21 July 2023

Special addition to Willinga Park's spectacular two-day dressage event

| Katrina Condie
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Horse rider

Charlotte Phillips riding CP Dresden at Willinga Park. Photo: Amy-Sue Alston Photography.

For the first time, Willinga Park will include para-equestrian events when the Dressage@Willinga competition returns to the arena at Bawley Point on Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 July.

An equestrian sport for people with a classifiable physical or visual impairment, para-equestrian (PE) dressage is the only equestrian discipline that is included in the Paralympic Games, where it has been a regular fixture since 1996.

Spectators will have an opportunity to watch the PE riders who use compensating aids enabling them to ride without disadvantage and which may include modified saddlery, such as loops on reins or allowances such as a ‘salute with head only’. The aids and allowances provided to each rider is dependent on their impairment and grade.

With the 2024 Paralympic Games just around the corner, the PE competitors are hot on the trail to gain selection. Five PE riders with varying disabilities will be competing over the weekend to gain experience at riding the dressage tests that are ridden at the games.

Each competitor will ride three tests over the weekend including a Freestyle to music on Sunday afternoon commencing at 3 pm.

Willinga Park owner Terry Snow’s mission was to create a world-class equestrian facility to provide the best training and competition opportunities for all competitors.

“We are pleased to include Para-equestrian into our program this year, and to support their quest for the 2024 Games” said Mr Snow said.

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All competitors in the 4CYTETM Dressage@Willinga will take the opportunity to compete as a warm-up for the NSW Dressage Championships and gain qualifying scores for the 2023 Australian Dressage Championships and the Amateur Owner Rider (AOR) Championships.

The dressage event, to be held in the world-class covered arena and jumping arena, will offer competition from ‘preliminary’ to ‘grand prix’, including a freestyle test of choice from ‘advanced’ to grand prix.

Entry is free for spectators, who can watch the competition from the comfort of the grandstands from 9 am to 4 pm each day.


Stroll through the spectacular grounds of Willinga Park during the dressage event. Photo: Willinga Park.

“We are always pleased to open Willinga Park to our community, and we encourage people to visit over the weekend to watch the dressage, enjoy the facilities, gardens and the café,” Mr Snow said.

“It’s an exciting weekend, to watch these magnificent horses and riders ride in such harmony and rhythm.”

The Bunker Cafe will be open across the weekend serving a delicious menu and visitors can enjoy a walk through the Australian botanic gardens complete with 32 large-scale sculptures situated across the park.

The Stables Restaurant will be open on Saturday 29 July for dinner where guests will enjoy a seasonal two-course set menu, by head chef Luke Bow, with a glass of selected wine. Bookings are essential.

The Olympic sport of dressage is derived from the French term meaning ‘training’ and its purpose is to strengthen and supple the horse while maintaining a calm and attentive demeanour.

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Dressage is a form of horse riding performed in exhibition and competition, as well as an art sometimes pursued solely for the sake of mastery.

Judges are looking primarily at the horse for scores and horses are judged from the moment they enter the arena. The judges will pay close attention to specifics such as contact, rhythm, harmony and fluency and each movement is scored from zero to 10 with double points potentially awarded for more difficult movements.

Riders are given a mark from one to 10 for position, seat, correctness and effectiveness of aids at the end of each test. These two marks are totalled and the combination with the highest score is the winner.

Located at Bawley Point, south of Ulladulla, Willinga Park is one of Australia’s leading equestrian centres, and an events and conference destination set on more than 2300 acres.

The property is home to various equine sporting events including Dressage by Sea CDI, Jumping@Willinga, Eventing@Willinga and the Gold Buckle Campdraft Championship.

For details regarding the park’s upcoming events, accommodation and restaurant, visit the Willinga Park website.

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