Classic Eventing Nation

Saturday Links from World Equestrian Brands

 

Here’a a quick, terrifying reminder to A) have an emergency plan, and B) have amazing neighbors. The hay barn at Sharon White’s Last Frontier Farm was struck by lightning and caught fire earlier this week while she was away teaching, but the farm staff and local neighbors jumped into action quickly. Fortunately, the hay barn was situated away from other buildings on the property in case of just such a situation and the local emergency responders were able to contain the fire’s damage to the hay barn and hay supply itself. While that’s certainly a big loss, we’re so thankful to hear that no humans or animals were injured.

U.S. Weekend Action

Fair Hill International H.T. (Elkton, MD): [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Scoring] [Volunteer]

GMHA Festival of Eventing August H.T. (South Woodstock, VT): [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Scoring] [Volunteer]

Otter Creek Summer H.T. (Wheeler, WI): [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Scoring] [Volunteer]

WindRidge Farm Summer H.T. (Mooresboro, NC): [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Scoring]

Major International Events

NAF Five Star Hartpury International H.T. (Gloucestershire, England): [Website] [Timing & Scoring] [Live Stream]

Le Grand Complet International H.T. (Le Pin au Haras, France): [Website] [Timing & Scoring]

Saturday Links:

USEA Board of Governors Discuss Safety, Volunteers, Calendar Modifications, Membership, and More During August Meeting

FEI World Championships to leave a forest legacy

U.S. Para-Dressage Team In Bronze Medal Position After Day 1 Of Team Competition

Key considerations around around probiotic use in horses described

Sweden Secures Team Gold at the 2022 FEI Jumping World Championships

World Equestrian Brands Pick of the Week:

Saturday Video:

Friday Video: Back to Burghley with a Bang

Amidst all the chatter about next month’s World Championships, I can’t help but feel that all of us have rather overlooked something very exciting indeed — the return of the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials for the first time since 2019. This year will also be the first time we see Kentucky course designer Derek diGrazia in charge of the course, which means we’re set for plenty of surprises and, without a doubt, a heaping helping of pure eventing excitement and excellence. I can’t wait to walk up Winners Avenue once again and look at that illustrious row of names that stretches all the way back to the ’60s — and to get myself well and truly buzzing for the world’s beefiest five-star, I’ve been rewatching some of the most epic rounds of the last few years. It feels appropriate, since he’s in the lead here at Haras du Pin at the moment, to share a bit of masterful riding from Michael Jung — so sit back and join me in reliving his exceptional round with La Biosthetique Sam FBW in 2015.

Michael Jung Sails to Haras du Pin Lead, Because Of Course He Does

Michael Jung and fischerChipmunk FRH deliver one of their best-ever tests to take the overnight lead. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

We’ve got to give credit where credit is due: 24-year-old Brit Mollie Summerland certainly put the pressure on the maestro. Her score of 22.5 with Charly van ter Heiden, which saw her take a decisive day one lead, wasn’t close to being usurped for much of the day today, even with many of the world’s best among the 109 competitors delivering first-phase performances. But if you’re going to be beaten by anyone, it’s probably not too disappointing when that ‘anyone’ is Herr Michael Jung and his Kentucky champion (and veritable superhorse) fischerChipmunk FRH, and it’s got to be even less disappointing when he only actually managed to beat you by a piddling 2.5 penalties. Which isn’t, of course, to say that a first-phase score of 20 isn’t wildly impressive — of course it is, even by Michi’s standards. In fact, it slides right into his top ten all-time best tests, which is saying something when you consider that he once dropped a 15.5 at Strzegom like it ain’t no thang.

“Chipmunk was very nice to ride today in the dressage; he was very relaxed and listening very good,” says Michi, who was awarded an 81.9% and first by both James Rooney at C and Nikki Herbert at M, but just a 76.19% and third by Emmanuelle Olier at E. “It was everything like I hoped and wished, so it was just fun today to just enjoy riding him.”

While Haras du Pin is in the spotlight for its role as a selection trial for Pratoni, Michi is, perhaps, the only person who can come here to focus on the fun of competition — it’s hard to imagine any circumstances in which the pair won’t be selected for the World Championships, though we reckon second-placed Mollie will be hot on his heels tomorrow.

