I got up very early today to join my two crazy friends and riders I teach, one is German (they always win you know!) and one from Zim (apart from Suzanne, they don't really count in Dressage;) to watch FEI Alltech European Championships in Dressage at Windsor.
We got there before 9am, just in time to have a look around and see the first rider going in. Windsor Castle grounds provide such a beautiful set up for the arenas and horses.
Pic.: Whip fight with Suzanne!
The show had the best food stands I have ever seen at an equestrian event so we made a good use of them and stuffed ourselves accordingly in regular intervals in between the tests.
I got the show radio to listen to Sandy Phillips and Carl Hester's running commentary and as we were sat in front of the score board it was a great learning experience.
Edward Gal and Moorland Totilas gave the performance out of this world. I have seen him ride on videos before but watching the horse live today was a totally different experience. What really hits is how relax Totilas is, how supple and submissive and yet so expressive and full of life and his own character. Just amazing.
However, as far as learning goes, I think it's more beneficial to watch the less perfect combinations and see how the riders present horses that are maybe less talented but still score highly through correct training.
The Gold went to Netherlands with Totilas scoring 84% (ish). Great Britain took Silver, well deserved. Germans landed with Bronze.
It was great to see Polish riders at this level too, especially Katarzyna Milczarek whose Ekwador is just stunning and looks like the horse to watch. The commentators liked him too and although he made mistakes he is only 9 yrs old and shows a lot of talent as well as fantastic attitude to work.
Michal Rapcewicz and Randon had a very unfortunate test in a pouring rain and strong wind and the horse took a great dislike to a camera man a few times spooking badly enough to significantly disrupt the performance. Carl Hester criticised the too tight a neck in the horse but seemed impressed with Randon's talent for passage and piaffe and the regularity of his paces.
Few videos but the quality is bad. The dappled grey horse at the very end is Ekwador.
Apart from watching the tests we had a good browse around the stands ending up buying loads of books and some dvds. I treated myself to Mary King's autobiography and a great new book on equine bio mechanics. If I could I would buy half of the book stand :)
Another thing that got us interested was a super hay steamer:
Here is the official info on it: www.haygain.com
Having once had a horse with RAO I am always drawn towards anything that gives hay as high quality as possible. Dust-free. The hay from the HayGain had delicious smell too.
I am back to work tomorrow. Can't wait to collect little horse and start riding him. He will be called Kingsley and I should be able to get him transported on Wednesday.