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View Full Version : 2010 WEG back to back with 1988 Olympics



Thoroughbred1201
Nov. 8, 2010, 02:55 PM
I watched the 2010 WEG Final Four live a few weeks back. Then, because my friends and I couldn't get enough, we pulled out my very old VHS show jumping tapes and watched the 1988 Olympics featuring Gem Twist, Star Man and Mill Pearl. It was a really intersting comparision.

I've always loved Throughbreds. I learned to ride on OTTBs, have owned several, and generally prefer them. But watching the WEG and the 1988 Olympics with some of our best at that time was an eye opener. As much as I love TBs and have always held them up as the standard, Gem Twist and Mill Pearl suffered in comparision to the horses jumping today.

I'm not sure if it was out prowess as riders 20 years ago compared to today, or breeding. But Gem Twist and Mill Pearl were well engaged behind, scopey, and talented but looked hollow and inverted compared to the horses in the 2010 WEG. (Even Hickstead!). There was less harmony and more fighting. Starman on the other hand, looked more like a hunter.

Watching the WEG, the horses looked more like hunters. Classic style, and Rodgrio Possea's horse in particular, looked like a big pony.

This is not to say that any of the horses (from either compitition) weren't talented, or very well ridden. That's not the point. It's just that times change, riding and breeding improve the product. And the pinicale of the sport changes and moves on upward.

I'll always love TBs. But I'm really seeing how warmblood breeders have changed. The warmbloods are no longer heavy, slow moving behomoths that take brute strenghth to ride. They have more and more blood in them to give us the best of both worlds.

We own a Zangerscheide mare by Glencoe. I love her. She has a lot of blood. But I still prefer a TB, and probably always will. Nearly 40 years of riding preferences don't change overnight. But I guess I'm finally getting with the times, and it took seeing two top compititions, with excellent horseeman & horses in each, 20 years apart, to really show me that change can be very good. Doesn't mean I won't choose a nice TB for my next horse, though!

PonyLady29
Nov. 8, 2010, 08:56 PM
I love that you noted this. Of course we all love the incredible TB's we grew up with (gen twist will never lose his greatness in my eyes) But I too realized this the other day. I was watching the live feed for Syracuse and in one of the big jumper classes (they have all mushed together now!) I was admiring how lovely all of the horses were and then Maggie Jayne came in on Thomas Jefferson and my initial reaction was how great it was to see a TB at that level and then he jumped the first jump and it really showed me the difference of athleticism in the two breeds. The warmbloods are so much lighter than they used to be (much more tb blood) but have the strength and agility they really make the large jumps look effortless and present an overall beautiful picture. Where watching Thomas Jefferson of course I was impressed he is a neat horse but he (as a tb) just makes it look so much harder, like he is heaving his body over the fences rather than gliding over them like the modern warmbloods. I looked for videos of him and I must say this doesn't do him justice but early in the video you can see his natural jump compare that to Espalande 7s jump. IT really is incredible what breeders have done by combining the two breeds (the heavy wb and the quick tb) and have found a beautiful, athletic, agile horse (modern warmbloods)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EEvAhf617xU&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2K4jDhtGMw8

Equilibrium
Nov. 9, 2010, 03:48 AM
A couple of months ago in the H&H they had a little interview with John W. They always ask all interviewee's which horse they wish/wished they could/could have owned. John said it would be Gem Twist because he was never ever on a horse that had as quick a front end on him. Said he would near enough hit you in the chin.

I was surprised he said Gem considering all the greats that man has been around, but still nice to think that horse made such an impression on him.

Terri

Hauwse
Nov. 9, 2010, 06:03 AM
I love that you noted this. Of course we all love the incredible TB's we grew up with (gen twist will never lose his greatness in my eyes) But I too realized this the other day. I was watching the live feed for Syracuse and in one of the big jumper classes (they have all mushed together now!) I was admiring how lovely all of the horses were and then Maggie Jayne came in on Thomas Jefferson and my initial reaction was how great it was to see a TB at that level and then he jumped the first jump and it really showed me the difference of athleticism in the two breeds. The warmbloods are so much lighter than they used to be (much more tb blood) but have the strength and agility they really make the large jumps look effortless and present an overall beautiful picture. Where watching Thomas Jefferson of course I was impressed he is a neat horse but he (as a tb) just makes it look so much harder, like he is heaving his body over the fences rather than gliding over them like the modern warmbloods. I looked for videos of him and I must say this doesn't do him justice but early in the video you can see his natural jump compare that to Espalande 7s jump. IT really is incredible what breeders have done by combining the two breeds (the heavy wb and the quick tb) and have found a beautiful, athletic, agile horse (modern warmbloods)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EEvAhf617xU&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2K4jDhtGMw8

Probably not a great comparison as the video of Espalande 7 was not big, it was a gamblers choice class, TJ's class FEI reg. height.

