Husband-and-wife team David and Sarah Deptford, of Sovereign Quarter Horses, showed off their riding skills to a new enthusiastic audience when they took part in a demonstration at the recent 2014 LeMieux National Dressage Championships at Stoneleigh Park.
Sovereign - based at Stags Holt, March, Cambridgeshire – has been breeding and training American Quarter Horses since the 1970s and has been at the forefront of promoting both the breed and western riding throughout the UK and overseas.
The couple were invited to take part in a Quadrille demonstration with Dressage father-and-daughter team Paul and Bobby Hayler and proved a big hit with the audience, many of whom had never seen western riding demonstrated by Quarter Horses.
David rode his Stallion Blazin’ Chic Olena, and Sarah, her Mare, Chex Out This Action, during two demonstrations in tandem with Paul, who is the British Dressage Team Training Director, and Bobby.
And despite having just two informal practices and one official rehearsal, it proved a memorable experience for both riders and an enthusiastic crowd, with 2012 Olympic Gold Team Dressage winner Carl Hester and British Dressage President Jennie Loriston-Clarke hailing it the best demonstration they had ever seen at the event.
David said: “Dressage horses are much larger than Quarter Horses and stand about 17 to 18 hands, so consequently their movements are faster due their size, so it was quite difficult to be in sync all the time.
“We had only had two practice sessions before the event, one at Paul’s place in Chelmsford and one at ours, and then had a short rehearsal on the Friday before the weekend demonstrations, so we were delighted with how well they went.
“It was the first time that Sarah and I had taken part in this type of demonstration and it can be difficult to co-ordinate the different horses and styles but we were very pleased with how we all performed and more importantly so was the audience on both days .
“It is usually very quiet while the Dressage is being carried out, but the crowds were cheering and seemed to love it.”
After the Quadrille demonstration, David and Paul swapped horses and David performed a canter pirouette, while Bobby rode Sarah’s Mare.
Sarah said: “It was a really enjoyable experience and I was particularly impressed with how Bobby rode. It must have been very difficult for her to ride my Mare after her Dressage horse, but she did extremely well at western riding.”
Following the demonstrations many members of the audience were keen to discover more about Quarter Horses and western riding.
David said: “A lot of the people who attended the championships would not have seen such a demonstration before and wanted to find out more about Quarter Horses and western riding.
“Taking part was a lot of fun and I hope it has helped spread the western riding gospel to a new audience. Certainly the response from the crowds and also from such renowned Dressage experts as Carl and Jennie made it very worthwhile and a great experience.”
So much so that Sarah added there had already been discussions held for them to take part in another demonstration in the future.