Maxime Livio and Api du Libaire lead the way for the home nation, sitting third overnight. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

The home nation got a big boost in the form of stalwart competitor Maxime Livio, who piloted his 2021 European Championships top-ten finisher to an excellent 26.7 — good enough for third, though by a margin of over four penalties off second-placed Mollie Summerland and Charly van ter Heiden. But although his mark puts him in an enormously competitive position after 109 tests, Maxime felt that the work was lacking in just a touch of match practice, and eking out the best possible marks was an exercise in tactful, sympathetic riding.

“He was a bit excited — not tense or worried, but just excited to compete for the first time in a long time,” says Maxime, who last ran an international with the gelding back in May, when they finished ninth at the Pratoni test event CCI4*-S. “But he was so focused and he gave his best; it wasn’t so comfortable for me, because I could feel that excitement, but the horse was ready to do it well. All his halts were very square, and he was very generous in the extended movement and very focused, so I’m very happy with him.”

The gelding, who dipped down to 21.3 at last year’s Europeans, is certainly a not-so-secret weapon for the French, but nevertheless, Maxime doesn’t intend to leave the start box tomorrow with a point to prove.

“I know that when he’s a bit more relaxed he can be better, so hopefully with this competition and the new competition plan I have for the rest of the season, he’ll have the same mind but with less excitement. Then he’ll be easier to ride for me, but I was very pleased with his test — and I think tomorrow, too, he’ll be so excited, so maybe I’ll take my time and make it a bit smooth and easy for him. I won’t be riding for the time as the priority; it’ll really depend on the way he feels, because I want him to restart the new part of the season with a good round. I’ll ride the time depending on the way he is.”

Christoph Wahler and Carjatan S join an impressive German front in the top ten. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Germany’s Christoph Wahler probably hadn’t quite intended to wait until August to run his Badminton ride, Carjatan S, again — “but we had to wait until he regrew a part of his hoof that’s still at Badminton!” he says. The rangy grey, with whom he finished second at Luhmühlen CCI5* last season, could have been justifiably fresh as a result today: we’ve often seen him fizz up in this phase in the early part of the season, when he’s not had a huge amount of exposure to atmosphere, but today, he emerged as a consummate professional. That allowed Christoph, whose family business of breeding and producing high-performance dressage horses means he’s something of a master craftsman in this phase, to push Carjatan’s expressive movement very nearly to its fullest potential, earning himself a 26.9 and equal overnight fifth in the process. It’s not a shabby start, considering what’s on the line — Christoph, who finished just outside the top twenty at Badminton with Carjatan, is one of a small number of very good German riders who are fighting for a World Championship debut next month, and it all hinges on this weekend.

“We’d thought about Aachen with him, but he’d barely done any canter work at that point, and as a German, if you go to Aachen you want to be competitive,” says Christoph. “And looking ahead for Pratoni, I didn’t want to show him in not his best condition. So I’m happy with the way he is now.”

Though Haras du Pin has quite a unique arena set-up, in which horses warm up in an adjacent space in the main arena, that suited Carjatan perfectly as he was able to do his final moments of work in the same atmosphere he’d face during his test.

“I think it’s a perfect arena, actually, because there’s not too much atmosphere and they all seem to be pretty calm,” says Christoph. “[Warming up in that way] was good for him, even though I was early because they were running ahead of time, so he was alone in that final warm-up. But that didn’t seem to make much difference. And I have been taking him to other shows just to ride a bit — not to compete, but just training, so for him, it feels like he’s far into his season, and that’s when he gets better and better.”

For Christoph, getting a ‘clear round’ test — which Carjatan typically begins to deliver after the mid-point of the year, when he’s settled into his season, was the highlight of the day.

“We all know he can be very spectacular, but when I put the pressure on him to make the trot even more extravagant, that’s when he can get a little bit tense — but for me, actually, we had probably the best walk he’s ever done today, and all the halts were good. I wasn’t super happy with the lateral work, because we led with the hind legs for a couple of meters in the half-pass, but we did get it back.”

