'Horse Ballet' competition to take place in Creswell
Dressage considered 'the highest expression of horse training'
Approaching Silver Tail Farm in Creswell on a nice day, the facility looks like an abstract representation of the horses bred, raised, and trained there: the equine ideal, deconstructed and then reconstructed in the form of bay-colored buildings and a conscientious alliance between structure and landscape.
Westphalians is the Silver Tail Farm horse breed of choice. It stems from a bloodline recognizably accomplished for its athleticism in Olympic jumping and dressage competition. Descendants of a bloodline that hails from Westphalia, Germany, these horses were the result of a state-ran equine breeding program founded in 1788 by the Prussian king.
Laura Frederiksen-Park owns the Creswell horse farm. “I originally grew up in Minnesota,” she said, “My dad was a large-animal veterinarian, so I have been good with horses all of my life.”
Laura shared that she used to work in the medical field as an Obstetrician-Gynecologists, which then led her to becoming familiar with IVF [in-vitro fertilization]. Today, Laura said she uses her knowledge of IVF to breed her horses.
Taking in the view of the Silver Tail Farm property, one will see the resident horse barn as well as the visiting horse barn (which has 24/7 access to the pasture), a hay barn, machine shop, and of course - the crown jewel of the farm - the dressage arena. Sometimes referred to tongue-in-cheek as “horse ballet,” the International Equestrian Federation describes it as “the highest expression of horse training… [where] horse and rider are expected to perform from memory a series of predetermined movements.”
Dressage is an Olympic sport, one in which statuesque horses carry riders dressed in fine regalia as they perform to the sound of a preselected piece of music. Hearing the varying tempo in the music, the horse gallops, sidesteps, pirouettes, marches in place, skips, and pivots, movements keeping in time to the beat.
The job of the rider is to make the entire display looks like effortless choreography. Making only minimal movements to communicate with their mount, to an untrained spectator, it looks as if the horse is leading. While beautiful to watch, aspects of dressage can be traced back to techniques soldiers of Ancient Greece would use to train their war horses.
As for the Creswell arena on Howe Lane, it is more than just the place where the horses compete, too. Looking like a giant sandbox, the floor of the arena is made of a loose mixture of sand and soft fibers. As Emily instructors explained how working on such a surface helps to preserve the health of the horses that “dance” on it, her four-year-old dressage student was busy marveling at the strange substance, spending a few solid minutes allowing it to run through her fingers and jumping up and down to see how deeply she could press footprints in the sandy substance.
Before 2018, 20 years had passed since Lane County had seen an official dressage competition. With the help of her daughter, Emily Park, however, Laura was instrumental in reviving the tradition for the county. Out of that effort has come the Twin Rivers Classic (TRC), a dressage event that has, since its inception, occurred annually at the Silver Tail Farm in Creswell. Organized by the Twin Rivers Chapter of the Oregon Dressage Society, the 2022 TRC, coming up this Saturday and Sunday on August 20 and 21, will mark the event’s fourth year.
At 15, Emily said she moved to California to become a student of dressage and learn from equestrian sport professionals. For the 2014 North American Junior and Young Riders Championships, the unbelievable occurred: Emily was able to ride the horse from the magazine cover that inspired it all. Pretty Lady was her teammate in competition and her companion in Creswell when Emily was ready to move back home, representing the beginning and end of one chapter and the start of something new.
As TRC’s president, Emily addressed the athletes of the upcoming competition in the 2022 show program, saying, “We are so thankful to have [TRC] be so well received. We are so excited to see new faces and welcome back returning riders! With [August 20 and 21] being the close of our show series, we will be congratulating new series High Point winners on Sunday, [August 21] and seeing who wins our special prizes!”
Ribbons are to be awarded to the top six riders in each of TRC’s divisions. Riders that competed at both the Twin Rivers Solstice I & II event on June 18 and 19 and the Twin Rivers Classic I & II on August 20 and 21 are eligible (depending on their age) to receive High Point prizes that include an all-expense paid trip to attend the Purina’s Professional Horsemen’s Conference in St Louis, Missouri (includes a tour of the Budweiser Brewery & Stables) and a weekend clinic of their choice at Silver Tail Farm with overnight stabling included.
Those interested in attending the Twin Rivers Classic this weekend can visit the Silver Tail Farm Facebook page, @SilverTailFarm or visit silvertailfarm.com/event/twin-rivers-classic-i-ii-2022/.