Dressage–and proud of it

29 Apr

Top sport competition this past weekend, and it all came down to dressage.

Meaning ‘training’, meaning ‘correct training’ and the performance of same.

In World Cup Dressage, there is no doubt that correct training won the day, charmed the judges, and strongly underlined the current direction of the sport. Few will disagree that Parzival is, simply, the best athlete of the sport–but the small rhythm and balance breaks were costly. The winner, Damon Hill, was able to maintain the underlying concept of forward, exemplifying suppleness, true partnership and the entire training scale.

(Sidebar:  The German FN has amended the incredibly  influential Scales of Training.  The building blocks of Rhythm, Relaxation, Contact/connection, Impulsion, Straightness,Collection have helped to define how to train a horse. Now, the FN has added Balance and…Durchlässigkeit, often translated as Throughness, the horse having an ongoing conversation with the rider.)  BUT the two new concepts are not higher or lower,they are involved in every other step.

Skala-van-de-africhting-296x228end of sidebar)

For what it is worth, my favorite performance of World Cup was Edward Gal and Undercover’s freestyle. As recently as the London Olympics, it seemed impossible that the horse–despite all its physical talents– would agree to have enough confidence and trust that harmony and Durchlässigkeit could possibly be preserved. First, the freestyle a few months ago at Den Bosch showed that this was all possible. And then here at Gothenberg, on an even bigger stage, Undercover added harmony to his expression and power.

Ed says he has the looseness and serenity at home,  so fingers crossed for the future performances.

Ed Undercover(Kerry Weisselberg)


Rolex 4* eventing, the only 4*  in this sport in the US, showed once again how influential dressage and training is. The winner, Andrew Nicholson, finished on his dressage score , adding only 3 time faults in show jumping. The dressage scores did not help everyone at the top of the leaderboard, BUT no one in the final top placings succeeded without them.

And maybe most telling of all, U.S. show jumping Olympic gold medalist (Team 2004,2008) Beezie Madden was the winner of this year’s Show Jumping World Cup Final with rounds that absolutely exemplified the ‘American style’ laid down by Bert de Nemethy, and illustrated by icons such as George Morris, William Steinkraus — and now, Beezie Madden.

Her rounds exemplified the Training Scale like no others…

Beezie WC(Chronicle of the Horse)

Yup–things are looking up in horse sport.








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