Last week Horse & Hound ran a brilliant story reporting that two of our top Olympic dressage riders (Richard Davison and Carl Hester) are calling for the sport to look at fresh ideas in order to breathe some fun into the discipline and as a result attract new dressage devotees and bigger crowds. I think the time is right and that this would really help propel dressage into mainstream and also attract the attention it deserves.
With our success at the 2012 Games, dressage and indeed equestrianism as a whole, horses did capture people’s imagination and even my non-horsey friends at the time were raving about the show-jumping or over the grace of those ‘dancing horses’.
However despite the numerous medals we won, we do need to look at providing an entertainment element which goes beyond just watching ‘dancing horses’ and I just love Carl Hester’s idea of a ride-off warm-up class featuring certain movements, which would not only entertain those who know their piaffe from their passage, but for those who don’t, they too could then appreciate the skill and technicality that goes into training and riding those horses.
Having worked in TV for many years, our MD Ashley would love to see an X-factor style element brought into a championship show: With a Freestyle class (Dressage to music) broken down into entertaining tit bits that keep the audience engaged, entertained and also educate. The build-up to the class would start with each story behind each partnership being shown as a short film on a big screen along with a ‘who’s who’ on our ‘celebrity’ judging panel, which could range from celebrities within the equestrian industry including dressage judges, sports personalities, pop stars and even TV personalities who ride. The ‘goodie’ the ‘baddie’ the ‘expert’ and the ‘hottie’ amongst a line of judges would be fun and outrageous and I think would certainly add some chemistry and fire into the mix!
After each rider has performed their freestyle, the panel of judges could be interviewed in front of the partnership with comments fed back and also allowing the rider to comment back and also explain what they were feeling about their experience in the ring, which parts they felt they struggled with and then those famous lolly pop score cards whereby the judges could then announce their scores!
We really think with reality TV being the big pull in terms of audience ratings and revenue that these two riders really are onto something and we hope that one day, we will be able to sit down and watch these classes on TV with an interactive button that also takes us behind the scenes in preparation for the ‘big show-down’ NOW that would be taking dressage to a whole new level!