Now, Christoph is looking forward to a run around the typically tough cross-country track, which blends European-style technicality with British-style dimensional boldness and galloping lanes – a combination that should suit the gelding perfectly.

“I don’t like it when courses don’t have big fences but they just twist and turn all the time, but this is very big — it does feel almost like a British course,” he says. “That usually suits him, and it’s good to have several undulations, too, which will be super good for getting them fit for the hills at Pratoni. That’s important for him, because this will be his only run before the World Championships if we’re selected — but I think it’ll prepare him well.”

Gireg le Coz’s Aisprit de la Loge looks better than ever en route to a spot in the top ten in the first phase. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Another Badminton runner to make his first international start since his trip to Gloucestershire is Gireg le Coz‘s 12-year-old Selle Français Aisprit de la Loge. The pair took eighteenth place at Badminton, which was their debut at the level, and though they couldn’t quite rival their 26.7 there today, they nearly made it: they posted a 26.9, which sees them hold equal fifth with Christoph and Carjatan, as well as German duo Malin Hansen-Hotopp and Carlitos Quidditch K, who did their test yesterday.

Jerome Robine makes his second appearance in the top ten this week, this time with Black Ice. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

After taking a top ten spot yesterday with Brave Heart 10, who now sits 22nd on his score of 29.8, 24-year-old German up-and-comer Jerôme Robiné made it happen again today, coming forward near the end of the day with his excellent Black Ice. The gelding, with whom he finished fifth in Luhmühlen’s German National Championship CCI4*-S in June, delivered a very good score of 27 — the same he’d earned at Luhmühlen. That was enough to see them take overnight eighth going into tomorrow’s cross-country, though they’re just a tenth of a penalty behind ninth-placed Tim Price and Coup de Coeur Dudevin. Another tenth of a penalty is all that separates Tim from overnight tenth-placed Kevin McNab and Willunga, who lead the way for the Australian contingent in this truly global (though arguably German-heavy) leaderboard.

Tomorrow sees the CCIO4*-S competitors take on a bold, technical cross-country course designed by Paris Olympics designer Pierre le Goupil, though there’s been some consternation in the ranks — justifiably so — by riders concerned about the extreme heat forecast for tomorrow. But although the officials were lobbied to relocate the afternoon cross-country session to the morning, which would mean displacing the CCI2*-L to the afternoon, or even consider moving it to a considerably cooler Sunday, they were firm in their resolve, citing the FEI’s heat index guidelines as justification for their call. That means we’ll see the CCIO4*-S cross-country run from 12.30 p.m. local time (11.30 a.m. BST/6.30 a.m. EST) to an estimated 18.00 local time (17.00 BST/12.00 p.m. EST) — and you’ll be able to follow along with all the action via the dedicated livestream.

Until next time: Go Eventing!

The top ten at the culmination of the dressage phase at Haras du Pin.

Snoozing and Cruising: The Haras du Pin Dressage Social Round-Up

Somehow — and with the help of plenty of cold beverages — we’ve made it to the end of the second day of dressage here at beautiful Haras du Pin, where the temperatures are in full-on heatwave mode and the class, with its field of well over 100 entries, is every inch as hot. Before we bring you our dressage wrap-up, enjoy a look at some of Thursday and Friday’s action, through the lens of the ‘Gram.

 

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Le Grand Complet: Website, Entries, Times & Scoring, EN’s Coverage, EN’s Twitter, EN’s Instagram

Herning 2022 Sets the Bar High for Grooms

Television graphic from the ECCO FEI World Championships 2022 in Herning (DEN).

The Organising Committee of the ECCO FEI World Championships in Herning (DEN) have not only provided athletes with top class competition conditions, but have also set a new benchmark for the care and recognition of Grooms at equestrian Events.

With a dedicated Groom’s Lounge at the stable area, to in-venue recognition for Grooms on the big screen, the Organising Committee have ensured that this stakeholder group were well integrated into all organisational aspects of the World Championships.

“We have been very impressed with the level and attention that the Grooms have received during the ECCO FEI World Championships in Herning,” Founding Director of the International Grooms Association™ (IGA) Lucy Katan said.

