Lena Stegemann and the Hanoverian mare Scara Boa (by Scolari x Wolkenstein II) claimed the World Champion's title with an overscored, sweet and safe in the 5-year old Finals at the 2013 World Championships for young dressage horses in Verden, Germany, on Saturday afternoon 10 August 2013. The Finals took several unexpected twists due to spooky horses in windy weather, resulting in two surprising silver and bronze medallists: Andreas Helgstrand with Floricello and Emmelie Scholtens with Dorado.
While the modus operandi of the judges' panel, consisting of Ghislain Fouarge, Jacques van Daele, Linda Zang and Sandy Phillips, was quite easy to follow in most cases, the scores of the winning mare Scara Boa did raise a few eye brows.
The bright chestnut mare was wonderfully presented by 30-year old Lena Stegemann, who has been working at the owner Ingo Pape's stallion station for four years now. The pair produced an almost flawless test. The halt at entry was not immobile, but the trot tour was high class. The mare is very cadenced, super balanced on the curved lines and produced nice extensions, but the entire trot work lacked that coveted power in the hind leg and push from behind, lift in the withers and freedom in the shoulder. Scara Boa's trot is far from eye-catching with her normal frontleg and a Volkswagen instead of Ferrari hind leg. The walk was excellent though with good relaxation and ground cover. The canter tour was well ridden, balanced, also in the counter canter, and most simple changes were good except for one in which she could have walked more actively. Also in the final trot when the mare was given the long rein, her trot became slightly normal and she should have stretched the neck more.
While Scara Boa is not a horse that makes your heart beat faster due to the major lack in power and push from behind, the judges were absolutely thrilled with her rideability and submission and kept a high score standard for her good but lacklustre basic gaits. They scored her a very generous 9.5 for trot and 9.0 for canter, an agreeable 9.7 for walk, a fair 10 for submission and a lavish 9.8 for general impression. The combination totalled 9.60 points to win the World Championships. She might be a rightful winner for being so well ridden, but the point difference with the second place horse was huge.
Stegemann was baffled with her victory and confessed she never expected it in a million years. "We said that we can be happy if we can go to the final or even the small final," she said about her expectations before the show started. "If she goes well we would be happy," Lena added. " Then came the marks and we were totally, oh my goodness."
Lena described Scara Boa as an "absolute sport horse. She loves to go in the test, gives 100% when you come into the arena, wants to do everything right for you." The mare, who also finished sixth at last year's Bundeschampionate under Susan Pape, will now get a short break and then be prepared for the 2013 Bundeschampionate in Warendorf begin September.
Judge Ghislain Fouarge explained the panel's decision for Scara Boa as following: "She is not the most spectacular horse, but she won because of her very good riding, how submissive the horse was. It's very good for the sport that not only spectacular horses can win, but also well ridden horses."
The major fun factor about the World Young Horse Championships is that you never know what will happen. The young horses, which are sensitive to the crowds and weather conditions, are more responsible for unexpected rankings than weird judging, which has definitely improved exponentially over the last few years.
Andreas Helgstrand was certainly another surprise medalist here in Verden today. Aboard the Swedish owned Oldenburg stallion Floricello (by Florencio x Dormello) he finished 19th with 7.86 in the preliminary test, won the consolation finals with 8.8 and now earned silver with 8.72. They were the fifth pair to go in the finals with many other medal hopefuls still to follow. Owned by Mrs Hemmingson, Floricello is hyper sensitive and gives his rider a full time job in keeping the horse relaxed and focused. The stallion had a major spook just travelling round the ring before the test started, but he kept the lid on the cooker during the ride. The trot had much elasticity, a good cadence and he was open in the throat latch but did drop get a bit deep ocassionally. The walk was good. In canter the horse ground his teeth but Helgstrand did a good job steering him through the movements. The walk in the simple changes had to be more pronounced but the rider waited patiently for a walk to develop. In the counter canter left, Floricello did make an unscripted flying change and also at the end in trot with the given rein, he failed to stretch the neck properly.
The judges described Floricello as "an outstanding horse" with a "very expressive trot, with lots of activity and swing through the back." Their comment on the submission, however, was a bit puzzling when they said the submission was "in general very good". The horse did change in canter but they did not touch upon that in their commentary. They rewarded the horse with 9.8 for canter, 8.0 for walk, 8.8 for canter, 8.0 for submission and 9.0 for general impression. His 8.72 total carried him through the class to a second place and silver medal.
"The horse is quite sensitive and I knew that when I made the qualifications at home," Helgstrand admitted. "I decided to go to Falsterbo to test it and then decide. There he went really well." Helgstrand was very pleased with today's ride and credited the ground work Morten Thomsen did with the horse for its improved attitude this year. "The first time the horse ran away with a few noises, the second time he better, the third time he stood still with flags and noises all around him. Since that day the horse changed totally in their mind. You don't have to ride them five hours a day to make them tired (but can do ground work instead)," Helgstrand revealed.
Emmelie Scholtens had put all her money on the black stallion Desperado (by Vivaldi x Havidoff) to win a medal in Verden, but it became her second ride Dorado (by Krack C x Rousseau) who snatched the bronze for the KWPN breed society. The gorgeous bright chestnut stallion has a very uphill and active trot, was always up in the bridle though sometimes a bit short in the neck. He slightly paddles but the side silhouette is lovely. He did get wide behind in the medium and extended trot which indicates a lack of balance. The walk was good but could be more ground covering and through the back. In canter he is engaged and forwards, but could have been a bit more collected so he carried himself better in the counter canter and in the transitions for the simple change. Especially in the left counter canter the horse leaned on the forehand. In the final trot with given rein, Dorado did not stretch the neck at all. Nevertheless Dorado is a lovely horse to watch and promising for the future.
