Back in early spring four of us formed a dressage quadrille team. We had never done this before, and it was “fraught”! I had just acquired my new mare, Charm, and she was not fond of drill team-style riding. Didn’t like other horses coming at her. Didn’t like being squashed among three other horses. Expressed her opinion by bucking, snarking, weaving, snapping, tail swishing, ear pinning and any other number of horsey rebellion tactics. Another horse was intermittently lame (read: of uncertain status to guarantee appearance at a horse show). A third (another mare) decided that this was the year she would be in heat about every other week. Which meant she preferred to stop every other minute to pee whether she was part of the quadrille or not. Can’t have that happening in a show! The fourth horse was a pretty good egg. Thankfully.

Here’s a pic of the former trouble maker this past Sunday at the Willow Tree show where we (now known as the “Rockin’ Riders”) presented our debut performance of our quadrille. She doesn’t look like a trouble maker because miraculously in the last week before the show she decided to get with the program.


Here I am with Charm, who is looking like a proper dressage horse. Quiet, obedient...

Here I am with Charm, who is looking like a proper dressage horse. Quiet, obedient…

For the quadrille our leader chose 50’s rock and roll for music and poodle skirts for a costume. There was some doubt at first about the poodle skirts but they too miraculously turned out to be perfect for the theme. The class we entered was an “anything goes freestyle”, which meant that we could come up with the most creative costumes we could imagine and that we also could create our own choreography rather than following the patterns of a standard dressage test. We worked on costumes and choreography pretty much up to the last minute with the thought always in the back of our minds that we would muff the timing or the horses would help us mess up if we weren’t capable of messing up by ourselves! But the miracles continued, and on Saturday we had a near perfect performance and got a score of 80%! Here’s a little sampling of what we looked like–

Perfect single file down the center line.

Perfect single file down the center line.

Perfect timing on our crossing where each pair meshed with the other.

Perfect timing on our crossing where each pair meshed with the other.

Perfect start to a pinwheel in front of the judge's booth. Even the horses' legs were in sync!

Perfect start to a pinwheel in front of the judge’s booth.

Four abreast down the centerline.

Four abreast down the centerline.

These photos are from Sunday’s performance which, while good, had a couple of bobbles in it and lowered our score by about 4 points. But that didn’t matter because all of our months of hard work and pain and frustration paid off when everything came together in the end way beyond our wildest expectations. 80%–that’s practically unheard of! When the judge stands up and laughs and smiles and claps for you (two judges–a different one each day) you know you got something right!

If you feel inspired to watch the whole thing, you can entertain yourself here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRT22NAlhl0

About Alli Farkas

Equine and landscape artist specializing in rural Americana
This entry was posted in dressage, horses, quadrille, Willow Tree and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Quadrille!!

  1. congratulations on what must have been an outstanding performance, and thank you for sending these wonderful photos!


  2. That’s awesome Ali! Well done! I enjoyed your post.


  3. orijinalchris says:

    Gorgeous pictures, looks like you’re all having fun (: Um… why do they call them ‘poodle’ skirts?


    • Alli Farkas says:

      I can only guess (being a child of the 50’s myself) that they were called that because the original skirts were quite full with lots of petticoats underneath them–sort of reminiscent of the fluffy look of a poodle. We couldn’t get quite that fluffy for riding purposes–all that fluff would get in the way and blow around in the wind–so we just made them quite circular and put poodle appliqués on each side. They’re hard to see in the photos because the photos are low-res stills from the video, but that’s what those light colored pink spots are on the sides of the skirts. I never owned a poodle skirt as a child but I remember the older kids up the street had them. I think they had poodles on them too.


  4. how fun!  it’s great to read this, enjoy all of the images and imagine how much the judges enjoyed your ‘anything goes’ freestyle!

    i have the video page opened and hope that late tonight it will load!





  5. Pingback: A special thank-you portrait | Alli Farkas Artist Adventures

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