Germany Reclaims Team Gold at 2012 European Pony Championships
The German pony ladies reclaimed the team gold medal today at the 2012 European Pony Championships held in Fontainebleau, France, on Thursday 19 July 2012. Semmieke Rothenberger, Nadine Krause and Anna Christina Abbelen secured the team gold medal by averaging a score 74.744%. Silver went to the Netherlands and bronze was again recaptured by the Danish team.
The pack of 52 pony combinations was spearheaded by 13-year old German Semmieke Rothenberger on the highly experienced, former European pony champion Golden Girl (by Don't Worry). Judges Peter Holler (GER), Maja Stukelj (SLO), Mariette Sanders van Gansewinkel (NED), Raphael Saleh (FRA) and Kurt Christensen (DEN) awarded the elegant duo 76.744 % for their faultfree ride. Three judges placed the pair first, two had them on second place.
The young and petite Rothenberger makes Golden Girl look big and powerful. The trot work was fluent with beautiful half passes, the collected walk could have a bit more impulsion, especially in the turns on the haunches, the extended walk was outstanding. The rein-back needed a bit of fine tuning. The canter work was well balanced and expressive but the simple changes on the two half voltes lacked some steps.
Rothernberger was very pleased with her test. "She went really well today," she told Eurodressage. "During the warm up she was not so happy but when I came in the ring and she heard the clapping she really started to trot and we did the test as a pair. She is really a show pony." For the 2012 European Championships Semmieke was also considering taking her second pony Deinhard B but she decided for the palomino mare. "It's difficult to choose. They both went really well at the training camp. She is a real show pony and loves the applause."
Rothenberger admitted that she is not very nervous to compete, even at such a big event, but that her entourage is more stressed than she is. "I don't stress, I just ride," she said. "My mom and dad are nervous and grandma doesn't even dare to watch."
Rothenberger's score was essential for the team gold, but the German dressage riders all put in very strong rides. Rothenberger's cousin Nadine Krause finished fourth on former European Pony Champion Danilo on 73.872, while Anna Christina Abbelen and Dornik's Donovan were fifth with 73.616%.
"I was very happy with my score," said Krause. "My pony was very good, even though I entered badly. But the rest was better. I'm very happy." Team newcomer Abbelen was also on cloud nine. "My pony felt very good. It's his first time at such a big competition. We both were a bit nervous at the beginning but we kept our cool. It's a great feeling to ride here."
The scratch score came from Lena Charlott Walterscheidt who dealt with an explosive Equestricons Lord Champion (by Le Champion).
In their test the Baden Wurttemberger bred bay gelding bucked at A and later on broke into canter, but Walterscheidt was very quick to recover on both occasions and rode wonderful simple changes and a very good walk part. Walterscheidt still scored 69.564% to finish 14th.
In May German chef d'equipe and team trainer Cornelia Endres was not entirely hopeful that Germany would win team gold at the Europeans due to the youth and inexperience of some riders and ponies, but her doubts were proven unnecessary in Fontainebleau. "I'm really happy, our youngsters were great," Endres commented. "I hoped it (gold medal), but didn't expect it. It's the same every year." The German pony team gathered in Warendorf for a pre-European training camp so they could travel to France as a ready team. "We made individual programs for each rider's needs. We rode the team test on the first day, which was commented by Christoph Hess. It was very helpful for the children. On the other days we did what was helpful for each of them and corrected what needed fixing."
Strong Silver for the Dutch
The Dutch silver medal winning campaign was led by routinier Sanne Vos on the 8-year old German Riding Pony Champ of Class (by Champion de Luxe). This pair finished second in the team test with 75.769% but the judges differed in opinion. Vos' low score was 73.333 % (Stukelj) and high score 78.590 % (Saleh).
Vos's buckskin pony performed a faultfree test on which the team could rely but he was abnormally weaker in his strong points -- the medium and extended trots were rushed and lacked self carriage -- but the outstanding canter work with superb simple changes made up for that. Also the collected walk could have been more collected as the pony moved with two hooves overtrack from walk pirouette to walk pirouette. The extended walk was excellent.
