Star Valley Riders Compete In Dressage Meet

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A grueling 13-hour drive while pulling a twin-horse trailer would have most looking for a few minutes of refreshing shut eye.

But the jaunt failed to phase the determination of the mother-and-daughter equestrian team of Teri and Sage Hallman.

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Sage Hallman, 14, is shown competing in the United States Dressage Federation Region Five Championships Sept 18 in Parker, Colo. Hallman is an eighth-grade student at Rim Country Middle School.

Only a few hours after arriving at High Prairie Farms in Parker, Colo. from their family home in Star Valley Sept. 18, the Hallmans were on horseback and showing their considerable skills in the United States Dressage Federation Region Five Championships.

"The trip was long, but we had fun," Teri said.

Competing against other qualifiers from six western states, Teri rode her way to first- and second-place finishes in the Prix St. George division.

The division is the first level of international dressage and is considered to be among the most competitive.

Teri's runner-up dressage finish, on the second day of the championship round, was by the narrowest of margins -- .1 percent. In the division, she was pitted against 15 other professional riders.

Sage, 14, shook off the nervousness of competing in her first regional championships to tie for seventh overall in the Training Level division that featured 25 young qualifiers.

On the opening day of the championships, she finished fourth among 20 First Level riders.

"(The competition) was new for me," she said. "I wanted to do well."

In dressage, the Training Level is for riders still learning the sport. The First Level is more competitive.

Throughout the championships, Teri was aboard Fontainebleau and Sage rode Master. Both horses are trained by Teri, who teaches dressage and other riding skills from her home.

Her lifelong interest in the sport was piqued as a youngster while growing up in West Virginia.

"I was a military brat there, and the sport was very popular," she said.

The term dressage is derived from a French term meaning "training." Once a sport of royalty, it has grown to become an Olympic sport that attracts throngs of equestrians from around the world.

In the competition, horses and riders must execute in an arena a series of movements and figures that have been studied and developed for centuries.

Teri compares the sport's scoring system, one to 10 points, to that of figure skating, in that it is compiled by judges and is completely subjective.

Like figure skating, the score awarded an individual can turn controversial.

Teri foresees the day when music will be added to the competition to enhance its popularity among spectators.

"Can you imagine watching figure skating without the music?" she asked. "Dressage will probably have music soon."

While dressage is not overly popular in a community like Payson, where rodeo reigns supreme, most all sports fans are familiar with the Lipizzan Stallions based in Vienna, Austria. The Stallions are probably the most recognized dressage horses in the world.

Sage's first taste of championship competition has her yearning for more.

"I'm ready for the next (event). We'll be training for it," she said.

The Hallmans will return to the arena Oct. 21 to 26 at the Arizona State Dressage Championships at WestWorld in Scottsdale.

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