Clarendon Grounds

By 1984 it became clear that the NSW Dressage Association (as it then was) needed a home base. Problems with the Windsor Polo Grounds and then the Castle Hill Showground demonstrated that NSW Dressage needed a permanent location so that the sport could focus on developing Dressage in the State.

Controversy raged among members as to where Dressage (in NSW) should base itself, with almost everyone having a different opinion. It was Dressage President John Geary (1983-88) who found, pursued and persisted with the new Hawkesbury Showground that was being developed. The Hawkesbury District Agricultural Association (HDAA) was moving from the Racetrack at Clarendon to the new Showground and they were looking for NSW sports bodies to help them build up the grounds as a major sports centre.

In 1985 at the Annual General Meeting, members were briefed on the Clarendon grounds and an agreement on the leasing of the grounds was then prepared.

In 1986 the selection of the home base had not been finally resolved and two other grounds were offered as alternatives – one at Glossodia and one at Warringah. The Committee voted 6 in favour of Clarendon and 5 against. In September of that year, one Committee member endeavoured to stall this vote and get a referendum of all Members on the subject of the Grounds. On 18th November 1986, a final motion allocating the money ($18,000) was put with 11 for the motion to build the sand arenas, 3 abstaining and 1 against. From then on it was all systems go.

The Council started an appeal for donations towards construction. Contributors of $100 or more were placed on an Honour Role.

In January 1987 three bases for the arenas were laid and the first Competition at Clarendon took place in May l987. Dressage finally had a home in NSW.

Charltons (now Horseland) financially assisted with the cost of the arenas and they were originally dedicated to this company.

Another milestone was the use of white metal surrounds, eventually abandoned for the telegraph poles used today. The idea originally was to use the white fences inside the poles, moving them from time to time so that no deep tracking occurred – one of those ideas that would have worked but needed too much manpower in practice.

Today, our grounds at Clarendon also have two sand warm-up arenas and a stable block that can accommodate about 60 horses. The stable block was a joint project with the HDAA.

Dressage NSW keeps making improvements to the grounds. Over the years has spent more than $250,000 on maintenance and additions.