When the Dutch compete in Germany or the Germans in Holland, people speak of competing in the "lion's den". Home favouritism does not apply for the ex-pat rider and when s/he wins the accomplishment is even greater. This is what happened to Isabell Werth at the CDI-W 's Hertogenbosch.
The German Olympic silver medallist won the Grand Prix kur to music and final Western European League WC Finals qualifier in The Netherlands.
Werth and Madeleine Winter-Schulze's Satchmo (by Sao Paulo x Legat) stayed faultfree while performing Michael Erdmann's "Hymn of Devotion" freestyle featuring Mrs. Duffe's gorgeous soprano voice to add total drama and emotion to the music.
No mistakes and a high technical difficulty explained her 84.150% winning score. The two tempi changes on a curved line immediately followed by one tempi's (which lacked ground covering at the beginning) and half passes in passage earned her extra points. Satchmo showed a super extended walk, with his neck stretched out and very clear in its four-beat rhythm. At all times, he stayed perfectly on the bit with Isabell maintaining light contact.
"I didn't expect to win, but of course I was trying. I'm happy for it," Isabell said. "Satchmo is in very good shape. He now gets a little break and then I prepare him for Las Vegas. I hope for a safe flight and we'll see what happens in Vegas."
Enter in walk is the new it-movement in the choreography of a freestyle. Adelinde Cornelissen and Parzival premiered a new kur based on the music of Wagner's opera Parzival and used this walk entry.
The strongest part of Adelinde's freestyle is the canter tour with wonderful one and two tempi changes on the centerline towards the judges and to the beat of the music. In one double pirouette, Parzival lost impulsion and there was again a hesitation before the final halt and salute. Adelinde's music is very dramatic with heavy violins and it does lack the right rhythm as the entire trot tour, nor the piaffe and passage movements seem to be in tune with the music. The pair scored 82.500% to finish second.
"I didn't expect to be second because I didn't know what to expect with the new freestyle," Adelinde commented. "Sometimes I was ahead of the music and there were a few small mistakes."
Anky van Grunsven must have felt like a fish out of water covering third place after her Wibi Soerjadi piano kur. Salinero looked fit and fresh but lacked major overtrack in the extended trot and there were no immobile halts. The half passes were fantastic, but in the extended walk the horse could have stretched his neck more. After the extended canter a miscommunication occured. Salinero made an unscripted flying change, Anky had to correct it, they fell into trot, made a semi piaffe pirouette which was then fixed into a canter pirouette. Also in the last double pirouette there were some problems with the ending. Though the piano music sounds like one big slur of sound, but at the end it reaches an apex as the piano tunes actually silence into the final non-halt. The score of 82.450% was quite generous for the amount of hiccups in this test, but the pair still showed several beautiful movements.
Anky stated that the big mistake was a communication error between her and her horse. "Everything went really well but then he started looking into the crowd and I had to stop," Anky explained. "I had to canter again to get his concentration back. He needs to get back in the rhythm of competitions. He is better if he does more competitions, but he needed the break. This is what riding horses is all about. It all has to work out."
Monica Theodorescu and Whisper finished fourth. She showed lovely trot half passes and good extensions in trot and canter. The one tempi's were superb. The horse has an interesting walk. In collected walk, Monica has to slow it down to almost a stop in order to keep a clear four beat rhythm, in the extended walk the horse covers so much ground with three hooves overtrack but he does not really energetically stride forward through the body. The piaffe and passage are great but only in the piaffe pirouette the gelding lost some impulsion.
Monica's music is Michael Jackson on speed. The music is so quick that it hardly ever fits the lofty, suspended movements of the horse.
One gets a high pulse and instantly nervous listening to this music which is totally out of tune with Whisper's gaits. The canter music is from Pirates of the Carribean, a track clubbed to death by freestyle composers. They got 79.400% from the judges which means the 80% barriere is within reach.
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