21 Oct


Porn: no one can truly define it but everyone knows it when they see it.

Great dressage is much the same.

Watching Edward Gal and Totilas  has remained the gold standard: a great rider, a great horse, a great partnership.  They raised the bar and very few (very very few) have come anywhere near it, despite the judge scores creeping up.

 Only Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro have surpassed the record scores, and so far, not yet in freestyle.

   char and valegro


With the new freestyle judging plans, the day looms ever closer when the freestyle score record will fall as well. I can only hope there is the decency to add an * after the score—meaning  the score was awarded using a very different playing field.

Freestyle is meant to use music to move the spectator; to add some of the catharsis of Theatre to the repertoire of technical gymnastic movements.

Of course, 9s and 10s in any performance/test are reserved for ‘hearing the angels’ or ‘ringing all the bells’ or whatever other non-specific and yet totally comprehensible opinion/ score is given.

Figure skating has lost much of its audience precisely because the artistic element has become so overshadowed by the technical: it has proven possible to win even major international championships while falling on the ice—just so long as the skater can get up and somehow cram another triple or quad into the routine, music and flow be damned.

Gymnastics has begun to lose a bit of its luster as well, as the ‘women’ get younger and yet more caricaturish, thigh- bulging yet  breastless bodies caught in a short-cycle of hormonal imbalance. The lack of artistry in floor routine is so common as to be unworthy of mention.

And now dressage wants to give absolute coefficients to various moves and combinations of moves, as though each horse/rider combination is the same as the next and a specific combination has the same significance for all pairs.

Somehow, this is supposed to make it ‘easier’ and ‘clearer’ for spectators.

The reality is—people who love horses and enjoy watching them perform do so because there is a bond formed with the horse, over millennia. It sings in the blood, it rumbles in the unconscious.  Great freestyle performances provide a bridge to that secret fantasy, where human and horse are in perfect communication.

It has nothing to do with computers.


            London International Horse Show - Olympia , 15-21 December 2009


One Response to “Freestyle-schmeestyle”

  1. Cees Slings October 22, 2013 at 7:42 pm #

    I really don’t know who wrote this piece of nonsense; but it must be someone who lost track in the development of (freestyle, because music is mentioned) dressage.
    It could be age, it could be narrow-minded, it could be lack of knowledge; I presume it’s a combination of all. I suggest the one who wrote this article should find another hobby; and before he/she should moaning about devopments of her new hobby he/she should first do some thorough research to it. Because this article shows only a narrow-minded view!

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