“The #ChampionsAsOne concept has resonated strongly throughout the Event and we are extremely pleased to see that Grooms, who have been the unsung heroes of the equestrian world in the past, are now being formally recognised and appreciated for all their hard work behind-the-scenes.

“While the Organisers have proactively introduced key initiatives to provide comfortable working conditions for Grooms, they have also been open and willing to listen to the IGA’s ideas and suggestions.

“As an ‘IGA Show Supporter’, the Organising Committee have worked closely with us to implement feedback from Grooms received through an international survey we carried out earlier this year. A key point that came through strongly was to have a ‘grab-and-go’ style take away option for late night food provisions that would be of use to Grooms on the really busy and long days. The IGA fed this back to Herning 2022 and we were delighted when we learned that this service was made available for the Grooms at the Championships.”

Emma Chapman and Cristalline (Stella). Photo courtesy of the FEI/Liz Gregg.

In a move away from tradition, the ECCO FEI World Championships in Herning also saw Grooms feature in the prize giving ceremonies for the first time ever. Every Groom was mentioned by name and formally included in the gift giving protocol during the ceremony.

“Grooms are an integral part of the equestrian family and as any athlete knows, behind every happy horse is a happy Groom!” Herning 2022 CEO of Sport Jens Traberg said.

“We wanted to ensure that Grooms are looked after, not just in terms of food and beverages but that their work and their important place in the equestrian community is also recognised.”

The significance of the inclusion of Grooms in key celebratory moments was not lost on the community.

“It was an emotional moment to see members of the Grooms community finally get recognised for the work that they do behind-the-scenes,” IGA representative in Herning Jenny Ellis said.

“The ECCO FEI World Championships in Herning have certainly set the bar high and we hope that others will continue to build on what has been done here in Denmark for the Grooms community, and will share these best practices with other Organising Committees in the future.”

An independent not-for-profit professional association, the IGA was established to achieve greater representation and career recognition for grooms, as well as to improve their working conditions, especially at equestrian events where long hours are the norm.

The IGA was formally recognised by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) at the FEI Sports Forum held in Lausanne (SUI) in April 2022.

Friday News & Notes Presented by Zoetis

Back to school, but make it equestrian. Photo by Danielle Mauldin.

Alright August, I’m ready to stop waking up at five in the morning in order to have the energy to ride my barn of extremely energetic thoroughbreds. I don’t know how many of you are in Virginia, or have experienced a Virginia summer, but there is something completely and utterly soul sucking about the combination of heat and humidity. If you like sweating for ten hours straight and feeling a sense of panic about dehydration for months on end, I recommend Virginia. It’s beautiful here, but you’ll regret your life choices every summer.

U.S. Weekend Preview

Fair Hill International H.T. (Elkton, MD): [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Scoring] [Volunteer]

GMHA Festival of Eventing August H.T. (South Woodstock, VT): [Website] [Entry Status] [Scoring] [Volunteer]

Otter Creek Summer H.T. (Wheeler, WI): [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Volunteer]

WindRidge Farm Summer H.T. (Mooresboro, NC): [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Scoring]

Major International Events

NAF Five Star Hartpury International H.T. (Gloucestershire, England): [Website] [Timing & Scoring] [Live Stream]

Le Grand Complet International H.T. (Le Pin au Haras, France): [Website] [Timing & Scoring]

News From Around the Globe:

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to compete in a traditional long format Three-Day Event? Can you imagine the thrill of three additional phases leading into cross-country? In the early 2000s, eventing began to shift away from long format events and toward modern short-format competitions. Luckily, the USEA Classic Series competitions preserve eventing’s history and allow riders at the Beginner Novice through Preliminary levels to take on the challenge of traditional long format events. Get some top tips on incorporating a long-format event into your schedule from Dorothy Crowell. [Dorothy Crowell’s Tips on Long-Format Competitions]

