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franklin county times

Dressage event unique, serene

By By Larry Gostkowski/special to The Star
June 23, 2002
Just before Clara Gardner took part in her first ever Dressage competition as part of the State Games of Mississippi, she patted her partner's shoulder in an effort to calm her down. Her partner, Maggie Mae, is a 1200-pound mare.
Gardner, from Brandon, is only 10-years-old, the youngest (and smallest) competitor in the field, but she handled the event and her equine companion like a true veteran.
Dressage, which is French for training, demonstrates the beauty, intelligence, agility, and sensitivity of horses, according to event commissioner Wanda McAllister.
The riders take their horse through a prescribed course of turns and trots, stops and starts, and the competitors are judged on the "harmony" between them. The communication between rider and horse is silent, with the riders relying on their legs and "seats" to direct the horse.
Dale Rose, who coaches Gardner and seven other competitors in this year's event, believes it's a special sport for other reasons. "Young kids don't normally get involved in such a disciplined, cerebral activity," she said.
The all-day event went off without a hitch and a steady stream of on-lookers came in the Agri-Center to witness the events, broken down by skill level. Of the four levels of competitive Dressage, only the first three were competed Saturday. The highest, Gran Prix level, has no Mississippi competitors at the present, but the Grand Dame of Dressage in Mississippi, Evie Tomlin, delighted the fans with a high-level "Kur"demonstration; Dressage with music.
While Gardner didn't medal, she did finish second in her two preliminary rounds, and was edged out by just a few points for the bronze. Her sister, Hannah, was a big winner, capturing two golds in three events.
The complete list of medalists are as follows: Challenged Riders Anna Fitzhugh/China, Gold; Katherine Terrell/Gigi, Silver; Introductory Level Katie Peters/Equine Ninety Three, Gold; Jamie Hullum/Dane, Silver; Leigh Ann Nosser/Boot Scootin Hobby, Bronze; Training level One Hannah Gardner/Joyful Delight, Gold; Katie Peters/Equine Ninety Three, Silver; Jamie Hullum/Dane, Bronze.

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