‘Tis a puzzlement…

2 Jun


Hats off to  top trainers!

Carl Hester and Dances With Wolves (Golly) are 4 for 4 in GP competition, with Golly getting almost 76 in the GPS today! This super-sized partner is proving his heart is as big as the rest of him. Here’s hoping Olympic gold will be followed by more.


Also 4 for 4 is Edward Gal and the black Dutch stallion Voice, including an 81+ in the freestyle last night. Of course, Edward trained the 2nd place horse, Rubin Cortes for nearly 2 years before handing him over late last November to current rider Christoph Koschel. Not to mention 3rd place Romanov, who has only been together with Hans-Peter Minderhoud for weeks rather than months. Ed regained this lovely stallion’s trust and focus, and the future looking brighter for the Dutch.



This week was the annual Dressage Issue of  a major U.S. horse magazine, Chronicle of the Horse.


 COTH ,as it is known  has a wonderful spotlight piece on Hilda Gurney, truly the heart and soul of American dressage.  There can be very few dressage enthusiasts in the U.S. (and beyond) who do not have a favorite ‘Hilda story’, as she has touched the lives of so many in the sport, not to mention the sport itself. I’ve told a couple on this blog—including going with Hilda to the special-needs school where she taught, bringing with us the Olympic medal partner, Keen, as well as her mom’s FEI horse, Pasha, so that she could perform piaffe, passage and a couple of tempis on the postage-stamp lawn that the school carved out of the cement in the play area. We used Pasha for the pony rides because Keen was too tall for us to really hold the kids on in the saddle (just imagine taking ANY horse, let alone an Olympic medal horse, to a school ground these days, let alone giving ‘pony rides!’ )

Hilda’s influence ranges over the history of dressage, and maybe even more importantly, the need to love the horses, the partners, and to keep that love as the foundation for the sport.

HildaLeonidasHilda on home-bred Leonidas

On the other hand…COTH also has an extensive feature on the owners in top sport—the unbelievably important role they play; how they feel about the downs as well as the ups; how and why they became sponsors and owners, as well as interesting sidebars. Applause for all the owners mentioned,they are highly deserving  of the attention,  but could not help noticing the glaring omission: not one acknowledgement, not one comment, not one mention of the owners who bought Olympic partner Rafalca for Jan Ebeling, and have recently purchased an exciting new partner for Jan, the 10 year old stallion , Rassolini,  winner of Germany’s most prestigious small tour event, Nürnberger Burgpokal. (This competition has provided a huge number of Germany’s Olympic and championship team horses).


The ‘Three Amigos’ ( a name they gave themselves) — Ann Romney, Beth Meyer and Jan’s wife, Amy– have supported American dressage as well as their rider for many years, and all too well know the highs and lows of horse sport.

Sure, there was a media storm in 2012 thanks to  the presidential campaign of Ann Romney’s husband Mitt Romney, but no one—then or now—chose to really ask any of the three owners about dressage or top sport. This magazine  issue would have been the perfect opportunity.

‘Tis a puzzlement.’


St Gallen, Switzerland held a qualifier for the FEI Nations Cup showjumping series, and the competition was eventually cancelled, at a great loss to organisers, sponsors and infrastructure. Estimates of the loss are placed as high as one million Euros.

 But what is such a loss compared to the loss of ONE possible Championship-level equine?


The entire German team and its coach, Otto Becker, decided the rain made the ground completely unsafe, and refused to  compete in the second part of FEI sponsored Nations Cup class, forfeiting the right to appear in the Finals.

The Dutch team and its coach, Rob Ehrens, were right behind the Germans in making  the same decision—but thanks to FEI, um, suggestion, decided not to risk disqualification and relegation (demotion to a lesser league). So they jumped on—to miserable results which gave them 7th of 8th place and no real points anyway. Fortunately (!) ,by the next morning, even the FEI admitted the grounds were unsafe for horse welfare and thus the entire show came to a close.

As the FEI Web of Obfuscation shrouds show jumping in at least as much mystery and non-comprehension as any other horse sport, it will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

Will the German show jumping team really not be represented in Nations Cup at Rotterdam, let alone Aachen?


Maybe it’s better for dressage to live in a smaller country (hahahah). In any case, next week , Global Champions Tour , the mega-gala-showjumping circuit that is the brainchild of Jan Tops, is holding its next event at  The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, London.  Saturday evening’s entertainment will feature a dressage gala, highlighted by  a pas des deux performed by Olympic medalists Charlotte Dujardin and  Laura Tomlinson . Not to mention freestyles AND a quadrille.

It should be interesting to see how ticket sales go, as this has something of a World Cup feel to it.

Of course, part of the draw will be the equine partners—will Valegro and Mistral Hojris strut their stuff in the pas de deux?  Or will Charlotte appear on Uthopia?
Anxiously awaiting.


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