We love a good comeback story, and successfully rehabbing from a severed tendon certainly counts. Victoria Gulliksen helped the Norwegian team win the 2019 Longines FEI Nations Cup in Greece with her horse Equine America Papa Roach. On the flight back to Norway, a piece of metal came loose on the plane and severed a tendon on Papi’s back leg. The vets said he was finished, and he would never return to competition. With patience and an incredible rehab however, Papi has returned to the top level. [From Severed Tendon to World Championships]

 

Trying to go see the Maryland Five Star this year? You’re in luck! Enter this contest now to win a trip for two to the Maryland 5 Star, October 13-16, 2022. One Grand Prize Winner will win an all expenses paid trip including airfare, accommodations, and VIP All Access Passes to the 5 Star! [Practical Horseman Contest]

Making your championship debut by leading the standings isn’t a bad way to start. Dominating proceedings at the top of the leaderboard after two days of competition at the Agria FEI World Showjumping Championships in Herning, Denmark, is French rider Julien Epaillard, riding the 10-year-old mare Caracole De La Roque. This fiery mare, whom his rider describes as slightly out of control at times, needs a special routine to manage her quirky nature, but there is no doubting one thing – she has bucketloads of ability and a fierce will to win. [Meet the Show Jumping Championship Leaders]

Thursday Video: Dance to Gold (Again!) with Lottie Fry

There’s obviously something potent about being British, called Charlotte, and riding horses — because after many years of dressage domination by a certain Ms. Dujardin, 26-year-old Lottie Fry has become the sport’s most exciting name. She took individual gold in the Grand Prix Special a couple of days ago at Herning and, obviously not content with just laying down the law once, she went on to repeat the feat with Glamourdale in the Freestyle, earning a second individual gold and a score of over 90% for her efforts. Personally, we’re very into her choice of music, which features banger after banger and had the packed stadium clapping in time throughout — even through that piaffe pirouette. Want to be seriously inspired tonight? This goosebumps-inducing routine is all you need.

“It’s the Toughest Field I’ve Competed Against”: Mollie Summerland Dances to Haras du Pin Day One Lead

Mollie Summerland and Charly van ter Heiden dance their way to a 22.5, putting them at the front of the pack by over four penalties. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Few riders have captured the public’s collective heart so wholly as 24-year-old Mollie Summerland, who became Luhmühlen’s youngest-ever winner last year with her longtime partner Charly van ter Heiden, and who has been so open about her mental health journey. But far from just being a pair that inspires deep sentiment, they’re also an enormously formidable duo — particularly in the first phase, for which they receive valuable help and training from pure dressage riders Carl Hester and Olivia Oakeley. But while it might come as little surprise to her many fans that she scored a 22.5 today to take a 4.3 point lead, Mollie actually arrived at Haras du Pin wondering if she might be in too deep with such a high-calibre field. Since settling into her surroundings, though, she’s embraced the challenge with a smile on her face, viewing the chance to compete against most of the world’s best riders as an exceptional educational opportunity.

“It definitely is the toughest field that we’ve ever competed against — probably on a par with the standard that was at Badminton, but obviously here we’ve got the Germans out in full force,” says Mollie. “So I’m trying to use it as a really good experience, just to be inspired by the way that they work their horses, and having the opportunity to compete against some of the world’s best. I’m trying to spin it on its head and look at it really positively!”

But although she’s learning from the riders around her, Mollie is determined not to change anything for her thirteen-year-old gelding, who comes here off the back of a comeback win in Barbury’s CCI4*-S last month.

“It’s an amazing opportunity to be able to see some of the best riders in the world and how they work their horses and their ringcraft whilst they’re in the arena. I’ve seen people like Michael Jung and Julia Krajewski working their horses and lunging them, and I’ve tried not to let that dictate what I do with Charly — because at the end of the day, I know him best and what works for him, and the system I use to get the best out of him. It’s quite hard not to be tempted to try what other people are doing, but at the end of the day, everyone has their own system for their horse. The dressage is something I definitely have a lot of confidence in, and so I can trust that system.”

Mollie Summerland and Charly van ter Heiden. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Despite the soaring temperatures, which tipped into serious heatstroke territory today, Charly has been particularly fresh since his arrival on Tuesday evening — which required some serious planning for this morning’s exercise sessions.

