I am not kidding this has already been the trip of a lifetime for me. When I went to the World Dressage Masters in Wellington a couple of years ago, I marveled at how seeing the top horses in person was so remarkably different than even the very best video on a computer or television, so I was prepared to be impressed.
SWEET FANCY MOSES!!!!
The second half of the individual qualifying tests featured the top 2 riders from each country, and there were no disappointments. Well, there was one–poor Adelinde Cornelissen and Parzival! Very early into her clearly fantastic ride, she was rung out. Just moments after her trot half pass left (for which she received 8s and 9s) and halt/reinback, the bell rang and she came to a halt at M (location of our seats). There was a small amount of foamy blood on Parzival’s lips (from an unfortunate minor tongue bite during the test), which is an automatic elimination. She paused, still holding the reins, for about 2 full seconds (I’m sure regaining composure) and then dropped them, walking out on a loose rein to cheers from the crowd. Sadly, this means she won’t be continuing on, and sadly, no one gets to see this beautiful pair in action.
The Spanish team BY FAR wins the best dressed team award. Each rider on a grey PRE or Lusitano, and wearing very smart looking grey tail coats (and, ahem, we all know I love a grey coat!). Norte, ridden by José Antonio Garcia Mena, and Fuego XII, ridden by Juan Manuel Muñoz Diaz rode fabulous tests. Diaz will be returning based on his 73.957% score today.
Germany’s Matthias Alexander Rath on Sterntaler-Unicef had an almost mistake free ride. He got straight 9s for the free walk (impressive for a GP horse), but then totally boogered the last piaffe–in fact he did one or 2 steps and then got out of it, receiving several 1s. Still, he finished with a 72.553%, and we’ll see them again, too.
A couple of rides later I left my seat to meander closer to the action for Carl Hester and Liebling. I videoed this test in it’s entirety, and it was lovely, so I have no still photos to share. There will be more about Carl later.
Tina Konyot and Calecto V had several mistakes, unfortunately–a break to canter in the first extended trot, stopping in a piaffe, which reduced her score to 70.000% but I think she’s just barely gonna skate into the final round with that score.
Far and away the most interesting, and well dressed individual rider was Susanna Bordone from Italy. She is a police officer (edit: Carabinieri officer, who are now part of the military but were originally the Italian Royal Guards when Italy was still a monarchy) and wore her uniform–a short black coat with a derby style hat, and black breeches with a bold red stripe down the outside of the leg. My photo does NOT do this ensemble justice.
The afternoon session was jam packed–the stands were pretty crowded, but far from full. At 2:31 Edward Gal and Totilas entered the ring and as you would expect, the crowd erupted. It appears that all patriotism aside, EVERYONE loves this horse. The test looked effortless. It was breathtaking, and this horse–in person–doesn’t even seem like the same SPECIES as the rest of them. And I’ll tell you what really separates the cream from the cream based on watching this test–transitions. The trot to halt/reinback, the passage/piaffe/passage, the passage/canter, etc. all SEAMLESS. The pirouettes ON THE SPOT. The piaffe ON THE SPOT. Incredible. Ridiculous. Breathtaking. 84.043%
I could go on and on, but again, it’s getting late. One of my life-long favorite riders, Isabell Werth, put in a beautiful test for a 75+%, Laura Bechtolsheimer blew the doors off with an 82.511% (wow, what a fantastic test as well!) Ashley Holzer and Pop Art…the eye candy just continued and continued.
The last ride of the night was Ravel and Steffen Peters. Ravel has really changed–hard to believe he could be improved upon–and the whole stadium was in an uproar! Ravel had a few bobbles in the beginning (some spooks), but finished his test strong with a 78.596% for 3rd place moving forward.
The GP Special is tomorrow, which I am sure will be equally fabulous–and stay tuned as I think I have a trick up my sleeve for my next update!!!