The junior riders of team Germany left no doubt about it that they were the gold medal team in the nations' competition at the 2015 European Junior Riders Championships at Bernadette Brune's Domaine Equestre des Grands Pins in Vidauban, France. The team competition came to a conclusion on Thursday noon 2 July 2015 with Germany strongly in first place, followed by The Netherlands and Denmark.
Germany's leading dressage rider was Semmieke Rothenberger on her 13-year old Danish warmblood mare Geisha (by Gribaldi x Weltmeister). The 2014 European Pony Champion proved that she has made a flawless transition to junior riders level as well as horses and opted to contest this year's European Junior Championships instead of the Euro Ponies in Malmo, Sweden, in August.
Rothenberger rode her black mare with much forward energy and a good flow in the trot work. The transitions between the voltes and the shoulders in were very well executed. In the trot half pass left there could have been more bending, but the extensions were top class. The collected walk lacked some collected and there was a small hiccup in the left turn on the haunches. The canter half passes were well ridden and three flying changes were good, one was in two phases. While Geisha needs to have the nose more out in general and Semmieke could sit a bit straighter in the saddle instead of leaning backwards, the youth rider from Bad Homburg really had that extra edge as she rode all of her extensions with lots of guts and explosive energy. The pair scored 76.351% to win the team championship and helped secure Germany the team gold with a great point advantage compared to the silver medalists.
Germany scored a team total of 224.513 points and was eight percent ahead of the Dutch silver team (216.378%). While Rothenberger created that coveted breathing space for Germany with her whopping score, German Hannah Erbe and her 8-year old Rhinelander gelding Carlos (by Carabas x Weltmeyer) definitely assisted in that top result. The team newcomer is definitely an equal to Rothenberger and could easily have scored the same result with her powerful ride on her tall and impressive dark bay gelding. Erbe had Carlos in a beautiful uphill frame, always up in the bridle, and constant in the contact. There was a loss of rhythm in the medium trot. The left turn on the haunches was the better one and in the extended walk the horse could have relaxed a bit more over the back despite the two hooves overtrack. The four flying changes were dead secure and the extended canter was outstanding. Erbe scored 74.676%.
The Dutch silver medal effort was led by Lisanne Zoutendijk on the 12-year old Rhinelander gelding Ringo Star (by Riccione x Laredo). Zoutendijk started on horses in 2014 during her final year at FEI pony level and is reaping the fruits of those miles. The rider presented her dark bay gelding with much routine and the highlight of the test was probably the rein back, which was executed to perfection with a super halt and a very diagonal, obedient reversing of the horse. In trot the horse is a toe dragger and could appear more fresh and electric from behind, but he willingly makes an effort in the extensions. The extended walk had two hooves overstep and good relaxation, but could have been more active. The quality of Ringo Star's canter is not stellar. The horse lacked suppleness in the team test and got a bit flat in the 3-beat rhythm but his obedience and the four confirmed flying changes made him competition in the class. The pair finished fourth with 73.486%.
The Netherlands' second best score came from Mercedes Verwey on the lovely 11-year old Dutch mare Zarah (by Oscar x Montecristo). Technically her trot work was one of the best of the day with the horse being super consisent, in good self carriage and active and quick from behind in the lateral movements and voltes. The horse stayed very nicely at the vertical but appeared numb in the mouth. The chestnut did not chew the bit at all. Tiny mistakes crept into the test though. The halt for rein back was not square, the third flying change was in two phases, the first one early on the marker, but those can be filtered out in the future. The problem was the walk, however. The mare was unable to produce any overtrack in the extended walk and the collected was short and tense. Still, overall Zarah is a very interesting junior rider's horse with more in the tank. They scored 72.054% to finish eighth.
Denmark's Victoria Vallentin and her 11-year old Danish warmblood Atnon (by De Noir x Akinos) were instrumental in the Danish team securing bronze with 215.000 points. The duo finished third in the team test with 73.784%. Vallentin and her black gelding flowed in the trot work with good distinction between collection and lengthenings. In walk, the horse scored high marks for the collected part, but the left half pirouette was the better one of the two. The canter work was outstanding with outstanding uphill flying changes and a very consistent, quiet contact with the mouth.
Sille Engermann became Denmark's second best scoring rider. Aboard the 12-year old Rhinelander gelding Darius (by Donnerloh x Pik Solo) she finished tenth with 71.216%. The black gelding is a very lightfooted mover in trot with quite a straight front leg and Engermann held him in a good rhythm and tempo. The canter tour was very solid with four top quality flying changes but overall the horse was too much on the forehand and regularly became deep. If kept more up in the bridle and on the hindlegs Darius will be able to score even higher.
Quite a number of junior riders from different nations were able to position themselves in the top 15 of the team test. Highest scoring non-medalist was the Russian Aleksandra Maksakova on the 13-year old Oldenburg gelding Scampalo (by Sandro hit x Florestan). Based in The Netherlands, Maksakova scored 72.622% to finish sixth. Her long-legged black gelding showsed off a good rhythm and suspension in the trot, but struggled with the halts in which he stretched the hindlegs out from under the body. Also the rein back could have been more obedient. The extended walk was top class but in the collected the horse should have been more closed in the frame. Maksakova has a soft contact with the bit but the horse should be more steady and quiet at the vertical as he tends to bop his head in his bouncy gaits.
Spanish Juan Matute Guimon and the 8-year old Hanoverian Dhannie (by Don Crusador) finished seventh with a generous 72.514% considering the numerous "beauty errors" in the test. The Florida based rider had his horse slightly more open in the throat latch but there still needs to be more length in the neck with the nose out. The halt for rein back was not square. The trot work was nice, showing good relaxation in his performance. Matute clearly rode with a safe strategy in mind and it showed as Dhannie missed some electricity from behind. The extended walk was lovely, the collected walk lacked impulsion which led to a hiccup in the left turn on the haunches. There was a loss of rhythm in one trot extension and the horse dropped out of the canter in the half pass right. The flying changes were secure.
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Eurodressage's Astrid Appels took photos of all riders competing in Vidauban. If you are interested in photos, contact us by email with your name and the name of the horse
Eurodressage Coverage of the 2015 European Junior/Young Riders Championships