Dutch Team Breaks Germany's Golden Subscription at 2010 European Pony Championships

Thu, 07/29/2010 - 18:32
2010 European Pony Championships

A pony dressage team has, for the first time in 20 years, broken Germany's golden team medal subscription at a European Pony Championships. The Dutch pony team, consisting of Dana van Lierop, Antoinette te Riele, Maria van den Dungen and Suzanne van de Ven, won team gold with a score average of 73.741%. They beat Germany by a fraction of points (73.000%) while Denmark got the bronze with 68.741%.

The difference between Holland and Germany was small -- only 2,2 points -- but the relevance of the victory was significant. After pulling ahead on Germany at Grand Prix level, now the Dutch are also able to capture gold at lowest international level: FEI pony level. However, it must be mentioned that at the 2010 European Junior and Young Riders Championships in Kronberg last week, Germany won team gold in the junior and young riders division reclaiming highest honour. These achievements only mean one thing: the battle is tough, the fighting is hard and the sport is doing great!

Jessica Krieg and Danilo Win the Team Championship Test

German Jessica Krieg and Danilo won the team championship test with 75.500%. Three of five judges were on the same scoring level with ranging percentages of 74.444 to 75.556% whereas Dutch judge Eddy de Wolff van Westerode gave Krieg 73.611% and Belgian judge Freddy Leyman 78.333%.

Trained by Stefanie Meyer-Biss, the 13-year old Krieg is the new comer to the team but she quickly spearheaded the German campaign. She started her test with very solid trot work in which her 7-year old palomino stallion Danilo (by Dornik B x Power Boy) showed much self-carriage and lightness in the bridle. The stallion stayed calm and collected at all times. The trot was groundcovering with much suspension. Unfortunately in the extensions he became irregular in the rhythm and in the second extension he also got wide behind despite his super float. The extended walk was gorgeous in its purity of rhythm. The canter work was smooth and well regulated. There was much balance in counter canter on the serpentine, though the simple change was a bit hesitant. The canter extensions were active and uphill.

The second highest scoring German was last year's individual bronze medallist Katharina Weychert on her 15-year old palomino stallion Golden Derano C (by Derano Gold x Malan ox). Weychert's palomino is not the most extravagant mover, but he has routine and his reliability is priceless. The trot was fluent and smooth in the traversal movements, but the stallion got wide behind in the extended trot. Weychert rode tiny half pirouettes in walk and the extended walk had two hooves overtrack. The serpentine with counter canter was excellent though in the simple change he did not develop enough rhythm in walk. Weychert continued her ride with a gorgeous half volte left and half volte right and the end halt was nice and square. The sparkle was not there in the ride, but the 16-year old did her job for Germany and scored strongly: 73.167%

Germany's third best ride was new comer Lena Charlott Walterscheidt who had her hands full with her spooky palomino stallion Deinhard B (by Dornik B x Golden Dancer). The 2008 European Pony Champion was terrified of the video camera with rotating piece on the boom which led to tension and mistakes in their test. They still scored 70.333% which shows there is potential for much more. The scratch score for Germany came from Grete Linnemann on her temperamental palomino stallion White Gold B (by Golden Dancer x Dressmann). They competed on the first day but had many mistakes (66.167%)

It took the German team more than 20 minutes to gather at the press conference after the prize giving, which is quite unusual because as gold medallists they were always there in a flash. German chef d'equipe Connie Endres, who is the leader of the entire Pony Dressage Program in Germany, acquiesced in the team's silver medal position. "First of all I was very pleased with my girls and ponies," Endres said. "This championship we weren't the best, but we were the nicest with our four palomino's. At least the ponies were golden," she joked. "I'm not disappointed. We had a mixed team with two young girls and two experienced girls. The Dutch team was very experienced."

Endres admitted that the absence of another veteran on the team could have been the reason for silver. "We missed one experienced combination (ed. Bianca Nowag on Der Feine Lord), who got lame on the last training session," Endres explained. "She can get 75%. But we deal with animals not bicycles nor cars. It's a new situation but we'll survive."

Vigilant Dutch Team Kept Awake by Germans

Dutch chef d'equipe Tineke Bartels was very pleased with Holland's team gold. At the press conference she stated in response to Endres' mention of Germany's previous golden glory, "You keep us all awake."

The Dutch pony team has been a perpetual silver medallist but each year they came closer to Germany's gold medal winning score average. Today at Bishop Burton they beat their eastern neighbours for the first time in twenty years.

After the prize giving ceremony Bartels commented that she was "really happy because this group has been fighting a few years to get the gold. For me it's a very big pleasure because it's my first year with the ponies (as chef d'equipe)," Bartels said. "They did a very good job. Three riders move on from ponies next year so it's good for them to get gold at the end of their career."

The highest scoring Dutch rider was Maria van den Dungen on the De Havikerwaard owned Rembrandt DDH (by Renoir x Viktoria's Chirac). They finished second with 74.222%.

Defending European Pony Champion Antoinette te Riele placed third on her Westfalian bred German Reitpony mare Golden Girl (by Don't Worry x Dancer). The pair scored a total of 74.167% though French judge Anne Prain was the only one of the panel to have her higher at 76.389%.