“Yesterday, he was a very different horse — he was quite lit up in the trot-up. There were bad flies around, and he’s actually quite sensitive to things like that, so I had to make a plan so that he was definitely as rideable as he could be in the arena today. That obviously really worked, because he’s a different horse today,” says Mollie.

That meant that Mollie could use Charly’s residual spice to her advantage — particularly when she realised that Haras du Pin, unlike most other events, has riders complete their final warm-up in the main arena, with all of its considerable atmosphere.

“It’s quite a strange set-up that they’ve got here — it’s unique,” says Mollie. “You can work your horse in an arena that’s right next to the one in which you’ll do your test, and I think for some horses that’s not going to work, because they might switch off and lose that bit of sparkle that they’d normally take with them into the arena. So I was quite conscious of that, and I kept doing lots of walking in the arena next door, because I didn’t want him to lose that bit of wow factor. I was definitely not tempted to do too much in there, and I was also very conscious that the more I did in the heat, the more sweaty he’d get, and the more the flies would come after him — that was something I was really conscious of. When he foams up and starts getting irritated by the flies, that’s when things like the walk work become really difficult.”

That had been an issue that plagued the pair in their nonetheless leading Luhmühlen dressage test last year, but they had no such issues today, and never scored lower than the odd seven throughout their test.

“He felt brilliant in the test,” she says. “I’m always such a perfectionist that I’ll pull it apart and think there’s things that can be better, but apart from the left shoulder-in, which I need to learn to ride better, I couldn’t pull it apart too much. He did everything I asked of him and he was very rideable. His halts were very good, which is nice, because it’s actually quite a difficult movement for him, just to stand still and square.”

Though their test went much smoother today than at Luhmühlen, it was that experience that provided much of the intel Mollie needed to prepare her horse today. Today’s temperatures reached a balmy 33 degrees Celsius — that’s 91.4 Fahrenheit — but even they weren’t a patch on Luhmühlen’s weeklong highs of 96.8, which the gelding coped with remarkably well, despite his blood percentage of less than 25%.

“Whenever I feel myself worrying about the heat or the flies, I try and think about what situations I’ve been that have been similar, and I take confidence from that. I know he’s gone in seriously hot weather a few times before, like at the Fontainebleau Young Rider Europeans and at Luhmühlen, so I just use that to reassure myself that we’ve done this before and we can do it again,” she says. And, of course, it’s a real confidence-giver to be back abroad, where the tracks have a very different flavour to those in the UK — and it’s one that suits the German horse down to the ground.

“Foreign tracks always have plenty of places where you can run out — it’s lots of things like corners and arrowheads,” says Mollie. “I think there’ll be plenty of places where people will have 20s; it definitely won’t be a dressage competition, but every time I come abroad I feel that these tracks really suit Charly. He’s not strong and he’s easy to turn, but equally, you have to be on your game the whole way around. It’ll definitely reward the riders that have good partnerships with their horses — and hopefully that’s us!”

Sophie Leube and Jadore Moi make a great start to their final bid for Pratoni selection. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

The German entry at this year’s event is arguably the most formidable national front, and so it comes as little surprise to see their team lead the Nations Cup by a healthy 7.4 points — but the competition within the German rankings, of course, remains formidable, as they each fight for their chance to go to next month’s World Championships. One of the ‘new’ faces looking to join the ranks of Michi and Julia is Sophie Leube, a former apprentice rider for Ingrid Klimke who made headlines when winning Boekelo last season with Jadore Moi — in just a second-ever CCI4*-L run for both horse and rider. Those in the know, though, are achingly aware of the rider’s exceptional talent, which has seen her pilot the hot, clever mare to the dressage lead at Aachen in 2021 and follow it up with a fifth place finish there this summer. Arguably, she’d have been the one rider to go head to head with Mollie today – but such was the accuracy and expression in our overnight leader’s test that even a very smart bit of work and a 26.8 wouldn’t see them top the board on day one. Sophie and Jadore Moi will head out of the start box on Saturday in second position for the German team — but with their eyes firmly on a prize that could come to fruition in five weeks’ time.