Hauwse
Nov. 9, 2010, 06:46 AM
I think you have to dig a little deeper than the horses alone. Lots has changed in 30-40 years besides the breeding development of the horses. If you look at footing alone, the type of footing you had at WEG, The National, and pretty much any big show, is so much better today. This factor alone makes it so much easier for the horses to get off the ground, it's like jumping on a solid sponge as compared to jumping out of 6 inches of deep sand.

There is no doubt in my mind that overall the jumping form of the top horses has improved, but that is a somewhat different than jumping ability. Gem Twist is a very poor example, as there are few horses in History that had his jumping form, jumping ability, and overall athleticism, and I would hazard to say that if he were around today most of the top riders would gladly trade their top mounts for Gem Twist.

I think this is true of any of the great TB's. In comparison to todays best jumpers I would throw a saddle on Untouchable, Touch of Class, Democrat, or Jet Run before any of todays best horses, except perhaps Hickstead.

There is something you get from hundreds of years of proven performance breeding of the same bloodlines, and for me that comes down to pure heart. Hickstead has that, as do some WB's, but it seems to be an almost standard option on most TB models.

Thoroughbred1201
Nov. 9, 2010, 09:58 AM
Hauwse, I agree completely. I think Gem Twist is still amazing - athletic and energetic. And honestly, I think a TB has heart for compitition like no other.

What I really say in watching those back to back, was that while I've been involved with H/J for years, I was losing perspective of the changes in our sport that our good, and just holding on to the way it was as the best of our sport.

As you pointed out, footing for one, has changed drastically. Courses for another. Our understanding of the physiology of the horse and how they travel. Breeding. All kinds of things that have changed and improved.

Gem Twist and Mill Pearl were ridden by top riders and ridden very, very well. But think how differently just the small changes in the was we ride today as opposed to 20 years ago would make in the way they travel. We all evolve. But I think I'm just slower than others to grasp that, LOL.

I still think TBs are competive and are my choice to ride. I just love their brains. :shrugs: But I do see why people are chosing warmbloods.

Anyway, it just brought up some really interesting thoughts seeing those back to back and realizing just how far we've come.

Reagan
Nov. 9, 2010, 11:40 AM
Everyone has brought up many good points, but you also have to think of breeding. Most TB's are bred not as sport horses, but as race horses. There is a completely different set of standards as far as what qualities are being bred for. Sure there are many TB's that are bred as sport horses, but generally speaking, you just get lucky much of the time with a TB.

I love TB's, most of the horses I have owned have been TB's. They are smart, athletic and have a bigger heart than any other horse I have been on. But, as a whole, they aren't going to be able compete with the WB's in the H/J world unless they are bred and selected to possess the skills and traits necessary to compete in this sport on a larger scale.

SmileItLooksGoodOnYou
Nov. 9, 2010, 07:45 PM
I suppose we can only hope to see the "new" (clone) Gem Twist horse someday and maybe have a little more consistency in the conclusions.

Hauwse
Nov. 10, 2010, 08:49 AM
I think one thing we need to understand is that TB's are never going anywhere. As sport horses they may have taken a back seat, temporarily, but they will always be the base of all sport horses.

No TB, no WB, unfortunately. The WB's we see today are, in large part the product of TB sires, and either a directed effort to produce TB types, or simply the logical outcome of breeding for athleticism. Even today there is a huge demand for proven TB sires, this supported by the cloning of Gem Twist.

The demand for TB sires being simply that WB breeding programs are conditional, they are not the result of proven performance. Thus the liberal stud-books, WB breeders know they need the TB blood to maintain athleticism, a closed stud-book would eventually lead to producing the mud hogs of the past.

I also think we have to remember TB's did not fall out of favor because a better breed for the job was developed, they lost ground because top level TB's are so much harder to find. WB's were a great answer to the big question of locating great hunter/jumpers.

We have really never had any TB sport horse breeding program, and every effort to track TB performance off the track has failed, and the move to WB's made it even harder to locate the great TB's because when we all used them they had the exposure required to be noticed by top trainers/riders etc. Now TB's, even the great ones, are lucky to find the right person at the right time to develop them to the level required for them to get exposure.

My personal belief is that either TB's make a come back spurred by sponsorship or simply because anti-slaughter laws etc. move them into so many hands that they once again get exposure, or WB's eventually breed to the edge of being TB's which is happening today.

