It was interesting to watch the jumping session as the riders could do whatever they wanted... ride around the course to get their mounts accustomed to the arena without taking jumps or take some or all the jumps. It depended, I suppose, on what they knew their horse needed. Just getting used to the noise and commotion would be important. Some horses were pretty wired and others seemed to take everything in stride.
The horse and rider above is the 2014 World Cup Final champion: Daniel Deusser of Germany on Cornet d'Amour, who was 10th this year after Final I, 21st after Final II and ended up 14th after Final III. The horse below is Molly Malone V from Ireland with the amazing 19 year old rider Bertram Allen who would end up first after Jumping Final I, 7th after Final II, and back up to 3rd after Final III. Obviously, the courses were very difficult and the horses and riders very talented.
At least some of the riders felt the final course was too dangerous. U.S. rider McLain Ward, pictured below during the training session, was one of those. He retired his horse after Round A of Sunday's final rather than risk injury in the speed Round B on what he felt was an unsafe course. Friend Ruth and I did not stay for Sunday's final and, after hearing about all the crashes through the gates, I'm glad we did not.
In the afternoon on Wednesday, it was the dressage riders turn for a practice session in the arena. The 18 World Cup qualifiers plus the horses there for the Dressage Showcase on Friday afternoon all had a chance to get used to the ring. First up were the World Cup contestants. Of course, I had to get a photo of the incomparable Valegro with Charlotte Dujardin from Great Britain. There really is no way to describe this pair. Everyone else was there to fight over second place. Valegro is just incredible.
I had read that Shannon Peters and Weltino's Magic would be giving an exhibition on Friday afternoon. I did not realize that the exhibition would be a pas de deux competition. We were still clueless during this training session when she and David Blake on Ikaros paired up for pas de deux practice.
I should have known something fun was in store by the look on Shannon's face.
Two more pairs practiced pas de deux plus two riders practiced individually. Those turned out to be "rising star" exhibitions for Friday afternoon. Last in the practice session was Guenter Seidel with three women riders in a quadrille. All the showcase riders were from the United States. What a kick those exhibitions turned out to be on Friday afternoon.