Malin Hansen-Hotopp’s expressive Carlitos Quidditch K impresses a tough ground jury for overnight third. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

German team pathfinder Malin Hansen-Hotopp got the team’s day off to a super start, posting the first of just nine sub-30 scores with her expressive ten-year-old, Carlitos Quidditch K. Though the day felt, by and large, like a tough-scoring one, their test was a significant international personal best of 26.9, proving that the rangy gelding is really coming into his own this season as he gains in strength.

Tim Price ends the day with two in the top ten — including last year’s Pau winner and Pratoni pick of choice Falco. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

It was a good day in the office for Tim Price who, along with wife Jonelle, brings a packed lorry of contenders to this event. He’s finished the day with two in the top ten, taking overnight eighth with last year’s Pau winner Falco and fourth with the ten-year-old Selle Français Coup de Coeur Dudevin, a former Chris Burton ride who did two internationals with Jonelle last season before joining Tim’s string. They earned a 27.1 today, easily besting their only previous international score — a 31.7 earned at Millstreet CCI4*-L in June, where they finished second.

Gaspard Maksud and Zaragosa. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

UK-based Frenchman Gaspard Maksud has been floating around at this level for a couple of seasons now, accruing mileage with his first four-star mount Cado Louvo, but it’s since debuting the excellent Zaragoza at the level that he’s really stepped into the spotlight. Though she’s just nine years old, she’s picked up some seriously exciting results since making her debut at Bicton’s tough CCI4*-S last year: she finished twentieth there in an enormous field, wherein the final Tokyo selection trial was taking place, and followed it up with tenth in Blenheim’s eight- and nine-year-old CCI4*-S. This year has seen her take fourth place in Burnham Market’s CCI4*-S and Saumur’s CCI4*-L, and she was Gaspard’s partner for his French team debut at Aachen last month, where the pair were on excellent form until they had an unlucky stumble in the final water. It’s hard to hold that against her, though, particularly when you consider that the mare had not only never faulted previously in an FEI event — she’d also made the time in eight of her ten international runs.

Today, aware that the eyes of the selectors would be upon them, they upped their ante even more, delivering a 27.4 that puts them in equal fifth and represents their best-ever international score.

Alina Dibowski delivers another competitive test with the excellent Barbados 26. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

They’re joined in fifth place by Germany’s Alina Dibowski, the supremely talented 21-year-old daughter of Olympian Andreas Dibowski. She partnered Barbados 26, her former Junior and Young Rider Europeans mount, to a characteristically smart test that very nearly rivalled the 26.8 they earned when finishing sixth in Luhmühlen’s hot CCI4*-S in June.

Jesse Campbell and Diachello overcome a near disaster to earn a 28.1. Photo by Bruce Haskell.

New Zealand’s Jesse Campbell has an undeniable talent in his Olympic ride Diachello, who particularly impressed at Kentucky in 2021, where he finished 11th — but the first phase hasn’t always been smooth sailing. The 12-year-old Holsteiner can fluctuate between excellent scores in the 20s and tenser efforts in the mid-30s, even nipping up into the 40s at the test event at Pratoni — but it’s evident that his rider has been putting in the hours behind the scenes to settle him into his work. That effort was put to the test today when, early on in the pair’s test, an enormous parasol from the neighbouring bar took flight, soaring ten metres and taking out a group of spectators (and one startled German Shepherd). Though no one was hurt, it would have been enough to send most horses running for the hills — but Diachello didn’t so much as flick an ear in its direction, instead continuing his smooth course to a 28.1 and overnight seventh, just ahead of fellow Kiwi teammates Tim Price and Pau winner Falco, who were typically excellent for a 28.6 and eighth.

The top ten is rounded out by a German two-hander, and it’s one that represents either end of the experience spectrum: former World Champion Sandra Auffarth and her 2022 Aachen winner Viamant du Matz sit in equal ninth place on a 29.8 with 24-year-old Jerôme Robiné, who’s part of the German federation’s Warendorf training system, and Brave Heart 10.

Germany leads the way in the team competition, followed by the Kiwi contingent in second place, and Great Britain third out of the twelve nations contesting this Nations Cup, which concluded its first phase today.

