Dressage Winnipeg

Club History

December 2009


Dressage, from the French word for "training" is often described as the art of dancing on horseback or ballet on horseback and is often compared to the freestyle of figure skating.

The art of dressage is a harmonious blend of power, beauty and precision. The sport of Dressage is designed to improve a horse's balance, suppleness and flexibility, as well as improve the communication between horse and rider. At home dressage consists of several hundred hours of patient nurturing. It takes years to build the necessary strength and fortitude to enable the horse to perform these difficult movements with ease and grace. In the competition ring dressage shows us everything we think a horse should be. They are obedient yet independent, they are explosive yet contained.

Dressage Canada web site: www.equinecanada.ca/dressage (2009-11-21).

The history of dressage is rooted in equestrian sport that, itself, finds its origins in the training of horses by Xenophon in 400 BC Greece and later by the French, German and British cavalries in the 18th and 19th centuries. By the mid-20th century, the art of dressage, or classical riding, was introduced to equestrians in Winnipeg and throughout Canada, by European and British riders who were instructing and competing in national and international trials.

Accordingly, on 2 November 1975, 15 Manitoba riders met to establish the first provincial dressage association. At the time, horse sport in Canada was organized by the Canadian Equestrian Federation (CEF). Dressage, a branch of the CEF, was run by the Canadian Dressage Riders and Owners Association (CADORA) - a national non-profit group dedicated to the development of dressage in Canada.

In Western Canada, that November, the Manitoba Dressage Association (MDA) was founded to include dressage riders from Winnipeg, Brandon and all other parts of the province. Gillian Sevier was elected the first chair. By-laws were drawn and the MDA committed itself to furthering dressage in the province through the organization of horse shows and clinics that would be held at stables where instruction in dressage was taking place. Notably, Captain John de Kenyeres, trained in the Hungarian cavalry, was equestrian instructor at the Charleswood Riding Club and Margaret Anne Sellers, herself an accomplished rider and competitor, at Riverbend Stables did much to promote classical riding in Winnipeg.

Within a few years, though, in the early 1980s, Brandon dressage riders decided to form their own branch of CADORA so that in 1985 WESTMAN CADORA became an affiliate or branch of the MDA.

Two years later, in 1987, Winnipeg area dressage riders established DRESSAGE WINNIPEG (DW) becoming another affiliate or branch of the provincial body, MDA.

Although the MDA is still in existence, for all intents and purposes, Westman Cadora and Dressage Winnipeg have worked independently of the parent body since the early 2000s. From time to time, though, the two clubs have jointly organized horse shows and they collaborated in the planning of the Pan American Games (Dressage) in 1999.

Since 1987 Dressage Winnipeg has operated according to by-laws that were first drawn up with the establishment of MDA. The goals of the club have been to promote the equestrian discipline of dressage according to the rules and regulations set out by the Manitoba Horse Council (the provincial body for horse sport), Equine Canada/Dressage Canada, formerly the CEF (the national body), and the Fédération Équestre international (FEI) (the world equestrian body).

The 12 member Board of Dressage Winnipeg, from 1987, has organized a range of activities that include three to four annual Equine Canada/Dressage Canada approved horse shows, as well as dressage clinics, winter lecture series, publication of quarterly newsletters, Passage, and a summer camp (2009). From 1999 the horse shows have been held, for the most part, at Birds Hill Equestrian Facility in Birds Hill Park and clinics have been held at individual stables. Judges and clinicians have been hired from all over Canada and include many with international reputations, such as Bonny Bonnello, Cindy and Neil Ishoy, Sue Rothgeb and Lee Tubman.

Manitoba riders complete from introductory training level to the highest level of Prix St Georges. The horse shows are regulated by stewards who have been educated according to the rules of Equine Canada. Clinics, as well, are run according the dressage rules of Equine Canada and are presented by clinicians from across the country.

