Friday, April 24, 2015

The Highs and Lows of the 2015 World Cup Dressage Freestyle

The high point, of course, was the incredible freestyle of Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro. Words cannot do justice to this ride. Even Axel Steiner, who had been talking through every ride, explaining the excellents and the not-so-excellent points, was virtually silent except for an occasional, "perfection" or "extraordinary". At the end of the ride he said, "I have seen many freestyles in my life, but I have never seen anything like this. I confess I have tears in my eyes..." As for me, I was sobbing through the whole ride. Hey, I'm sobbing just remembering. How I took these photos, I don't know.

From the beginning halt to the final salute, Valegro was perfect.

1st, of course, 94.196

Three horses had to follow that act with all of us still on our feet, applauding and crying, when Edward Gal rode in on Glock's Undercover... and did a fantastic job... but, of course, he was vying for second, which he achieved handily. I must say here that I was not a fan of his training methods during the Totilas days but either he has mellowed or I have. He seemed to have a wonderful rapport with this horse both during the practice session and this performance. It was a well deserved 84.

Glock's Undercover N.O.P.

2nd   84.696
Of course, the crowd went wild when Steffen rode in on Legolas. So wild that Steffen put a hand out in a damping down motion while Axel, who had been telling us to applaud whenever we saw something we liked out on the floor, cautioned us to be quiet with this horse as he is very hot and was obviously wired up. Of course, most of the crowd did not have Axel talking in their ears but Steffen's hand motion did quiet the crowd. Until the final salute when they went wild. As did Legolas. Steffen waved to the audience and kept "Legs" out there, I suppose to try to get him used to the crowd. Legs obviously just wanted out of there and took some mighty leaps. It was probably during that post-performance hysteria when Steffen's spur inadvertently nicked Legs very sensitive skin and raised the "tiny drop of blood" that eliminated them from the competition. But we did not know that he had been eliminated until after we returned home.


4th before elimination with 80.286, 3rd briefly until the last rider passed him

Unee BB

3rd  80.464
It was a thrilling exhibition and nothing to darken it until we learned after returning home the next day that Steffen had been eliminated. It brought back memories of the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky five years ago when we had looked forward to watching another super horse and rider from across the seas, only to have her eliminated before the ride when a judge noticed, in her first pass in front of the judge's stand, pink in the foam around the horse's mouth. It was determined to be blood and she never got to make the ride. Probably, the horse bit her tongue to raise the blood. FEI rules are clear: any blood anywhere is cause for elimination. Everyone supports that rule, but... once in awhile, it eliminates a horse because of an innocent accident. Those are the breaks of the game.

World Cup 2015 Grand Prix Freestyle

At last, on Saturday, April 18, came the freestyles we had been waiting for. The opportunity to see Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro in person was too good to miss... and that's why we found ourselves in Las Vegas.

As for the Grand Prix on the first day of competition, I thought all the rides were fabulous. But with Axel Steiner talking in our ears, telling us the finer points of what was going on, or should be, we started to get better at telling the difference between performances. The only way to see these differences is to watch the videos of the rides. We hope to buy DVDs of this FEI World Cup 2015 and watch them again. One time through is not enough. Especially not for the incredible Valegro freestyle!

But, for what it's worth, and for remembrance sake for myself and Ruth, here are the horses and their scores in the order they appeared. The score on the monitor is provisional. (And the ranking is where they placed relative to those horses that had gone before them...  so for a brief moment, the first rider enjoyed ranking first.) The score in the caption below is the final, official score. The first line in the score is technical, the second artistic.

16th   69.357

Jojo AZ

11th   74.036

Romeo Star

17th   68.571

Axis TSF

13th   71.214

Qui Vincit Dynamis

10th   74.804

My Lady

9th   75.018
The first nine horses were in the first bay. Axel Steiner told us that we would see even more spectacular freestyles in the second group of nine horses. And he was, of course, correct.


12th  73.839


15th   70.625

Di Lapponia T

14th   71.000

The first nine horses were in the first bay. Axel Steiner told us that we would see freestyles even better, technically and artistically, in the second group of nine horses. And he was, of course, correct.

Mister X

7th   76.911

Painted Black

8th   76.161

El Santo NRW

6th   77.875

Glock's Flirt

5th  79.036


4th    79.125
I will save the last four horses for the next blog, with the highs and lows of this 2015 World Cup Dressage Freestyle.