Benalla and District Adult Riding Club’s Melanie Ford took out the Series Dressage Championship in the novice section after the Dressage in the Park event came to a close with the Hygain Tatura Dressage Classic at the weekend. Ford, who hails from Katandra, claimed the series win after posting the highest overall score across three events. The first two events, in March and June, were run by the Andalusian Horse Association of Australia, while the culmination the the series — the Hygain Tatura Dressage Classic — was run under Tatura Football Club. And while no stranger to success, having won Newcomer Barastoc Horse of the Year among other awards, Ford said it was an absolute thrill to claim the overall title. ‘‘It wasn’t decided until the last test. It was between Jason Dins and I,’’ she said. ‘‘There was less than a per cent in it.’’
Ford and six-year-old warmblood Gorserella Let’s Be Frank consistently pulled in firsts and seconds in all three events. ‘‘Frank is a young horse. He put his best foot forward,’’ Ford said. ‘‘I couldn’t have asked any more of him.’’
Finding a little time for fun in the midst of stiff competition, Ford was one of six riders in a special event on Saturday night to promote retired harness racing horses. Riders had only 30 minutes to adapt to a horse they didn’t know and do a dressage test. ‘‘It was a great experience, something different,’’ Ford said. ‘‘(The horse) had nice paces and did everything I asked. It was really great.’’
Ford now starts preparation for the Elmore dressage competition next month.
‘‘Frank will start moving to the next level, into elementary,’’ Ford said. ‘‘I’ll also be bringing out some young horses for their first competition.’’
Ford is also looking ahead to the HRCAV Top Team Trophy dressage event in Benalla in November, having last year competed as a rider in the winning team. Ford thanked sponsors of the Tatura dressage event, Hygain and Mitavite, as well as Sue and Duncan Terry for putting on a well-organised event.