Dorothee Schneider and the Danish warmblood licensed stallion Sezuan were the winners of the 5-year old preliminary test on the first day of competition at the 2014 World Championships for Young Dressage Horses in Verden, Germany, on Thursday 7 August 2014. The level of quality was amazing today with so many powerful horses, but the judges panel seemed to have drunk a happy potion between the 10th and 21th horse on the starters' list as points shot up to the sky like a rocket launch at Cape Canaveral.
The 5-year old preliminary test started off at 8.30 am in drizzling weather. The first few horses had to ride in the rain, but then it slowly became dry and the sky cleared mostly for the last two groups of horses. The judges panel for the test included Ghislain Fouarge (NED), Andrew Gardner (GBR), Kurt Christensen (DEN) and Dietrich Plewa (GER), an experienced group of three O-judges and a 4*-judge. They started out with clear, quite straight forward scoring of the horses for the first nine. Then there was a break and during that break one can only imagine they drank a happy potion because they were very optimistic about what came next. The marks shot through the roof as of the 10th rider in the class with 9s flying all over the place. This trend was upheld for a further 11 horses and then the marking "quieted down" a bit. However, as they had set a standard, the best horse of the day, Sezuan had to be scored even higher and consequently posted whopping marks.
That high scores were given in itself is not a problem, but it appeared as if two standards were being used. Still the class was challenging to assess with so many lovely 5-year olds entering the arena one after another. The biggest problem today was the scoring of submission. It was very hard to follow with many horses.
Dorothee Schneider and Gestut Peterhof's Sezuan (by Zack x Don Schufro) were the penultimate pair. Upon entering the ring, it was obvious that Schneider played it safe and rode with the handbrake on. The halt and salute at entry were not fully executed, as Schneider halted for a millisecond, nodded her head but did not release the rein with her right hand; something judge Fouarge later confirmed that he hadn't even noticed (this should have been incorporated in submission!). The black Sezuan is an elegant mover even though he is not so smoothly streamlined in the topline. He showed nice balance, activity and bounce in trot and was constant at the vertical. In the rein back he ground his teeth loudly. The compact stallion has no problem producing huge overtrack in walk while maintaining an excellent rhythm. In canter, he is uphill and has that lovely Don Schufro hind leg, but he was visibly crossing the jaws and the strike off to canter was hesitant. Also in the simple change he jogged instead of producing proper walk steps. When given the long rein in trot, he curled himself instead of stretched the neck.
Sezuan showed unlimited potential in his ground quality and movement mechanism, but from a rider technical level there were quite a few issues despite Schneider's expert presentation. The judges awarded the stallion 9.5 for walk and trot, a 10 for canter, a remarkable 9.7 for submission (for a not so ideal contact and two issues in the test) and a 9.7 overall impression so that the horse finished first on a 9.7.
Beatrice Buchwald and the charming Brandenburger stallion Belantis (by Benetton Dream x Expose) were the runners-up in the class. The long legged grey stallion appeared very active and engaged from behind in trot and showed great willingness to work. In trot, the forehand and hindquarters appear a bit disjointed and the horse could still improve on the swing through the back from behind to the front. The trot extension was slightly crooked to the right. The stallion produced a beautiful clear walk with much overstep and in canter he had a powerful hindleg and good uphill tendency. The strike off to canter in the simple change was short behind and the downward transition to trot was difficult, but overall the horse showed an amazing work ethic. He also stood relaxed in the prize giving ceremony. Belantis scored 9.6 for walk, trot, canter and general impression, and 9.3 for submission.
Dutch Kirsten Brouwer landed a third place aboard Titian Wilaras and Joop van Uytert's chestnut stallion Eye Catcher (by Vivaldi x Partout). The strapping chestnut gelding was tasted and approved by the judges who handed out top scores for this horse. The stallion is very round in his movements, with much knee action and a very active, electric hindleg. He did not stand immobile in the first halt and should have lengthened the frame more in the trot extensions. The walk was very nice. In canter the horse fell on the forehand and needs to develop more balance. The simple change had a very good walk, even though there could have been a bit more collection in it. In the trot on the long rein, the stallion showed very little stretching forward downward into the contact. The judges awarded Eye Catcher 9.8 for trot, 8 .8 for walk, 9.7 for the canter (?), 9.6 for submission (?) and 9.7 for general impression to total 9.52.