In her last year at FEI pony level, Vos was very pleased with her result. "I'm very happy. I had a good feeling. Today I went for a safe test and it worked," she said.
Holland's number two was Rosalie Bos and the 6-year old Dutch bred Paso Double (by Bodo), who finished 6th with 73.385%. The combination competed in the first group on Wednesday 18 July and aided in strongholding the Dutch silver medal position. "My pony is very young so I'm very happy," she commented. "I didn't know what to expect with the German team so I'm very happy with silver."
Jelle Peeters made her debut at the Europeans with the 2009 Dutch team pony Den Ostriks Dailan. The combination delivered the third Dutch score of 73.231% and ranked seventh. In trot the pony was a bit hasty and slightly leaned on the bit, causing him to make a few mistakes in the rhythms on the half voltes. The canter was very consistent, though, with confirmed simple changes and a nice uphill extension. The collected and extended walk were very well executed.
During the price giving ceremony, which was anti-climactically done in walk, Peeters' pony reared and threw her off, but Jelle was not injured at all. "My pony doesn't like award ceremonies and he gets really busy. He tried to rear and I gave him aids forwards but instead he went up. I just slid out of my saddle and landed on my feet and then bum."
Peeters is savouring her first European Championships. "The atmosphere is really nice. It's different from other shows. You really notice teams of people based on their country. Everybody looks at each other's test."
Lotte Meulendijks also made her European debut on her German Riding Pony stallion Boticelli (by Brillant) scoring the Dutch drop score of a still highly impressive 71.205% which ranked her 10th. Meulendijks was the first rider to go for The Netherlands, a position which she seemed to prefer.
"It's nice to be the first to go," she commented. "There's less pressure and you're the first to be able to put down a score. I'm happy because otherwise I would have had to wait all day." Even though she was a debutant on the team in her final year at pony level, Meulendijk was able to cope with the pressure well. "I had some butterflies earlier but I expected to be more nervous than I was. I'm very happy with my test. It could have been neater, with more power. I can do better," she admitted.
Dutch chef d'equipe Tineke Bartels was very pleased with the results of her pony kids. "The team did everything they could," Bartels explained. "I don't look at the other tests nor compare. It's annoying to start comparing. They are all close to one another. It's a brand new team compared to last year. We lost Dana (van Lierop, who is now a junior), but still we were able to get silver again. Together with the junior and young riders last week, we were able to get all colours of medals. I think this year we did better compared to last year."
Danish Recapture Bronze
The Danish pony team has had a long term subscription to the team bronze medal, much to the annoyance of the British and Belgium pony which have been on the Danish heels for years. In Fontainebleau it was no different.
Victoria Vallentin, a rookie on the team despite some years of international FEI pony level experience, finally bolstered the power of her volatile 13-year old palomino mare Natalina. The combination scored 74.256 to finish third in the team test and secure the bronze for Denmark. The duo excelled with their steady trot work and excellent half passes. It was obvious that Vallentin was playing it safe and took very little risk in pushing her mare to more expression. The extended walk could have had more ground cover and in canter the poll could have been a bit higher, but overall the combination was very solid and confirmed in every single movement and there was very little to remark.
Rookie Kristina Koch Bejtrup and the experienced German riding pony gelding Dornick Son (by Dornik B) finished eighth with 72.154%. The sympathetic chestnut gelding could be more steady and secure in the rhythm in trot but displayed a lovely rein back and good walk pirouettes to boost the score. The canter work was very confirmed with excellent simple changes.
"I'm very happy today," said Koch. "My pony was with me all the time. He was fine in the arena and for me it's an amazing first Europeans."
Newcomers Maria Christensen and the lovely Dutch bred chestnut Vegelin's Goya consolidated a 71.846% to finish 9th in the ranking. The Danish drop score came from debutantes Sille Engemann on the bay German bred mare Janine, who finished 18th with 68.590%
"I only got the pony half a year ago," Engermann explained. "Everything is so now, but it's amazing. I wasn't nervous, I actually wasn't thinking at all," she admitted. "I just want to ride."
Text and Photos by Astrid Appels - No Reproduction Allowed