As told by our resident rogue dressage queen.
With a bottle of wine and a sparkly browband, we’ve lured our resident rogue dressage queen Morgane Schmidt Gabriel into giving us her take on Olympics dressage, one day at a time. Here are Morgane’s observations from the Grand Prix Special!
Today Team USA did something they haven’t done since 2004: medaled in dressage! *cue the glitter and rainbows! And wine, DQs need a lot of wine.*
Seriously, that’s pretty fabulous. In looking at the overall results, it seems there was at least one significant upset. That being that Isabel Werth and Weihegold OLD overtook Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro. Dujardin and Valegro had a bit of a miscommunication in their first trot half pass resulting in some steps of canter as well as some issues in the two’s which undoubtedly opened the door for Werth and Weihegold to step in. For what it’s worth, Werth’s test was quite nice showing good contact, elasticity, and great activity and sit in the piaffe and passage; it should have rivaled Dujardin’s even sans Dujardin’s error.
Laura Graves and Verdades managed to secure the bronze for team USA with a fabulous ride. The entered with a perfectly square halt, then proceeded to present a super powerful extended trot, elastic, fluid half passes with good reach, and lovely passage work. I’ve heard some argue that Verdades doesn’t sit enough behind in the piaffe but I think he’s actually quite engaged and generally right on the spot. The tempis were all quite straight and up in the front and their pirouettes on the spot. There was a bit of a scoot out of the second pirouette into the turn but it was a pretty minor blip. Their final halt itself was square, though it looked like he almost cantered right before it…but perhaps I’m seeing things (or I need less wine). Regardless, they scored an impressive 80.644% which allowed the USA to medal.
Steffen Peters and Legolas 92 had a few questionable moments in their test, including a canter stride in their first trot half pass and some stickiness into the piaffe. The overall test was good, scoring a 74.622% and qualifying the pair for the Freestyle, but it lacked the brilliance one might expect from this pair.
Allison Brock and Rosevelt really delivered a solid test and also qualified to return for the freestyle. The pair looked harmonious with Rosevelt in a lovely, relaxed outline. He was very slightly sticky in his first trot half pass but the second was quite nice. The pair had lovely tempis- straight, powerful, and through– and a super final halt. They were quite enjoyable to watch.
Kasey Perry-Glass and Dublet delivered an enjoyable test. Dublet looked relaxed, elastic, and mostly on the aides. They had an error in their extended trot where Dublet broke to canter, but they managed to pull everything together afterward to present a very respectable test. Unfortunately they were just outside of qualifying for the freestyle.
Ultimately today’s rides proved quite interesting to watch as they allowed the horses and riders to show off different strengths and weaknesses than the regular grand prix test. It becomes quite obvious that no horse is perfect and some things are harder (or easier) for some horses. Given that we tend to think in absolutes (i.e. “That horse is THE BEST”) it’s nice to be reminded that any horse could be THE BEST given the right test.
On Monday the qualified riders will return to battle it out in the freestyle. Given that there will be music, perhaps more spectators will show up to watch (as if “horse dancing” wasn’t exciting enough as it is!?)? Even if they don’t, I’ll tune in to let you all know my deepest (and potentially snarkiest) thoughts on choreography and music. Having announced many shows, and therefore heard quite a few freestyle compositions, I can tell you that the potential for tragedy is significant (note to all aspiring freestyle riders: if you are still using “Dancing Queen” you are part of the problem).
Morgane Schmidt Gabriel is a 32-year-old teacher/artist/dressage trainer/show announcer/ who still hasn’t quite decided what she wants to be when she grows up. A native Floridian, she now lives in Reno, NV, where she’s been able to confirm her suspicion that snow is utterly worthless. Though she has run the gamut of equestrian disciplines, her favorite is dressage. She was recently able to complete her USDF bronze and silver medals and is currently working on her gold. Generally speaking her life is largely ruled by Woody, a 14.2 hand beastly quarter horse, Willie, a now beastly 5-year-old Dutch gelding, and Stormy, her friend’s nearly all white paint gelding with a penchant for finding every mud hole and pee spot in existence. Visit her website at www.theideaoforder.com.