which is something most shows do not have. Trying to balance the budget, even with the help of so many wonderful sponsors just is not working for the show anymore. The ENYDCTA board has spent many hours discussing the fiscal struggles of the show, and we felt it was time to find a new venue or to not have the show. We are thrilled to be able to move to Stockade Polo Show grounds, which has an excellent reputation for their venue.

CH:
What is the benefit of the move?

Regina:
Many of the competitors that showed at DAS, also attend the National shows held at Stockade Polo grounds. It is a beautiful venue, with sand footing that is maintained wonderfully. There are 3 full sized rings, which we need for our show. The owners are easy to work with and have offered us a really workable contract to be able to continue hosting our show. We are looking forward to this new chapter of ENYDCTA hosting a Dressage Show for our Region 8 competitors. We have received a huge amount of positive feedback about the move, and we appreciate that!

CH:
Will there still be vendors/full event style? Food?

Regina:
Yes, we still plan on having our vendors there, and to have the same wonderful caterer that many have come to enjoy. We will still have our greatly appreciated by competitors awards, which is unique to our show. Many sponsors donate product and cash for us to give away, and we are always happy to see the riders so happy with their winnings. It really is a show perk not seen anywhere else in Region 8. We love doing it, and so appreciate all our sponsors who make it happen.

CH:
Everyone loved the Saratoga location/hotel availability etc. Are there options for same at Glenville in proximity to the showgrounds?

Regina:
Saratoga is great place, and is hard to replace. Glenville is only a few miles from Schenectady, NY, where there are large hotels, boutique hotels and bed and breakfasts. There are many fine restaurants there as well. Saratoga is about a half hour away if anyone would still like to stay there!

CH:
The stalls at Yaddo were big and comfy and permanent. Stalls at Stockade are temporary. What size are they at Stockade? Is there plenty of availability and provision/room for stallions? ie. a separate barn, aisle?

Regina:
The stalls at NYRA were classic, in a beautiful historic setting, but not without some issues. We will be forever grateful to have been able to be there and have that experience. New for 2016 shows at Stockade, all the stabling will brand new, although temporary. They will be set up for the entire show season, with our show being the first in. We will have plenty of stalls, with room for all horse situations and tack stalls. Stockade also offers separate wash area, and huge amounts of room in the polo fields for riding or schooling. There also is a designated lunge area. It is a very spacious venue that is very beautiful and easy to get to.

CH:
Will you still be involved in running the event at Stockade?

Regina:
Yes, I will still be the organizer and look forward to working with our wonderful committee and volunteers. Being at Stockade will be much easier for all of us, as it is basically a turnkey venue. There will be much less preparation with set up and take down as in the past which was time consuming and a lot of hands on deck needed. Not having to move all our equipment in and out in a weeks time will be much less taxing on our already hardworking volunteers. Stockade Polo will be doing all our grounds work as well which is huge. We are looking forward to working with their crew in a joint effort for the success of the show.

CH:
Will your wonderful troupe of family members be there anymore helping out?

Regina:
I have been so lucky through the years to be able to have my family to help us with the show. There were so many behind the scenes things they did to help us. It was great to have them with me especially during “problem” moments, they always helped in any way! They still do not understand dressage, but that’s okay! My husband Tom has also been a huge supporter of the show as a sponsor and chief manure remover after the show. We will now have our actual Memorial Day free instead of removing and trucking manure all day!

CH:
Do you have any regrets/sadness at the move?

Regina:
No, I think the move is the best shot helping ENYDCTA keep a show running in our area. Saratoga was a wonderful place, and there will always be great memories to hang onto. The positive support from our dressage community has been really great, and we are looking forward to this new endeavor.
(Regina is a serious dressage competitor herself. With her horse Cody she presently competes at 4th level/PSG).

CH:
Will Cody Cristo be showing there? What are your personal dreams/plans dressage wise?

Regina:
No, I will not be showing at EDDS. My concentration will be as always with our committee Regina & Codyand volunteers to make the best possible show for competitors and horses, and that will take my full attention. Cody and I will be showing around the region some weekends when I am not busy judging schooling shows, which I love to do! We hope to be able to attain a few more scores at 4th/PSG this season for me to apply to attain my USEF “r” judging credentials. It is going to be a busy season!

Catskill Horse looks forward to covering this show once again in 2016. Here is a look back at some of the moments in the past few years (with kind permission of ourselves from our article archives). See you on the rail!

Take a look back.......

Take a look back