Tomorrow sees another whopping line-up of individual horses and riders come forward to battle for the Haras crown — and, of course, coveted spots at next month’s World Championships. You can watch along via the live feed, and tune back in for more updates from Normany right here on EN.

The individual top ten at the halfway point of Haras du Pin’s enormous CCIO4*-S dressage.

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Related Subjects in Training: How ‘Insignificant’ Now Can Be ‘Major’ Later

In this excerpt from his book Two Brains, One Aim, international eventer Eric Smiley explains how working on something that may seem insignificant now can have a major impact on your performance later.

Photo by Orla Murphy-LaScola.

All sorts of subjects are related when training horses—movements and stages that follow directly on from what has been achieved before. So often, though, this relationship is not picked up by either the coach or the rider. This inhibits progress and can cause the horse confusion. Knowing these relationships exist allows rider and coach to layer subject upon subject and follow the training through in a progressive manner that is clear to all parties.

Let us look at some of the more common relationships and crucial links.

Relaxation…and…a Good Free Walk on a Long Rein

The crucial link: I am often asked to help people with their horse’s free walk. “My horse won’t stretch down,” they say. “Why should he?” I ask. “Why do you want him to stretch down?” There is a common belief that horses must stretch and relax before doing any work, but why should the horse know this?

If you always work the horse through and encourage him to look for and seek the contact, connecting him from the hind legs to the contact in front, this will become the norm for him. Encourage a state of mind of forwardness and then work him. Once the horse has worked, offer him a little longer rein. If he has been working well, he will want to relax and rest his muscles, so he will seek the contact and take the rein. This is proof of good work—this is what the free walk on a long rein movement in a dressage test is examining.

Straightness…and…Riding a Centerline

The crucial link: If a horse wobbles on the centerline, the question coaches and riders should ask is: “Why do you ride a centerline?” The answer is, “To see if I can.”

The centerline is the test—it is what riders are being examined on. If you have proved the horse is forward and accepting your aids, then you can hold a line. This relationship goes much further than dressage. When the horse is straight, you can also ride the lines the show jumping course designer asks, and the narrow or the corner fence on the cross-country.

Trotting Poles…and…Jumping

The crucial link: Trotting poles encourage the horse to be more active, so if the rider applies her leg aids at the same time, the horse will associate this with lifting his legs. This can be used on takeoff.

Apply a light leg aid—the same as if you are negotiating a pole—and the horse is likely to respond with a better jump. This is because from the horse’s perspective the neurological pathways are very similar.

The Turn-on-the-Haunches…and…Half-Pass in Walk

The crucial link: The turn-on-the-haunches and the half-pass require the same aid from you and the same shape from the horse. The only difference is that in the turn-on-the-haunches your outside rein aid restricts forward movement and the horse moves around the hindquarters, while in the half-pass, the outside rein allows the forward movement in the desired direction.

Riding Circles…and…Riding Show Jumping and Cross-Country Courses

The crucial link: All course designers use circles and half-circles as a basis for the approach and for the positioning of fences, so being able to ride accurate circles and half-circles of all shapes and sizes means you are reproducing the skills used in one discipline and transferring them directly to another.

How Much Should We Ask?

As we relate subjects we must be careful not to hurry the link. A period of consolidation should always follow the introduction of something new. Allow time for the horse and rider to become secure in the understanding before asking for the next piece of the jigsaw puzzle in question. You must be aware of asking too much, too soon, and accepting an incorrect response simply because everyone wants to move on. This will often be difficult to correct and have repercussions later.

This excerpt from Two Brains, One Aim by Eric Smiley is reprinted with permission from Trafalgar Square Books (www.horseandriderbooks.com).

Hot to Trot: Social Highlights from Wednesday at Haras du Pin

We’re well stuck into the first day of dressage here at Haras du Pin, but we couldn’t resist a look back at yesterday’s sizzling first horse inspection through the eyes of those who lived it (and struggled through wrangling some extraordinarily fizzy horses). Here are our favourite posts from the de facto day one of the event — now excuse us while we get back to the important business of topping up our tans!

 

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