Sunday, February 7, 2010

World Dressage Masters Competition-one trainer’s opinion

First, the results:

Salinero, van Grunsven, 82.750 83.500 87.750 83.000 85.250, 84.450
Ravel, Peters, 83.500 80.250 84.750 80.750 79.250 81.700
Satchmo78, Werth, 77.500 80.250 81.250 79.750 76.000 78.950
Pop Art, Holzer, 74.500 77.000 78.000 76.750 75.250 76.300
Leonberg, Gunderse, 74.000 74.250 69.250 72.000 71.500 72.200
Ovation, Laarakkers, 71.750 72.000 70.250 68.750 73.000 71.150
CalectoV, Konyot, 72.000 67.500 70.750 72.500 70.750 70.700
LeMont d'Or, Ploenzke, 69.000 70.750 68.500 69.000 72.500 69.950

All the tests can be appreciated for the level of skill and quality of both horse and rider. There are two horses that I would like to ride...Ravel and Pop Art. In my opinion, the others were lacking in fundamentals in their training that would make them not fun to ride. Yes, those two also made mistakes, but they were either mistakes of the test, or of the night, but not mistakes of the training.

Salinero and Satchmo both were laterally supple, but showed an endemic lack of luppleness longitudinally, which affects collection and even more fundamentally, rhythm. Both showed a quickening of the rhythm in almost every movement, especially in the piaffe and tempi changes, and for Satchmo resulted in mistakes in the changes at the end, and his rhythm was even more affected than Salinero's.

The feeling I got was that the flambouyant articulation of the joints in Salinero, and the fact that he is laterally supple was more important to the judges than the fact that the collection was not enough for Grand Prix. His hind legs (even in piaffe and passage) were not quite under the optimum point of balance for the horse. If you look at the angles of the entire hindquarters in a good profile picture, the hindquarters do lower, but not from bringing both hind legs optimally under, but rather from sheer articulation of the joints. This is NOT true collection, and it speaks to the inherent quality of this horse that he is able to do that without breaking down, but do we really want to reward the sheer strength of articulation in one horse at the expense of the highest principle of riding (collection)?

Apart from one spook at the F corner (because of an enthusiastic crowd), and the want of a bit more activity in the piaffe, the partnership of Ravel and Steffen was flawless. He was truly collected. He showed lateral and longitudinal suppleness, his rhythm was impeccable throughout, his transitions in and out of movements were incredibly balanced, strong and supple, and you should have seen one particular point in the freestyle where he transitioned from canter pirouette, straight into piaffe, straight into extended walk--WOW. His degree of difficulty was outstanding and he stated in the press release at the awards ceremony that he wished in hindsight that he had risked the one-handed tempi-changes.

In my opinion (while that would have been great to see, and he could have totally pulled it off), it wasn't necessary for him to have won the class. He should have won it on the merits of the strength of his fundamentals, the super choice of music, and the degree of difficulty that he DID show....which was second to none.

Steffen was the absolute sportsman in the press release, giving compliments to the winner and the other riders, and I applaud him, even if I don't agree with him. ;-)
Here are some links to press releases and results of the show:

Exquis Palm Beach World Dressage Masters website

Dressage Daily awards ceremony press release

Dressage News results and press release

1 comment:

  1. Peters' and Ravel's performance was outstanding. I will have to agree with Mary and add: By watching them you could feel their partnership permeated through all the way with trust, understanding and respect for one another.
    Peters facilitated the performance for Ravel to demonstrate his incredible talent with pride.
    You could see every step of the pyramid throughout their ride!
    I don't want to call it a textbook ride, as it was not only technically correct... it had a lot of soul and feel that added another dimension!
    What an inspiration. To me, that's what this sport is all about!