The French really know how to do a horse show! I showed Winyamaro last weekend (Oct. 28-29) at a World Cup qualifier in the Eurexpo stadium in Lyon, France.
Lyon is quite a drive from Vechta, 1000 km, so normally we try to make the trip in two parts on the way to the show. But the French were striking all over the country due to discontent with retirement reforms, and this disrupted gasoline supplies and thus traffic patterns. So I put my trusty Team Captain, Christoffer Nilsson, on the job. He left Vechta with the horse, my equipment and an extra supply of diesel in case of shortages. And he drove straight through to Lyon without stopping for an overnight stay.
In the meantime, I rebooked my air tickets to fly into Geneva, Switzerland, instead of Lyon. A good friend loaned me her car in Geneva, and I was able to drive the two hours to the show without problems!
That was a lot of logistical maneuvering for one horse show, but we did manage to pull it off.
Then there was the hat. I had ordered a brown top hat from L’Hiver at the show in Devon. They had promised to deliver it at the horse show in Odense (Denmark). But I had to cancel that show at the last minute so I couldn’t pick up the hat, and it was too late to ship it to Germany before I had to depart for Lyon.
Fortunately, Isabell Werth was showing in both Odense and Lyon, so she happily agreed to bring my hat with her to France. In the end, W and I got to make our European debut in brown! Thanks, Isabell.
I was fairly happy with the Grand Prix despite some unfortunate errors. The call of nature in the second piaffe destroyed not only our impulsion but also the 72 percent+ we had going on. Crap. And then I rode the second pirouette too large… Grrr. In any case, we ended up sixth with 66.9 percent, despite a fantastic walk tour and some good moments in canter. Our scores ranged from 65-68 percent, and our placing from fourth to 10th out of 15 starters.
A moment to vent, please! Thank the stars that the IDRC and the IDTC have finally stepped up to the plate to address our system of judging. In a public discussion at the Global Dressage Forum, representatives of both groups laid out a plan for some serious changes. Our sport needs this more than anything else right now. We need fairness, objectivity and credibility.
Unfortunately, in a moment of pure idiocy, I forgot how impressive the first indoor show of the season can be for a young, inexperienced horse. So I erroneously decided to change my warm-up with W and ride him only once on the evening of the freestyle. That was a mistake.
W was very impressed with the warm-up at Lyon. It was not only packed three to four people deep with spectators along the fence, but the oyster bar, cappuccino bar and champagne bar had big screen televisions with direct streaming to the competition arena. All of this was visible to the horses in the warm-up. W wanted to watch the horses on television…
It took me several minutes to get him to focus on his work, and in the end, he was just a little too distracted and jumpy for the freestyle. We made some serious errors and dropped down to 11th in the rankings.
To be fair, W and I were not the only ones to have problems at Eurexpo that night. Several competitors had tension problems in the arena. I won’t be the only one switching to a different warm-up routine for the next indoor!
The freestyles are part of a lovely gala evening on Friday night. The French really show off their incredible love for and talent with horses in a spectacle of bridleless riding, stunt riding and lots of play with fire! Have a look, Rita:
I’m Catherine Haddad, and I’m sayin it like it is from Vechta, Germany.
Training Tip: Consider all factors when planning your warm-up at a show—indoor versus outdoor, footing/lighting change from the warm-up to the competition arena, and distractions in each arena. Stick with your most successful routine if you can.