By Elaine Wessel
Soon to be back for its 11th year, the Adequan Global Dressage Festival will showcase hundreds of top dressage partnerships at Equestrian Village in Wellington from Jan. 12 through April 3, 2022.
The AGDF is one of the world’s largest international and national dressage circuits, offering more than $600,000 in prize money, making it one of the richest dressage events in the world. The AGDF is also one of the few circuits in the United States to host a CPEDI, a qualifying event for para-dressage, which allows athletes with disabilities to compete and achieve their goals in equestrian sport.
The 2022 season will be on the heels of exciting performances during the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics, which featured many of the competitors that will call Wellington home for the winter. The American team is expected to be welcomed back to much fanfare following its silver medal in the team competition.
That victory came thanks to impressive rides from Sabine Schut-Kery on Sanceo, Steffen Peters aboard Suppenkasper and Adrienne Lyle riding Salvino. Schut-Kery and Sanceo performed especially well, finishing in fifth place overall in the individual standings with a new personal best score of 84.300 percent.
With the Olympics now in the rear view, duos will look toward the upcoming championships to challenge the globe’s best.
“We are planning for an especially competitive and exciting winter season of dressage at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival in 2022, considering the upcoming World Cup Finals and World Championships later in the year,” AGDF Director of Sport Thomas Baur said. “Now that the Olympics have concluded, we are also pleased to be able to host a number of Olympic teammates, especially those from the USA team, who earned a podium spot, to mark the first time the team has collected a team silver since the London Olympic Games in 1948.”
In 2022, the AGDF will feature 10 weeks of competition, eight of which will offer internationally rated classes. Week One, Week Five and Week Eight will include World Cup Qualifier classes, with competitors striving toward qualifications in the North American League for the FEI Dressage World Cup Final in Leipzig, Germany, immediately following the conclusion of the AGDF in April.
Over the course of the 2022 AGDF, dressage pairs will be aiming to show off their talents in order to earn a spot on their nations’ respective teams for the World Championships in Herning, Denmark, in August 2022.
Week Seven will serve as the highlight week of the series with CDI5* classes in the International Ring. In 2021, Schut-Kery and Sanceo nabbed victory in the Grand Prix Special CDI5* and Grand Prix CDI5*, while Peters and Suppenkasper earned a win in the Grand Prix Freestyle CDI5*.
“I feel so much joy and have happy tears,” Schut-Kery said after her back-to-back successes. “It’s very emotional. To ride the test, you are focused in the ring, of course, but it’s also joyful. It’s an amazing feeling to have an animal like that respond to you with such small aids and cues. That amazing feeling is still there for me after 30-plus years, how we can communicate with an animal like that.”
Fans of the Palm Beach Dressage Derby, where riders pilot unfamiliar horses in a knockout competition, will be pleased to know it is returning again during Week Eight. Germany’s Christoph Koschel once again proved that he is the “king of the derby” in 2021 after notching his fifth win in a row, having won derbies in Hamburg, Munich and Palm Beach.
If doors are opened to spectators, the best time to visit is during Friday Night Stars, which is a select set of Friday evenings when some of the best dressage combinations in the world will complete tests to music choreographed especially for them and their horses. Spectators will hear everything from classic orchestral pieces to the latest pop hits.
“The 2021 season was a challenge due to necessary COVID-19 protocols in place, but all of us at the AGDF hope that we are able to reopen the facility to spectators this upcoming winter. We love having the public join us to experience the beauty and elegance of dressage,” Baur said. “It truly is a special experience, and there is not a bad seat in the house. We love having dressage experts, as well as people who have never seen the sport before.”
Some of dressage’s best up-and-coming riders will be put to the test in a series of Under 25 classes, which will showcase the next generation of talent. On the equine side of things, the Lövsta Future Challenge/Young Horse Grand Prix Series and Future Challenge/Young Horse Prix St. George Series will help horses aged eight to 10 years old develop their skills. In addition to top-level sport, the AGDF will have an entire range of classes available for pony, junior and amateur dressage riders in USEF-rated national events throughout the circuit.
For more information about the 2022 Adequan Global Dressage Festival, visit www.globaldressagefestival.com.