What I learned at the London Olympics:
1. Go for broke. Go like Hell. Go like the wind. Just go. The most forward rides won today. Riders who rode forward today and not in the Special were rewarded (Edward Gal, not that it was awful in the Special or anything, it wasn't; it was just so much more forward-moving today, even with the horse's tension). Riders who had pooped horses today didn't do as well. Go, go, go, go even if it's not perfect, just go.
2. Don't move. The top group of riders? They don't move. They don't have to kick, pull, anything. Even Laura, who had to put some pretty big half-halts on both in and out of the ring, kept them to a minimum in the ring. As beautiful as Scandic is, Patrik Kittel's big upper body movement in the changes is incredibly distracting.
3. You either have to be awesome, or you have to have awesome music (or, preferably, both). The top group of riders' music? Didn't wow me. Beautifully arranged? Yes. Quality sound? Absolutely. But fun, dancing-in-your-seat music? Not so much. I loved Laura's Lion King cur. Loved the 80s tunes from Kittel, Theurer, Sprehe. Did actually dance a little in my seat for the mighty midget Portuguese horse, Rubi. Found Anky, Charlotte, Edward and Carl's tunes uninspiring, but since they can ride like anything and had very cool choreography, it didn't matter. And poor Steffen's music fell really flat amid his group.
4. You get one mistake. No more. No one in the top group was perfect. Charlotte had a wonky moment right at the end where he sort of trantered. Adelinde missed a two, as did Laura. I think Carl was mistake-free, can't remember, but everyone else had one tweaky thing go wrong. Midway through the group was when you saw multiple mistakes. Ravel blew some changes and a trot extension. Fuego had a line of changes go really south. Eremo had a couple of problems. You get one boo-boo; after that, everything hurts.
5. This competition was pretty much decided months ago; it was up to the riders to fulfill (or not) their promise today. Can you imagine the pressure of knowing you have nowhere to go but down? Yikes. Pretty impressive nerves.
6. When all else fails, see point #1.
We leave bright and early for our long trek home tomorrow. (Actually, we leave so early that it might still be today in the States when we hit the road.) Back to reality!