Gold Coast Dressage Show Brings Friends Together In Wellington

Tara Stegen and Gatsby take the win at GCDA May show. Photo by Joanna Jodko Photography

As the seasonal temperature levels rise in the equestrian world of Wellington, so does the level of fun and friendly competition, especially during the Gold Coast Dressage Association (GDCA) May Dressage show.

Taking place May 18-19, this two-day qualifier show featured excellent riders and their horses giving some of their best dressage performances of the year.

As expected, along with the competition, the GCDA May Dressage show provided plenty of fun, awards and a gathering place for the members of GDCA to relax and simply enjoy being together and celebrating their horses at the beautiful Palm Beach Equine Sports Complex. Highlights of the show included outstanding performances and special recognition for riders Tara Stegen, Kelly Layne, Ann Barrett, Lily Zilo, Tuny Page, Susan Dutta and Andrienne Pot.

“The atmosphere, all the volunteers, and everybody who works for the horse show are phenomenal,” said May Dressage High Point winner Tara Stegen. “The camaraderie is awesome. We all work together. We all help each other. It has really become a great community. That’s why these shows are so fantastic.”

Stegen and her mount Gatsby HW rode their way to a 75.172 percent in the USEF First Level Test 1, and claimed the High Point spot of the show. Gatsby is a striking 17.2-hand Westphalian who Stegen describes as a gentle giant.

“He’s not laid back, he’s hot, but it’s a good hot,” she said. “He gets hot under saddle, but nowhere else.”

Stegen, who is based at the Palm Beach Equine Sports Complex, first joined the GCDA more than 15 years ago. “They’re doing such a great job,” she said about the organization. “There are so many things they’re doing for our community.”

Adding to the fun and festivities of the weekend was a birthday cake and celebration for rider Kelly Layne. She said she couldn’t have had a better birthday gift than the performance her horse Fernando gave in his first time doing 4th Level Test 3.

“He is a super show horse who always ramps it up a notch in the ring,” Layne said. “He’s such a nice, subtle animal, and this level of collection is a lot higher than he has done before.”

Fernando, who is owned by Ellen Trouille of Germany, is a 7-year-old Hanoverian. Fernando’s calm energy during the ride earned them the Semican Achievement Award.

Winning the Omega Alpha Healthy Horse Award was adult amateur rider Anne Barrett. She and her horse Udon P are on a mission to earn a USDF Gold Medal. “I’m almost there,” Barrett said. “It’s a long journey. I ride all the time, and I’m really trying.”

The pair got a little closer to their goal during the qualifying show when they scored a 62.50 percent in the FEI Intermediate II.

Also recognized was Lily Zilo, who was awarded the Diana Zakharova International Sportsmanship Award to celebrate her competitive spirit, effort and fine horsemanship that she brings to Wellington as an international rider.

Zilo is an adult amateur rider who has represented the Hong Kong Equestrian Federation in the Asian Games. She is also one of the first Chinese dressage riders in the FEI world ranking. Zilo said that by being a Chinese rider, she hopes she can provide a good role model for the young Chinese generations.

The May show brought together other well-known riders like Susie Dutta, who was there with her equestrian family cheering her on, and Tuny Page, who provided valuable coaching to many riders. Dressage rider Adrienne Pot left no doubt about her ability to achieve excellence during her winning Grand Prix ride aboard the Dutch Warmblood gelding Bon Ami. Pot dominated the ring and won the FEI Grand Prix Open with a score of 67.935 percent and also claimed the Triple Crown Excellence Award for the outstanding performance.

The Gold Coast Dressage Association is a USDF group member organization that is committed to providing educational programs, clinics, shows and seminars aimed at promoting and upgrading classical riding, and offering a framework in which individuals can progress with the schooling of themselves and their horses.

The next big event is the GCDA Summer Solstice show June 15-16. For more information about the GCDA and upcoming shows, visit