Other equestrian activities that have been promoted over the years include: DW riders participated in the Western Canada Games held in Winnipeg in 1990, DW and Westman Cadora riders ran the trials for the Pan American Games (dressage) that were held in the autumn of 1998, and more recently DW riders competed in the Western Regional Dressage Championships and Alberta Provincial Championships in Red Deer Alberta in 2008.

In 1998, Captain John de Kenyeres established a scholarship program for young riders in memory of his wife Katherine. Manitoba riders under 18 years of age compete in a series of schooling shows in order to qualify for the Captain John de Kenyeres Scholarship Fund. Scholarships have been awarded each year since 2000. They were originally presentedat the Captain John de Kenyeres Memorial Trophy Show. The first winners received a cheque that covered riding lessons or work with a clinician in the following year. This program has since expanded, now offering six scholarships per year in three different age categories. DW now supports these scholarships through their Education Fund. Check the Scholarship Programs page on this website for the details of the current scholarship program.

In short, since the first meeting of the Manitoba Dressage Association in the autumn of 1975, much work has been done to further the equestrian discipline of dressage in the province.

References: Dressage Winnipeg Archival Collection

Dressage Winnipeg is proud to announce that to date we have raised $10, 000 for Cancer Care Manitoba in memory of Kendra McBain.

We would like to express our sincere thanks to Bill Riches, of Herzing College for his generous donation of $314.54 that allowed Dressage Winnipeg to reach the goal of raising $10, 000.

The Kendra McBain Memorial Show and the Used Tack Sale on September 11th-12th was a huge success and everyone's contributions means that her dream lives on; one of which provided and furnished a well needed room for teens and a program dedicated and designed around teens living with cancer in Manitoba.

On behalf of Dressage Winnipeg, thank you for making a difference for all Manitobans and their families living with Cancer.

Sincerely, Christy Lee and Dayna Oulion

Memorial Event Coordinators Dressage Winnipeg


Heart & Hope

The first Kendra McBain Memorial Show weekendwas a spectacular showing of community

By Dayna Oulion, and on behalf of Christy Lee, Coordinators of the Kendra McBain Memorial Events

The Kendra McBain Memorial Show weekend was a huge success, raising a total of $8598.46 for CancerCare Manitoba in memory of Kendra McBain. A used tack sale and silent auction were among some of the fundraising events that saw a steady flow of people interested in buying tack and purchasing tickets, all with the glimmer of pride knowing that their money was going to a worthy cause and keeping Kendra's dream alive. You could feel the pride in the air the whole weekend, as everyone came together to support Kendra's vision - a vision of providing a furnished room and program dedicated to teens living with cancer in Manitoba.

Every business that Christy and I approached and told of her story was touched and before we could even finish oursentences, they were asking what they could do and how they could help. Boston Pizza, C2 Massage and Dan Murray's Chevrolet were just some of those companies. Boston Pizza came out on Saturday and Sunday and gave out pizza lunches, while C2 Massage gave excellent, relaxing massages - all in place to help raise money for CancerCare Manitoba.

On Saturday evening, a steak dinner and equine art auction at the Bird's Hill Park Ranch took place. To capture the emotions in that room, in one word that night, I would have to pick - electrifying! Everyone proudly sporting their purple ribbons on their shirts, while running to their art piece they so badly wanted to win; to see if they had been out-bid. It was thrilling to watch and thrilling to be a part of. The art auction featured nine pieces: pencil, oil, photography of Western and English disciplines; no matter which one you looked at, you were standing in front of pure, raw talent! All the artists, both local and national, embraced our event and went hard to work, some painting original pieces just for us.

A round of applause to these local and national artists that put so many hours into their pieces, all not wanting anything in return, but rather a donation of their time and skill to help aid in Kendra's dream. The artists that we stand to applause are: Candace Reid, Ann Marie Milner, Prarieview School of Photography, Krista Thiessen, Barb Wansbutter, Rhonda Klassen, Heather Anderson and Margaret Dent.

