Paso Robles Dressage Summer Classic : A Step on the Path to International Dressage Competition | SLO Horse News

Paso Robles Dressage Summer Classic : A Step on the Path to International Dressage Competition

How does one go from showing at local Dressage shows to stepping onto the International stage? Well there are many steps, yet the path is now shorter and closer to home with the success of the Paso Robles Dressage Summer Classic.

The biggest Dressage show ever held on the Central Coast was enjoyed by the riders, the volunteers, the judges and the vendors. The Paso Robles Dressage Summer Classic held June 9-11, 2017 at the Paso Robles Horse Park had over 150 horses competing. On top of being a triple rated *** national show (CDS, USDF, USEF) it was also a Small Tour dressage competition which is governed by the FEI (Federation Equestre Internationale).

First Step a Small Tour Dressage Competition

A Small Tour dressage competition is the first stepping stone for horse/rider combinations aiming for international competition. A specific sequence of classes makes up asmall tour: day one: Prix St. Georges, day two: Intermediate I, day three: Intermediate Freestyle.

Paso Robles Dressage Summer Classic : A Step on the Path to International Dressage Competition | SLO Horse News
Carlos Santos of Palos Verdes competes in the 6 yr old Young Horse class. (Photo: Sharon Jantzen)

Young Horse Classes for 5 & 6 year old horses are also offered. “The basic idea of the young horse competitions is to introduce 5, 6 and 7-year old horses to dressage competitions to help them gain experience in the dressage arena and to give them the opportunity to compete against each other in the same level of test.

A primary concern of the Young Horse Classes is to evaluate the correct training of young dressage horses, to encourage the development of national breeds and the interest in international competitions involving young horses. Besides evaluating the paces and the standard of training, the judges have to decide whether or not the horse shows enough natural talent to develop into a high-class dressage horse,” adapted from FEI Directives for International Dressage Competitions for 5, 6 and 7-year old horses.

Just How Different was this Show Compared to a Basic Local Dressage Show?

First of all, the top levels of dressage – Grand Prix, Intermediare and Prix St. George – classes might not even be offered because they require judges with higher credentials. Also a basic dressage show will be judged by one judge; if two arenas are used, then two judges. Several of the FEI classes at the Paso Robles Dressage Summer Classic were judged by two judges at one arena so it was quite possible that 5 – 6 judges were working at the same time.

The sheer number of horses competing in general and in the top level classes was significantly higher as well. Generally, local shows might have 2-3 horses in the FEI levels of Prix St. George and Intermediare.

Paso Robles Dressage Summer Classic : A Step on the Path to International Dressage Competition | SLO Horse News
Barbi Breen-Gurley, owner and trainer at Sea Horse Ranch in Los Osos, competes at the Grand Prix level on her horse “Vindicator” at the Paso Robles Dressage Summer Classic


The Paso Robles Dressage Summer Classic enjoyed hosting the following rides at the FEI level:

  • 8 riders in the Grand Prix
  • 2 riders in the Grand Prix Special
  • 4 Riders in the Intermediare 2
  • 7 Riders in the Intermediare 1
  • 15 Riders in the Prix St. Georges

“The show attracted riders from all over the state. Some of the bigger name dressage riders who came to compete were Christine Traurig, Bronze Olympic Medalist and current USEF Dressage Young Horse Coach, 2012 US Olympian Jan Ebeling and Pan American Games Gold Medalist Sabine Schut Kery,” explains Lisa Blaufuss of Crackerjack Productions LLC based in Carlsbad, CA, who was the General Manager of the Paso Robles Dressage Summer Classic.

A Big Show Needs Lots of Volunteers

“Up to 4 rings were going at the same time depending on the day of the show,” remarked Lisa Blaufuss. Of course all this activity requires many able and willing hands. The SLO CDS (San Luis Obispo chapter of the California Dressage Society) membership were the go-to helpers.

Lisa turned to local riders and SLO CDS leaders Ellen Corob and John Rees to rally the troops for the help needed. “Chapter members volunteered in force by helping to set up and tear down the showgrounds, ring stewarding, scribing, running tests, score posting, awards and much more. Other volunteers were riders from southern California who volunteered in-between their rides at the show. All-in-all there was about 35 volunteers who helped at the show,” replied Lisa who is very grateful for the efforts of the local SLO CDS dressage chapter members and their leadership.

What Special Fun Activities Were Enjoyed?

Lisa and her team did not skimp on offering fun activities for show attendees. There was a lot of entertainment for the competitors to participate in all weekend. On Friday and Saturday after the show a sales horse presentation was presented by local riders Ryan Torkkelli and Thomas Walker of Torkkelli & Walker Dressage. On Saturday there was ‘The Top 10 Stars’ competition for Adult Amateurs which gave out a special award to the adult amateur with the highest score at any of the 10 dressage levels from Intro Level to Grand Prix. Saturday after the show included a fun relay sponsored by Horse & Rider Boutique where teams of 4 competed against each other for show bragging rights. The Saturday night dinner catered by Cahoots Catering Co of Paso Robles and the Karaoke Party sponsored by Brandon Seger and Markel Insurance was well attended with over 115 guests. “Who knew there was such singing talent among our dressage riders?!” expressed Lisa. A nice vendor boutique area offered a variety of shopping as well.

Shortening the Path Between the Local Dressage Show and the International Stage

Lisa used local talent to help promote the show, “Another local, Ariane Rezvani who owns, and Silver Cup Training came on as the marketing/sponsorship coordinator and did an amazing job to help promote the event to the local community.”

Paso Robles Dressage Summer Classic : A Step on the Path to International Dressage Competition | SLO Horse News
PRE stallion Bandalor MQ and Ariane Rezvani competing at Intermediare Bandalor is owned by Tom Baldwin. (Photo by Terri Miller Photography)

Ariane who rode, volunteered and coached at the show had this to say, “I was thrilled to have a dressage show the stature and size of the Paso Robles Dressage Summer Classic come to the Paso Robles Horse Park. We typically travel for hours to be able to compete against the level of riders and horses that showed up at this competition. The show was truly an event and it took a huge effort on behalf of Crackerjack Productions, the Paso Robles Horse Park, and volunteers from SLO/CDS to pull off. As with anything new there are kinks to work out, but there is nothing that cannot be resolved. I think the show has a very bright future and that the local dressage community will grow because of it.”

SLO local competitors really enjoyed having a show of this caliber in the neighborhood. Karen Cornelius another local rider and trainer remarked, “am so excited to share with you the wonderful time we had at the big CDI * dressage show in Paso Robles last weekend. Everyone did super well and lots of memories were made.” Karen shared these photos taken by her mother, Jo Ann Robinson, with us.


With a top-quality venue like the Paso Robles Horse Park in our neighborhood the Central Coast will be look to for higher caliber shows of all kinds. Paso Robles Dressage Summer Classic attendees who hadn’t been to the show grounds before were quite pleased with the layout and the amenities. The weather was also pleasant for the weekend as the really hot weather didn’t hit until the week following. Our local SLO volunteers and vendors also proved that we have the people and the enthusiasm to truly make Paso Robles a step on the path to International competition.

Barbi and students Deb Hirons and Christina Sugarman are all smiles as they enjoy their ribbons.

Cover Photo: Sharon Jantzen

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