Let us hope that Laura Bechtolsheimer has set the standard with her first season victory at the CDI-W 's Hertogenbosch. She won the double, Grand Prix and Special, there and she repeated that feat in Hagen. If she stays mistake free, Bechtolsheimer can join the small big league of the top ranked riders in the world.
The 24-year old Brit put in an impressive ride in the Grand and some mistakes kept her from hitting 75% overall. The trot work was rock solid with powerful extensions and steep half passes, but in the canter work some mistakes arose.
One of the one tempi's was in two phases, Mistral took a wrong step in the two tempi's and the zig zag was not correctly ridden with Laura struggling to bring it to a good end at the end of the ring at C. The extended canter was uphill and groundcovering.
The passage was so expressive and the transitions to and from piaffe smooth. Trained by Klaus Balkenhol and her father Wilfried Bechtolsheimer, Laura scored 72.681% and all judges agreed on placing her first. Her highest score came from French judge Mariette Almasy who had her on 75,106%.
The Germans seem to have set their hope on Matthias Alexander Rath as reinforcing the current Olympic team of Werth, Kemmer and Capellmann. With the super talented Sterntaler Unicef, they hope he'll come of age. The Oldenburg gelding by Sion has a forté: the extensions in walk and trot, but there are numerous training issues that meddle with the harmonious picture. One year ago, Rath and Sterntaler made their show debut in Hagen and it was interesting to see how much they had progressed.
The first two piaffes looked good with no longer a twitching hind leg. The trot extensions were awe inspiring, the two tempi changes superb and the final passage on the centerline bouncy. But there were three major problems: the contact with the bit is very unsteady and fragile with the horse's head bopping around, the tail was swooshing like the rotor of a helicopter and the final piaffe at X was not executed. Instead, the horse blew up and reared twice. This blow up made the score drop by five percent. The final score was a lavish 71.574%.
Nadine Capellmann and her Hanoverian Elvis (by Espri) have been to Balkenhol's boot camp the past few months to fixed was had been broken in the past: the contact with the bit. And wow, what an improvement was there to be seen!
Nadine finally had her gelding going with a steady, light contact, at least at the beginning of the test! But there still were several blemishes in the ride. Not enough steps backwards in the rein back, a break into canter in the extended trot, a demanding second piaffe and Elvis moaning his way through the one tempi's. The walk was very good though and the pirouettes were ok. The combination scored 70.596%.
Patrik Kittel has a new number one and his Olympic mount Floresco has been abdicated from the throne. The Dutch owned and branded but Swedish bred Scandic (by Solos Care x Amiral) is a rising star on the international scene.
The piaffe and passage were the absolute high points of the test: so much power, balance and rhythm. The extended trot was splendid and the chestnut stallion had absolutely no problem jumping ground covering tempi changes. The only major issue in this ride was Scandic being dead in the mouth. The horse had no room to move his tongue or chew on the bit, but instead his mouth was pulled shut and his tongue, as purple as the robes of kings, was slightly sticking out on the side. They finished fourth with 70.383%
Tongue issues are a major problem, even at the highest level of dressage. After a failed come back at the 2009 CDI-W 's Hertogenbosch due to a tongue sticking out, Imke Schellekens-Bartels and Sunrise went home to rethink their strategy and fix the problem. They chose the CDI Hagen as their first outdoor show and had a successful go at it.
There were no more contact issues with the bit and Sunrise looked fresh and willing to work. She showed nice trot extensions, lovely springy passage, good piaffe and fantastic traversal movements. However, the rein back was executed behind the vertical and the collected walk was tense. In the pirouette right she changed lead and Imke had to halt her to correct it. The score of 69.957% (5th place) was justified considering the errors.
Text and Photos copyrighted: Astrid Appels/Eurodressage
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