Calm, Forward, Straight

Calm, Forward, Straight

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Olympic Dressage Freestyle - this is why I love dressage!

Yesterday the team dressage competition in London was decided with the Grand Prix Special. I am so happy to say that it seemed tactful, sensitive riding revealing happy partnerships prevailed, and was rewarded by the judges.

Congratulations to Laura Brechtosheimer, Carl Hester and Charlotte Dujardin!

Photo credit FEI / Kit Houghton

Here is a link to an excellent article from eurodressage critiquing a number of rides from the day, as well as detailing some welcome changes in the judging protocol established in London. Really good reading plus photos and a slide show of the special.

On to the freestyle... 

I really really wanted to watch the freestyle rides live.

How much? Enough to blow who knows how much bandwidth. Enough to squint through suddenly pixilated screens while cursing random advertisements that popped up in the middle of rides I've waited the whole Olympic games to watch (NBC - you weren't hitting on much my friends) while sitting on my tractor in the hot sun. That's how much.

I caught the (new to me) Portuguese horse and rider combo Rubi and Goncalo Carvalho. A lovely ride - hope to see more of them in the future. Also my favorite Spanish pair from the 2010 WEG, Fuego XII and Juan Manuel Munoz Diaz. Sadly, I thought they lacked the fire that they had at the WEGs... and it seemed like the same or a very similar freestyle as the one two years ago.

I hope all is well with them - when they are on, you can't take your eyes off of them. (I think I am in love with the baroque type horses - yes, I'm sure I am. I want one.)

Fuego and Munoz Diaz    Photo by FEI/Kit Houghton

Steffen Peters and Ravel rode their last freestyle together, as it was announced afterwords that Ravel would be retired. It wasn't their best ride - Ravel looked distracted and made some uncharacteristic errors, much as he did in the Grand Prix Special. Peters stated how much Ravel deserved his retirement, that they owed it to him, but he was disappointed to have gone out with a performance that wasn't Ravel's best...

The British riders, much as they have been in all three equestrian disciplines, were the riders to watch. Laura Brechtosheimer and Mistral Hojris were relaxed yet powerful, Carl Hester and Uthopia had the best music and were the most in tune with it - they were dancing and so unified - a sparkling performance. They saved the best for last however, with Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro.

I will edit to post video as soon as it is available. If you were able to watch streaming video, you overheard Dujardin after leaving the arena, overcome and in tears. As she was hugged by her crew, she said how Valegro was so tired, so knackered was how she put it. She said he gave his best, he gave her everything out there, he left it all there in the arena, and that she didn't have the heart to use her spurs on him. That's what it is all about for me... horses, riding, dressage.

How privileged we are to watch, and experience, such sublime partnerships.

Edited to add - This is a quote from eurodressage's article about today's dressage freestyle:

"When asked why the Brit was first and the Dutch second, Stephen Clarke, president of the ground jury and kur judge at C, hit the nail on the head and showed that the judges look for what dressage is truly about. "The first two horses certainly were very close," Clarke said. "The impression we had was that Adelinde had huge power and expression and for us there could have been more lightness and self-carriage. The horse crosses its jaw, which took down the harmony mark a touch. Charlotte had more self-carriage, not quite as much power and expression in piaffe and passage. One had more power, the other more harmony and self-carriage. Our decision was for the harmony."


Still waiting for the inside the arena video to become available, but in the meantime...


Valegro and Dujardin    Ken Braddock /

Dujardin   Reuters image

Reuters image

Photo by Jorge Silva / Reuters

Photo by FEI / Kit Houghton


  1. You said it so much better than me!

    I didn't see all the rides, as I zoned out on a few of them, but I totally agree with you about Diaz and Fuego. I watched all three of his rides, and thought to myself "What was the fuss about?". But, an Andalusian is still on my horse wish-list!

    I loved Steffen's rides. Even though there were faults, their partnership rang true and Steffen was able to skillfully guide Ravel past the errors. I think it was a lovely final note for their partnership. I will always look to him as an example of the rider and horseman I want to be.

    And Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro? Wow. That girl has showed us all how to ride a horse! I think she may have just started a revolution!

  2. I saw her reaction to her score after her ride, but I didn't hear her words. Thank you so much for sharing them. They make me admire her more - if that is possible. She was already my hero for wearing a helmet. She truly represents the best our sport has to offer in both skill and attitude.

  3. I will have to go back and watch Charlotte. I watched a few rides today at work, including Steffen Peter's.
    Being new to dressage (it appears that my horse enjoys doing it with her trainer), I don't know too much about it. I was in awe! And I agree, we are so privileged to be able to watch these amazing athletes.

  4. You've said it all very well. Ravel is a wonderful horse and has earned his retirement.

    Loved Charlotte D. and what she said afterwards about her horse. Class act and it was so nice to see a top rider really care about her horse and give him credit. I was very happy she won. She deserved it.

  5. I can't wait to see it for myself!

    I absolutely love the judge's reasoning for selecting the winner. That is nothing short of justice for the sport.

    I am happy that a new country has finally taken the gold in dressage!

  6. Disappointed that Ravel did not do better, but always love to him under Steffen. I hope he has a fun retirement.

    As for the gold, this is a well-deserved and wonderful victory. Valegro is trained the way a dressage horse is supposed to be.

    Which leads to the silver...Wish the judges would penalize that short neck, "crossed jaw" and the consequences of rollkur a lot more. That's the only way it's going to be stopped. *sigh*

  7. I found the freestyle just overwhelming - one brilliant ride after another. I wathced on streaming video so caught all the comments and medal ceremony. I was crying too! So moving and such a great turn of events for dressage.


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