There were a lot of international horsey things going on this past weekend, none of which occupied my waking hours. The first thing I didn’t do was watch Rolex on live streaming. I think seeing Mandiba fall off the bank and break his ribs at Badminton last year might have put me off watching online four star eventing for good. The peril of watching eventing on line is that you tend to see all the wrecks, not just one or two or none (depending how well you chose which fences to watch) when you are there in person.
According to the exhaustive coverage by John on EventingNation.com, this was a particularly tough yet safe year on cross country in Lexington. Certainly the results speak to the tough aspect of the course this year. Of 58 starters, just 27 (fewer than half) completed the show jumping. But John is right about the safety thing – there were no serious injuries, though I would imagine at least a few horses will be schooling some coffins in the near future. The coffin complex at number nine caused more than its fair share of the day’s come uppances. Based on the results at Rolex and recent results elsewhere, I’m going to make an Olympic prediction that there will be a fine battle for individual gold between a tall blond man with an exceptionally long neck and a cherubic blond man with a German way of speaking. I’m glad I’ll be there to watch it all.
Something else I didn’t do on the weekend was watch more dressage from Europe. Hagen wasn’t on FEI TV and I don’t have a subscription to ClipMyHorse. But more importantly, I decided that spending the wee hours of too many weekends in a row watching online dressage would indicate an unwholesome level of interest. But that’s ok because Astrid at Eurodressage kept me up to speed on the insanely high scores, along with her usual unabashed commentary on whether or not the judges had once again lost their minds over Totilas. I did allow myself to spend a little bit of Monday morning watching the video of Matthias’ new freestyle that Astrid has up on her Hagen coverage. Yes, Michael Jackson has been flogged to freestyle death, and no the program doesn’t give me goosebumps. But credit must be given to the fact that it’s a very good quality production, and care was taken to use instrumentation and rhythms that enhance Totilas’ gaits and manage to keep the music from descending into elevator territory.
I agree with Astrid that Ghislain Fouarge may be the most guilty party when it comes to judges losing their marbles in the presence of the Mighty Toto. 96% for artistic? You don’t have to be David Stickland to know that means Mr. Fouarge (who is not a snuggle bunny) must have given at least a nine for difficulty. And difficult that new freestyle ain’t. I will say this though. It was definitely the best I’ve seen the horse go for Matthias. For me, the partnership will never have the magic that makes the hair on my arms do the wave like when Edward rode Totilas, but it’s pretty obvious that progress has been made – whether or not you think it’s Un-German to train with Sjef. Maybe that private warm up ring helped. See, Hagen is a Schockemoehle gig, so I guess there is a bit of special treatment in the offing for his horses when they compete at one of his shows.
If I have one regret about my decision not to wile away the weekend in front of the screen at which I am currently staring, it’s that I didn’t see history being made by Charlotte and Valegro. 88%. There are no words. Especially since I didn’t see it. I kid! Of course I’ve seen it now, and so can you, right here. I recommend turning off your sound so you don’t have to hear the music that the Germans apparently think the British listen to.
Here is a pair that gives me goosies, even in crappy low resolution video. The term ‘positive tension’ may have been invented just to describe what Valegro oozes from every cute, bouncy pore.
Did Charlotte deserve 88%? Who cares? She deserved an awful lot for that GPS ride. Was everything absolutely as good as it could be? Of course not. That’s what those remaining 12% are for. But the picture – the outline – the overwhelming impression is one of absolute harmony, ease and correctness. Ah, yes it will not only be the eventing that will cause nails to be chewed to the quick in London. Did I mention I’m going to be there?