We have had great support from the equestrian community in supporting Kendra's vision of raising money for CancerCareManitoba - from the Manitoba Driving Society for the tent forthe used tack sale to Patrick Clever, who had to come out to shoe Alison Elliot's horse during the show. When she went to pay him, Patrick quickly gave it back and told her to donate it to CancerCare. Those were the little things that we saw all weekend.

Other memories include, the person (who would like to remain anonymous), who came up to me and handed me three, 100 dollar bills. Or the story of the "purple ponies" - During the lead up to the show, Greenhawk Harness and Tack and their customers graciously came on board as the store was decorated with $1 donations of purple ponies. "The walls looked beautiful" said Christy "People had individually decorated their ponies and signed them with their horse's name and well wishes to Kendra.

Kendra's story is one of inspiration and the story of that weekend is one of generosity and admiration of our equine community.

Christy captured it perfectly, as she stated in her thank-you speech, "We were inspired by (Kendra's) courage and determination and as we began planning the 2010 show year. It seemed natural to honor this courageous and inspiring young lady who shared the same passion as all of us do for our sport. Initially, we weren't sure how well the idea of combining a fundraising event with the show would be received, however our concerns were quickly set aside as we ran across so many people that were touched by Kendra; who remembered her from pony club or simply were inspired by her and wanted to contribute in some way, whether it be used tack, sponsorship, auction donations or simply to just come out and attend the show."

So to all of you that came out or donated in some way, my hat goes off to you, as you made a difference - not only in Christy's and my life, or in the McBain families lives but a greater difference- a difference for all Manitobans and their families living with cancer.

"Thank you to the equestrian community for supporting Kendra through her illness and for continuing to do so. The Kendra McBain Memorial Competition was a wonderful tribute to her, and also supported CancerCare Manitoba Foundation, a very worthwhile organization near and dear to us. Kendra would be so proud of you all.

"Your generous donation is helping to carry on her legacy of providing funds for teens living with cancer.

We were deeply touched by the bench that was purchased and dedicated to Kendra on the show grounds. Words cannot adequately express our gratitude and appreciation.

"Sincerely, The McBain Family"

"The Kendra McBain Memorial Competition"

Sadly, on December 22, 2009, at the age of 18, Kendra Rose McBain lost her battle with cancer.

Kendra was a remarkable young lady who loved animals, her family and her friends.

Even with the challenges she faced, she never lost her optimism, her grace, and the compassion she had for those around her. Riding was a huge part of her life before she was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of cancer at the age of 15. She was an active member of Dressage Winnipeg, not only as a Junior Competitor, but as a participating Junior Board Kendra McBainMember as well. Kendra, along with her mother Tammy, (Vice-Chair) sat on the board together from 2005-2006.

(Right: circa 2004 - Judge Joanna Crilly presenting Kendra with one of her many awards.)

Kendra was not only a lovely rider but a strong competitor and along with a little white pony named "Houdini" won Champion and Reserve several times in the three years she competed in the Junior/Open Category. In 2003 she was Junior Training Level Champion (Spring Flowers National Show) and Junior Training Level Reserve (Manitoba Provincial Championships). In 2004 she was Junior First Level Reserve (Spring Flowers National Show) and was awarded the Junior First Level High Score (National) at the Capt. John De Kenyeres Memorial Show in June. In 2005 she was Junior and Open First Level Champion (Spring Flowers National Show). She was also awarded the Junior and Open First Level High Score (Primary); Junior First Level Champion (National); and Open First Level Reserve (National) at the Capt. John De Kenyeres Memorial Show.

We are pleased to announce that Dressage Winnipeg has changed the name of our Spring Flowers show to the "Kendra McBain Memorial Competition" to celebrate Kendra's love of horses and the sport of Dressage. Kendra's favourite colour was purple so a special purple ribbon will be presented, in her memory, to the Junior Champion of this show. Funds raised at this show will go to Cancer Care Manitoba in her name - We hope you will join us in this celebration.



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