Trained by Coby van Baalen and her aunt Gonnelien Rothenberger-Gordijn, Te Riele had a lovely ride with fluent trot work. Her halt at entry was not entirely square due to Golden Girl's left hind hoof lingering behind. There was good crossing of the legs in the shoulder in and half passes. The extended walk was very well regulated with good stretch of the neck. In canter Golden Girl showed much self carriage on the serpentine though the simple change was mediocre with hardly any true walk appearing. Te Riele was well on her way to win the test until her mare made an unscripted flying change at the end of the long side in the extended canter. It took a while for Te Riele to collect her and get her in the right lead again. This major mistake puzzled the judged a lot as some still scored the extended canter a 7 (some a 4) and all downscored the transition from extended to collected canter to a 3 or a 4. The end halt was good.

The third best Dutch rider was Dana van Lierop on Equestricons Lord Champion. They competed yesterday and took a provisional lead in the class with 72.833%. They had a minor mistake in the rhythm in the extended trot but otherwise they put down a fresh and energetic ride, which definitely assisted in winning the Dutch team gold medal.

Danish Clinch Bronze Once More

The Danish pony team clinched the bronze once again. With an experienced team of three girls in their last pony year, Denmark was able to rely on high quality, routine riding. "We have won the bronze medal for four, five years," said Danish chef d'equipe Rigmor Kristensen. "Earlier it was Great Britain that sat on the bronze. We are very content that also this year we could get a team that could ride as good as they did."

Leading Dane was Anne Fabricius Tange on the Swedish bred pony gelding Tim (by Helekis Timjan x Amiral). They finished sixth with 70.889%. The combination had very fluent trot work that could have been more off the ground but that was smooth and regular. The extended walk did not have the clearest rhythm but was good in ground cover. Tim should have been more closed in the frame in canter to boost the self carriage but he still executed all movements meticulously. The end halt was slightly stretched.

Second best Dane was Sofie Hougaard on the German reitpony gelding Dornick Son (by Dornik B) with 67.833% with team mate Sabrine Barnekow on her super trotting Vermont (by Master) following right behind her with 67.500%. The latter showed amazing trot with superb suspension and tons of scope but the dark bay gelding is not entirely submissive in the contact with the bit and Barnekow seems to hang onto the reins during the ride. The walk in the simple changes needs to improve in order to score higher but the counter canter was well balanced.

British Home Team Lands Fourth Place

The British home team, which have two high scoring 'potentialists', unfortunately landed a fourth place in the nations' cup. Best scoring rider was the 12-year old Erin Williams aboard Antoinette te Riele's former second pony Danny Boy B (by Flying Dream). The pair is very elegant and has a lovely silhouette in trot. The trot extensions are nice but there could be a bit more push off the ground. The canter was secure but the weak point of this pony remains to be the walk. The medium walk was rushed and in the simple changes the collected walk was poor. Nevertheless this pair has great promise for the future, which they proved by scoring 69.556%.

British team 'leader' Claire Gallimore and her German Reitpony gelding Gigolo (by Going East) finished 10th with 68.611%. In trot the very cadenced Gigolo should have been more up in the frame but he was effortlessly moving along in the lateral exercises. The compact chestnut gelding lacked some impulsion in the medium trot and broke into canter when his rider spurred him onwards. In walk Gigolo got distracted by an itch near his mouth or on his breast and toppled his head down a few times trying to rub his face. The extended walk had good overtrack but he should have stretched his neck more. Gallimore was able to pull her scores back up in canter with a fantastic serpentine and super simple change. While the trot lacked electricity and dare, the canter tour was soft, sweet and delightful. In her last year at pony level the St. Albans based Gallimore is aiming to score high at these European Pony Championships on home turf, so one can surely see her go for it in the next few days.

More Left in the Tank

The quality of the field of competitors this year at the European Pony Championships is high and there are a few more riders who placed well with much more left in the tank. Though it is certainly hard (and not officially acknowledged) that riders from other nations than Holland and Germany have to ride twice as hard to get the same amount of points, it would be nice to see a podium of mixed nations this year in the individual test and kur to music finals, just like at the 2010 European Junior and Young Riders Championships in Kronberg.

Best ranking rider of a non-podium nation was Belgian Alexa Fairchild on the palomino licensed pony stallion Stukhuster Ricardo Go for Gold (by Anjershof Rocky). The American born Alexa, who lives in Brussels and is trained by Virginie Deltour, excelled with her great seat and soft hands as well as with a correct execution of all movements. Though Ricardo Go for Gold could be more buoyant in trot the shoulder in and half passes were flowing and engaged. The extended walk was super which much activity, ground cover and relaxation but the judges differed in opinion about it (scores ranged from a questionable 6 to a fair 8). The serpentine was lovely but the final extended canter could have been more over the back in order for the stallion to keep a clearer 3-beat rhythm. The palomino was always constant in the contact with the bit and foamed.

Swedish Amalie Egholm Hebsgaard and the Danish bred pony Extrem (by Robin) slotted in 11th with 68.000%. In trot the dark bay gelding was very relaxed and consistent and Danish born Hebsgaard kept her ride under control and her pony steady in the contact. The right half pirouette in walk was too big, the left one was tiny but some impulsion was missing. In the extended walk Extrem had good overtrack but the back was tense and his head went deep instead of forward. In canter Hebsgaard had to work a bit harder at keeping her gelding loose in the body and back. The serpentine was well ridden, though, but the simple change came four meters too early instead of at X.

Text and Photos © Astrid Appels - No Reproduction Allowed

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