Friday will go down as one of the most fun, educational, and entertaining in my entire “dressage” history. In the morning, my friends and I went to Keeneland race track, which was just down the street from out hotel. For those of you who don’t know, Keeneland is a historic thoroughbred race track that is unique in the USA–it’s not large, it’s not commercial, and it is BEAUTIFUL. The feeling as you walk around is that of being on a college campus–there is cut stone and ivy everywhere. Race season starts there next week, and it was pretty quiet, allowing us to walk all around, including ON the track.
From there, we made our way back to the KY Horse Park. There was last minute shopping (window and actual ;)) to be done! A couple hours before the MFS was to start, the USDF held a reception hosted by Dover Saddlery. This was truly a who’s who–Courtney King, George Williams, North Carolinians Kay Meredith, Bailey Cook, and Robin Brueckmann, the president of Dover Saddlery (who attempted, in vain, to explain to my why their shipping costs are so high), several Sprenger reps, Alison Head (USDF Region 1 President), and many more. The spread was fantastic with lots of food, wine, and champagne!
The crowds were thickening on the thoroughfare below, so we eventually made our way back to the stadium. Fifteen rides were completed, and there was a lot of variety in the choreography and music. I had already seen Edward Gal’s “Transformers” MFS online, but as expected it was electrifying in person. He did have one bauble (a break to canter on the first extended trot), and still managed a 91%. I had also seen Steffen Peters’ “Safety Dance/Sympathy for the Devil/Cold Play” MFS–although I think it was slightly changed since Wellington a couple years ago–and again I think overall Ravel has improved dramatically.
It might surprise you to hear that, despite his total awesome-ness, Totilas’ MFS was not my favorite. Laura Bechtolsheimer’s “Spaghetti Western” music fit Mistral Hojris’ movement perfectly, and the choreography was clear and highlighted the beautiful gelding. Juan Manuel Muñoz Diaz’ “Flamenco” (obviously apropos for a Spanish horse and rider) was a crowd favorite. Fuego seemed to enjoy the spectators, who clapped and yelled in response to the fantastic freestyle. Of course, the one handed one-tempis and passage down the centerline didn’t hurt! Those who weren’t already on their feet by the end quickly jumped up to give the team a standing ovation (the first of the evening), actually spooking Fuego! Still, Muñoz Diaz was all smiles. Disappointingly to me, the pair ended up fifth overall–I realize this may be the best a PRE horse may have ever done in an international competition of this calibre, but I believe this horse should have medalled. He may not have won a medal, but he won my (and many others’) heart! A quick google of “Fuego dressage” will give you dozens of articles and photos with similar sentiment.
Hmmm…instead of Germany or Holland, maybe I’ll be traveling to Spain when it’s time to find my next partner…
(And just in case you can’t fathom a world in which an Andalusian (PRE) is on par with a KWPN, look at this photo montage I found below!)