That is the question posted by freestyle designer Karen Robinson in her latest blog from Hong Kong. Karen never minces words! Here are some excerpts, but do read the entire blog.
You know, I really thought that the right teams won the right medals the other night, and I was almost lulled into thinking that the judges were only a teeny bit in extra love or extra hate with a few horses. But things went sideways in the Grand Prix Speciale. I could swear they all lose their marbles when Anky or Isabell come in the ring. Here is what I saw, and here is what the judges seem to have seen:
Anky in the Grand Prix Speciale – according to Anky afterwards, Salinero has shown himself to be a horse that isn’t affected by heat or humidity, and he was every bit as edgy as in the team test. But this time she was going for individual glory, so there was nothing to do but give ‘er. The price she paid was that he broke into canter in the half pass left, got a very high croup (really almost a little buck) at the start of the ones on centre line, and I could have sworn I saw a mistake in the twos. In all the extended trots Salinero was visibly shorter on the left hind – something I didn’t really notice in the GP. So how did her score creep up to 74.96%, above the first test? She received four fours and a three for the half pass; three sevens and two eights for the ones on centre line (one of the eights coming from B – I’m sorry Mr. Mandi (HUN) but that bouncing bum was really obvious from the side); three sevens and two sixes for the twos, which I guess could be interpreted as the judges saying ‘there was a mistake but it was just a little one’. A little mistake that might get a bit more of a frown if it had been another horse.
Isabell in the Speciale – It wasn’t just the judges that went sideways last night. Satchmo did too, right after going up, and right before going backwards – almost to the fence at C. It happened when he was asked for the piaffe at G. Isabell was calling it a spook and saying she didn’t know what caused it, but that weren’t no spook, Isabell. That was Satchmo giving you the finger. So how did the judges react? For the piaffe, three ones and two twos. And for the transitions in and out? Two zeroes (she wisely decided to keep moving forward once she got him actually going again), two twos…and what did Olympic judging virgin Gary Rockwell give her? I dare you to guess, because you can’t. A SIX! Gary, for heaven’s sake! You’ve been the generous judge for the most part at this competition, and bless you for that. But giving a six for something that wasn’t executed (‘transitions from collected walk to piaffe and from piaffe to passage)? That is just wacked.
Speaking of Ravel, Steffen said after the Speciale that he would like to “dedicate this ride to Debbie”. Gag me. I felt so sorry for Debbie after the Grand Prix test that I couldn’t bring myself to go to the mixed zone to hear her comments, much less ask her any questions. I only saw the last bit of her test, but what I did see was truly bizarre. She had the strangest pirouettes, and her last extended trot was more of a ‘fluffy passage trot’. I think people should just kind of shut up about whether Brentina was lame or not, and let’s just ignore that Dutch snuggle bunny Fouarges, who has been quoted (much to Debbie’s publicly expressed horror) as saying she should have been ashamed of herself to even go in the ring. Let’s just let it go. Brentina was not tortured, and Debbie is not an irresponsible horse woman. But Steffen dedicating his ride to her? That’s just sappy.