Professional German rider Anna Christin Wienkamp rode Heinrich Mussmann's Westfalian mare Samoura M (by San Amour x Ferragamo) to a fourth place, an unexpected turn of events which brought the breeder and owner to tears. Wienkamp rode the dark bay mare with a light contact, even though the left rein was a bit more on than the right one. The start and end halt were not immobile (something many horses fail to accomplish). In trot the mare was soft and supple but she occasionally lost the regularity in the rhythm and cadence. She was a bit disconnected in the extended walk and could have moved more forwards over the back. The mare is quite short in the back so achieving overtrack was easy. The canter work was accurately ridden with much care as the mare made uphill strides. She scored 9.5 for trot, 8.8 for walk, 9.3 for canter, 9.4 for submission and 9.5 for general impression.
German Kira Wulferding and Birgit Kalvelage's drop dead gorgeous Oldenburg mare Soiree d'Amour were Germany's alternate pair and only made it to Verden because Hubertus Schmidt and Escolar dropped out. It was sweet revenge for them to finish fifth with high scores across the board. The long legged mare is a super elegant and feminine mover but paddles heavily in front. She constantly licked her own lips and even stuck out her tongue on the right side in the canter. The mare was graceful in trot, carried herself quite well and had an active and quick hindleg. In the trot extensions she stays very round and up in the gait and could have reached a bit more forward with the legs. The medium walk had good overstep but she lost some ground cover in the extended walk. In the simple change she stalled in the canter strike off but her canter was lovely and active. The beautifully named Soiree d'Amour received 9.8 for trot, 8.0 for walk, 9.5 for canter, 9.0 for submission (tongue out?) and 9.5 for general impression to average 9.16.
Claudia Ruscher and Christian Becks' Westfalian stallion Daley Thompson (by Damon Hill x Lauries Crusador xx) were the fifth pair to compete today and the first which made you sit up straight in your seat. The refined bay stallion is a very elastic mover in trot. He was soft in the bridle but could have been a bit more steady at the poll. The halt for rein back was not square. The medium walk was huge in ground cover and super clear in the rhythm. It was a pity Daley Thompson tripped and jogged in the extended walk. The canter was uphill and the self carriage in the counter canter was more than decent for a 5-year old. The simple change was a bit wobbly, but overall it was a very clean test by a good horse that could sparkle a bit more behind. They scored 8.4 for trot, 9.2 for walk, 8.6 for canter, and 9.0 for submission and general impression to finish on 8.84.
Ines Knoll and Fairplay H (by Furst Hohenstein x Disco Tanzer) were a pair that reminded spectators a lot of last year's winning combination, Lena Stegemann and Scara Boa. It is a beautiful combination showing impeccable riding, training and harmony, but the horse is not flashy in its gaits. The grey Baden Wurttemberger gelding is quite flat in trot, but has a wonderful, functional and uphill canter. Fairplay H is not very supple on the curved lines in trot. He came on the forehand in the medium trot, the extended was better. In walk, the horse moves in a very functional way but he was hurried a bit in the lengthenings on the diagonal. Knoll had her horse nice and soft in the bridle at all times and the canter was absolutely lovely. The pair finished seventh with 8.4 for trot, 7.8 for walk, 9.6 for canter, 9.4 for submission and 8.8 for general impression to average 8.80.
Text and Photos © Astrid Appels - NO REPRODUCTION ALLOWED (NO FACEBOOK/INSTAGRAM)
Eurodressage's Astrid Appels was on the scene taking photos of all WCYH riders in Verden. Contact us if you are interested in photo prints, digital images, collages or albums.
Eurodressage Coverage of the 2014 World Young Horse Championships