Saratoga County

Saratoga Bridges ends role in dressage fest

After 18 years of running the dressage festival at Saratoga Springs, Saratoga Bridges is hanging

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After 18 years of running the dressage festival at Saratoga Springs, Saratoga Bridges is hanging up the bridle on its biggest fundraiser.

But the horse show portion of Dressage at Saratoga will still go on, said the president of Eastern New York Dressage and Combined Training Association (ENYDCTA). Saratoga Bridges, formerly Saratoga ARC, and ENDYCTA had worked together, with Saratoga Bridges organizing the spectacle at the grandstand with a juried craft and trade show, a free children’s midway with rides, a backyard circus, an antique and custom car show, a llama and alpaca festival and a food court. ENDYCTA sponsored the dressage portion of the weekend, and will continue to do so this Memorial Day weekend with a scaled-down horse event on the backstretch rather than a Saratoga Bridges-organized festival that attracted about 10,000 people a year.

Dressage is exhibition riding in which the horse is controlled through difficult steps and gaits by slight movements of the rider.

Over the years, the organization has netted less in profits, as expenses to put on the event have increased and revenue has stayed the same, said Heather Varney, development and foundation coordinator for Saratoga Bridges.

In 2005, the latest year for which financial data is available, Saratoga Bridges netted less than $90,000 on the dressage festival and Black Tie Gala combined, after spending $102,219 to rent the racetrack, pay staff and musicians, and pay for equipment and supplies.

Saratoga Bridges still will put on its annual Black Tie Gala at the Hall of Springs, Varney said. The organization has not decided whether to hold the dressage festival next year, she added.

“We are looking into creating some new events,” she said.

Last year Saratoga Bridges scaled back the dressage festival from three days to two.

This year the dressage show will also run two days, with horses arriving May 23 and the shows taking place May 24 and 25.

Admission will be free.

Kristin Grosso, president of the dressage group, said the New York Racing Association gave ENYDCTA a good price on the facility rental, although she declined to name the price.

“NYRA has really gone above and beyond to accommodate us,” she said.

If Saratoga Bridges doesn’t return, ENYDCTA will look for another charitable association to partner with, Grosso said.

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