The judges described Dorado as a "very impressive, expressive horse" of "high quality". They gave him 9.6 for trot, 8.0 for walk, 9.0 for canter, 7.9 for submission and 9.0 for general impression, which totalled 8.70 and earned them bronze.
Scholtens confessed that she hoped for Desperado to do better. The black Vivaldi x Havidoff is a stunning mover in all three basic gaits, but was very distracted today; wild in canter -- leaping and jumping about and changing lead -- and he was difficult in the transitions and not sharp on the aids, as became obvious from the sharp spur aid Scholtens gave before the turn on the haunches. The pair finished on an 8.32 and seventh place.
"I expected more from Desperado," Scholtens said at the press conference. "He got too tense and we made so many mistakes. it wasn't possible to get higher ranking. With Dorado, we knew already for a long time that he was a good horse, but it came out at a perfect time in this competition. It was a bit surprising to us, but it made it special." Scholtens has been riding both horses for two years.
The fourth and fifth ranked horse, the two mares Svalegards Hottie and Dolcherie, was also given generous marks from the judges, who seemed to overappreciate their quality, or the better horses were indeed down scored for their major mistakes, which made the two ladies the lucky ones to finish so high accidentally. Hottie is a powerful, chunky big momma (by Hotline x De Nior) with a strong hind leg, but she is a big hollow in the back and could be carrying herself more from behind. She got an 8.66 overall helped by her fantastic walk, which earned her 9.5. Ther were quite a few issues in canter, with a poor strike off from walk and a simple change knocking over the fence.
Belgian Tom Franckx did a wonderful job presenting the dark bay Dutch mare Dolcherie (by Painted Black x Krack C). She was soft in the contact, attentive to the aids, obedient, and floated gracefully over the footing. Her gorgeous frontleg usage distracts from her quick but not so powerful hind leg and an 8.9 score for the gait was a nice present. The walk was fairly marked with an 8.2 but in canter she lost the clear 3-beat rhythm and suppleness in the back in the counter canter, but the gait still scored 8.5. The 8.3 for submission and 8.6 for general impression were agreeable.
A thrilling horse landed 6th place: Don Juan de Hus (by Jazz x Krack C). The tall chestnut stallion, ridden by French Grand Prix rider Jessica Michel, rose to the occasion and was on his most consistent form in the Finals test. His massive trot is very elastic and rhythmical, but there was a mistake in the beat in the extended trot. The walk is ground covering and well regulated. In canter Don Juan has air-time that lasts forever. In the counter canter he got a bit unbalanced but the simple changes were nice. The final transition from canter to trot was difficult, though, but throughout the test Michel had a lovely soft contact with the bit. The judges described Don Juan as "a beautiful, impressive horse with the trot as highlight." He got 9.5 for trot, 8.5 for walk, a 7.9 for canter criticizing that he needs to be "more supple through the back" and is "climbing too much." He scored 7.9 for submission and 8.3 for general impression to average 8.42.
Michel was able to ride a second horse in the top 10 at the World Championships, just like Scholtens. Aboard the petite Hermes de Hus (by Hotine x Rohdiamant) Michel produced a really smooth test. The black stallion briskly moves forward and has a lovely silhouette but he was more balanced and regular in the trot in the preliminary test. The bending on the voltes and in the corners was nice but the horse tended to get a bit too quick in the rhythm. The walk was nice, the canter solid but that horse needed to come up more in the withers. He lost the suppleness in the back in the counter canter. The horse scored 8.7 for trot, 9.0 for walk, 7.8 for canter and submission, an 8.3 for general impression to finish 7th on 8.32.
A hot contender for the gold was Dutch 23-year old Kirsten Brouwer on the to-die-for chestnut Dutch bred stallion Dancer (by Vivaldi x Tango). The horse is absolutely breathtaking to look at and has an extraordinary trot. He moves constantly with an uphill tendency, well engaged from behind, good in the contact, up in the bridle and well bent on the curved lines. Yet the regularity of the trot on the serpentine was not as good as on Thursday but Dancer still had the best trot of the show and earned a 10 for it. The turn on the haunches was laborious and the collected walk after the turn was slightly lateral. The extended walk, however, was far better than in the previous test with two hooves overtrack. Unfortunately in canter the horse became distracted, made an unscripted flying change in counter canter and dropped out of the counter canter right, totally misinterpreting the rider's aids for a new strike off. Also in the final trot with given rain, the horse did not stretch the neck at all. The judges phrased it correctly when they said, "in the future he'll make up for today." Dancer dropped to an ninth place with 10 for trot, 7.7 for walk, 8.5 for canter, 6.8 for submission, 8.5 for general impression to average 8.30.
Swedish Olympian Minna Telde could easily have finished higher in the ranking with her fantastic Swedish warmblood Bilan (by Bocelli x Donnerschlag). The chestnut gelding has a super nice trot with a fantastic front leg and good push from behind. The horse did lose a bit of balance on the curved lines and voltes but the extensions were top class. The walk was relaxed, ground covering and clear in its 4-beat rhuthm. The canter work was well ridden with excellently balanced counter canter and fluent transitions. Only in the trot with given reins, the horse should have stretched the neck more out. The got 8.8 for trot, 8.3 for walk, 8.0 for canter and submission and 8.3 for general impression to finish on an 8.28 score.
Text and photos by Astrid Appels - No Reproduction Allowed
Eurodressage photographer Astrid Appels took photos of all combinations competing at the 2013 World Young Horse Championships. Contact us if you are interested in prints of your photos!
Scores 2013 World Championships for Young Dressage Horses
Eurodressage Coverage of the 2013 World Young Horse Championships