European crowd pleaser Hubertus Schmidt came to the 2005 World Cup Finals in Las Vegas not with his top horse, Wansuela Suerte, but with the less experienced 13-year old Oldenburg gelding Aramis (by Akzent II).
Saving Wansuela for the 2005 European Championships in Moscow, Schmidt qualified Aramis in 's Hertogenbosch and Dusseldorf, after dramatically being disqualified in Neumunster for carrying a whip round the arena.
In Las Vegas, Schmidt scored 71.708% for his Grand Prix and placed eight. "Aramis kept wanting to lose the balance, and Schmidt's super riding/training and seat kept the balance and picture," Lita Dove reported. "That is how one gets a 71%, with having to be there for the horse so much. At one point, in tempi's, Aramis tried to run through his hand and Schmidt had to use visible aid to refocus and regain balance."
In the Freestyle, Schmidt maintained his eight place on the leader board, but he scored a very decent 77.200% for his kur. He told Dove that he is very proud of the way Aramis has been showing.
Hubertus Schmidt is not only a very skilled rider, he's also a smart one. With three competing Grand Prix horses in his barn, he is one of the few riders with such good cards in his hand.
Wansuela Suerte has had much time off, but Schmidt will show her in two weeks at a national show in Germany and then uses a few shows, amongst which the CDI Aubenhausen, to try to qualify for the German team. He also believes that his third Grand Prix horse Forrest Gump NRW is really starting to mature into the form hoped for.
"Yes, it is safe to say that Schmidt is where he has hope to be as well. At the top of the game, international Grand Prix, successful, able to produce successive horses," Dove wrote. "The only thing missing might be a super, out of this world mover, but fortunately, Schmidt can really train, and improve horses, and seems able to hold his own."
"I think the most important thing," he said in excellent English, "is that everything look natural and easy." He added that overall, he thinks the sport is moving g in a good direction, always improving. "The breeding is better, the horses are easier for the riders. At the top, most riders are on the right path."
For horseflesh, he said he looks for "Three gaits, same as everyone, but also that the horse works with and through his body. This is most important. And of course, that the horse be good in the mind and be sensitive, be fast to react. Otherwise, it is difficult to find the harmony."
Schmidt goes to about 25 shows a year and this competitive life is a priority for now. "When I stop showing seriously, then I will have more time for clinics, for students." But the goal, the dream, has been exactly this, since he was a little boy on his family farm: to dream of the team, aka The German A-Squad, aka The Olympic Squad.
His recent honours include the title of Riding Master and German Professional Dressage Rider Champion, so it is good to know that while he adds that to his list of achievements, he is also still working on his seat. "I have little weaknesses, just like anyone else." When he was asked what, he smiled, "I'm not telling!" Then he relents.."Make sure my legs stay quiet in the changes, not have hands too high.."
Once again, the intricate puzzle of dressage sounds both familiar and inspiring.
Text by Lita Dove and Astrid Appels
Photos copyrighted: Dirk Caremans
Eurodressage Coverage of the 2004-2005 World Cup Finals