M. O'Connor
Nov. 10, 2010, 09:05 AM
Having watched at ringside all the competitions leading up to the '88 Olympics (working for Sandron and then being PR manager at the '88 Olympic trials), and being at WEG for two weeks watching the jumpers up close, I can assure you that Gem Twist and Mill Pearl would be just as competitive today as they were in '88.

Hickstead is definitely in THEIR league (not the other way around) in terms of class, blood, and heart. Many other horses from the past would also fit this elite lineup--Touch of Class, Jet Run, Calypso, Milton, Big Ben...but I don't think that comparing videos is in any way a valid method--instead, look to those who have seen the horses in the flesh before drawing conclusions.

It should be noted that Mill Pearl was only 50% TB, with the other 50% being RID--she was out of the TB mare Carran, by the RID King of Diamonds; her appearance and temperament were very much influenced by her dam, who produced many other top level horses. The RID was more apparent in her full sister, Millstreet Ruby, but both had the TB sharpness and edge.

It's notable that in the WEG final 4, three of the horses were small, two (Seldana and Hickstead) were obviously "blood" horses, and only one (Vigo) was obviously "heavyweight," with HR Rebozo being very compact, much like a pony. It showed clearly that the course didn't favor one "type" over another.

As far as the level of flexion shown...both Hickstead and Seldana were very forward and hot--despite their bitting setups, they go in very similar frames to the horses you mention from '88. Rebozo used a hackamore.

However, the deepness or lack thereof is more a function of the types of horse being used both then and now, and the origins of these, IMO, with lighter horses mostly "less is more", with heavier ones "more is more."

Thoroughbred1201
Nov. 10, 2010, 01:10 PM
I suppose we can only hope to see the "new" (clone) Gem Twist horse someday and maybe have a little more consistency in the conclusions.

Isn't that the truth? Especially in the same hands that had the first Gem, Frank Chapot. It will be a very interesting exercise. I still don't think any horse has touched him for sheer athletisicm.

It would be wonderful if it were possible to see all these horses together in one place at one time. Talk about a pipe dream!

Thoroughbred1201
Nov. 10, 2010, 01:19 PM
We have really never had any TB sport horse breeding program, and every effort to track TB performance off the track has failed, and the move to WB's made it even harder to locate the great TB's because when we all used them they had the exposure required to be noticed by top trainers/riders etc. Now TB's, even the great ones, are lucky to find the right person at the right time to develop them to the level required for them to get exposure.




That's really true about the TB breeding. I was lucky enough to have a TB that had clearly been bred to be a strip horse, and just as clearly bred to jump, not race. He'd never seen a racetrack. I don't know a lot about his background, but the training and careful breeding shown through in his preformance. He was amazing.

It's really too bad more people don't breed that way. The stallion A Fine Romance is a great example. More bone, and bred to be a sporthorse. A friend has a hunter by him that is amazing.

Thoroughbred1201
Nov. 10, 2010, 01:30 PM
Many other horses from the past would also fit this elite lineup--Touch of Class, Jet Run, Calypso, Milton, Big Ben...but I don't think that comparing videos is in any way a valid method--instead, look to those who have seen the horses in the flesh before drawing conclusions.

As far as the level of flexion shown...both Hickstead and Seldana were very forward and hot--despite their bitting setups, they go in very similar frames to the horses you mention from '88. Rebozo used a hackamore.

Jet Run and Rhum IV were two of my very favorites, and I still think Michael Matz is probably the best rider out of many, many greats. Unfortunatly, videos is what many of us have to rely on as we don't have acess to top level compitions. To be able to actually see these horses from each generation in person is a priviledge I envy. Your very lucky.

True, Hickstead and Seldana were hot - Seldana more TB-like, and Hickstead looks more like he relys on strength. But the way they travel is looks less like they are fighting the contact. And I don't believe that is a function of riding OR brain, but rather build. The depth of shoulder and the length and strengh of neck in the WBs, even Seldana, is a function of breeding and type.

I do believe, also, that as riders, we've learned more about how to ride. Each generation of elite riders improves that much more on the last, at least at the very top levels. Each successive generation builds that much more. It's incredible to watch

Unfortuatnely, I'm not always sure that is true for each new generation of amatuers, LOL. Warmbloods have made the casuel rider lazy, rather than better. But that is a can of worms that has been beaten to death on this forum!

And I wasn't trying to go there with this topic. I just thought the comparision was interesting, and got me that not all changes in our sport are bad!